Response to COVID-19

At Hello Neighbor we are committed to your safety and that of the families we serve

March 12, 2020

Updated August 31, 2020:

COVID-19 Policy Update: Hello Neighbor’s office will be closed through March 31, 2021. We are still collecting select donated items at our office every Wednesday from 9-5pm.

We will continue hosting distributions to get essential supplies to our refugee families in need. For more information on upcoming distributions, please check our Facebook page or the events page of our website.

Updated August 22, 2020:

On August 22nd, we hosted our third distribution geared toward getting students and families ready to head back to school where we distributed school supplies to over 90 refugee children enrolled in our Smart Start program!

Elementary through high school students and their parents attended this event at our office where all staff, volunteers and families were required to wear masks and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Students collected fully stuffed backpacks, lunch boxes, hand sanitizer donated by our friends at Global Wordsmiths, feminine care products, and other essential supplies, in addition to receiving fresh first-day-of-school haircuts from Metamorphosis Salon!

In addition to collecting materials, parents were able to sit down with Hello Neighbor staff and interpreters to talk about access to technology in the home and get set up with the tools they need to support their child’s remote learning experience. Parents were also able to meet with a representative from Pittsburgh Public Schools to ask questions about the upcoming school year and the latest updates from their school district.

Thank you to our amazing supporters, volunteers, and partners who made this day such an incredible success!

Read more about our Back-To-School Distribution.

Updated July 22, 2020:

On July 22nd, we hosted another distribution geared toward expecting and new moms and their babies who are enrolled in Smart Start for Refugee Mothers and Children.

Everyone who attended received a month’s supply of diapers, wipes, formula, personal care and feminine hygiene products plus cleaning supplies. There were also opportunities to take home perishable food items. We also were able to distribute lightly used car seats, strollers, and other donated baby essentials to help our newest neighbors navigate through this challenging time.

This distribution was held at our office and all volunteers, staff, and attendees were required to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines as outlined by Allegheny County.

None of this would have been possible without the help of our amazing community partners, school fundraisers and local church groups who donated supplies, and of course our incredible team of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who made this day a remarkable success!

Read more about our Mom and Baby Essentials Distribution.

Updated June 20, 2020:

Thanks to your generosity we have raised $75,000 for our refugee neighbors in crisis. On June 18th we hosted a Distribution Day event at our office where refugee families could come collect their Refugee Assistance Fund check and receive other essential materials. We had 70 families attend (practicing safe social distancing) over the course of the day. 23 families also completed the census with the help of our amazing volunteers.

One refugee dad told us, “Thank you for all you do for my family. We know we are not alone here now.”

We were able to hand out over $5,000 worth of donated items including shelf-stable food boxes, feminine care items, baby essentials, books, craft kits and more thanks to our amazing partners: The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, Beverly’s Birthdays, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Grounded. We are honored to support the refugee community in Pittsburgh in this way.


Updated June 15, 2020:

We will be hosting a Distribution Day on June 18th to hand out checks to families as well as distribute food, baby supplies, craft kits and other essential materials to the refugee families in our program. While we will be taking every safety precaution during this distribution, we see this as an opportunity to help our refugee neighbors practice social distancing and prepare for the transition of phases in a safe and supportive environment.

Interested in getting involved?

Donate Materials: We’re currently accepting donations of select items for our families in crisis. If you would like to donate goods to support your refugee neighbors, shop our Walmart Wishlist and Amazon Wishlist.

Donate Time: We’re looking for 10-12 volunteers to help during our Distribution Day on June 18th. We need help with set up (1-3pm), event support (3-7pm) and tear down (7-9pm). If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Calli White at

Donate Funds: We’ve set a goal of raising $75,000 for the Refugee Assistance Fund to support families who are struggling to rebuild and we’re almost there!

Will you help us reach our goal by June 18th?


Updated June 1, 2020:

We’ve reached over $65,000 in donations for the Refugee Assistance Fund! As a result of this generosity, we are pleased to share we have opened up a second round of applications for families to receive direct cash assistance through the Refugee Assistance Fund!

Applications open today and will remain open through June 15th. Mentors, interpreters and Hello Neighbor staff are currently working with families who have expressed need on submitting their applications.

Our staff will then review this second wave of applicants and distribute funds accordingly.

As Allegheny County moves into the green phase and people begin to transition back into their normal way of life, it is important to remember that for refugee families who’ve been impacted by COVID-19, the need does not change once restictions are lifted. Parents are still out of work and struggling to provide for their families, pay their bills and put food on the table. Children are still navigating remote learning without the resources they need.

For this reason, we have increased our fundraising goal for the Refugee Assistance Fund to $75,000 in an effort to provide more critical support to the families still struggling to rebuild in the wake of this pandemic.

Every dollar you donate to the Refugee Assistance Fund goes directly to our families to meet their most urgent and critical needs.

