Jewish Family and Community Services is thankful for the generosity and support the Pittsburgh community has shown to refugees arriving in the city, especially our Afghan neighbors. Since June, the organization has resettled 72 individuals, including 2 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) cases and 5 Afghan parole (APA) cases, and we are expecting a total of 320 refugees, SIVs, and APAs by the end of June 2022.
In that time, in response to the evacuation and arrival of Afghan SIVs and Parolees to Pittsburgh, JFCS has received $121,679.00 of individual gifts and hundreds of in-kind donations such as groceries, gift cards, school items, toiletries, furniture, and more. They’ve also received $5,000 for the Brothers Brother Foundation to respond to the arrival of families from Afghanistan. Additionally, over 300 people have signed up to volunteer with the Refugee & Immigrant Services department.
“Donors understand we are working with urgency and are helping us explore creative ways to address unexpected challenges,” said JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services Director Ivonne Smith-Tapia. “One donor drove 40 minutes to meet us near a host family to accommodate our schedule. They took diligent care of the culturally appropriate food they bought for a refugee family and neatly packed 2 of their own coolers to be exchanged.”
JFCS has also seen support in the form of partnerships and collaborations. In partnership with ten organizations across the county, including Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania, and Salvation Army, we’ve created three workgroups to address the needs of housing, in-kind donations, and volunteer support. Through collaboration with the Salvation Army, JFCS secured storage space to host a furniture drive. Community members from across the city brought essential furniture items that will help make Pittsburgh a home for new refugees.
“The Refugee and Immigrant team has to lead this effort with efficiency and has kept refugee families at the heart of everything we are doing and donors have responded generously,” said Smith-Tapia.
JFCS also worked closely with UPMC doctors and hospitals to ensure that Afghan paroles will be able to receive timely, affordable, and adequate medical care, especially in case of emergencies. This is just one more way that the community has shown immense support during this critical time.
JFCS President and CEO Dr. Jordan Golin expressed, “JFCS has been deeply touched by so many expressions of support to help welcome our newest neighbors to Pittsburgh. During all times, but especially during times of crisis, we are fortunate to live in a region that demonstrates so much care and generosity.”
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