Northampton activists just scored a big win in their long-standing efforts to further diversify neighboring communities. Representatives from Ahlan NoHo, a local refugee advocacy group, welcomed a newly arrived Syrian family at Bradley International Airport yesterday. The family will be enjoying an initial two-week apartment stay in downtown Northampton, in a donated loft-style unit located above the Oh My! sensuality shop on Main Street. As is customary, the family will be relocated to a more suitable dwelling in Holyoke or Springfield after the initial acculturation period.
According to Crystal Watanabi-Walken, founder and executive director of Ahlan NoHo, “This is a huge win for all concerned. Northampton refugee activists are committed to a dual mission: welcoming refugees to Western Massachusetts, and successfully housing them in Hampden County. Yesterday we took a big step in both directions.” Northampton City Council member Carol Fussbinder-Messersmith sent a note of congratulations to the activists: “Northampton has some of the most concerned citizens on the planet, and once again our community’s commitment to charity and compassion have paid dividends in the lives of real people. On behalf of our neighbors in area towns, we would like to welcome the latest refugees to the Pioneer Valley, and on behalf of the refugees themselves we would like to congratulate the Northampton activist community.”