2014-Philanthropy-Awards-RefugeeOne

Imagine fleeing your home because of war, terror or persecution, only to find yourself in a foreign land with few resources. For the many refugees who come to the Chicago area each year, RefugeeOne provides crucial assistance during that difficult transition. The Chicago-based resettlement organization helps refugees find housing, acclimate to American culture, develop computer skills, find jobs and obtain medical care. The ultimate goal is that the refugees will become independent members of the community.

Since it was founded in 1982, RefugeeOne has provided assistance to tens of thousands of refugees from all over the world, including people escaping Cambodia’s killing fields and genocide in Rwanda and other African countries, refugees from the former Yugoslavia, Jews fleeing Communist oppression, Iranians fleeing the Islamic Revolution and families displaced from their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Currently, the majority of the people RefugeeOne is helping to settle in the U.S. are Iraqis who assisted the U.S. militia operations, persecuted Christian Iraqis, Burmese who have escaped government violence and Bhutanese who have fled ethnic cleansing.

RefugeeOne’s programs are run by a staff of 30 people, many of whom are refugees themselves, and about 250 volunteers. Each year, the group aids approximately 2,500 refugees who are hoping to build new lives in the U.S. In 2013, RefugeeOne raised more than $160,000 at its 8th Annual Gala, representing a 41 percent increase over the previous year.

Through its DO ONE THING campaign, RefugeeOne helped to collect household items and cash for 15 families. It also provided backpacks and school supplies to 200 refugee students and warm coats to more than 600 refugees for the Chicago winter.

RefugeeOne By The Numbers:

  • In 2014, assisted 447 refugee arrivals from 43 countries
  • Helped 541 people become U.S. Citizens
  • Taught English to 280 people
  • Found jobs for 198 refugees
  • Engaged more than 400 volunteers
  • 89 percent of funds raised go toward program services
  • $1,000 provides furnishings for a family apartment
  • $250 buys harvesting

This article is part of our 2014 Philanthropy Awards. Find more of our winners here: