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JFCS Support Groups Help Immigrants Connect and Adjust to Life in Pittsburgh

Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) is a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to supporting people through life’s changes and challenges for over 80 years. 

One key service the JFCS provides to help refugees and immigrants connect to resources, build community, and adjust to life in Pittsburgh is the facilitation of Refugee & Immigrant Peer Support Groups (RISG). Each group is led by a refugee or immigrant from that community and has its own focus in areas including food, sewing/crafts, gender-specific topics, and community resources.

It is comforting to spend time with people experiencing similar challenges like raising children in a different society, faraway from the multigenerational, extended-family support which is customary in our Latin American cultures.”

Parenting Group Facilitators

The RISG groups meet in 8-week runs. Some are educational and have cultural orientation aspects; some are specifically for women or men; some focus on specific topics. Local Spanish-speaking families have been taking advantage of these groups for some time. 

Spanish-speaking parents support group virtual meeting

Presente spoke with Jessica Cirilo and María José Bastidas, the family professionals currently leading the JFCS Parenting group for local Latino families.

Sibling rivalry and co-parenting roles are recent topics covered in their sessions. The group has provided a comfortable setting where immigrant parents from Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, among other countries, have learned techniques to parent their children more effectively. 

Jessica and María José mentioned the importance of the connection Latino moms and dads feel when they attend. “It is comforting to spend time with people experiencing similar challenges like raising children in a different society, faraway from the multigenerational, extended-family support which is customary in our Latin American cultures” shared the family professionals. 

TO JOIN THE GROUP

The new round of meetings for the Parenting group begins on April 21. Spanish-speaking parents in the Pittsburgh metro area are invited to join by sending an email to Jessica Cirilo at jcirilo@familiandoando.com.

The JFCS facilitates over 70 groups per year. Currently, RISG runs in several communities, including Bhutanese, Congolese, Iraqi, Uzbek, Ugandan, Venezuelan, and Bhutanese ASL learners. To find out more about joining or about presenting to these groups, please contact Program Coordinator Yesmina Salib at ysalib@jfcspgh.org.

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