Roughly one-third of all resettlement agencies in this country have been forced to close.
JFS was created 26 years ago to assist the growing number of refugee families in Ann Arbor who had fled from the former Soviet Union. As an agency in Washtenaw County that serves a diverse, international population, the mission of Jewish Family Services is to create solutions , promote dignity and inspire humanity .

In light of the unprecedented uncertainty in this space, we want to make sure to connect directly and authentically with you, our welcoming community, and share stories, news and create space to actively engage with one another.

Please share this correspondence with anyone you know that might be passionate about this cause.

Thank you for helping to Keep Our Door(s) Open.
Resettlement through the JFS Lens by 
Shrina H. Eadeh, LMSW
Director of Resettlement Services
The United States will be resettling a historic record low of 18,000 individuals in fiscal year 2020—the lowest in the 40-year history of the resettlement program in the U.S.

IDA Client becomes a first-time home owner!

Adnan, a refugee from Syria, arrived with his family to the United states in 2016. After living in Maryland for a year, the family came to Ann Arbor with the hope they would find more of an Arab community for support. The family was assisted by Jewish Family Services resettlement team who helped them secure permanent housing, apply for benefits, enroll their children in school, find employment, and continue to work towards self-sufficiency.

In August, 2018, Adnan enrolled into the Individual Development Account (IDA) program at JFS to save for a home. JFS, in partnership with HIAS, assists eligible populations with matched savings accounts designed to help participants save for a specific savings goal. Under the IDA program, the matching funds, together with the participant’s own savings from their employment, are available for purchasing one (or more) of four savings goals:

– Home purchase
– Small business development
– Post-secondary education or training
– Automobile (for employment or education purposes)

Adnan saved consecutively into his IDA savings account for eight months, and participated in numerous financial literacy, and home-ownership trainings to establish healthy savings habits, and to learn about the home-buying process. As of June 24, 2019, Adnan and his family are happily settled into their new home in Ypsilanti, MI.
America Did Not Settle A Single Refugee in October
In November it admitted under 1,500, the lowest total for that month since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

By The Numbers: Refugees in Michigan
Keeping Our Door Open
Book Club!
What is it like to be a refugee? It is a question many of us do not give much thought to, and yet there are more than 25 million refugees in the world. Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel–turned–refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton University.

5 Questions For:
Ben Cabanaw
State Refugee Coordinator
MI Dept. of Labor & Economic Opportunity
Q. What originally inspired your passion for civil service or for Refugee work?  
It has been an ongoing journey. Initial inspiration came as a result of my faith; I felt a drive to serve those in need professionally. I began taking classes in Sociology and declared that major in college. My interests were policy and theory more than social work practice, and I knew then that I wanted to be in public or civil service to influence aid to people. At the same time, I completed my Sociology coursework at university with a “Lost Boy” from Sudan. His stories, courage, and passion were an inspiration to me then and still.  
Q. Which challenges—disparities, gaps, policies—keep you up at night?

I would have answered this question differently three years ago, and likely will in the future. Currently, the gross indecency for the treatment of human life and the lack of compassion in our nation’s leaders disturbs me greatly. I am concerned for the infrastructure of refugee resettlement, and for our international relationships, given current policies and changes in priorities. That said, I truly believe it will weather this storm. Beyond the hyperbole and chaos of our current reality, the challenges that keep me up are how to best strategize and collaborate to ensure true self-sufficiency and success for our new neighbors. I envision a program of services that moves beyond initial resettlement and job placement to long-lasting, full-family integration and refugees’ empowerment.

Q. What’s your proudest professional accomplishment? 

I think I would have to say being named State Refugee Coordinator. I have had some memorable moments working in child welfare in the past, but this program has touched me over the last 10 years in ways I never expected. A few individuals took notice of my passion and drive for this program, and presented me with the opportunity to serve the program in this role, which I take extremely serious and with great pride.

Q. Who or what inspires you to keep going? 

Professionally, the stories of refugees keeps me inspired to do the best for this program every day. Their resilience, accomplishments, and courage in the face of all they have experienced brings perspective to everyday life. Additionally, I could not keep going with strength and inspiration without my wife’s support and encouragement.

Q. What’s one thing you would want our readers to know about your work?

I approach everything with an open-mind and the sky as the limit. I believe that the absolute key to success is in collaboration and open communication. My goals always include the involvement of the people who are on the ground with the most hands-on experience. I visualize a future for this program that expands on the limits to what we currently can do by incorporating the input of all our partners and from refugees themselves!