News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-up: March 2021

Dear HIAS PA Supporter,

One year. It has been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, keeping most of us homebound and apart, with a heaviness that is now lifting as we enter a new spring. This spring is gifting us with a vaccine, economic renewal, and newfound hope for immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in the Greater Philadelphia area and in the United States as a whole.

This month also marks one year of us sharing our Weekly Wins with you. Thank you for allowing us to laugh, cry, and celebrate our successes together, for welcoming us – and Philadelphia’s immigrant community – into your lives every month. And now, without further ado, I’m delighted to share our March Weekly Wins with you.


Deaf client who is fluent in American sign Language gets connected with an English as a Second Language tutor

My weekly win was participating in an introduction of a HIAS PA client and their new volunteer ESL tutor. The client is deaf and has become quite fluent in ASL, so we all communicated on Zoom with the help of an ASL interpreter from his community. It was great to match this volunteer who has teaching experience and who has been eager to tutor with us with this client who is also so eager to learn and engage. The fact that Zoom allows for great use of visuals and communicating in the chat will make for some really engaging and creative language teaching and learning. Grateful to all involved for creating this opportunity for the client!

-Valeri Harteg, Education Program Manager


Attempts to do taxes reveal systemic language access issues

My weekly win is that I’ve been working with one of our Spanish speaking Immigrant Emergency Relief Fund clients for the past few weeks to try and get her connected with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance organization in Harrisburg that could help her file her taxes. There were various difficulties, like the organization trying to call her and talk to her in English and then getting frustrated and hanging up. I made a few advocacy calls and finally got in touch with some people, and yesterday they found a Spanish speaking volunteer to work with her and our client got the help she needed! Woohoo!

-Nina Matthews, Refugee Resettlement and Placement Intern


HIAS Pennsylvania creates 16 short videos for a digital literacy program piloted by the national HIAS, Inc.

HIAS PA staff spent the past few weekends filming 16 videos for refugee families to help with their digital literacy skills! The first round of training videos have already been viewed more than 2,500 times by refugees rebuilding their lives in the U.S.

You can view all the training videos here: youtube.com/c/hiasrefugees


Student learns how to navigate a new school, a new language, and new technology

I want to give a shoutout to our incredible Refugee Education Intern, Maritza, for her work with a recently arrived refugee client who was enrolled in high school a few weeks ago. Maritza attended a meeting with the student and her teachers so that she could get a sense of the virtual learning functions that the student needed to practice in order to be able to participate in remote learning and navigate Google Classroom (can you imagine your first school experience in the US – in a language other than your first – being fully online?!). The student is really motivated and was excited to have Maritza’s help. Maritza has already reported that she and the student have met online and successfully reviewed tech terms, bookmarked important links, and checked out the student’s grades. Maritza also showed her how to see what assignments she is missing on Google Classroom, and helped her practice copying and pasting. Thank you, Maritza, for offering this digital literacy crash course to this student who is very eager to engage with her new teachers!

-Valeri Harteg, Education Program Manager


Attempts to do taxes reveal systemic language access issues

My weekly win is that I’ve been working with one of our Spanish speaking Immigrant Emergency Relief Fund clients for the past few weeks to try and get her connected with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance organization in Harrisburg that could help her file her taxes. There were various difficulties, like the organization trying to call her and talk to her in English and then getting frustrated and hanging up. I made a few advocacy calls and finally got in touch with some people, and yesterday they found a Spanish speaking volunteer to work with her and our client got the help she needed! Woohoo!

-Nina Matthews, Refugee Resettlement and Placement Intern


Thank you for your continued support of HIAS Pennsylvania. I hope that these Weekly Wins from HIAS PA staff have given you a lift, as they do me. Look out for more wins at the beginning of next month!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson

TONIGHT: Join us at the table!Join us for Thankful Together!

Thankful Together, formerly known as Refugee Thanksgiving, is happening TONIGHT at 6PM!

Register here to join us tonight: https://hiaspa1.wpengine.com/event/thankful-together-2021/

Celebrate our volunteers who make this all possible!Click here at 11:45AM to join our Annual Meeting!

Click here to join our virtual Annual Meeting!

The Annual Meeting starts at noon, but join us at 11:45AM for an informal chat before the event!

POSTPONED! Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan

Today's Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan Facebook Live event has been postponed due to a worldwide Facebook outage. We will update you as soon as possible about rescheduling the event.