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Response to Ongoing Crisis

Our community, and much of the rest of the world, has suffered from unprecedented crises in recent years. The Ukraine crisis, the Afghan refugee crisis, the ongoing teen mental health crisis, and the 10/27 Synagogue shooting are all very real and painful for many people. If you would like help for yourself, or if you would like to help others who are struggling through these ongoing crisis we can assist you.

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. In the months since, over one million people have been displaced from their homes and communities.

With the crisis unfolding, family and friends in the United States have sought help and support from JFCS and our partner organizations.

We are here for you—for anyone who is struggling with this situation in any way. If you need to talk to someone about what’s happening, we can connect you with resources for counseling services. If you need information about how to help a loved one in Ukraine or elsewhere, we can provide resources on how to do that safely. If there are pressing needs that arise while you’re waiting for more information to come out of Ukraine, we can connect you with organizations providing emergency relief services on the ground there now.

  • JFCS is able to assist 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. Please complete this form and a staff member will contact you.
  • If you need help connecting with resources and support available for immigrants and refugees in Allegheny County – please complete the intake form on the ISAC website.
  • To speak with a therapist or mental health professional, please contact our JFCS Counseling Services at 412.422.0400
  • For more information on ways to help, please visit the Pittsburgh Ukrainians website.

We will continue monitoring the events in Ukraine and sending our thoughts and support to the Ukrainian people, while serving those affected here in our community.

The United States government has granted 20,000 Afghan interpreters and their families special immigrant visas to bring them to the U.S., and JFCS is helping with their arrivals to our community.

As we welcome Afghan refugees to Pittsburgh, we need your help. The families will be arriving locally without their worldly possessions. Help us help them build new lives here in Pittsburgh through donations, in-kind donations and volunteer support.

  • Donate: Your gift goes to work immediately, directly helping those who need it most. Select JFCS, or designate your gift to JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services in the designation drop-down menu on the Donate page.
  • Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteers have been the cornerstone of JFCS’s existence since the agency’s inception. Volunteers who work with us tell us they find the experience often just as meaningful and rewarding as it is for the individuals we serve. We are enrolling new individuals and families in our youth programs, and they would benefit from having a volunteer to help their integration process. The volunteer opportunities described below are primarily in-person. Almost all refugee families have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. The families all live in different neighborhoods in Allegheny County so there is likely a family near you. To learn more about opportunities with JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services and JFCS Immigration Legal Services, click here.
  • In-kind Donations: How can you help families who are newly arrived in our community? We are looking for in-kind donations to help newly arrived families furnish their homes. We need furniture (in good condition) beds, chairs, sofas, chest of drawers, tables, etc. as well as school items needed by children: children’s shoes, youth backpacks and school supplies. As we learn a new family or individual is arriving, we update items needed. Check out the donation lists for Afghan arrivals and sign up to donate. Questions, please contact Juwairiyah Abdul-Halim, 865-360-1906 or jabdul-halim@jfcspgh.org.
  • Community Sponsorship: Organizations can strengthen local community support for refugees and immigrants by sponsoring a newly arrived refugee or their family. The key elements of community sponsorship:
    • Committed Community: Long term volunteers at community sponsor
    • Organizational Partnership: Committed partnership to JFCS Pittsburgh
    • Time and Resources: Support new arrival(s) in their resettlement in Pittsburgh

    Please contact Alina Harbourne at 412-439-3227 or aharbourne@jfcspgh.org if you are available to help.

For more information on how JFCS is helping Afghan Refugees in Pittsburgh, click here.

As you may have heard, Pittsburgh is experiencing an influx of refugees. Many of them are staying in hotels while they wait for housing to become available in the area.

If you’re a landlord or household who can help out, please contact Ivonne Smith-Tapia at ismithtapia@jfcspgh.org!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of an accelerating mental health crisis among teenagers. A recent survey revealed that more than 4 in 10 teens report that they feel “persistently sad or hopeless,” and 1 in 5 say they have contemplated suicide.

In Fall 2020, JFCS launched UpStreet as a brief support center for teens and young adults – ages 12-22.

UpStreet provides barrier free mental health services to teens, young adults, their parent and caregivers to meet emerging mental health needs as they arise before they develop into crisis.

  • Brief Support: Hop on the chatline to speak with a counselor immediately
  • Scheduled Counseling: Schedule a face-to-face session with a counselor
  • Peer Mentoring: Meet up with another teen with experience with mental health

Learn more at UpStreetPgh.org

On Saturday, October 27, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill and started shooting.

The shooting lasted just minutes before he was arrested by police. Eleven people were killed in the attack, including a 97-year-old man and two brothers who were both doctors. Five others were injured but survived.

We are committed to providing a safe space for our community members, and we know that you are all doing your best to make sure your loved ones feel secure too. We also know that this can be a challenging time for many of us, especially if you are experiencing stress or anxiety following the shooting. We have several ways that you can take care of yourself:

  • Join one of our support groups found at the JFCS calendar here
  • Sign up for one-on-one trauma counseling sessions with the 10.27 Healing Partnership
  • To schedule an appointment with a JFCS trauma therapist, please call our office at 412.422.7200
  • If you would like to speak to someone immediately, help is available 24/7 from the Center For Victims Hotline at 1.866.644.2882.