UST assists refugees here in the Heights
US Together Inc. (UST) is a nonprofit refugee resettlement agency with a branch in Cleveland Heights. An affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), UST resettles refugees from all over the world—irrespective of religion or ethnicity—who are forced to seek refuge in another country. All resettlement cases are referred by HIAS.
UST was founded in 2003 in Columbus, where it is headquartered, in response to the needs of refugees and immigrants in central Ohio. In 2008, UST opened an office in Beachwood, and in 2010 moved to an office in Cleveland Heights, at 2940 Noble Road.
“The majority of UST’s clients were being placed in this area,” said Helen Tarkhanova, refugee resettlement coordinator for UST. “The organization wanted to move its office closer to the refugee population in order to serve it better. Cleveland Heights was one of the neighborhoods that presented the best opportunities for our clients.” The Cleveland Heights office resettles refugees from the former Soviet Union, Bhutan and Iraq, among other countries.
“As a mutual assistance agency,” explained Tarkhanova, “the organization was founded and is run by refugees. UST understands that refugees coming to this country are facing numerous challenges, including learning a new language, navigating a new culture and finding employment. The organization gives hands-on experience to incoming refugees from the day they arrive in the United States, and teaches them how to acculturate best to their new environment."
UST’s services to refugee families include pre-arrival processing and reception planning; housing set up; airport pick up; case management; development and implementation of a resettlement plan; orientation; employment assessment; referrals to social services and community resources; advocacy; coordination of community volunteers; acculturation classes and workshops; and basic needs support.
The organization is currently working on a public education curriculum, noted Tarkhanova, and would like to improve awareness of the presence of refugees in the Heights. After meeting recently with Cleveland Heights Council member Jason Stein, said Tarkhanova, UST is excited to partner more closely with the City of Cleveland Heights and work to make the city a more welcoming destination for newly arrived refugees. “We accept new cases daily, make transitions as smooth as possible, and encourage self-sufficiency,” said Tarkhanova. “UST works with the hope that all refugees will flourish and succeed in their new lives.”
Contact UST at 216-456-9630, or visit www.ustogether.us.
Kayleen Herron is UST's resettlement support and research specialist, and volunteer coordinator. She is working to shed more light on the topic of refugees living here in the Cleveland area.