News & Views

We’ve Moved!

Dear HIAS PA Supporter,

As I write this, I am looking around my soon-to-be ex-office in the Jewish Federation Building at 2100 Arch Street. The office that our longtime Executive Director Judith Bernstein-Baker once held. An office that is part of a suite of seven offices and a handful of cubicles that housed us when the number of clients we served numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands. But we grew.

As we took on the case management of refugees from Jewish Children and Family Services, we added offices on the third floor. As we increased our immigrant youth advocacy efforts, we expanded to offices on the fourth floor. As we started to serve more victims of violent crimes, we added even more cubicles. But over the last four years, these spaces were not enough to house the staff we needed to serve the asylum-seekers, DACA recipients, and other immigrants who needed our services, so we added two more offices across the city.

But being spread across the city was a detriment to our clients and the staff who served them. Some clients had to travel from one office to another to receive different types of services. Staff expertise became siloed by location. And so we decided to move to one office on one floor. This move is the culmination of our organization growing to serve more than 4,000 individuals per year, ensuring that they have the chance—despite anti-immigrant rhetoric, xenophobia, and poverty—to start successful new lives in Philadelphia and bring to those of us that are already here, all of the joy and inspiration of their cultures, languages, faiths, courage, and resilience.

Today’s move, like so many parts of this year, is different from what we expected. We won’t (yet) be able to use our new conference room, with its window into a children’s area where new arrivals can leave their children to be watched while they learn their first words of English. Our staff won’t (yet)  be in the same space, brainstorming solutions to thorny legal problems at the water fountain. We won’t (yet) invite our supporters to come visit us and see our work in action. But we are excited for the future—when the pandemic subsides and all and more of these things can happen.

And I love that, in moving to the Public Ledger Building at 600 Chestnut Street, we will be a stone’s throw away from Independence Park and the Liberty Bell, where we remember those who stood up for what they believed in order to establish our country built on ideas of justice and freedom. We are also blocks from the National Museum of American Jewish History, that connects us to our history, and the community who helped us grow from an organization that helped its own to an organization that helps immigrants regardless of background.

We invite you to share in our joy of celebrating the culmination of years of growth—serving more immigrants in more ways than ever before. And we invite you to look forward with us to the day when we can invite all of you to physically see the space and celebrate our renewed togetherness!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson

P.S. Want more HIAS PA? Join us at our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 14th, at 12PM, as we honor our volunteers and the clients who make our work possible!

P.P.S. Justice for all of us is on the ballot this November 3rd. Make a plan and don’t forget to vote!