Sparkt Bridges

Hello Neighbor Welcomes Refugees to New Home

Matches immigrants with home-towners who mentor them, enriching lives on both sides!

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.

Imagine. You're in a new place, thousands of miles from home, friends and family. You don't speak the language, the culture is strange, and you don't know where anything is. You'd probably feel overwhelmed, and even a little frightened.

In Pittsburgh, that's where the group Hello Neighbor steps in. Founded in 2017, the organization matches recently resettled immigrant families with Pittsburgh neighbors who support and guide them in their new lives, filling in the gaps where formal resettlement agencies leave off. We got a chance to see how it works when the whole group came together for the Hello Neighbor summer picnic:

So far 75+ refugee families have been matched with Hello Neighbor mentors, who spend an average of 10 hours a month together, meeting, sharing meals, attending events -- anything that would assist the family, expose them to something new, and help them get comfortable in their new home.

Families often share meals and celebrate holidays in each others homes. Hello Neighbor Facebook page

"The time they spend together has changed their lives and that what gets me excited everyday," said Sloane Davidson, Hello Neighbor founder. She dreams that maybe, someday, the Hello Neighbor idea will spread to other cities. In a broader sense, she views it as a chance for each of us to do our part in making the world a better place place.

"This is what will change us as Americans, and change us as Pittsburghers." Hello Pittsburgh mentor

If you're interested in becoming a mentor , you can sign up now for the next training cohort by clicking here. Mentors range from young professionals to families and seniors, and a mentor's whole family can be involved, since the immigrant families typically have kids under 18.

Group outings and events help refugees feel even more at home. Hello Neighbor Facebook page

If you're an immigrant new to Pittsburgh or you know a refugee family that could benefit from the Hello Neighbor experience click here to find out how to get involved.

If you'd like to support neighbors who have been forced to flee their homes and face uncertain futures, you can make a financial donation to Hello Neighbor by clicking here .

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced

with the generous support of UPMC.

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