Afghan Refugee Resettlement Update From JFS

By Steve Schauder, Executive Director, Jewish Family Service

At a recent JFS Board meeting, I reminded our Board of Directors that JFS is doing so much more in addition to our Afghan refugee resettlement efforts.

We helped facilitate four adoptions in the prior week, including the adoption of three siblings from Texas who arrived in Central PA a few months ago. We are increasing our services in our Family Based Mental Health Therapy program to serve families in severe crisis and we have just promoted one of our therapists, Jessica Fox, to be the Director of Family Based Mental Health.

We have been dealing with increasing calls and emails from community members seeking emergency food and financial services and have served over 2,500 meals to homebound seniors through our Finkelstein-Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels program.

Our Libby Urie Food Pantry is providing non-perishable food items to community members in need and our ongoing partnership with Lee Casher and “Save the Bananas” continues to expand to serve even more people struggling with food insecurity. JFS is a growing agency and taking on refugee resettlement is a sign of our vitality and determination to fulfill our mission to help people meet life’s greatest challenges.

As for our resettlement efforts, JFS has resettled thirty-three Afghan refugees to date, comprised of eight units. We have two families of nine, two single men, and four other family units. We are serving twenty-two children and eleven adults. To date, we’ve secured social security cards, medical, and food benefits for almost all of the clients, and we have enrolled our first family of seven children in school.

We have an amazingly active volunteer corps of over sixty community members who are working with the families on a daily basis and we are indebted to them for their involvement. This project could not work without volunteers, who are the lifeblood for this project.

We are preparing to accept our next group of refugees in March and are seeking additional volunteers. We need volunteers to help with securing housing, setting up apartments, transportation to appointments, mentorship & companionship, translation or ESL instruction, helping with clothing drives, and so much more. To get involved, visit

We are also accepting financial donations to support our work. You can support all of our efforts to build a healthier Greater Harrisburg community by giving at, or you can designate your gift to a specific program, such as Afghan resettlement.

We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress and thank you for all of your support to help community members in need. For more information on JFS, contact us at 717-233-1681 or at

Thank you and best wishes for a Happy Purim.