Will you help us reach our new goal?


Updated May 27, 2020:

In the past month, Hello Neighbor has partnered with some amazing local organizations to distribute food to refugee families in our programs. Those organizations include: 412 Food Rescue, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM).

Through these partnerships and with the help of 35 incredible mentors and volunteers, we have successfully distributed 134 food boxes and 92 meals to 92 families in our program.

In addition to food packages, we have also distributed homemade masks and cleaning kits prepared by volunteers, children’s books donated by local church groups, and craft kits provided for our refugee students by The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.

We have a second distribution of food boxes from The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank coming up in the following weeks.


Updated May 7, 2020:

Thanks to our amazing community of supporters, we surpassed our stretch goal of $40,000 and together we’ve raised $43,000 for 95 refugee families in Pittsburgh!

We could not have done this without the help of the 139 supporters and two foundations - Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh and SteelTree Fund - who donated.

On May 1st we mailed out our first round of Refugee Assistance Fund checks, providing 95 refugee families with $250 each in direct cash assistance to meet their most critical needs, including rent assistance, utility bills, food, baby supplies, and educational resources.

Thank you to all who donated and made this possible. We have already received so much positive feedback and words of gratitude from families who no longer feel alone thanks to your generosity.


Updated May 4, 2020:

As an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, Pittsburgh Magazine is launching Give Big Pittsburgh on May 5th — a city-wide initiative to support local nonprofits impacted by the pandemic.

Your donations will help fund our response efforts to COVID-19 and allow our organization to continue to support our refugee neighbors.

We have a $5,000 match this year from our generous partners at The Good People Fund. That means every dollar you donate before 12PM tomorrow will be DOUBLED!


Updated April 24, 2020:

While many of our mentees have lost work due to COVID-19, those who have not are found working on the frontline in hospitals and high-risk areas.

Several of our mentors who are skilled in sewing have volunteered to produce handmade masks and cleaning kits for our families working on the frontline. These kits contain two masks, one to wear and one to wash, with insertable filters, as well as a small bleach cleaning kit to clean your shoes after work.

So far we have distributed 150 masks to refugee families and essential workers. We are continuing to make and supply these masks to families working on the frontline. Stay tuned for more updates on that.

Updated April 23, 2020:

Hello Neighbor was featured in the local news. Read more below.

For Pittsburgh’s immigrants, COVID-19 amplifies language barriers, food scarcity and limited work

“The biggest thing I am hearing is a lack of historical background on American culture and what will happen in a crisis,” founder and CEO Sloane Davidson said. “We know we can’t pay this or that we get a late charge, and I have a certain amount of confidence that it will be OK. But they don’t have that — how would they? Information is trickling to them. They are getting information from different places. It’s not about them not having the intellect to understand it, it is just so new.”

Read the full article on Public Source.

Hello Neighbor intensifies help to refugee families during pandemic

“In the meantime, Hello Neighbor set up a refugee assistance fund and raised $25,000, enough to give each of its families a $250 micro grant. Ms. Davidson said if the fund grows with new donations, she will offer families additional chances to apply.”

Read the full article on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Updated April 22, 2020:

This week, Hello Neighbor partnered with 412 Food Rescue and The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to distribute food to refugee families in our programs.

Through our partnership with 412 Food Rescue, we were able to rescue 50 halal meals from Salem’s Market and Grill in the Strip District on Friday, April 17th. Six of our mentors met in the restaurant parking lot in masks and gloves and Hello Neighbor staff members completed contactless trunk deliveries to each car before sending them off to distribute meals to families.

On Wednesday April 22nd, we partnered with The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to pick up 50 shelf-safe boxes of food for our families in need. Hello Neighbor staff met at the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank pick-up site to collect boxes, and then distributed them through contactless delivery to the cars of 11 mentors who volunteered to deliver food to our families in various neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh. In addition to food boxes, each family received homemade masks made by one of our mentors.

Hello Neighbor has successfully delivered food to 67 families in our program so far.

Updated April 15, 2020:

Thanks to our amazing community and supporters like you, we reached our initial fundraising goal of $25,000 and our stretch goal of $40,000 for the Refugee Assistance Fund in just 15 days!

100% of these donations go directly to our refugee families in crisis to meet their most critical needs, including rent assistance, utility bills, food, baby supplies, and educational resources.

Thank you to all who donated and made this possible. Because of you, our families no longer have to feel alone in this scary and unprecedented time, and for that we are so very grateful.

We are in the process of reviewing applications for refugee families who have applied for this direct cash assistance fund and will begin distributing funds accordingly. Stay tuned for more updates!

Updated March 31, 2020:

Hello Neighbor launches the Refugee Assistance Fund in response to COVID-19 to meet the critical needs of refugee families in Pittsburgh. Read more about the launch of this initiative.

