World Refugee Day is a significant day for the international community, and one that has very special meaning to Jewish Family & Children’s Service and our many partners. World Refugee Day is observed every year on June 20th, and was established by the United Nations to honor and recognize the approximately 42.5 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people around the world who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
This year, the observance of World Refugee Day in Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort of the major refugee resettlement agencies and service providers in the local community. JF&CS, Northern Area Multi-Service Center (NAMS), Catholic Charities, Acculturation for Justice, Access & Peace Outreach (AJAPO) and the Southwest Pennsylvania chapter of the Red Cross, will host a celebration of World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 22 from Noon to 4 p.m. at the Community College of Allegheny County at 808 Ridge Avenue. The family-friendly event is free and open to the public.
The event will feature “Refugee Voices;” personal stories shared by area refugees about their experience and what it means to be a refugee, refugee groups will perform traditional musical and dance numbers and traditional Bhutanese, Burmese and Middle Eastern foods will be provided by the Bhutanese Association of Pittsburgh, the Burmese Christian Fellowship and Salim’s in Bloomfield.
Community organizations in attendance will include the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and Allegheny Intermediate Unit, both of which provide English as a Second Language classes for refugees, as well as the Department of Human Services, Squirrel Hill Health Center and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, among others.
JF&CS, along with NAMS, Catholic Charities and AJAPO have helped thousands of refugees, including most recently Bhutanese, Burmese, African/Somali and Iraqi, successfully resettle in communities throughout Pittsburgh. JF&CS and our refugee resettlement counterparts ensure newly-arriving refugees are fully supported to establish new lives in our communities, and are continually provided with services, programs and resources as they transition to self-sufficiency.
“Refugee and immigrant populations greatly add to the cultural and workforce diversity of our region, and at the same time help to increase population numbers,” said Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee services at JF&CS. “The Pittsburgh celebration of World Refugee Day recognizes the refugee experience and honors their contributions to our community, which has a tremendous impact on our region’s economy and diversity; they have gone on to raise their families, buy homes and open their own businesses in their new neighborhoods.”
The World Refugee Day celebration is a great way for community members to get to know their new neighbors, and a wonderful educational opportunity to learn about the refugee experience and their cultures. We hope you’ll join us on June 22nd to recognize and celebrate the thousands of refugees who call Pittsburgh “home.”
To learn more about JF&CS refugee services, visit our website. To volunteer or to find more ways you can help support JF&CS’s programs and services for refugees in our community, please contact Leslie Aizenman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 412-422-7200.