Over the past year, our work, and the inspirational resilience of our Ukrainian clients, has been featured in the New York Times and CNN, among other media outlets. Based on our leading role in supporting this refugee population, we were tapped by UJA-Federation of New York to spearhead a south Brooklyn safety net of services for Ukrainian newcomers, alongside our colleagues at Kings Bay Y and Shorefront YM-YWHA.
One-year into this crisis, we have reached a new phase in helping our new Ukrainian neighbors and friends. Most of the thousands of refugees we have worked with want to stay in the US. They want to find good jobs, learn English, enroll in school, and participate in neighborhood life. They will continue to support friends and relatives back home as they build self-sufficient lives in their newly-adopted country. Now that many have secured work permits and overcome other legal hurdles to live, learn, and work in the US, they are ready for their next steps, and we are ready to walk this path with them, however long it takes.
Our February 2023 job fair featured 70 local and national employers and 1,000+ Ukrainian refugees lined up around the block to learn about employment opportunities and understand expectations in the US job market. The Job Fair was an important launchpad for the next phase of work with this refugee population: workforce development, with an eye towards long-term self-sufficiency. If you saw the press coverage on CBS New York, the New York Daily News, or NY1, you met some of these eager-to-work refugees, including:
● Olka and Volodmyl, engineers and business owners who fled Ukraine to protect their 19 year old son from being conscripted into the Russian army. They currently are cleaning homes and working in construction but came to the Job Fair to find employment that matches their skills and background.
● Dmytro, who was looking for work for himself as a driver and seeking opportunities for his wife in retail.
● Krystina, a humanitarian aid and mental health professional in Ukraine who “want(s) to be involved in something similar here (in the US)… to work for the sake of people.”
● Lana, a finance professional who led an investment department at a company in Ukraine and was at the Job Fair seeking employment in her field and volunteering as a translator.
As we have done for nearly 100 years, the Marks JCH has answered the call to serve. We have opened our doors wide and welcomed Ukrainian refugees as they have fled violence and war, guided by our Jewish history and values. As a people, we know what it means to be a stranger in a strange land. As a community and organization primarily composed of immigrants, we know what it means to arrive in a new country as overwhelmed and traumatized newcomers. We continue to help our new Ukrainian neighbors and friends — strangers no more — find security and establish self-sufficiency in the US.
The Marks JCH Ukraine Crisis Response Center is generously supported by the UJA Federation of NY, J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, Tiger Foundation, American Equity CARES, Bank Leumi USA, Ira W. DeCamp Foundation, Trusit Foundation and the NYS Health Foundation