One year ago, JFS could not have anticipated the number of volunteers, partners, faith communities and others who would play a role with us over the past year. These stories are examples of the growth in our team and our collective impact over the last year:
- JFS was fortunate to hire five recent Afghan evacuees shortly after their arrival in a reflection of the incredible talent, passion and dedication of these newcomers. These staff held degrees in law, an MPA and one is a physician. Three additional staff hired this year are Afghan who had previously arrived in the US. These eight Afghan staff were key to assisting evacuee families. One of these staff helps run an Afghan women group and social support group, and has been critical in helping women adjust to their new lives (see article below). Another helped interpret for paralegals to secure permanent residence for Afghan families. A third has distributed over $170,000 in state assistance to Afghan families since February.
- Our team has distributed 63 Chromebooks to Afghan evacuees, Ukrainian and Haitian arrivals, and refugees over the past year. Each person receives a three day intensive Digital Literacy Class and has to demonstrate a set of skills before taking home their new Chromebook. In the past year, and due to Afghan arrivals ready to learn English and hone their computer skills, these intensives have evolved to become full ongoing classes accompanied by a skills lab to practice everything learned.
- Volunteers and Host Organization Support Teams are integrated into our work at JFS. This summer we are taking stock and conducting focus groups with all of the Support Teams in order to adapt the model to transition from welcoming Afghans to engaging with other arrivals in the months and years to come. “HOSTs” has become a household name here at JFS, with staff focused on partnerships, volunteer impact, and community education to help deepen what we are able to accomplish, and increase our capacity to serve newcomer families. JFS conducted a series of Afghan cultural orientation seminars for community providers in important sectors, such as healthcare, education and emergency response (available for viewing on our JFS Youtube Channel).
- Compared to a year ago, teams are more specialized and are able to take on deeper work. Just last week, JFS added a team specializing in supporting youth and leading service coordination. Our New American Program staff has grown from less then 10 full time employees a year ago to a team that is now 30 staff!