GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The executive director of Catholic Charities tells Local 5 News that the organization is on alert should families impacted by the war in Ukraine seek housing in the United States.

“What we know is that if they will be coming to America, they’ll be looking for sponsorship,” Karmen Lemke said in a recent interview. “They’ll be looking for a family tie and some sort of connection.”

The same group of volunteers and staffers that helped Afghan refugees resettle in northeast Wisconsin from Fort McCoy is now on standby.

All indications are the process will be different. That’s because so many of the families are wanting to stay close to Ukraine if they can.

“Many of them don’t want to leave their country. Or go any further than they’ve already been displaced,” explained Lemke. “They want to stay close to where they can be reunited. But there’s a very good likelihood that some might come this way.”

The Volunteer Center of Brown County recognized Catholic Charities for its successful resettlement of more than 100 Afghans.

That makes this year’s “Inspire to Act Gala” to raise money for this and other programs so vital.

The event is back in person for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic. The N.E.W. Piano Guys are providing the entertainment for the event on May 19th at the Swan Club in De Pere.

Lemke added that while they’ve had great success securing housing, adequate food, schooling, and employment for the Afghans now living in Wisconsin, many are still clamoring to be fully reunited with all their family.

“They have a lot of need for legal services to help them adjust statuses. We gearing up now for that next level of support for them.”