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--- Issued July 1, 2013

In 2013, we are extremely proud to feature in our annual calendar 12 of our employees who started their careers with us when they were residents of public housing. We think their individual stories are compelling enough to feature on a monthly basis throughout the year -- to honor these employees and to help celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie:

 

Vera Logvina-Sizov -- July 2013

Vera Logvina-Sizov’s family came to the U.S. as refugees from Ukraine in March, 1994, because of their religious beliefs. “Christians have suffered from the Communist’s Party persecution for many years. Some members of my family were even imprisoned,” she says.

“Not only that, we lived only 20 miles from Chernobyl, and did not feel safe there after Chernobyl’s nuclear meltdown. We came to the USA with hope and the best intentions to build better, safer lives for our two children.”

She and her husband, Yuriy, rented an apartment in Erie and started attending ESL and professional classes to be able to communicate in English and to start to work. “Yuriy was about to get his license for a job, but his heart was not able to handle all the challenges and stresses of that time and he died of a heart attack,” Vera says.

“After that, I had to move into Erie’s public housing to survive. It was November 1994. So there I was, living six months in our new country with two children: my son was 10 and my daughter was 18. It was not an easy time. I was tearing myself apart, taking English classes by running every day to three different schools, and knowing no one who could give me a professional reference to get a job.”

Shortly after moving into public housing, Vera received the letter from HACE about a Step-Up Clerical Class for public housing residents. “I immediately knew this was my way to get a job to provide for my family. When I was accepted for that program, I was very excited and grateful.” In Step-Up, Vera was able to develop her English and computer skills enough to take and pass Civil Service tests in order to get a government job. She was hired by the Housing Authority of the City of Erie as an accountant, where she has worked for 17 years.

“My job with the Housing Authority has been a blessing for my family. The thing that impressed me the most was how the Authority put trust in me, a stranger from another country, and gave me a hand not only in my professional journey, but also supported and
advised me in the hardest time in my life.

“I love my job, I love the people I work with, and I cannot imagine doing anything different.’’ In 1999, Vera and her family became American citizens. “In 2001, when my present husband Aleksandr and I (he had been living at Erie Heights Development) decided to join our lives together, we were able to build our own dream house. Our family is growing; we now have 11 grandchildren born in America. Three of our four children have their own houses. My secure job with HACE made a good foundation for our lives in our new country.

“By working here for so many years, I see how the Erie Housing Authority has been initiating a lot of wonderful programs for our public housing residents to improve their lives. I say to them, ‘Do not miss your chance, take advantage of it.’

“I hope my story can be an inspiration to others who want to grow and make changes in their lives. Success it is not luck. It comes from very hard work.’’