DALLAS (CBS11) – Leonid Regheta came to North Texas looking for a better life.
He’s helping thousands of refugees as director of Project Start. His mission field is the Vickery Meadows area of Dallas, an area known as “The Little United Nations.”
“People come to this country, not only do they not know English, but even if they do, they don’t know where resources are,” said Regheta.
He’s speaking from experience. Leonid and his family left Ukraine as religious refugees in 1989.
“We were part of the underground persecuted church. There was a brief window of opportunity to, basically, leave everything behind. Pick up a couple of suitcases and off we go. We move to the U.S.,” recounted Regheta.
Leonid’s journey to America took him to Austria and Italy before arriving at a refugee resettlement center in Seattle. He graduated from high school. Leonid was accepted into the University of Washington where he studied business.
Instead of staying in the U.S., he went back to Russia, twice, as a missionary.
“I felt like I wanted to do something ministry-wise as my way of expressing appreciation to God for opening so many opportunities in this life,” explained the Project Start director.
The program helps connect refugees to the resources they need in an unfamiliar land. The Christian-based group can use more volunteers to help with all the referrals.
“We’re not in the business of enlarging social programs. We’re trying to help people to become human beings that they can respect themselves through the new life that they built here in the U.S.,” said Regheta.
Now, they’re getting the word out. Project Start recently unveiled a children’s art exhibit at NorthPark Center. Forty pieces of art, each with a caption from the child about their dreams.
“Our goal is to show the world, to show our society, everybody that lives here in Dallas that we’re all the same,” proclaimed Regheta.
That makes him one of The Ones for Texas.
To learn more about Project Start, click here.