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'Uniting for Ukraine' federal program helps refugees start new life in Massachusetts

'Uniting for Ukraine' federal program helps refugees start new life in America
'Uniting for Ukraine' federal program helps refugees start new life in America 02:35

BOSTON - Excitement was brewing at Logan International Airport as a very special arrival landed in her new home. 

Alina Chernyakova, 50, is from Sumy, Ukraine. The city sits just miles from the Russian border and was one of the first to experience the devastating effects of the war when it began last year. 

Chernyakova arrived in Boston on Thursday with a worker visa, job, and apartment lined up before she even landed. This is part of the federal program "Uniting For Ukraine," that allows local non-profits to partner with the federal government to help Ukrainian refugees looking to start a new life.  

Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss represents the state's 4th District and was on hand to welcome Chernyakova on Thursday. "It is the best of America," said Auchincloss. "We are welcoming refugees to build lives here, to contribute to our economy and society while providing better futures for their families."  

Auchincloss represents the part of the state where Chernyakova will work. Using her professional experience, The Shapiro Foundation helped connect Chernyakova with job openings in education. She has a doctorate in education and enjoys working with children. It made her the perfect candidate for Temple Beth Shalom in Needham. 

"We fell in love with her," said Temple Beth Shalom's Ellen Dietrick, who recalled Chernyakova connecting with the toddlers during her virtual interviews. "She immediately engaged them from the computer screen. I was shocked. But we immediately felt a connection." 

Chernyakova said her husband passed away earlier this year. She signaled this was in fact a new chapter for her. Chernyakova is aware of the dangers she left behind. "I wish for all people to be more about friendship and not conflict. No war. Because it is a tragedy for people. Many people died. Many families died." 

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