Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Chris Gildon’s subscribers Sept. 25, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Gildon’s e-newsletters, click here.
Ukrainian refugees told us their stories at a public forum Aug. 29 at Life Christian Church in Tacoma. Joining me were Ukrainian community leaders and lawmakers who have sponsored bills and resolutions supporting the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggression. Left to right, Sen. Jesse Solomon, D-Shoreline; Roman Gorbachevskiy, bishop, Assemblies of God National Slavic District; Viktor Prokhor, pastor of Life Christian Church; Valeriy Goloborodko, honorary consul from Ukraine for Washington and Oregon; Catherine Rudolph, Pierce County Executive Office; Rep. Kelly Chambers, R-Puyallup, Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia; and myself. At lectern, moderator Kyle Lyebyedyev.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As bombs and bullets rain down on the Ukraine, some 16,000 refugees are waiting out the war in Washington state. Washington should be proud of the way our state has stepped up to the plate. It is a testament to our hospitality and generosity, and our state’s long tradition of assisting refugees fleeing war zones.
When war broke out, I sponsored an amendment to the state budget providing $19 million to support Ukrainian refugees. Accordingly, I certainly want to ensure those dollars are being used efficiently and effectively. So, this summer it was time for a check-in. We arranged a “listening session” in Tacoma to hear directly from the refugee population as well as leaders within the community to get their perspective on what is working well and what may have room for improvement.
During the course of the evening, some themes emerged. Refugees spoke of their difficulties in gaining access to credit and their inability to transfer professional accreditations. One gentleman said he was a doctor in Ukraine and is now building fences. He certainly appreciates the ability to work and provide for his family, but also recognizes his contributions could be used to help fill gaps in our healthcare system.
The refugees also mentioned issues we can all relate to, such as the high cost of housing and their struggles with affordability in general. They urged the state to review how refugee dollars are being spent to make certain they are getting to those organizations that actually provide direct refugee assistance with little overhead, as opposed to highly bureaucratic organizations that may not be well-connected to refugee communities.
We’ll be looking into these concerns in a bipartisan manner as we prepare legislation for next year.
Ukrainians also shared their individual experiences of the violence they have witnessed. Homes and schools have been destroyed. Entire neighborhoods are gone. It is hard to hear stories like these and come away unmoved. I am glad we’ve been able to help. This is a measure of our humanity. We can worry about politics another day.
See my opening remarks from the Aug. 29 listening session:
Coffee with Chris
Thanks to all who turned out for our coffee events this month! We wrapped up our season with a pair of gatherings at the Elements coffee shop in downtown Puyallup. These small-group meetings offer a chance to chat informally about legislative issues and local concerns. Please note — nobody in this picture is wearing a tie. These meetings were great fun, and we’re looking forward to doing them again next year!
Thanks for reading — it is an honor serving you!
Sen. Chris Gildon, 25th Legislative District
Deputy Leader, Senate Republican Caucus
PHONE: (253) 281-1746
MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 40425/ Olympia, WA 98504
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