Catholic Charities welcoming Ukrainians
By Jennifer Miele
Chief Communications Officer
GREENSBURG – Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg is working to welcome Ukrainian families displaced by the war to live, work and worship in Westmoreland County.
Individuals can register for a visit and tour to learn more about opportunities available in Westmoreland County. Catholic Charities is providing free travel, meals and hotel accommodations to those who qualify. The Westmoreland County Economic Growth Connection (EGC), alongside General Carbide, is assisting with these efforts.
Bishop Larry J. Kulick said the Diocese worked with the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia as part of a Catholic mission to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of those impacted by the war in Ukraine.
“Simultaneously, we were approached by community and business leaders who told us they would help sustain our mission by providing employment opportunities and even on-site job interviews when individuals come to visit,” Bishop Kulick said.
Business leaders like Mona Pappafava, CEO of General Carbide, are eager for a chance to help with the visit. “Not only is this a charitable outreach, but it is also a way to connect individuals who want to work with the many opportunities available in Westmoreland County. The labor shortage in this area is no secret. We are excited about the opportunity, even on a small scale, to have an influx of potential candidates,” Pappafava said.
The Diocese has created a bilingual website with visit and registration information at www.DioceseofGreensburg.org/WelcometoWestmoreland that includes photos, videos and links for Ukrainians to learn more about Westmoreland County. On it, Father Oleh Seremchuk, a native of Ukraine and Pastor of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Scottdale and St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Perryopolis, speaks directly to Ukrainians about the potential of a life in Western Pennsylvania.
The EGC recognized immediately that the existing Ukrainian population in Western Pennsylvania could be a gateway to the next wave of Ukrainian immigration.
“There’s no doubt this could help us to build a connection for many of the businesses in our community,” said Jim Smith, President and CEO of the EGC, a private, nonprofit economic development corporation. “I’ve had employers tell me that they are ready and willing to hire individuals who may not necessarily have all the requisite skills but are willing to be trained. Having more diverse channels and a wider reach for recruiting talent is a responsive strategy and one we will hope will work.”
Mark Smail of Smail Automotive agrees.
“Many talented individuals have had to flee Ukraine and are pursuing opportunities elsewhere around the country, and there are no shortages of opportunities in Westmoreland County. Hopefully the business community can take an active role in the multitude of opportunities here,” Smail said.
Melaney Hegyes, Managing Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg, said, “If you or your organization would like to support this Catholic Charities initiative, online donations are being accepted at www.ccharitiesgreensburg.org.”