Updated 12/04/2009 07:26 PM
American Civic Association holds first post-shooting public event
The American Civic Association in Binghamton has been mostly closed to the public and press since an April 3rd shooting resulted in 14 deaths. But as our Neil St. Clair shows us, the ACA is coming back to public life and getting back to the businesses of helping others.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- These are the first images from inside the American Civic Association's 131 Front Street Headquarters since April 3rd. That day, Jiverly Wong burst in and killed 13 people before killing himself.
Friday, ACA officials held their first public event at the building in nearly eight months.
"What we're doing is a refugee assistance drive for incoming families into the Binghamton area and Broome County community," said Andrew Baranoski, the American Civic Association's executive director.
The ACA had been temporarily relocated to a church as the building was refurbished, but now the doors are reopened. Baranoski says it's events like this that will help heal still open wounds.
"Everyone seems to be doing the work they need to do and continuing the humanitarian and service aspect of the organization," said Baranoski.
Friday's drive netted hundreds of regular household items that will assist an increasing number of refugee families mostly from Iraq, Ukraine and Burma as they transition to the area. All items were donated by local families, a sign, perhaps, that the ACA is getting back to normalcy.
"This is just a fantastic outpouring form the local community to help us with this humanitarian undertaking," said Baranoski. "The community, as I said, and as we can see, has really come together and supported our work."
The refugee assistance drive is one of several planned public events as the ACA attempts to reintroduce itself not so much as a symbol of tragedy, but a beacon of hope and service to the immigrant community.
The ACA will hold an open house in the next few months to reintroduce the community to some of the changes that have occurred and the services they offer.