Alla Puchinsky arrived in the U.S. 20 years ago as a refugee from the former Soviet Union. She was greeted and welcomed by Jewish Family and Children Services (JF&CS) and volunteers from the Jewish community — some of whom she is friends with until this day. In 2000, Alla brought her skills and high level of education (she has a Ph.D. in rhetoric) to bear as a refugee case , assisting with the resettlement of Russian-speaking refugees. With 17 years under her belt, she is the longest-serving member of our refugee department. Alla’s primary role is ensuring that new arrivals are connected to government benefits and with help navigating the medical system — two critically important roles and critical to future success in the U.S. Alla follows our most vulnerable clients through the complicated medical maze. She has been at births, deaths, major surgeries, 5 am appointments and 1 am emergencies. After one birth, a Burmese mother asked Alla what to name her newborn. Alla chose David.
Alla is is dearly loved by her colleagues and refugee clients for her huge heart, knowledge of community resources, and unmatched dedication to meet client needs. Clients from all different parts of the world refer to her with an endearing and respectful word from their language: the Burmese called her “Pi” (pronounced Pee) Alla or Grandma Alla. The Bhutanese call her Alla ma’am. We, at JF&CS, call her simply amazing.
Alla was nominated by Jordan Golin, Psy.D.President & Chief Executive Officer Jewish Family & Children’s Service.