Home Agencies JCFR & JFS receive a $10,000 grant to resettle Ukrainian refugees

JCFR & JFS receive a $10,000 grant to resettle Ukrainian refugees

Rina Zavelsky

 By Sara Rosenbaum, Chief Impact Officer, JCFR

JFS of Richmond and Jewish Community Federation of Richmond are proud to announce that they have been awarded a $10,000 grant from Jewish Federations of North America as part of a $1 million national initiative to resettle and support Ukrainians seeking safety in the U.S.

This grant will support the work of JCFR and Jewish Family Services of Richmond to support displaced Ukrainians in Richmond. Funds will help support the establishment of volunteer circles, a resettlement model in which local agencies partner with volunteers to help a refugee or family get situated in their new community.

Volunteer circles may offer help with finding and furnishing housing, job searching, enrolling children in school, language help and assistance with paperwork and accessing benefits, as well as cash assistance and additional forms of support.

With the funding of this grant, JFS has been able to hire a dedicated case worker to support the Ukrainian families arriving in Richmond.

Rina Zavelsky joined the team at JFS at the end of September and has already helped welcome and connect with Ukrainian families who arrived in Richmond over the summer and are preparing for others to join our community in the coming months.

If you would like to reach her to support this ongoing work, she can be reached at  rzavelsky@jfsrichmond.org or (804)762-0273.

Rina has loved helping others from an early age. Herself an immigrant to the U.S. from Azerbaijan, she jokes that people in need find her.

Since the war in Ukraine began, Rina wanted to get involved in a more official capacity.

She said, “It’s our community. My children grew up at the JCC. My friends were resettled by JFS.”

She is already helping with everything from filling out required paperwork to locating housing, providing the compassionate assistance JFS has been proud to offer throughout our seven resettlement efforts since 1849.

JFS CEO Wendy Kreuter said, “We are privileged to continue our history of providing care and help to families in need of a safe and welcoming community to call home.  Our partners at the Federation ensure the Richmond Jewish community is there to facilitate a very warm experience in a difficult time.”

JCFR CEO Daniel Staffenberg agreed, “This vital work could not be done without the unwavering partnership of Federation and JFS. The work of welcoming and caring for our Ukrainian family is essential, and JFS’s expertise and compassion are unmatched. We welcome Rina to the team and know her skills will help elevate this work.”

The Richmond community is among 10 Federations and social service partners across the U.S. to receive the first round of grants totaling half-a-million dollars from Jewish Federations of North America, with matching funds provided by a group of philanthropists led by the Shapiro Foundation and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston’s Jewish Federation.

Jewish Federations of North America will continue to assess the evolving needs on the ground ahead of their next round of grant allocations, which is also expected to total half-a-million dollars.

JFNA partnered with the Shapiro Foundation earlier this year to help communities in their efforts to resettle Afghan refugees, based on this same model of volunteer circles.

The initiative supported Afghan resettlement in 15 communities across 12 states. The U.S. is expected to absorb 180,000 refugees from Ukraine, including some who were temporarily in the country before the war broke out.

“Five years ago, our family had the opportunity to welcome Syrian refugees to Boston as part of a new co-sponsorship project with Jewish Family Services of Metrowest, eight Boston-area synagogues, and HIAS” said Shapiro Foundation trustee Ed Shapiro.

“Our relationship with those families remains a gift and it’s our sincere honor to support other communities, which will benefit immensely from the gift of welcoming newcomers, while fulfilling mitzvot and helping America fulfill its duty to our allies.”

“The Jewish people have been refugees in so many countries, yet we have been blessed with freedom and protection in the United States,” said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.

“Supporting refugees and vulnerable populations is a Jewish value and we see it as both our duty and privilege to lend a hand to our neighbors in need, regardless of their faith or background.”

JFNA is at the forefront of the Jewish community’s response to the refugee crisis.  In addition to resettlement efforts and advocacy, Jewish Federations have collectively raised $72 million for humanitarian aid since the fighting broke out in Ukraine.

The JCFR’s Ukraine Emergency Fund has raised and allocated over $400,000 since March 2022. These funds support necessities in Ukraine and across Europe as well as rescue and resettlement needs in Ukraine, Israel, and our Richmond community.

Since 2015, JCFR has allocated over $500,000 directly to the work in our sister city, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, from the Federation’s Annual Campaign.

For more on the Crisis in Ukraine or to make a gift to help in these efforts, visit https://www.jewishrichmond.org. or reach out to Sara Rosenbaum at srosenbarum@jewishrichmond.org.