Members of Niagara University men's hockey team loaded and unloaded furniture that will be used by Jewish Family Services to set up new homes for refugees relocating to Western New York.

Members of Niagara University’s men’s hockey team spent a recent morning loading and unloading a truck filled with furniture that will be used to set up new homes for refugees resettling in Western New York through Jewish Family Services. The team connected with JFS through an ongoing initiative of Niagara University’s Justice House program.

“The Justice House program has been working with Jewish Family Services on refugee resettlement initiatives,” explained Dr. David Reilly, professor and chair of political science and director of international studies. “One of our Afghan scholars, Tamana Dawi, has been the lead for NU and has put together a team of undergraduate and graduate students who will assist with setting up apartments, cleaning, and helping with the process of refugee resettlement. They have already assisted with a clothing drive and will be working in the coming years with migrant families moving into the area who need assistance.”

As part of this initiative, Dr. Reilly connected with NU alumnus Bill Wyles, ’89, to obtain furniture that was being replaced during the renovation of the Buffalo Airport Hotel in Cheektowaga, N.Y. Wyles agreed to donate the furniture, which will be used in about a dozen rooms at the Meadows at Weinberg Campus, where JFS will be resettling a number of refugees.

Because moving the furniture would take “more muscle than our group was capable of providing,” Dr. Reilly reached out to the Niagara University men’s hockey team. Head Coach Jason Lammers immediately agreed to help.

“This is just another example of how our team carries on the Vincentian tradition of giving back,” said Lammers. “We are excited that people call us for help. We teach our players the importance of asking for help and giving help, and being able to assist Jewish Family Services in this way speaks to our program and the kind of students we have in it.”

This is not the first time the men’s hockey team has assisted within the community, and their commitment to service was recognized during the Niagara University Department of Athletics Purple Eagle Award Show on April 25. The team was awarded the Purple Pride and Community Team of the Year award and also was named the men’s team of the year. Jay Ahern, a sophomore from Staten Island, N.Y., and a forward on the men’s hockey team, was the recipient of the Men's Purple Heart Award.

“It is all the little things we do to give back to our community that add up to make for a better, bigger picture in the end,” Ahern said. “Do a little a lot and the world will be a better place. It’s our core standard, and we all try to live by that every day!”

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