risseIt’s human nature, I suppose, to be more strongly affected by tragedies that are close to home. I’m a former United Methodist, and I know the building at 240 West Lawrence Street in Albany, which was once a parsonage for the Emmaus United Methodist Church; I once helped the pastor move in one July 4. I’ve attended the church occasionally at Emmaus, and knew a subsequent pastor rather well, including attending her first service at the church, also, ss it turns out, on an Independence Day.

The first bit of news I read this week was this from AlbanySNN, the school notification site:

The after-school tutoring program at Emmaus United Methodist Church on Morris Street is cancelled until further notice due to a Tuesday morning fire at the program’s nearby administrative offices.

The tutoring program is operated by Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus, or RISSE, whose West Lawrence Street headquarters were badly damaged in the fire.

We will keep you posted on the status of the tutoring program.

Then The Wife calls me with more disturbing details about the fire, which was only five blocks from our home:

Police are trying to determine if slashed tires found on two vans owned by Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus on West Lawrence Street are linked to an early morning fire that gutted office and instructional space used by the group, firefighters said…

RISSE, which helps immigrants and refugees adapted to life in the United States, is based in the nearby Emmaus United Methodist Church.

The only thing I can think to do, in order to fight off my deep disappointment over this probable arson is to contribute to RISSE. Read about the good work the organization has done:

The need in Albany is clear: Refugee families need long-term mentoring and education as they build new lives after experiences of trauma, dislocation, and relocation. About 400 refugees arrive annually in New York’s capital area. While government-sponsored organizations provide initial intervention, community-based support for the longer-term is critical.

This is not a rich organization. It is affiliated with a financial poor congregation, which nevertheless is doing great things. Please consider making contributions yourselves.

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