Pennsylvania Governor’s Proclamation Issued for Immigrant Heritage Month and World Refugee Day

The Church World Service South Central PA Offices in Lancaster and Harrisburg are thrilled to celebrate Gov. Josh Shapiro’s Proclamation designating June 2024 as Immigrant Heritage Month and June 20, 2024, as World Refugee Day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In his Proclamation, Governor Josh Shapiro states, “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to raise awareness of their challenges, promote their integration and well-being within our communities, and to reiterate our Commonwealth’s commitment of being a welcoming place to all.” To commemorate this important and meaningful month, a series of events will be hosted in Lancaster and Harrisburg.

Pictured: CWS Harrisburg office staff team with CWS Refugee and Immigrant Community Organizer Rwamucyo Karekezi. The office is located in Pennsylvania’s state capital.

Full Story:

Governor Josh Shapiro Recognizes Immigrant Heritage Month and World Refugee Day; Events throughout June 2024 

CWS Harrisburg and CWS Lancaster are honored to share Governor Shapiro’s Proclamation signed on May 29, 2024, recognizing June 2024 as Immigrant Heritage Month and June 20, 2024, as World Refugee Day.  The formal proclamation recognizes the “the vast accomplishments and contributions that immigrants have made to our Commonwealth and beyond” and encourages all Pennsylvanians to reiterate our Commonwealth’s commitment to being a welcoming place to all.  

For over 35 years, Church World Service (CWS) has welcomed refugees, immigrants, and people seeking asylum to peace and safety in South Central PA. Since opening in 1987, the CWS Lancaster office has welcomed more than 7,000 new refugee neighbors and supported countless other immigrants through immigration legal services and citizenship and integration programming for up to five years of service and support. The CWS Harrisburg office opened in 2022 to expand the region’s welcoming capacity and has served over 580 newly arrived refugees through resettlement and integration in addition to providing services and extended support to existing clients and social services to displaced persons in the Harrisburg region. 

CWS South Central PA joins Governor Shapiro and communities across the country and around the world in celebrating the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories that make our communities stronger while honoring the more than 117 million people who have been forcibly displaced worldwide. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) most recent Global Trends report (published June 2024) indicates that of these 117.3 million forcibly displaced, approximately 43.4 million have been identified as refugees under UNHCR’s mandate.  

Community members in South Central PA can learn more and join in celebration and solidarity throughout the month of June with family-friendly events in both Harrisburg and Lancaster. 

Events at a Glance:  

World Refugee Day Interfaith Service and Dinner for a Difference  

Thursday, June 20, 2024, from 5:00 – 8:00 pm  

Saint James Episcopal Church, 119 N Duke St., Lancaster 

World Refugee Day – Saint James Episcopal Church (saintjameslancaster.org) 

Harrisburg’s World Refugee Day Block Party 

Saturday, June 22, 2024, from 12-3 PM 

Corner of Maclay and N. 2nd Streets in Uptown Harrisburg 

World Refugee Day Block Party – CWS Harrisburg 

Spanish Language Book Club,  

Saturday, June 22, 3:00 – 5:00 pm  

Lancaster Public Library  

Spanish Book Club (lancasterlibraries.org) 

Full Event Information:

Lancaster: World Refugee Day Interfaith Service and Dinner for a Difference 

CWS Lancaster’s interfaith service and dinner will take place on Thursday, June 20, 2024, from 5-8 PM and hosted by Saint James Episcopal Church in Lancaster. The evening will begin with “Dinner for a Difference” highlighting members of the CWS Lancaster New Neighbors Speakers Bureau as they share their own journeys to safety and reflect on the global crisis in forced migration. Catering will be provided by Koshary Station, a halal Egyptian restaurant located in Millersville and participating restaurant in the CWS Lancaster Buy a Meal, Give a Meal program. A community reception and interfaith service will follow the dinner, with music provided by local Congolese musician Joel Makeci. Throughout the service, attendees will connect, learn and be inspired by interfaith reflections, music, meditation and prayers for peace.  

CWS Harrisburg’s World Refugee Day Block Party 

CWS Harrisburg’s 2nd Annual World Refugee Day Block Party will take place on Saturday, June 22, 2024, from 12-3 PM at the corner of Maclay and N. 2nd Streets in Uptown Harrisburg. It is outdoors, rain or shine, and includes free family-friendly activities and live multicultural entertainment.  Event partners include the Dauphin County Library System, PA. Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Vietnamese Alliance Church of Harrisburg. This event’s free activities and multicultural entertainment are made possible through donations and sponsorships. To sponsor, donate, or learn more about the event, visit https://cwsharrisburg.org/wrdblockparty/. 

Lancaster: IHM/WRD Spanish Book Club: “It Would Be Night in Caracas” 

Alvaro Suarez-Perez, a newly resettled Venezuelan refugee and librarian, will lead a book discussion around the acclaimed novel “La hija de la española” (English title: It’s Always Night in Caracas) in collaboration with CWS Lancaster and the Lancaster Public Library on Saturday, June 22 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm. Before being resettled in Lancaster, Mr. Suarez-Perez worked as a librarian at the Merida Polytechnic University for 24 years, specializing in the Dewey Decimal System. He also participated in the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) political party, where his staunch activism caused him to be persecuted by the regime, forcing him and his entire family to leave their homeland. He has been in exile since 2017, moving through Columbia, Ecuador and Peru until being recognized as a refugee. He now lives in Lancaster, PA where he is trying to reinvent himself with a lot of diligence, will, tenacity and many sacrifices and works with great pride for a private company in Lancaster, PA. He considers himself always a dreamer for freedom, a fighter for democracy, and a warrior for just social causes. 

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