January 2018 Newsletter

In this issue:
  • Is Madison a Welcoming City
  • Furniture and household goods needed
  • Volunteer opportunities.
  • Upcoming Events
"3rd Wednesday" General Meeting
January 17, 6:30-7:45 pm
(please note the earlier time)

Meadowood Neighborhood Center
5740 Raymond Rd
Madison, WI 53711

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

Is Madison a Welcoming City?

Do refugees and immigrants feel welcomed and supported in Madison?
Open Doors is assembling a community-wide team to assess Madison's strengths and shortcomings when it comes to welcoming newcomers, and possibly work with the city to seek national designation as a Certified Welcoming City.

What makes a city "welcoming" to newcomers?

This can depend on a broad range of factors, including:
  • Simple things, such as the overall friendliness of the community, the company of kin, or the availability of familiar foods.
  • Pragmatic concerns, such as being able to get the information, support and services that they need to make a sustainable home here.
We need to ask: How well do our local institutions, organizations, programs and public policies collectively meet the needs of newcomers? What is working well in our community and deserves credit? What needs aren't being met? What improvements can we recommend?

Welcoming America can help us take an objective look at how we're doing and perhaps identify what we can do better to make everyone feel like they belong. Welcoming America believes that all people, including refugees and immigrants, contribute to the success of our communities.
The organization's Certified Welcoming program provides a roadmap and support to help communities become more welcoming and inclusive.

This innovative program involves evaluating local governments on how well they include and welcome immigrants and refugees. Communities that meet the Welcoming Standard earn the Certified Welcoming designation, which sends a strong signal around the world.

The Welcoming Standard is organized around seven framework categories, with several provisions for each category, for a total of 34:
  • Government Leadership (7 provisions)
  • Equitable Access (8)
  • Civic Engagement (5)
  • Connected Communities (2)
  • Education (2)
  • Economic Development (6)
  • Safe Communities (4)
Here are a couple of example of these provisions:
  • Under Government Leadership, the first provision states that “A policy [must be] in place that designates a unit focused on immigrant [and refugee] inclusion work” and that the unit must be “formalized, active and have dedicated staff.”
  • Under Education, the second provision stipulates that “A program(s) is in place to ensure language access across government agencies with the goal of expanding equitable access to programs, services, and activities.”
Under the Certified Welcoming process, a city or county applies to the program, participates in a self-assessment of the Welcoming Standard, and in an on-site audit. Community organizations, such as ODFR, may participate in the process at any stage, including assisting with the application, self-assessment, and site visit.

Welcoming America awards the Certified Welcoming designation to communities that meet the Welcoming Standard and helps to lay out a plan for to attain certification for communities that fall short.

ODFR is seeking people from across the community for a team to help explore the Certified Welcoming City process for Madison. To learn more about the process and local effort, contact Open Doors For Refugees by email at:

We need more furniture and household goods!

Open Doors for Refugees and Jewish Social Services resettled 14 newcomers in November and December! Now, we need more furniture and household goods!

Our most-needed furnishings include lamps of all kinds, sofas, end tables, medium-sized dining sets, dressers, bed-side stands, and easy-to-assemble bunk beds.

We also need vacuum cleaners, microwaves, alarm clocks, irons and ironing boards, laundry baskets, and new pillows.

And we need lots of consumables, including deodorant, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, dish and laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, aluminum foil, toilet bowl and all purpose cleaners.

You can help us make newcomers feel welcome and supported!

Please consider donating gently used items from your home and purchasing consumable items that newcomers will need.

For more information on donating furniture and other household items, email:

We Need You!

Open Doors for Refugees is an all volunteer organization, and we can use your help in the following areas:

Donations Co-Leader

The current OPFR Donations Team Leaders, Jim and Jan Hornik, would like a Co-Team Leader.  This Team receives donations of furnishings and housewares and sets up apartments for newly arriving refugees.  There are many steps and many volunteers involved in this process.

The Co-Leader would help Jim and Jan continue to expand the number of coordinators in this team and streamline the coordination process. The goal is to share the work, streamline coordination, and spread the joy! They would welcome a call at 608-242-9602, or email at, to discuss this position and its possibilities with you. It requires a somewhat flexible schedule, a person who likes coordination and process improvement, and a desire to significantly help our newcomers.

