Helping our New Afghan Neighbors in Contra Costa

A very important issue is hitting home in Contra Costa County, and we at JFCS/East Bay are appealing to you for your help and involvement.

You may have heard about Afghans who worked as translators for U.S. forces during the past decade, whose lives and those of their families are now being threatened by the Taliban. Some have been able to bring their families to the U.S. on a Special Immigrant Visa program; others are waiting to get through the various bureaucratic hurdles.

This past summer, JFCS/East Bay welcomed a surge of 66 of these refugees from Afghanistan, and the flood continues. We are very proud and glad to be doing this critically needed work, and we need help from you – our community – to carry it forward. I am confident that together we can rise to the occasion and respond with warmth and generosity to these people who have risked their lives – and are losing their homes – in their efforts to help U.S. troops and gain freedom for their homeland.

What do we need?

* VOLUNTEERS – We are seeking more people to help welcome families, get them around to various appointments (medical, benefits, school registration, employment), get their housing furnished, and generally help them get acculturated and feel connected in our community. Contact: Kathryn Winogura – 925-927-2000 ext. 529 or

* HOUSING – Finding safe and affordable housing in our expensive Bay Area housing market is a tremendous challenge for refugees, especially coming here with no local employment or credit history. We need various kinds of assistance: emergency or short-term housing in people’s homes (usually in-law units or cottages); affordable rental units; refugee-friendly property managers who will work with us with flexibility; funds for housing subsidies while people are getting on their feet. Contact: Amy Weiss – 925-927-2000 ext. 266or

* HOUSEHOLD FURNISHINGS – We continue to need beds, furniture, kitchen items, linens, and everything else required to set up a household. Contact: Lura Asregadoo – 925-927-2000 or

* JOB LEADS – The sooner we can help people get gainfully employed, the better. The translators have full legal status and are fluent in spoken English. Contact: Amy Weiss –  925-927-2000 ext. 626 or

* STORAGE SPACE – Up to now, we’ve managed to gather and disburse furniture and other household items from a volunteer’s garage, but that’s no longer sufficient. We need a storage space or small warehouse to meet the needs of our newcomers, along with funding support to staff it. Contact: Lura Asregadoo – 925-927-2000 or

* DONATIONS – Refugees need financial assistance, especially for safe and affordable housing, as they begin their lives here. We also need funds to ensure that our Farsi/Dari-speaking staff have sufficient time to help these newcomers get oriented to health care, schools, public benefits, vocational services, and other essential pieces of the complex picture. For financial contributions, please send a check to Shelley Waits, JFCS/East Bay,2484 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 210, Berkeley CA 94704, or donate online at Please designate your gift to “Refugee Resettlement.”

If you can help in any of these ways, please contact us as soon as possible. The needs are truly urgent, so time is of the essence. Please feel free to forward this email to others you think may be interested.  Many thanks for your consideration and assistance,

Andrew “Avi” Rose, LCSW, Executive Director
Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay
2484 Shattuck Ave., Suite 210, Berkeley, CA 94704  Agency Phone: 510-704-7475 
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