November 2018 Newsletter

In this issue:
  • Refugee Families Arriving Soon
  • Furniture and Household Needs for New Arrivals
  • Giving Thanks
  • New - Home Supplies Program
  • Winter Coat Needs
  • This Is Home Movie Event
  • Jewish Social Services Corner
  • Lutheran Social Services Corner
"4th Wednesday" 
Introductory Meeting

Please note, because of Thanksgiving, our normal 3rd Wednesday Introductory Meeting has been postponed until the 4th Wednesday, November 28,
6:30-8:00 pm
Meadowood Neighborhood Center
5740 Raymond Rd
Madison, 53711

Want to get involved?
Come and learn how you can!

New Refugee Families Arriving and Settling in Madison Soon:
We are pleased to report that, after several months without new arrivals in Madison, there are four families who are expected to arrive in the new future, one or two before the holidays and the others shortly after.  Between them, there are about 20 total family members.  The largest of these families has 11 people and will need multiple apartments to house them.  (Finding housing in Madison has always been difficult, and this could pose a real challenge for large families.)

In the absence of new families, for the last several months Open Doors has focused entirely on ongoing services for folks who arrived here, not in the last few months, but in the last few years.  Meanwhile our furniture storage areas have been full, and we’ve had to turn down many furniture offers.  It’s hard to keep interest and enthusiasm among turned-down donors or would-be volunteers (especially those picking up donations and setting up apartments) when there’s little work to be done.  Hopefully, as refugees arrive and the stockpile starts to go out in the weeks ahead, we can rekindle the offers for more.  As it is, we need a few items right away, as described in the next article.  We'd also like to rekindle our volunteers.  If you’d like to help with picking up donations, managing the storerooms, or setting up apartments (the last is almost always a weekday job), please email, and thank you for your service.

Furniture and Household
Needs for New Arrivals

Your help with a few areas of need will be greatly appreciated. They will prepare us for multiple resettlements which often come with little notice. Please email ( with questions or to arrange for a drop of point or a pickup by our volunteers.

Household Items

  •  Alarm clocks or small clock radios
  • Warm winter blankets, twin size
  • New or clean used pillows
  • Tea kettles for heating water
  • Toilet brushes with container

Furniture and Appliances

  • Living room end and coffee tables
  • Sets of 4-6 dinette chairs
  • Small microwaves
  • Area rugs in good condition
  • Bunk beds frames w/o mattresses

Our team would like to thank you and past donors for your thoughtful and generous support.

Giving Thanks!
This Sunday, November 18, volunteers from Open Doors, Jewish Social Services and Lutheran Social Services, are joyously hosting and sharing an early Thanksgiving dinner with numerous refugee families.  We are especially thankful that refugees and others who were in danger have been able to settle in Madison and have become a part of this community. 

We are also very thankful for the members of this community who have, once again, come forward to support these new neighbors.  Many folks from Open Doors, JSS and LSS have stepped up to roast a turkey, bake pies, bring cranberries etc, as well as help on-site.  Thank you, thank you!  At this time our coffers are full and we have all the food and help we need and can accommodate.  Our gratitude for the many who are helping, and our apologies to those of you who wanted or would have liked to help but didn’t get the opportunity to get in on it.  But if you’d like to help with other activities in other ways, please take a look at the Home Supplies program below.
New Home Supplies Program:
Often when I go "grocery" shopping, I’m amazed at how much money I spend on non-food items (paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, detergents, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, etc).  I’m fortunate (on so many levels) and I can readily afford it.  Some of our new neighbors though, on low-wage jobs, in costly apartments (try to find an apartment in Madison for under $800/month), and often with multiple kids to support, have a real hard time with that.  The most-needy of them are on FoodShare Wisconsin, which helps people with limited income buy the food they need.  But the FoodShare program does not allow people to buy non-food items like those listed above - those everyday things that we need and use for a reasonable quality of life.  Enter the Home Supplies program.

A few months ago, JSS asked if Open Doors could take over the Home Supplies program.  And we have.  Once a month, through this program, Open Doors provides non-food household items to refugee families who are on FoodShare.  We deliver a set of standard items that all households routinely use (toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, etc) and then we supplement those items with gift cards based on the size of the family so they can pick out their more personalized items.  By supplying standard items and supplementing with gift cards (rather than buying all the personal care items too), it makes it easier for us to shop, store and pack for the families (and therefore vastly more sustainable for us), and it also gives the families choice in what they want to buy.  And hopefully it’ll make it easier to solicit and fill donations as well.

