Text Size

Community wide efforts celebrate refugee culture

For the third year in a row, in celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, UPMC’s Lend a Hand employee initiative has chosen to support the JF&CS refugee department’s work to resettle refugees into new homes in our region. For several years, JF&CS has resettled hundreds of refugees from Bhutan and Burma, and more recently has worked in resettling refugees from Iraq. Soon the agency will begin working with Congolese and Colombian refugees. Refugees are people fleeing persecution in their home countries and invited by the United States government to resettle in our country.

Lend a Hand is a UPMC-wide employee initiative that encourages monthly volunteerism efforts dedicated to various projects and organizations throughout Pittsburgh. In our case, this campaign results in donations of household goods for our newly arriving refugees.

Throughout the entire month of May, UPMC employees will be donating items to the JF&CS refugee department through their Make a House a Home Donation Drive. Donated items will include paper towels, garbage bags, storage containers, towels, linens, toiletries, cleaning products or first aid supplies, and will be collected in special Lend a Hand boxes throughout UPMC facilities through the end of the month.

The Lend a Hand initiative also encourages UPMC employees to volunteer with JF&CS’s refugee department in the following ways:

  • In-Home Visitor – Volunteers visit with one family on a regular basis to provide English conversation practice and teach life skills.
  • Welcome Home Program – Volunteers train newly-arriving families in four curriculum-based courses on home maintenance, apartment etiquette, and safety.

In addition to this wonderful effort supporting our community’s refugees, we hope you’ll save the date for Pittsburgh’s 2014 World Refugee Day celebration on Friday, June 20th! JF&CS will be co-hosting Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day celebration with several community organizations, including Northern Area Multi-Service Center (NAMS), AJAPO (Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach), Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC), Compass AmeriCorps, City of Asylum Pittsburgh, Repair the World Pittsburgh, American Red Cross of Southwestern PA and CISV Pittsburgh, with funding provided by Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.


This free, family-friendly community event will be held in Market Square downtown from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on June 20th, and will feature cultural foods, performances, crafts and activities from local refugee communities in and around the Pittsburgh area.

JF&CS is the leading local agency in providing a wide range of resettlement, social, legal and employment services to thousands of refugees and immigrants throughout the region. JF&CS refugee services staff work to resettle refugees, as well as providing support to immigrants coming to Pittsburgh. Our staff ensures that families receive the most basic needs of food and shelter, and then continue to offer essential assistance through case management, cultural orientation, employment, legal immigration and additional areas of support.

We are so grateful to our many community partners who are helping us provide for and welcome refugees to our region. You can join the effort too-to donate to our refugee department, please contact Julie Hawthorne at 412-904-5977 or jhawthorne@jfcspgh.org, or if you’re interested in volunteering with JF&CS’s refugee department in any of the above ways, Catrina Doxsee 412-422-7200 cdoxsee@jfcspgh.org.

And we hope to see you on Friday, June 20th at Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day celebration!