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Our New Neighbors Need Your Help

The Upper West Side has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of asylum seekers and refugees—as well as other unhoused adults and families—in the last several years. BJ is committed to improving the quality of life and supporting a sense of community for our new neighbors. We have partnered with two local shelter sites: a family migrant shelter that houses 200 families with children, and a Safe Haven shelter that houses and offers wraparound support services to single adults previously surviving on the streets. 

I have engaged with dozens of individuals, including parents and children, from both shelters who have come to our programs or received donations. Every conversation I have and every time I see a new relationship forming, I am incredibly grateful to be a part of a community that is so willing to give time, lend support, and offer a hand to those most in need. If you haven’t already, I hope you will join us in these efforts!

How You Can Help

If you would like to be kept informed about BJ’s ongoing efforts to support unhoused New Yorkers, sign up for Updates on Shelter Support Efforts. 


Suitcase Drive – March 11-31: Help our neighbors move with dignity. Drop off suitcases of any size at BJ Community House, weekdays only 8:00 AM–7:00 PM. Suitcases will help families at the migrant shelters who are being evicted from their shelters after only a couple of months, and forced to move to new shelter placements. Suitcases must be in good/working condition.

Toiletries and Other Essentials for Safe Haven Residents: Purchase items from this Amazon Wishlist to provide essential items to residents at the 83rd Street Safe Haven (note: please ship to 106 West 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024; Attn: Cassey Toliver). 

Spring & Summer Clothing Drive for Children — March 11-22: The JCC will be collecting new and very gently used children’s clothing for new immigrants in District 3 public schools. Infant, toddler, or children’s sizes only.

Make a gift to the BJ Refugee, Asylum, and Immigration Fund to continue supporting our efforts. Just $25 will allow us to purchase a rolling suitcases for an individual in need.  


Accompany Families Through Shelter Changes: Volunteers are needed to accompany families being evicted from the shelters on the UWS to the Roosevelt Hotel (45 E 45th Street) where they are assigned new shelter placements. Must have basic conversational Spanish skills, half-day commitment, various dates

Weekly Respite Dinners for families in the Shelter – Thursday March 14 & 28 5:30-7:00 PM: We particularly need volunteers who speak Spanish and/or can help with childcare.

Monthly Clinics to Help Asylum Seekers Get Employment Application Documents (EAD) – Thursdays, Beginning March 21, 5:30-7:00 PM: In partnership with Project Rousseau, we will offer a monthly clinic (Thursdays, 5:30-7:oo PM) where volunteers will help asylum seekers complete and submit the online application for employment authorization. You do not need to be a lawyer or employment professional. We are seeking:

  • Spanish speaking volunteers
  • Tech-savvy non-spanish speaking volunteers
  • Childcare/waiting room volunteers

The Refugee Employment Partnership (REP) is looking for employers who might want to hire  well-qualified, 100% work-authorized refugees who speak English.  REP is a BJ-supported employment readiness program that has placed more than 160 people at companies like Orsid Realty, Levain Bakery, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Accenture. If you have an employer relationship you might be able to help change a life for the better. Please email Shirley Abraham.  

7 Ways Our Community Has Stepped Up to Support Our Neighbors So Far

  1. Volunteers and donors have supported us in hosting dozens of families from the migrant shelter at a dinner in our Sukkah, a holiday meal for Thanksgiving, a gift distribution and holiday party, and weekly respite dinners.
  2. Early childhood families responded within hours to a call for diapers for a mother in need.
  3. BJ teens volunteer to serve food and engage children at each of our events with the migrant shelter.
  4. Spanish-speaking volunteers heeded emergency requests to support families being evicted from the Amsterdam Migrant Shelter by accompanying them to the Roosevelt Hotel for reassignment  to a new shelter.
  5. Members donated coats, warm winter clothing, essential toiletries and supplies, and holiday gifts for residents of both shelters.
  6. We have invited children and families from the shelter to our Purim carnival; Kadima students will be preparing mishloah manot filled with lunch foods for these guests.
  7. We inspired and are involved in city and state legislative efforts to improve shelter processes and stability for newly-arriving immigrant families.