Would you like to help?  You can help financially, and/or you can help in person.  Financially you can:
  1. Purchase items from our standard supply list to provide to families.  We are in the process of setting up an on-line Sign Up for that, but it isn’t quite ready to go at this writing.  If you'd like to help with this, please send an email to and we’ll keep you posted as this rolls out.
  2. Purchase and donate $25 gift cards, preferably from Target, Walgreens, or a major food chain.  We will provide these cards to needy refugee families to supplement the standard supplies we give them.  Please mail them to us at:
                     Open Doors for Refugees
                     1213 N Sherman Ave # 104
                      Madison, WI 53704
  1. Make a donation to Open Doors through our fiscal agent, the Center for Community Stewardship, or by sending a check to the above address.  These donations will enable us to buy stock supplies and/or gift cards.  You could specify what you’d like us to purchase with your money, or let us determine what is most needed at the time.  Financial support enables us to do one shopping trip each month and take things directly from the store to the supply room.  It also eliminates the tricky business of getting supplies that you might buy from you to us to our storeroom.
In addition to the financial help, we’d love to have a few more volunteers to help shop, pack or deliver products.  If you’d like to help with any of that, please send an email to  Thank you!

Medium Size
Winter Coats
As we did last year, we’ll offer an array of winter coats, hats and gloves to the attendees at our upcoming Thanksgiving event.  We have a many Large and XL coats and jackets, but we could really use some Medium size items.  If you have any that you’d like to donate for our refugee friends, please email  And it’d be really nice if we could get them before the Thanksgiving event on Sunday the 18th.   Again, thank you for your generosity!
By Becca Schwartz,
Refugee Resettlement Coordinator
Over the course of the month of October, JSS worked with our national, HIAS, and each Madison synagogue and the UW Hillel to organize celebrations of National Refugee Shabbat. The purpose of HIAS’ National Refugee Shabbat was for congregations, organizations, and individuals around the country to create a Shabbat experience dedicated to refugees – reading a Torah portion teaching about welcoming the stranger. There was such great interest in Madison that events were organized for each weekend of the month.
The morning after the last joyful Refugee Shabbat took place at Temple Beth El, there was an attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people. This attack has hit Jewish communities all over the country quite hard as it was among the deadliest attacks on Jews in our nation’s history. It has hit HIAS and its affiliates especially hard because Tree of Life was targeted, in part, due to their participation earlier in the month, in HIAS’ National Refugee Shabbat and partnership with our fellow HIAS affiliate – JFCS Pittsburgh who is resettling refugees in the area.
The very next day, Madison pulled together with a beautiful interfaith vigil and I would like to send heartfelt thanks to each of you who came to show your support and to those who reached out separately. Knowing that we have such strong partners standing by our side enables us to continue doing this work, even at times like this.
JSS will be welcoming more families to the Madison area in Fiscal Year 2019, the first of which will be arriving late this month. With further decreased Presidential Determination of 30,000 for this year, we are still unsure as to how many families will arrive but we are looking forward to our continued partnership with Open Doors for Refugees.

By Mary Flynn,
Refugee Resettlement Manager
LSS refugee resettlement has continued at a slower pace throughout 2018 and the new refugee determination for 2019 has been set at 30,000.  2018 totals were about 23,000, so we know what a 30,000 year will look like.  LSS Refugee staff, however, remain busy and actively serving those who arrived in the past 5 years.  It’s important to remember that services from arrival and up to 5 years include a wide variety of services.  Initial resettlement services, conducted within the first 90 days of arrival, include orientation about, connection to, and guidance on how to access community resources that will be needed.  On-going services begin at the 90 day mark and continue up to 5 years, including general case management, job orientation & development, household stabilization & management, legal immigration service connection and coordination, interpretation, translation, and individualized service assistance.  Along with dedicated and committed volunteers like ODFR, LSS Refugee is part of the Madison community’s safety net of supportive services to both new arrivals and those needing that bit of extra help to succeed in their new homes. 
Please note, here are links to all previous newsletters 

Contact Us:










Mailing Address

Open Doors for Refugees

1213 N Sherman Ave # 104
Madison, WI 53704


Copyright © 2018 Open Doors for Refugees, All rights reserved.

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