Smart Start

Advocate for new refugee mothers as they navigate the challenges of motherhood in a foreign city

It Takes a Village

Our new Smart Start Program matches local volunteers with new refugee and immigrant mothers to serve as allies and advocates as they learn to navigate motherhood in a new city and culture.

This program focuses specifically on refugee and immigrant moms who are pregnant or have newborns or children under the age of five. We know this is an important area to provide support, especially since 100% of our families live on or below the poverty line and 98% of our families have children under the age of 18 in the home. Since 2017 we’ve welcomed 23 beautiful and healthy babies in our families–all the first American Citizens in their family!

Across the world and at home here in Pittsburgh, refugee and immigrant women who are pregnant or recently gave birth face significant challenges. On top of the typical postpartum blues (it is estimated that 50-85% of women experience postpartum blues in the first few weeks after delivery), refugee and immigrant women also experience challenges such as language barriers, discrimination, poverty, and separation from their culture and family, leading to feelings of isolation.

Supporting New Moms

The Smart Start Program aims to reduce periods of isolation, provide community support, and ensure that both mom and baby have everything they need.

This program has three initial initiatives:

  • Provide baby boxes to each new mom, complete with necessary newborn items like diapers, clothing, and toys.
  • Organize a community meal train to make and deliver meals for the family in the first month after birth.
  • Match an educated and caring advocate volunteer with each new mom to visit before and after birth, help schedule doctors appointments, and help connect her to other resources that can continue to support her and baby.

Interested in becoming a Smart Start volunteer?

If you are interested in volunteering to support a new refugee or immigrant mom please email the Volunteer Coordinator, Aubrey Parke, at

If you’re not able to provide mom-to-mom support, there are other ways you can help out! Visit our Get Involved page to learn about other opportunities to volunteer your time and talents to support refugees and immigrants.


Visit our Family Services FAQs page to explore the answers to frequently asked questions about Smart Start and other Hello Neighbor programs.

Nominate A Refugee or Immigrant Mother

Do you know a refugee or immigrant mother who might be a good fit for our Smart Start program? Read the requirements and learn how you can nominate a refugee or immigrant mother here.