Our goal is help new refugee families settle in and become members of our community. To achieve this, Open Doors offers the following programs.
Emergency Funding Program
Early this last April we estimated that over 50% of the former-refugee population lost their job in the pandemic. In response to the economic devastation, Open Doors created an Emergency Funding program and allocated $10,000 (about half our assets at the time) towards relief funding. Initially, we contacted the 85 families whom we know and offered relief funding if they 1) had been here less than five years, 2) had an adult in the home who had lost a job because of COVID, and 3) they needed and wanted our help. 55 families (65%) responded, and we were able to give each of them $200. Please see the thank you notes we received in the blog section of this website.
In the meantime, the response and financial support from the community has been strong. In May over 30 people donated more than $6,000, and then we took in over $4,000 in the Walk Your Talk fundraiser. Financially we’re back to where we were two months ago, so now we are launching the second phase of Emergency Funding.
This time we’re taking a more targeted approach to try to get a larger check to a smaller number of the most hard-hit families. We are partnering with Jewish Social Services and we’ll rely on their staff to figure out what the family needs and has, and to ensure that the families are enrolled in the various federal, state and local programs currently available to them. Then, depending on the needs of the family, we’ll cost-share with JSS to address those needs. We expect to roll out this second phase in early July when we finalize remaining details.
If you would like to support our new neighbors and help them endure this catastrophe, you can make a contribution to Open Doors here. Thank you so much for your generosity and support.
One of the goals of Open Doors is to help new arrivals develop new skills to help them become more independent. Hence, we’ve put together a Skill-Building Program to foster and encourage newcomers to learn new skills. This program provides a modicum of cost-sharing to help pay for training.
We fund half the cost of a class or training, up to $500 (our share) in one year or $1,000 over five years. We’ve also used that money to help buy books and equipment.
In the last two years, 29 people have taken advantage of this program. Among women, especially Muslim women who perhaps weren’t able to drive in their home country, it’s most commonly been used to take Driver’s Education classes (“behind the wheel”, where $370 pays for half the cost of seven 1.5-hour driving lessons). Men have most often used the program to help get vocational training, such as to become an electrician or medical translator or truck driver, and a couple of men are in college!
This program has helped a lot of people become more independent, but it’s also expensive. As the number of people we serve has grown and our income has shrunk, we’ve considered whether or not we can continue with this program at these levels. For now, we’re holding our own but it’s tenuous. If this is something you’d like to support, please make a financial donation to us here and ask that the funds be earmarked to support this program. Thank you for your support.