Sunday, May 9, 2021

Weekend Special:
Compiled by Shawn Campbell 9 May 2021

Biden's expansion of refugee program could boost Buffalo and WNY population – and reunite families
Hundreds of additional new arrivals to 
America will likely settle in Buffalo
President Biden's off-again-but-finally-on-again decision to bring thousands more refugees to America will likely come as a belated gift to Buffalo's population numbers – and a blessing to refugees like Kasim Seid.

With Biden aiming to bring 62,500 people to America from troubled lands overseas by Sept. 30 – up from 15,000 under the Trump administration – hundreds of additional new arrivals will likely settle in Buffalo. That's partly because the state propped up the nonprofits that bring those newcomers to Buffalo and other cities across New York, while many states simply let similar agencies die as then-President Trump slashed the federal refugee resettlement program.

For Seid, though, Biden's move is much more personal. Seid, a native of the troubled African nation of Eritrea, resettled in Buffalo in 2017 and has been longing for his wife and two children to be able to join him. He said Biden's move gives him hope that his family can finally reunite.

"When I heard the news that Biden was increasing the number of refugees, I felt so happy," said Seid, 35, an employment specialist at Journey's End Refugee Services in Buffalo.    (Continued with family photo)

For both the larger refugee resettlement effort and for families like Seid's, Biden's action had been expected months ago. Biden pledged during his campaign last year to increase the number of refugees allowed into the country to 62,500 this fiscal year and 125,000 the next, but then his administration wavered on fulfilling that pledge amid the unrelated controversy over undocumented immigrants streaming across the southern border.

Biden's delay prompted sharp rebukes from progressives as well as nonprofits that bring refugees to America – and finally, Biden issued a strong statement last week embracing his earlier promise to expand refugee resettlement.

"It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin," Biden said.

Biden's move had an immediate impact in Buffalo, noted William P. Sukaly, director of the Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program at Catholic Charities of Buffalo, one of the city's four refugee resettlement agencies.

"For the first seven months of the fiscal year, we had 11 people coming – and for the month of May, we have 22 people," Sukaly said.

Officials at Buffalo's other refugee resettlement agencies said they expect the number of new arrivals to grow as well. "We have one arrival booked already, which is terrific news," said Eva M. Hassett, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo. "We are expecting to welcome more new arrivals and help them get settled in Buffalo."

The executive director at Journey's End, Karen Andolina Scott, agreed "We're already going to be seeing arrivals coming again," she said.

That means a supply of immigrants that had been propping up the region's population will soon resume doing so. Some 17,244 immigrants – many of them refugees – moved to the Buffalo area between 2010 and 2015, while 16,282 people left metro Buffalo for other parts of the country. In other words, immigrants were the reason the metro area's population stayed relatively stable in the first half of the 2010s.

"For over a decade, refugees were the number one source of population growth for Buffalo," said State Sen. Sean Ryan, a Buffalo Democrat. But after Trump's election as president in 2016, "that screeched to a halt."

World Refugee Day LaSalle Park
A celebration of World Refugee Day was held at LaSalle Park on Sunday, June 30, 2019. (John Hickey/Buffalo News; 
John Hickey/News file photo) 

Trump slashed the federal refugee program, which aims to legally bring to America thousands of people who had to flee their homes overseas because of violence every year.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility – won’t be,” Trump said in 2018. "Not on my watch." And as a result of Trump's move, the number of refugees resettling in Buffalo fell from a peak of 1,929 in 2016 to 153 last year. Similar drops occurred in cities across the country. And with few refugees coming to America, 134 resettlement agencies around the country closed, according to a study by the left-leaning Center for American Progress

Refugee resettlement agencies stayed alive in New York largely through Ryan's efforts. First as a state assemblyman and now as a state senator, Ryan fought for and won $10 million in state funding for refugee agencies statewide since 2017. That kept them going and allowed them to expand their services to work more closely and for a longer time with the refugees who did come to New York.

The state aid also positioned New York to quickly add to its population with a new influx of refugees in the Biden years, while other states no longer have so many resettlement agencies to bring in the newcomers, said David Dyssegaard Kallick, deputy director and director of immigration research at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning New York think tank.

"I would imagine that New York is prepared to take a higher share of whatever numbers are coming into the country," Kallick said. There's some question, though, about exactly what the number of newcomers will be. On the right, Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, decried what he called "a massive increase in refugee admissions even as our borders remain out of control."

But Biden said flatly in his statement that he will not meet his goal of bringing 62,500 refugees to America by Sept. 30. "We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years," he said. "It will take some time." Nevertheless, those who work with refugees have high hopes. Thanks to Biden's move, Jewish Family Services of Western New York is already set to resettle one new refugee family, said Molly S. Short Carr, the group's CEO.

"It also means that we can start talking with some of our families who've been separated for a period of time and hopefully get them back on track for resettlement so they can be brought together again," Carr said.

Seid is hoping for the same sort of thing. He was able to resettle in Buffalo during Trump's first year in office, before his wife and young daughter got clearance to do so. And then in January 2020, Trump added Seid's home country of Eritrea to his "travel ban," a move that Biden recently reversed.
Kasim Seid with his wife, Kediga Ahmed Issa, and daughters Maryam, 5, and Jana, 1. This photo was taken in October 2020 when Seid visited his family in Ethiopia. Seid hopes President Biden's boost in refugee resettlement will allow his family to reunite in Buffalo.

Photo courtesy Kasim Seid Seid has visited his family in a refugee camp in Ethiopia on occasion over the years, and his wife gave birth to a second daughter after one of those visits, but all the while he's been longing for his family to move to Buffalo.

"They're in a refugee camp, and life is dangerous there," given that there's a war going on between Ethiopian forces and the regional government where the camp is located, Seid said. And the emotional impact of that fact complicates Seid's otherwise successful transition to life in America. "Since I've been here, the only thing I struggle with is that I have family back home," he said.

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See:


Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit

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