New refugees receive a welcome that includes preparing for winter weather

Imagine being a refugee who has never seen snow, and being resettled in a city full of it.

In the first part of “A New Natural World,” a new series which explores how different environmental factors affect our region’s refugee populations, airing on The Allegheny Front, a radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania, the focus is on Pittsburgh-area Bhutanese refugees and JF&CS’s efforts to help acclimate new arrivals to the region’s winter weather conditions.

For refugees who have never felt bitter wind chills or seen temperatures dip into the frigid single digits, it can be quite a shock to the newly-arriving Bhutanese; most are used to the tropical climates of Nepal, where many have lived in refugee camps after fleeing their homes in neighboring Bhutan.

In the radio segment, Marie Gagnon, an intern in JF&CS’s refugee department helps a Bhutanese family weatherize their home, and Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee services at JF&CS, speaks to the numbers of resettled Bhutanese refugees in Pittsburgh (nearly 800 of the 1,000 refugees that arrived in the Greater Pittsburgh area since 2008 have been from Bhutan), and how JF&CS is working to meet their needs when it comes to preparing for the winter weather.

You can listen to the segment and read the accompanying article here.

JF&CS is committed to welcoming and supporting refugees here in Pittsburgh. For refugees and legal immigrants arriving in Pittsburgh and acclimating to their new communities, JF&CS provides crucial assistance ensuring that our region’s newest arrivals have a successful start in Pittsburgh by providing resettlement, legal, employment and support services. JF&CS’s services are crucial to ensuring refugees and legal immigrants are fully supported to establish new lives in our community. You can help JF&CS provide services for refugees by collecting and donating household items and clothing, volunteering to visit with refugee families to practice English language conversation, offering homework help or by becoming a workshop leader for our “How to Live in America” workshops.

To learn more about JF&CS refugee and immigration services, visit our website. To volunteer or to find more ways you can help support JF&CS’s programs and refugees in our community, please contact Leslie Aizenman at

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