Here in Pittsburgh,
Immigrants and refugees are a part of our past, present, and future. They are a vital part of vibrant and thriving communities. Let’s show show immigrants and refugees in our neighborhood how Pittsburgh rolls out the welcome mat.
Being a newcomer in an unfamiliar city can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. We have the opportunity to extend a warm welcome and introduce our newest neighbors to what it’s like to live in the city of Bridges. Hear first-hand from immigrants and refugees what it was like coming to Pittsburgh.
Misaq worked for a US government project in Afghanistan. When the Afghani government collapsed in 2021, Misaq fled to Pittsburgh with his wife, daughter, and son. To Misaq, Pittsburgh looked like a good place to start a new life from zero. While being put up temporarily in a hotel, volunteers brought Thanksgiving dinner to Misaq and his family. You can volunteer to do food delivery for our newest neighbors with JFCS or Hello Neighbor.
Faith comes from Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. She comes from a family of 8 raised by a single mom. Faith came to the United States in search of a better life, hoping that if she worked hard enough she would be able to live the American dream and also help her siblings.
Faith says, “My first impression of Pittsburgh was a beautiful city of many lights.” Faith says she felt welcome when, “my neighbor brought me some cupcakes and came to introduce themselves.” “I love the friendliness of people here in Pittsburgh”
Amanda grew up in Guatemala. Her sister moved to Pittsburgh first and when Amanda visited her here, she decided Pittsburgh was a good place to settle down and have a family. Amanda sees a sense of community in Pittsburgh. She says, “when you go to California, New York, or Florida, people are in their own world.” In Pittsburgh, Amanda says, “I love the Latino community.”
Amanda had never experienced cold weather before, but she said that neighbors help her adapt, including helping her with her first pair of winter gloves. “One day in winter I went to the bus stop with a wet sock and my foot was practically frozen after waiting for a bus for almost an hour. A stranger at the bust stop gave me a hand warmer to use to warm up.”
“I just refuse to move from Pittsburgh. It’s wonderful.”
Sela was born in a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria, where she lived with her mother and six siblings. She moved to the US shortly after her father died. “It was very scary for me to leave a small sleepy village to a totally different world. I had to relearn everything from talking, to food, money, and weather.”
Sela did feel welcome when she met other immigrants from her country in Pittsburgh, but also experienced joy in new experiences. “A friend took me to the Incline to have a view of the city,” Sela shared. “I got to participate in a ceremony where Mayor Peduto welcomed Immigrants and that was very emotional for me.”
Ready to dust off your welcome mat and say hello to a new neighbor?
Our newest neighbors have traveled far to get here. They each have a story to share about their home country but they also have hopes and dreams for their future in Pittsburgh. And, they are eager to meet new people and learn about their new home.
That’s where you come into the picture.
Resources for Taking the First Step
This list is a starting point for getting more involved in welcoming immigrants and refugees to Pittsburgh. Browse a larger list of organizations on this resource list.
What they do: Bethany is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with social services to help families thrive including resettling refugees in Pittsburgh.
What you can do: WELCOME families as a cosponsor group, or collect items for their new home (email: email@example.com).
What they do: Hello Neighbor works to improve the lives of recently resettled refugee and immigrant families by matching them with dedicated neighbors to guide and support them in their new lives.
What you can do: MENTOR a family, volunteer for airport pickups, or give bus orientations.
What they do: AJAPO provides a continuum of care that empowers refugees and immigrants residing in the Greater Pittsburgh communities and Allegheny County to become self-sufficient and better integrated into our communities.
What you can do: VOLUNTEER with refugee college students.
What they do: Global Wordsmiths provides language translation and interpretation services, consulting, and training for hospitals, school districts, businesses, nonprofits, and local government.
What you can do: PROVIDE language interpreters for PTA meetings, town halls, or other neighborhood events.
What they do: BCAP strives to ensure a high quality of life for Bhutanese community members in Pittsburgh through culturally informed services and programs.
What you can do: DONATE to this Bhutanese-led social services organization.