October 2017 Newsletter

In this issue:
  • Refugee Settlement in Madison
  • Welcoming Week Recap
  • Cultural Companions Update
  • First Course Jobs Training
  • ESL Update
  • Drivers Wanted
  • Donation Abundance
  • Upcoming Events
"3rd Wednesday" General Meeting

October 18, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
at the Islamic Center of Madison
21 N Orchard St
(park on other side of Regent St)

Want to get involved?
Come and learn how you can!
Recent and Upcoming Refugee Settlement in the Madison Area, by the numbers

The U.S. refugee program is structured on and cycles with the federal Fiscal Year which runs from the beginning of October through the end of September.  The last year has just ended and the new one just begun.
For last year (FY 2017), Lutheran Social Services (LSS) had initially contracted to settle 110 refugees, and Jewish Social Services (JSS) another 50.  Then President Trump, in one of his early directives, cut the refugee numbers in half for each of the resettlement agencies (to 55 and 25 respectively).  Ultimately both LSS and JSS brought in a few more than that.  LSS settled 66 refugees last year (37 from Iraq, 16 from Bhutan, 10 from Afghanistan, two from Iran, and one from the Central African Republic), while JSS settled 30 refugees (12 from Syria, eight from the Congo, six from Iraq, and four from Afghanistan).  Open Doors worked in many varied capacities with a great many of these refugees.

For this next year (FY 2018), the national refugee resettlement agencies recently set tentative refugee numbers for both LSS and JSS at 50 each, expecting that President Trump would set the 2018 U.S. refugee quota at 50,000.  But then President Trump set the quota at 45,000, the lowest since 1980.  The final contracts for JSS and LSS haven’t been set yet, so the final FY 2018 numbers may be somewhat less than the 50 each (100 total for the Madison area) as tentatively projected.  The first of these refugees should be arriving shortly.
Welcoming Week Recap:

Welcoming Week, celebrated nation-wide by over 300 communities across the U.S. during Sept 17-25, 2017, splashed not one, not two, but SIX Open Doors events onto Madison’s calendar. 
For children, there was a fantastic evening at Madison Children’s Museum; for athletes, a hot Saturday morning Soccer Fest with teams composed of refugees and refugee-friendly players.  Over 100 interested people signed up at ODFR’s booth at Willy Street Fair Sept 17, where volunteers sported a newly-designed, pink ODFR T-shirts (still available!).  ODFR collaborated with UW-Madison’s Faces of Joy exhibition of portraits by American high school students of Syrian and other youth in crisis (this incredible exhibit runs through November 19 at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery in Nancy Nichols Hall, 1300 Linden Dr on U.W. Campus).
A highlight of the week, excellently covered by WKOW Channel 27 TV and The Wisconsin State Journal, was a ceremony in Wisconsin Capitol’s beautiful North Hearing Room, where 42 new citizens from 35 countries were welcomed by Senator Mark Miller and Representative Melissa Sarget, the Raging Grannies, and Dane Co. League of Women Voters.  Co-organized by ODFR and the federal field office of US Immigration and Citizenship Services, new citizens and family members packed the room and exited with small boxes of baklava, baked by ODFR-befriended refugees. 
(photo courtesy of Amber Arnold, Wisconsin State Journal)

Lastly, 8 Borders, 8 Days, an independent film by producer/director Amanda Bailly, co-presented by UW-Madison Middle Eastern Studies Program and ODFR, ended the week with its first-ever Madison screening.

Congratulations to dozens of volunteers who worked hard to make the exhausting, incredible week a reality.
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Cultural Companions Update

We are excited to announce that we are now taking applications for the flagship groups of the Cultural Companions Pilot Program.  The first matches will be made by November 1st and will pair three welcomer families with one newcomer family for a six month long volunteering experience.  The purpose of this program is to facilitate meaningful cultural exchange between volunteers and refugee community members.  
To apply, simply send an interest email to  After completing the application, you will receive information about how to complete the ODFR background check via Verified Volunteers.  We are looking forward to participants feedback on this new pilot program and are excited about this opportunity to support newcomers to Madison. 

