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. For these, we have included brief summaries below but encourage you to follow the links to read on about ways you can get involved.

Freeze for Food 2023

The 42nd Annual Freeze for Food 5k/10k was an enormous success! 406 runners and 50 volunteers came together (in 40-degree weather!) on March 4 to race and raise over $15k in donations for Open Doors for Refugees. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time to run/walk/jog around Lake Wingra again. Mark your calendars and sign up for the 43rd Annual Freeze for Food, taking place on March 2, 2024!

People starting from the finish line of the Freeze for Food race.

Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

On February 6, 2023, devastating earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria. This natural disaster impacted regions already in need of humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian needs in both countries are still immense. We stand in solidarity with all those affected by the earthquakes, including our refugee families here in Madison who have family members in the impacted regions.

Ken Baun Retires

Ken giving a speech

Open Doors for Refugees co-founder Ken Baun officially stepped back from his leadership role within the organization due to health issues. Ken’s contribution to ODFR cannot be overstated, and it is with sincere gratitude that we as an organization and community recognize Ken’s vital service. Ken’s still active in the organization, helping out with necessary groundwork.

The Adriana Shipwreck

On June 14, 2023, a fishing boat carrying an estimated 750 people capsized off the coast of Greece, leading to the death of more than 600 (Amnesty International). Nearly all those on board were refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan. We at Open Doors for Refugees extend our deepest sympathies to those on board or who had a loved one on board the Adriana and support more government action to prevent and react to similar tragedies.

Who’s New In Madison

Who’s New in Madison set a record raising funds for Open Doors for Refugees, designated as their 2022-2023 service partner. The social organization raised over 50k in funds, donations, and estimated value of volunteer hours. The impact of their work is invaluable to us and more importantly, the community at large.

Open Doors 100th Apartment

Leslie Field, Jeff Lindholm, and Barbara Forrest, all volunteers, plus Kathy Lyon

In 2023, Open Doors for Refugees, with help from Jewish Social Services, set up our 100th apartment for an arriving family! It says a lot that ODFR, an all-volunteer organization supported entirely by community donations of time, money, furniture, and household items, has been able to set up 100 apartments. This milestone would not have been possible without the help of our incredible community. Thank you, sincerely, for your contributions!

A Call for Peace

Open Doors for Refugees recognizes that the situation in the Middle East is complex and multifaceted, affecting both the Palestinian and Israeli communities. We recognize the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of all people in the region, including both Palestinian and Israeli citizens. While there may be seemingly limited direct action one can take to assist Palestinian refugees, there are still meaningful ways to contribute to their well-being.

A Picnic, Thanksgiving, and a Walk Through Nature

Several special events united ODFR volunteers and community members, including the 2023 Annual Community Picnic, Family Nature Day at Elver Park, and a lovely Thanksgiving celebration! Not only are they fun, but these events also provide essential community-building, connecting newly arrived refugees with their neighbors. Our gatherings offer an opportunity to celebrate our community’s simultaneous diversity and unity; we share our cultures via food, language, art, and conversation. We appreciate all of our Madison community members—new and longstanding—and hope to see you at an upcoming ODFR event!