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Response to Ongoing Crisis

We experienced unprecedented communal and global crises in recent years. JFCS is currently providing supportive crisis services in response to the 10/27 Synagogue Shooting, the Ukraine crisis, the Afghan refugee crisis, and the teen mental health crisis.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, family and friends residing in Pittsburgh sought help and support from JFCS Immigration Legal Services to secure a legal pathway for Ukrainians to relocate to the United States. 

  • Family Reunification: JFCS is committed to assisting residents of Southwestern PA with family reunification. US citizens or permanent residents can act as an Anchor/Petitioner to bring their relatives to the US through regular immigration channels. To petition for family reunification, please complete this form and a staff member will contact you.
  • Supportive Resources: Our comprehensive services are available to assist immigrants and incoming arrivals to address all of life’s changes and challenges. We lead the ISAC collaboration to help immigrants and refugees connect with social services, resources and support available in Allegheny County. To request assistance, please complete the intake form on the ISAC website and a caseworker will contact you.
  • Counseling Support: During a time of crisis, our team of therapists and mental health professionals are available to provide immediate support, please contact our JFCS Counseling Services at 412.422.0400.

We will continue monitoring the events in Ukraine.

To learn more about JFCS Immigration Legal Services, visit jfcspgh.org/legal

With individuals and families arriving in the US without worldly possessions and with limited notification on the timeline of their arrivals, JFCS turned to the Greater Pittsburgh Community to assist with resettlement needs.

Each week, JFCS welcomes families from all over the world, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, El Salvador, Iraq Burundi and more. Your donations help to ensure that families feel welcome and are able to feel comfortable in their new home.

  • Donations: Each refugee receives $1,275 to pay for housing, food and basic needs while getting resettled. Unfortunately the stipend is not sufficient to support a family while they secure employment. 
    • Gift Cards: Gift cards to the following stores are always welcomed: Visa, Amazon, Target, Giant Eagle, Walmart. Gift cards can be mailed to our office attention to Thea Gamboa.
    • Furniture: Donate furniture through our partners at Off the Floor. Off the Floor furnishes homes for new arrivals. (there is a fee for furniture pickup)
    • Temporary Housing: Help a new refugee family by opening your home. Contact Ivonne Smith-Tapia at ismithtapia@jfcspgh.org to get involved. (Important: Guest space is required to have a separate house entrance.)
    • Monetary Donations: Make a general donation to provide our team the flexibility to support refugees with any needs they may have at jfcspgh.org/donate.
    • Other in-kind donations: Check out our Amazon wish lists here.
  • Volunteer: In times of crisis, volunteers provide critical support to complement core services. To apply to volunteer, please complete an application at jfcspgh.org/volunteer.

After the 10/27 Synagogue Shooting at Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha Congregation building, JFCS committed to supporting bereaved and injured victims, their families and the greater community. As a member of the 10/27 Healing Partnership, JFCS offers counseling services alongside partner organizations.

The impact of the shooting will be felt for years to come. It is never too late to seek support. 

  • Trauma Counseling: If you’re struggling, please call us at 412-422-7200 to see how you can connect to a counselor or reach out to the 10.27 Healing Partnership Hotline at 1-888-796-8226.
  • Support Groups: Join a support group to gain tools to navigate trauma, bereavement and challenging times. Register at jfcspgh.org/events.
  • Crisis Line: Help is available immediately, 24/7 at the Center For Victims Hotline at 1.866.644.2882.
  • Call 911 immediately if a person is an immediate threat to themself or others (violent, threatening violence, suicidal), and explain that there is a psychiatric emergency. 

In addition to trauma counseling and community support groups. JFCS also provides care navigation for each bereaved family and facilitates a support group for witnesses of the shooting. 

To learn more about JFCS Counseling Services, visit jfcspgh.org/counseling.

To support JFCS Counseling Services, donate at jfcspgh.org/donate.

Teens are struggling. The past few years have brought unprecedented challenges impacting the mental health and wellbeing of young adults. Long wait lists, cost and insurance limit access to immediate treatment and support.

JFCS launched UpStreet as a brief support center for teens and young adults – ages 12-22 to provide barrier free mental health services to teens, young adults, their parents and caregivers. All services are free.

To learn more about UpStreet, visit upstreetpgh.org.

To support UpStreet, donate at jfcspgh.org/donate.

The DHS announced that nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, along with their immediate family members, can request to come to the United States safely and in an orderly manner. The department may consider qualified beneficiaries who lack U.S. entry documents and are outside the United States on a case-by-case basis for advanced authorization to travel and a temporary period of parole for up to two years, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Private Sponsorship for someone from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela

  • Individual Sponsor requirements:
    • Inside the U.S.
    • Have valid immigration status
    • Meet financial requirements to sponsor an individual/family
    • Complete I-134A-Electronically
    • Assist the Parolee to navigate through the systems upon arrival
  • Individuals coming through this pathway have a temporary status  (Maximum 2 years)
    • Sponsors must submit the I-134A and provide evidence of eligibility and financial qualification.
    • Duration of Stay: The period of stay for a Humanitarian Parolee is for about 2 years.  
    • Funding: Sponsors have to provide financial support to the Parolees. 
    • Services: Upon arrival, the Sponsors provide all core services for the Parolees. 
    • Support: JFCS Can assist the Parolee with an application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Also they could receive services depending on country of origin.

For Parolees from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela

Nicaraguans & Venezuelans

  • Public Benefit Eligibility:  Are not eligible for public benefits (Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) or Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)
  • Resettlement & Case Management:
    • Support available through ISAC – including applying for Social Security Card (SSC), school enrollment, connecting with community resources.
    • Nicaraguans & Venezuelans are not eligible to receive resettlement or case management support.
    • Career Services:
      • With valid  Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a Social Security Card (SSC), eligible for general JFCS Career Services programs
    • Legal Immigration Services:
      • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
      • Form I-134A 

Cubans & Haitians

  • Public Benefit Eligibility:  SNAP, TANF & Medical Assistance.
  • Resettlement & Case Management:
    • May be eligible for case management 
      • Entrants with family or sponsors in the United States are given 30 days of orientation and referral services. 
      • Entrants with no family or sponsors in the United States are given up to 180 days of services.
    • Eligible for benefits enrollment
  • Career Services: 
    • ORR benefits, including the Matching Grant (MG) program, must **enroll within 31 days** of arrival
    • Refugee Support Services (RSS) 
  • Legal Immigration Services:
    • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
    • Form I-134A

If you have questions about services for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans – Contact Becky Johnson bjohnson@jfcspgh.org

If you have questions about a relative/friend you want to bring to the U.S. or if the person you sponsored needs help with an Employment Authorization Document – Contact Jamie Englert jenglert@jfcspgh.org

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) has stopped distributing extra payments starting in March 2023. The SNAP Emergency Allotments have been provided during the second half of each month since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.

Emergency Food: JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry provides emergency food to households facing food insecurity.

Please contact 412-421-2708 or sbell@jfcspgh.org