First Course Job Training

"First Course" is a 3-week job training program for professional kitchen jobs offered by FoodWorks Madison
The program, which is about to begin its second pilot class, is free for participants.  It helps place them in well paying positions upon graduation as well as giving each graduate $1,000.  Open Doors was asked to encourage refugees who are interested in developing skills in this area to apply, and now there are three newcomers who are in line for the next program that is slated to begin on October 30 in the FEED kitchen.  We hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship with this innovative organization and a venue for enriching Madison's culinary scene with the great flavors and culinary offerings that refugees bring.
ESL Update:

This fall our ESL team is partnering again with Literacy Network to provide a community English class for parents, with free childcare, on Tuesday evenings. 
The English class for parents offered last spring and summer was a great success, and we are very grateful to all the dedicated volunteers who made it happen, including our outgoing interim ESL team leaders, Tricia Blanco and Lori Guderyon. Thank you!

On November 2, team leaders will meet with current and future ESL tutors to determine what kinds of tutoring support we can offer families attending Literacy Network or MATC classes. 
To get involved as a childcare assistant for ESL class, or if you have ESL teaching experience and would like to tutor, please email

The Transportation Team is in need of additional volunteers to assist families with transportation needs.  Recent volunteer opportunities have included occasional rides to medical appointments, job interviews, and classes during the day and evening.  We also need additional volunteers to help teach bus riding skills.

Our immediate need is to assist families in getting to and from an evening ESL class at the Meadowood Neighborhood Center.  The class is held on Tuesdays from 6:00-7:45.  Even if you’re not available on Tuesday evenings, please still consider being part of the Transportation Team as new needs are always arising.  

Transportation Volunteers need to complete the ODFR background check and driving record check.  Please contact

Donation Abundance!

We have very generous Donors and a selfless Donation Team. Consequently, we are well stocked for the next cycle of arrivals starting in the very near future.

A special thanks goes to Rhea Schultz and Mary Mahoney for soliciting donations from Westminster Presbyterian Church and from friends, and also to a new volunteer, Marni McEntee, for taking over winter coat storage. Marni is also doing an inventory by gender and size to facilitate their use.

New and old Donation Team Members stepped up to make many pickups and prepare kitchen and bath boxes at our storage facility.  Amanda Crim, Donation Coordinator, skillfully kept us organized and responsive to donors.  Amanda (center) is pictured with  volunteer Marge Bennet (left) and donor Tamara Packard, picking up a handsome leather sofa. (Harry Bennett and shy Grandson are not in picture)

We can use a few dining tables and chairs (or just dining chairs), plus lamps and bunk beds. We welcome donations of all kinds, though Amanda will be asking donors to hold other items, if possible, for pickup in November.


Upcoming Events:

After hosting six events for Welcoming Week, we're going to take a little hiatus before hosting another, but here are three events from other organizations that you may be interested in.
Through October 26, the Verona Public Library is hosting the Syrian Refugee Portraits Exhibit from the Memory Project (as also shown as part of Welcoming Week above) with a reception for director Ben Schumaker on Wednesday, October 25 at 6 PM 

October 26: The Network, The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and The Department of Public Instruction invite you to a Meet-up on Welcoming Immigrant Families and Learners from 5-7 PM in Lathrop Hall, for a conversation about how to welcome and support immigrants here and abroad

October 29: The United Nations Association - USA Dane County Chapter is hosting their annual luncheon entitled Human Rights in a Time of Conflict
Contact Us:









Phone (Arabic & English)

(608) 609-3080


Mailing Address

Open Doors for Refugees

1213 N Sherman Ave # 104
Madison, WI 53704


Copyright © 2017 Open Doors for Refugees, All rights reserved.

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