Since our inception, Jewish Family & Children's Service has been resettling individuals and families that have fled their homes due to fear of persecution, imprisonment or death simply because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Individuals granted refugee status overseas are brought to the United States by the U.S. Department of State. At the local level, agencies like JF&CS then work to resettle refugees in our communities, providing for their basic needs and acculturation into our community and workforce.
We have resettled refugees from all parts of the world, starting with Jews from Eastern Europe who survived the Holocaust, then Russian refugees from the former Soviet Union. Most recently, we have resettled refugees from Bosnia, Burma, Bhutan and Iraq. Many enter the United Sates with little or no education or English. Some have spent their entire lives in refugee camps.
How We Help
- We help refugees establish new lives in our community that are founded on the freedom, peace and opportunity that, as citizens of the U.S., we can take for granted.
- Our work starts well before a refugee individual's or family's arrival when staff secures lodging and fully provisions it, including furniture, food and clothing.
- We provide essential, immediate assistance that continues over
six months and then decreases as refugees become more
- airport pick-up
- referrals to welfare (cash, food stamps and Medicaid) and Social Security
- assistance with enrollment of children in school
- assistance with medical screenings and appointments for every family member
- referral to English as a Second Language (ESL) programs
- acculturation training on life in America
- employment and related support services for healthy adults aged 18 to 64
- assistance with green card application
- Our Pittsburgh Refugee Healthy Families program helps ethnically-diverse populations and refugees learn ways to maintain healthy families, develop better communication skills and resolve conflicts as they adjust to American culture.
- We work with dozens of partners to meet the multi-faceted needs of our clients.
- As a member of the Allegheny County Department of Human Service's Immigrants and Internationals Advisory Council, we are staunch advocates for improving outreach and human service delivery to immigrants and internationals.
Ways You Can Help
- Volunteer to visit with refugee families to practice English language conversation, help children with homework and offer support and guidance on any issues refugee families might find challenging
- Become a workshop leader for one or more of our "How to Live in America" workshops
- Make a designated donation
- Schedule a group presentation so we can tell you more about our work!
- Hold a fundraiser to raise support for families in crisis
- We are NOT in need of household goods or food at this time. Donate your household goods to NCJW's Thriftique, food items to Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, or call Off the Floor for removal of furniture. Our clients are able to get vouchers to shop in these establishments, and may qualify for food assistance.
Meet the People We Help
Naw, a Karen refugee from Burma, spent more than a decade in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to the United States and settling in Pittsburgh. As the oldest of her 11 siblings, nine of whom arrived with her, she had to take on the head of household role as the family settled into its new home.
Liberian-born husband and wife, Dixon and Fatuma, arrived in Pittsburgh after spending a number of years in a refugee camp in Ghana to escape civil war in their homeland. With little more than the clothes on their backs, they must establish a new life in America.
Fleeing government persecution in Burma, Than and Shu Wah spent more than a decade in a remote refugee camp in Thailand, where they welcomed their three children to a world of suffering and uncertainty. At long last, the family arrives in America, relying on Jewish Family & Children's Service to guide them toward their new future.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality.