Meet Cecilia Gillhouse, Open Doors’ New Executive Director

Open Doors for Refugees is happy to announce that we have hired our first Executive Director. This is a major step in the growth of this all-volunteer organization. Cecilia is a bilingual immigrant from Argentina. She has worked in the Madison community since 2003. Cecilia has more than 20 years of experience providing services and […]

The World & Open Doors in 2023

Open Doors has been through a lot this year, some of which you can learn about below. And as we also look back on the past year’s world events, it is important to remember that these tragedies and their impacts are ongoing; there are efforts we can take to support those effected by these crises. […]

Connecting at the Immigrant Affairs Luncheon

Last week, Leadership Council representatives Madeline, Margaret, and Sallie attended the Dane County Office of Immigration Affairs luncheon celebrating the awesome work this unique county office has done this past year. Immigrant allies working in government, social services, education, and law gathered to connect and reflect on challenges and accomplishments in immigrant advocacy in Dane […]

Thanks for Open Doors Thanksgiving 2023

What a marvelous Open Doors Thanksgiving 2023! A huge thanks goes to all of our mighty 63 volunteers who welcomed 48 children and 52 adults for a celebratory total of 163! Francine Butoto & Emmanuel opened festivities with two songs in Swahili. (See Francine and her four kids on YouTube) The 10 turkeys were delicious! We ate 8, did a drawing for one, and gave […]

Celebrating at our Annual Picnic

Community gathers together at Olin Park On July 9, refugee families, OFDR volunteers, and other community members gathered at Madison’s beautiful Olin Park for Open Doors for Refugees’ annual summer picnic. “One of the things that we like about having this annual picnic is it’s a time for everyone to come together,” Sallie Pisera, an […]

ODFR Community Picnic 2023

You’re invited to a potluck picnic! On Sunday, July 9th from 12-4pm at the Olin Park Pavilion in Madison, Open Doors for Refugees will host a picnic celebrating diversity and community. Come meet neighbors and enjoy an afternoon of delicious food, activities for all ages, and engaging music and dance entertainment representing the diversity of […]

Family Nature Day at Elver Park

ODFR recently partnered with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center to host a family nature day at Elver Park! Though the weather wasn’t what we’d hoped for, we are so appreciative of the families for coming out and the ALNC for their awesome programming! This event included fun activities about animal skins, skulls, and scat, in […]

Karen Cornwell, Sewing Machine Lady

ODFR’s “sewing machine lady” is Karen Cornwell, who for years has been gifting newly arrived refugees, seniors, and low-income individuals with sewing machines via a variety of organizations. “It comes in spurts,” she says. “In the past couple months, working with JSS and ODFR, I think we’ve delivered 20 machines to women from Afghanistan, the […]

ODFR Warehouses: 5 Things You Never Knew

ODFR couldn’t operate without its warehouses: when newcomer families arrive with little notice, ODFR & JSS volunteers collaborate, setting up apartments fast with donated furniture and housewares collected from all over Madison and stored in donated warehouse space. Here are five things you might not know about ODFR’s warehouses!

 Long Road to a Dream Job

In his eloquent appearance on Channel 3000 to promote the 2023 Freeze for Food, Farhan A. shared the eight-year-long road to his dream job as a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin. Farhan and his family fled Iraq and arrived in Madison in 2014, under auspices of the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Madison’s Lutheran Social […]