A Brighter Future for ACA

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jun 20, 2013 at 2:22 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The American Civic Association building on Front Street has a new look.

It helps the ACA look ahead to helping a new generation of immigrants and refugees coming to this country.

As Action News reporter Erik Burling tells us, the ACA and its mission is stronger than ever.

"I just remember the horror of that day. I was very worried because I knew a lot of people in here and I thought he was killing everybody" said Roberta Stark, ACA President.

April 3rd 2009 is a day leaders of the American Civic Association would like to forget, but know they'll always remember.

"The past year, while it was extremely difficult for many of us, it was also a year of healing and working together as a community. What we wanted to do was put a new face on the building so people would feel comfortable and safe coming back to the American Civic Association," said Andrew Baranoski, ACA Executive Director.

Inside and out, the ACA has been transformed.

The classroom, where the mass shooting erupted, is now a board room.

Memorial benches sit near the front entrance in remembrance of all 13 victims.

"When people come in the first thing they do is look for their country, or where their country might be," said Stark.

A world map stretches across the lobby wall.

Clocks tell the time of cities around the world.

New lighting brightens the building and the mission of the ACA.

"Build bridges between newly arrived individuals in the community and the existing community. And help those individuals become self sufficient community members," said Baranoksi.

Those newly arrived refugees and immigrants face the same struggles as most people.

A need to find work and affordable healthcare.

But there's one added obstacle.

"The most difficult thing for immigrants or refugees coming to any country is learning the language. And they want to learn the language because they know it's not easy. English is not easy. It's very hard and they try very hard," said Stark.

What should not be so hard is continuing the work it's done for the past 71 years.

"We have a new start and this is a new beginning for the ACA," said Stark.

In Binghamton, Erik Burling, WBNG-TV Action News.

Donations from the community and grants paid renovations to ACA building.

The ACA is looking forward to the start of English as a Second Language classes in April.

And the annual Garlic Festival will resume this summer.

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