Who We Are
Open Doors for Refugees is an all-volunteer organization founded in 2016 and based in Madison, Wisconsin whose mission is to help refugees make a home in the Madison area. We work closely with Jewish Social Services (the sole official refugee resettlement agency in Madison) but we are not a faith-based organization and are not affiliated with any faith-based organization.
Officially we are a project of, and have 501(c)(3) status through, our fiscal agent, the Center for Community Stewardship. Our Leadership Council (comprised largely of team leaders of other teams) provides overall leadership, direction, and policy decision-making for Open Doors, while our General Manager (Ken Baun, available at OpenDoorsForRefugees@gmail.com) handles day-to-day business.
We support new and recent arrivals in a variety of ways, largely through a network of volunteer teams.
Most notably, our Donations and Move-In teams collect donations of furniture and household items and use them to furnish and stock apartments for arriving refugees (37 apartments as of 2020). We also have teams that provide Translation, Transportation, ESL, Childcare, and Employment services.
Our Home Supply team provides basic (non-food) supplies to new arrivals every month for their first year here. We also have a very active Events team that hosts or co-hosts four major events annually, and in the last four years, has hosted or co-hosted about 20 one-of-a-kind public events.
We reach out and support newcomers one-on-one through our Connecting Neighbors program. And finally, we have a Skill-Building program that helps pay for training and classes for recent arrivals to learn new skills. Please see our Volunteer page for more information or to get involved.
We subsist entirely on the generous donations of individuals and organizations. If you’d like, you can make a tax deductible donation to us here, and thank you for your generosity.
Open Doors began in the spring of 2016 as an offshoot of an event to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis. At the end of the event, half the people stayed to talk about what we could do. Through a series of meetings and events that followed, we eventually morphed into Open Doors for Refugees with our current mission and focus. Since then, four years later, about 1,700 people have reached out to Open Doors, and about 300 have signed up to be on one or more of our teams. We invite you to become involved!