Last week, JF&CS hosted the annual HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) national refugee conference in Pittsburgh for the first time in HIAS’s 130-year history. The conference featured introductions to Pittsburgh’s growing and vibrant refugee community and highlighted the work of JF&CS and our partner agencies.
HIAS is an international refugee resettlement organization based in New York that oversees Jewish-affiliated agencies involved in refugee resettlement. Working closely with HIAS staff, JF&CS chose local venues, arranged for speakers, panels, refugee home visits, a school visit at Baldwin High School, an employer visit at the Rivers Casino, as well as visits to the Squirrel Hill Health Center and the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, which provides English-language classes.
JF&CS and the conference received local press coverage last week in The Jewish Chronicle and on 90.5 WESA-FM. To read more about HIAS and the conference in The Jewish Chronicle, click here. To listen to the WESA broadcast and read the corresponding article, click here.
“We were honored to welcome HIAS and the annual conference participants to Pittsburgh for the first time,” said Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee services at JF&CS. “We’re so proud that our colleagues and partners in refugee resettlement could see first-hand the work we do at JF&CS, how we support each other within the refugee resettlement network and the success of those who are resettled in our community, as well as their tremendous impact on our region.”
Conference presenters and participants included many JF&CS refugee staff members, City of Pittsburgh Director of Urban Affairs, Valerie McDonald Roberts, City of Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Jamie Scarano, Director of Strategy at the Center for Engagement and Inclusion at UPMC, Barbara Murock, Manager at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, representatives from HIAS and the HIAS board of directors, representatives from U.S. Department of State and resettlement agencies nationwide.
“Everyone I’ve talked to said this was the best conference ever,” said Mark Hetfield, HIAS President & CEO.
Mark attributes part of the success of the conference to combining the conference and HIAS board of directors meeting for the first time ever, and incorporating community site visits as opportunities to showcase refugees successfully living and working in the Pittsburgh region.
“JF&CS has a very robust resettlement program that has successfully transitioned from a Jewish resettlement agency to applying Jewish values to the work of refugee resettlement.
Everyone at JF&CS is absolutely dedicated to resettlement as a Jewish cause,” Mark said. “It’s inspiring to see that enthusiasm, and it’s so great to see an agency that has successfully made this transition.”
JF&CS is the leading local agency in providing a wide range of resettlement, social, legal and employment services to thousands of refugees and immigrants throughout the region.
JF&CS refugee services staff work to resettle refugees directly from overseas, providing for their basic needs and integration into our community and workforce, as well as providing support to refugees coming to Pittsburgh who had been resettled originally in other U.S. cities. Our staff ensures that families receive the most basic needs of food and shelter, and then continue to offer essential assistance through case management, cultural orientation, employment, legal immigration and additional areas of support.
JF&CS’s services are crucial to ensuring refugees, legal immigrants and foreign-born individuals are fully supported to establish new lives in our community. To volunteer, donate goods or to find more ways you can help support JF&CS’s programs and refugees in our community, please contact Leslie Aizenman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-422-7200.