In 1975, a Communist group known as the Khmer Rouge came into power in Cambodia. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, they ordered the evacuation of Cambodia's towns and cities, forcing more than 2.5 million civilians into provincial labor camps. Approximately 1.7 million Cambodians perished from starvation, exhaustion and malnutrition. Others were tortured or executed for being "enemies of the state." When the Khmer regime was overthrown in 1979, Cambodians sought refuge in Thailand and other countries. Nearly 150,000 Cambodians sought refuge in the United States.
Deeply moved by their efforts to find a new home, Phyllis Tompkins, a member of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, initiated efforts to gather local resources for the needs of Cambodian refugees resettling in Western New York. Other local churches expressed support. The work of Journey's End had begun, and soon we began providing a range of services to refugees from all over the world.
In 1998, Journey's End forged a stronger and more direct relationship with two national faith-based voluntary agencies - Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries - becoming their local affiliate in Western New York. Journey's End Refugee Services now serves 300 to 400 refugees annually.