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Heartfelt Gratitude from a Ukrainian Family
The San Jose Mercury News featured the story of a Ukrainian couple, Mariia and Anatolii, that JFCS has been privileged to help—thanks to your generosity.
Their daughter, Oksana, shared these words of gratitude for the support our community provided to her parents, who arrived in the Bay Area with serious health issues after a treacherous journey:
“When Laura [one of JFCS’ care managers] met with my parents, listened to their story, and learned about their needs, she made every effort to help. She took care of every problem, organized free grocery delivery, and tried to find a place to stay for them as soon as possible. Then she arranged for furniture; everything is comfortable in their new home.
“My parents and I so much appreciate the help what we got through JFCS. And I want to express special thanks to the sponsors who make donations to support emigrants, especially now for emigrants from Ukraine.”
Legal Services Volunteers Offer Welcome and Support for Ukrainian Families
“While we cannot erase the families’ suffering, together, we can ease their transition and make them welcome in our community.”
—Masha Rumer, a volunteer with JFCS’ Legal Services program
Thanks to the generosity of JFCS donors, JFCS’ Legal Services program provides expert legal aid to Ukrainian families after they arrive in the Bay Area.
“Many Ukrainians arriving in the Bay Area are professionals with young children. They are eager to start working and providing for their families,” says Brett Snider, an immigration attorney and director of JFCS’ Legal Services program. “An incredible group of attorneys and bilingual community members are volunteering their time and expertise to help families with work authorization applications and other essential needs.”
Offering Welcome, Giving Help
Many of those volunteering as Russian-language interpreters know from personal experience that every effort to help new arrivals feel welcome matters.
Journalist, author, and JFCS volunteer Masha Rumer was a teenager when her family emigrated from the former Soviet Union. “So many organizations, including JFCS, and their volunteers helped my parents and me when we arrived in the Bay Area,” says Masha, who explored the topic of immigration in her 2021 book, Parenting with an Accent. “I have always felt grateful and wanted to give back.”
“The families we are helping often are in a state of shock and desperately worried about friends and loved ones still in Ukraine. They have lost everything,” says Masha.
Zhenya (Eugene) Leonov, a frequent volunteer at JFCS’ legal clinics, also recalls how the community’s warm welcome eased his family’s resettlement when they came to the United States in the early 1990s. In April, before the Uniting for Ukraine program was launched by the Biden Administration, he volunteered in a camp in Tijuana, Mexico, where Ukrainian refugees started arriving. He returned home eager to offer help to those arriving in the Bay Area. Friends connected him with JFCS.
“It’s so important for those who are concerned to stay involved and continue to advocate,” says Zhenya. “Advocacy efforts secured the Uniting for Ukraine immigration pathway and basic benefits for those admitted through humanitarian parole.”
Masha adds, “I am so appreciative of all the volunteers, donors, and supporters who have joined JFCS’ efforts to welcome and aid those who have fled from the horrors of war. I encourage anybody who wants to help to reach out to JFCS.”
How to Give Help
- Volunteer Professional ESL Teachers. If you are willing to meet once a week for one to two hours at a regularly scheduled time with an adult ESL learner, please contact [email protected] for information and to sign up. We are requesting a minimum commitment of six months. Trained ESL teachers will help Ukrainians improve their English conversation, writing, and reading skills.
- Volunteer Drivers. Volunteers are needed to drive newly arrived Ukrainians to weekday appointments. The greatest need is in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. To get involved, please complete this form on our website.
- Legal Aid Volunteers. Attorneys, law students, and legal assistants—your help is needed! Please contact [email protected] for information and to sign up.
- Donations. Give to the JFCS Emergency Fund for Ukrainian Relief.
How to Get Help
- Resources. Find valuable information and contacts on our Ukraine Response Resources page.
- JFCS Legal Services Consultations. JFCS assists with refugee aid and reunification for those with family members overseas. Please complete the Legal Consultation Request form to schedule a consultation.
- JFCS Mental Health Support. JFCS is a resource for mental health support for all ages. Please call 415‑449‑1212.
Your compassion brings crucial help to those in great need. Thank you for your continuing involvement in this lifesaving humanitarian effort.
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