100% of donations go directly to recently resettled refugees in Pittsburgh to help meet immediate needs, such as paying bills, rent, and providing food and educational resources for their families.


Updated March 30, 2020:

Sloane Davidson shares a video update and checks in on the greater community during this unprecedented time. Watch video here.

Updated March 24, 2020:

A personal note Founder, Sloane Davidson, as she reflects on COVID-19 and how Hello Neighbor continues to respond. Read more here.

Updated March 16, 2020:

In light of the latest requests from Allegheny County officials, Hello Neighbor has made the difficult decision to close our offices for the next 14 days and move all staff to working remotely online. Furthermore, it is with heavy hearts that we have decided to pause all programming, including mentorship, food programming, and Smart Start. We have advised mentors and mentees not to have direct, in-person contact with one another for the next two weeks, and all custom food orders will be paused until further notice. While the decision to suspend all programming was not made lightly, with the spread of COVID-19, we believe it is the socially responsible thing to do.

The health, safety, and welfare of all of our staff, volunteers, mentors, and mentees is our top priority. We are working hard on how to best serve our refugee families during this national crisis to make sure they know where to access food, what services are open, and what protections they have.

We will be sharing more resources with you in the coming days for how to navigate this challenging time and support your neighbors from a safe and healthy distance. The Hello Neighbor community is resilient, and we look forward to coming out of this stronger with you.

Updated March 13, 2020:

At Hello Neighbor, it is our top priority to protect and preserve the safety and well-being of the community we serve–from mentors and mentees to staff, volunteers, and friends of Hello Neighbor.

We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the evolving conditions of the coronavirus through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and remain proactive in planning the best ways to preserve and protect the health and safety of our community.

As an organization committed to community support, we encourage you to find ways to continue supporting your neighbors and community members while also keeping yourself safe.

We are taking the following steps to do just that…

Our Staff

Our staff has been advised to take all necessary precautionary measures while working both in-office and in the community. We are asking that, when possible, all external meetings be moved to conference calls rather than in-person. We will continue our work of being in the community and serving our families, while being mindful of social distancing when possible and following any preventative measures as outlined by the CDC. Staff have been advised to stay home and work remotely if they show signs of sickness or have traveled to an area where cases have been confirmed.

The Families We Serve

We recognize that many of the refugee families we serve in Pittsburgh will be affected by this outbreak not only on a health level, but an economic level. Majority of families we serve operate as a single-income family, and most of their jobs are within the hospitality and transportation industries–which will be largely affected.

We also expect mental health impacts to emerge. The impact of fear, the unknown, lost wages and the ability to provide for your family is extremely hard on everyone. We know our refugee families have faced adversity before, but this can and will unlock trauma for many of them compounding any challenges they were already experiencing.

Our team is actively working on putting together resources that will help guide important conversations around this issue and point families toward resources available. For our families who are English Language Learners and still somewhat unfamiliar with American culture, it is crucial that we support them in ensuring they are getting the best and most accurate information.

This is where we need your help. As stated, we are developing a resource guide for our families as we speak. This includes great educational tools for understanding this outbreak and what preventative measures to take. It includes resources and ideas for what supplies are needed and how to find them on a very limited budget.

We would love to hear your suggestions for helpful resources to share. Please send any helpful information or ideas to

The Greater Hello Neighbor Community

  • Second Annual Meeting - Cancelled: We are disappointed to share that we have made the decision to cancel our 2nd Annual State of The Neighborhood Meeting, which was scheduled to be held on April 20th at Duolingo’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. We are in the works of shifting to an online, livestream event on that date in place of an in-person meeting–stay tuned for more event details in the coming weeks. While this is not the way we pictured celebrating another year of tremendous growth and impact among you and our refugee neighbors, our top priority at this time is protecting and preserving the health and safety of the community we serve and work in. We hope you will still join us for this online celebration.
  • Big Table Pittsburgh - Cancelled: Our Big Table event, scheduled to take place at our office on Wednesday, March 18th has been postponed under the advice of Leadership Pittsburgh. We had plans to bring together an awesome group of people for an evening of delicious food and inspiring conversation, but again, safety is our biggest concern at this time.
  • Other Upcoming Events - TBD: We are closely monitoring other upcoming Hello Neighbor events scheduled to take place in the next 90 days and making decisions based on the evolving conditions of COVID-19. While we have no further cancellations to announce at this time, please continue to check back on our website, social media, and email newsletter for further updates and developments in the coming weeks.

Please keep an eye out for more updates and announcements to come.

As the impact of this global pandemic continues to evolve, rest assured that we will continue to adjust and take any and all measures necessary to keep our community safe while continuing our mission to be the best neighbors we can possibly be – spreading love (not viruses) in the City of Pittsburgh.

Let’s stay safe, be well, and be kind to one another.

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