Welcoming refugees to Chicago
January 9, 2016
We’re proud to introduce the charity we’ve partnered with to kick off 2016: RefugeeOne, a non-profit who provides a full range of services to refugees who have fled war and terror. RefugeeOne’s goal is to provide a better life to those refugees and their families who’ve settled in the Chicagoland area. All January long, a quarter of profits from the sale of flowers help them continue their mission.
Founded in 1982, RefugeeOne has helped over 3,000 refugees every year. These refugees come from all parts of the world – Burma, Congo, and Syria to name a few – and have fled those countries due to war, terror, or persecution, and can no longer return. With only 45 staff members, most of whom are refugees themselves, and over 400 volunteers, they are able to keep their programs running.
Programs include finding housing, learning English, applying for citizenship, obtaining healthcare, and placing children in the school system. One of their more notable programs is the job readiness program where they assist refugees in learning computer and employment skills. The goal is to find them a full-time position that pays a living wage by their third month in the program, preparing them to be self-supporting members of their new community.
On Monday, we had the opportunity to experience one of the benefits of RefugeeOne firsthand. RefugeeOne pairs arriving refugees with sponsors who play a major role in the process of finding them housing and donating daily necessities to help them get settled. We were honored to accompany the sponsor family, The Carlson’s, in greeting the refugee family of seven at O’Hare International Airport. This Syrian family – Mom, Dad, 3 young boys and 2 even younger girls – were all smiles despite the long and stressful journey.
The Carlson’s have been preparing for months (yes, months!) in finding the family a suitable apartment, cleaning and furnishing the apartment, gathering warm winter clothes for them, and filling their kitchen with cookware and meals. Most special for us to hear was that each child’s bed was already filled with stuffed animals days in advance.
After anxiously awaiting their arrival at the terminal and watching swarms of people exit the the doorway, we finally spotted the brave family with 5 young children. Instantly, the hours of waiting became worth it. We approached them with smiles, flowers, and the colorful welcome poster created by The Carlson’s children.
Our team was honored to have been at the terminal Monday to witness the kindness and love that was present- and we thank RefugeeOne for their continued mission of assisting these young families. This month we will be celebrating this mission in numerous ways.
We’re looking forward to hosting an Introductory Flower Care workshop for refugees, providing a certificate of completion intended to strengthen resumes and skill sets as many begin their journey of seeking employment.
Because we didn’t want this partnership to end in January, we will additionally be offering bouquets for sale on our website that link directly to RefugeeOne’s airport impact. Families in support of RefugeeOne can now purchase flowers to accompany case managers and sponsor families in O’Hare refugee pick-ups. Learn more here.
As always, we’re grateful for your support as you follow along with us on this 2016 journey.