Refugee Assistance Update

In Partnership with Jewish Family and Community Services

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. — Leviticus 19:34

The Refugee Resettlement Team is pleased to provide the congregations of Temple Sinai and Shadyside Presbyterian Church with an update on our efforts since our family’s arrival.

Our congregations partnered with Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) in the summer to train and prepare ourselves for supporting a refugee family. By September, our team welcomed a family of four from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by way of a refugee camp in Rwanda. Upon their arrival at Pittsburgh Airport, Susan Balaan and the Welcome Committee brought the family to their new home to share a warm meal after a multi-day journey to America. Our Housing Committee, led by Connie Coffelt, furnished a lovely apartment within the East End of Pittsburgh. Lizzy Kline led our Cultural Orientation Committee to coordinate grocery shopping multiple times a week. Melissa Rychener ensured the Educational Committee confirmed school enrollments, English as second language courses, and tutorials on how to ride the bus. Finally, Emma Balaan and the Medical Committee coordinated medical appointments, vaccinations, and health education when needed.

Several volunteers provided cultural orientation, employment coaching, and other odds and ends for life in the United States. Besides those highlighted above, others who have supported this family include Drew and Jan Barkley, Tanya Bass, Karla Byrd, Owen Clinger, Laura Duncan, Barbara and Daniel Ernsberger, Adona Iosif, Carol James, Adam Loucks, Ann Pauley, Vanessa Rychener, Virginia Thornburgh, and Victoria Wellstead Murphy.

The refugee family we have served since September is moving to Massachusetts to take advantage of an opportunity to be closer to loved ones. We are proud to have witnessed this family’s growing understanding of our culture, their English language skills, and their confidence to be fully realized citizens of this country. We are sad that we will not continue to be their partner, but we are grateful to have been part of their journey.

Our Refugee Resettlement Team is now preparing for another family to arrive in Pittsburgh in early December. This is a young couple with a baby girl under six months old, with unique needs which are different from our prior family. Given our renewed startup costs to build the relationship with this family, please consider contributing to a special collection during this holiday season using the instructions below. If you have clothes for children between six and eighteen months, including sweaters and hats, and other items appropriate for children under one year old, such as disposable diapers and baby wipes, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office.

If you are interested in directly serving a stranger and their family, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office. Individuals able to drive or ride the bus during a weekday, or able to accompany our family for medical appointments, are especially needed.

With appreciation for your continued prayers and support,

Elder Laura C. Duncan

Contribute a Financial Gift

If you would like to make a financial contribution, please do so before noon on Thursday, December 29, by one of the following options:

  • Visit our online giving portal at, click the “Give Now” button, then select “Spec. Mission Programs” in the drop-down menu and “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line.
  • Place your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) or cash donation in an envelope designated for “Refugee Assistance” and place it in the offering plate.
  • Mail your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) directly to the church office marked to the attention of the Finance Office.