LOCAL NEWS

Utah nonprofit celebrates housing 447 refugees in the last year on World Refugee Day

Jun 21, 2023, 7:19 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2023, 7:16 am

UTAH COUNTY, Utah –– In the last year, Utah welcomed nearly 1,500 refugees into the state with the help of multiple local organizations. One of those nonprofits is Lifting Hands International, which, year-to-date, has done 129 refugee housing setups, benefiting 447 refugees locally.

Oksana Melnyk and Olena Ivankova are just two of the hundreds of refugees who now call the Beehive State home.

In February 2022, they fled their home country of Ukraine and sought refuge in Europe. By the summer, they moved to Utah with their young sons, all thanks to LHI.

Although they miss their home and those they left behind, they are grateful that they were able to find a new life here in Utah.

“I miss my home. I miss my work. I miss my… all,” Oksana Melnyk said. “I like Utah, and I like the people.”

Tiffany Bloomquist with Lifting Hands International said Oksana and Lena’s story is, unfortunately, one they see too often.

“The suffering that they have gone through and watching other people be shot in cold blood and being able to make it through that themselves, and to make it here, they are just super grateful,” Bloomquist said.

The organization has also helped Oksana find a job as an accountant.

“She is integrating into our community. She is not a drain on society, if anything, she is adding to it,” Bloomquist said.

LHI hopes to help other refugee families in need do the same, saying Utah’s welcoming communities make the transition easier.

“I hope that, for all of the people that come here,” Bloomquist said. “These are families just looking for acceptance.”

Lifting Hands International is always looking for Utahs to help volunteer. They have a warehouse in American Fork where they put together items like hygiene kits to send to different countries.

To sign up, you can check out their website.

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Utah nonprofit celebrates housing 447 refugees in the last year on World Refugee Day