Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica/Rome) presented leaders of Utica’s Karen community with a resolution that she passed designating August as Karen Heritage Month in New York State.
“The Karen community has made immeasurable contributions to the City of Utica and the greater Mohawk Valley,” Buttenschon said. “My resolution honors the history and traditions of the Karen people living not only in New York but across the country. I’ll always celebrate the diverse cultures that make our region special and enrich the fabric of our communities.”
Buttenschon presented the resolution to Rev. Debbie Kelsey, Utica Karen President, Lu Paw Doh and The Center on Sunday morning at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Utica. The Karen people were refugees from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, who’ve recently resettled in the Mohawk Valley. The first Karen family arrived in Utica in 1999 and hundreds more followed over the years. The Tabernacle Baptist Church formed a Refugee Ministry Taskforce in 2000 to help the congregation minister to the growing number of Karen residents living locally.
The resolution was also transmitted to the Karen Organization of America, which offers extensive resources and support to help refugees find their footing and thrive following their resettlement. The organization — formed in 2018 following the merger of the Karen Organization of the United States of America (KOUSA) and Karen American Organization (KAO) — seeks to maintain Karen history, keep Karen traditions alive and help bring Karen people together from around the world.