Cultural Companions Coordinator

Open Doors's Cultural Companions Program is temporarily on hold as we search for a new volunteer/s to head up and roll-out this program.  We have several interested families on both ends of the equation and we are eager to move forward.  If you are interested to become a part of the Cultural Companions Program as a participant family and/or you have an interest in helping lead this effort, please contact:  One of the things that makes Open Doors special is that we are a totally volunteer run organization.  This also means that at times we have a need for new people to step forward and help us reach our goals of creating a welcoming community for newcomer families here in the Madison area. 
Please stay tuned for more information on how and when we plan to move forward with this initiative.  Thank you.
Graphic Designer

We're looking for someone with decent graphic design skills who's willing to donate a few hours of their time each month, mostly to help us design promotional materials (fliers and posters).  It's an opportunity to use your skills to help make Open Doors a more effective organization.  If you think this is something you'd like to offer, please drop a line to .  Thanks much.

Roller Derby Fundraiser, Saturday, January 13

The Mad Rollin Dolls has designated Open Doors For Refugees as its charity for its Homecoming-themed season opener, on Saturday January 13, at the Alliant Energy Center. Scrimmage is at 4pm, with league play at 7pm.

Join us at the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum for fast-paced evening of hard-hitting roller derby with Madison's favorite skaters. ODFR representatives will be on hand to hand out information about our organization and sell ODFR T-shirts for $10 each! 

Tickets for the event are $10 in advance from Willy St. Co-op, Pegasus Games, Mr. Rudd’s Barbershop, and 608 Skate (inside Fast Forward Skate Center), or $15 at the door, with $6 for children ages 6-11.

We’re grateful for Mad Rollin Dolls’ support for Open Doors and our commitment to creating a welcoming community for our refugee newcomers. 

Landlord Appreciation Event, Thursday, January 25
One of the biggest challenges facing refugee resettlement is finding landlords willing to rent to refugees, most of whom arrive without a job, little or no money, no credit history and no housing referrals.

Fortunately, a small number of landlords have repeatedly opened their apartments to refugees, and seldom have had any reason to regret taking this risk.

We are joining with our partners, Jewish Social Services and Lutheran Social Services, to recognize these landlords, show our gratitude, and strengthen our relationships. At the same time, we want to provide a forum where other landlords can hear from those who rent to refugees and address their concerns.

Encourage local landlords to consider attending this event and learn more by contacting Amy Kell at

Muslim and Christian Women’s Interfaith Breakfast and Lecture, Saturday, January 27
Members of the First United Methodist Church are hosting an Interfaith breakfast and lecture for Muslim and Christian women on Saturday, January 27.  The lecture will be offered by Molly Patterson, an Islamic History Professor (and Open Doors volunteer).

The event will be held at the First United Methodist Church at 203 Wisconsin Ave, Madison, 53703.  The gathering begins at 9 am, and the lecture begins at 10:45.   It's open to all Muslim and Christian women, and is free to guests (church members will pay to attend).  Any proceeds from the event will be generously donated to Open Doors.

The Other Side of Hope, Saturday, February 10.

Join us for a free screening of the latest film by Aki Kaurismäki, Finland’s best-known film director, on Saturday, February 10, at 7 p.m., in room 4070, Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., on the UW-Madison campus.
The Other Side of Hope follows the exploits of a Syrian refugee in Helsinki. Searching for his sister and facing deportation back to Aleppo, Khaled escapes a holding center and finds an unlikely group of protectors, the owner and staff of a failing restaurant.

Filled with Kaurismäki’s patented deadpan humor, The Other Side of Hope ultimately offers a moving, humane depiction of a city and its big-hearted residents.

The screening is sponsored by UW-Madison's Cinematheque, as part of the Premier Showcase series, with support from the university's Middle Eastern Studies Program.
Freeze for Food 5K/10K Run/Walk, Saturday March 3

Join the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin-Madison for the 37th Annual Freeze for Food, which is raising funds to support ODFR's food relief efforts.
Both the 5K and 10K events start and end at the Vilas Park Shelter, near Lake Wingra. The 5K route runs through Vilas Park and along other nearby roads on the northern end of Lake Wingra. The 10K route circles Lake Wingra, passing through the UW-Madison Arboretum.

This event is never cancelled due to weather. 

For more information and to register, go to this website:
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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