Catholic Charities hosted representatives of more than a dozen local businesses Tuesday. It was the not-for-profit agency's opportunity to say "thank you" for the willingness of those companies to provide jobs for some of Buffalo's resettled refugee population.
The appreciation lunch was held inside Catholic Charities' Immigrant and Refugee Assistance Program center on Herkimer Street in Buffalo. That program partners with local businesses seeking employees and has, according to its director, William Sukaly, linked more than 300 people to jobs over the past two years.
"As soon as the client arrives, an appointment counselor meets with them and assesses them, sees what their education level is, what their English skills are, what kind of education they may have had," Sukaly said. "We get a profile for the client. Then, we have employers we work with regularly. An employer will call and say 'I need a person that has this set of skills.'"
Neville Manufacturing was among the companies represented at Tuesday's lunch. Based in Cheektowaga, the business produces crates and pallets. Pat Crowe, president of the company, estimates about a third of their production staff was recruited through partners including Catholic Charities. While there is certainly a humanitarian element that his company enjoys, Crowe says there is also good business practice.
Those employees, he said, bring into the company a strong work ethic.
"Absolutely it's an asset on the business side of things, to get very reliable, respectful, diligent workers to fill production roles that otherwise we have a difficult time doing," Crowe said.
One of Crowe's employees is Mahmud Ahmed Gudal, a native of Somalia who spent time in a refugee camp in Malta before coming to Buffalo. He admitted feeling nervous when he met news reporters at the luncheon and chose to share his tale by reading from his written notes. He joined Neville Manufacturing in September 2013.
"After working for a year, I was promoted to supervisor and I'm still working for this company," Gudal said. "I look forward to going to work every day and I'm proud to be self-sufficient."
He declared that he became a U.S. citizen and successfully saved enough money to buy a car. He now aims to save enough money to buy a house.
"I am proud to be in America," Gudal said.