How Your Donations Are Used

    Thank You for your interest in Once We Were Refugees.  


    All of the staff for Once We Were Refugees are volunteers.  We are very fortunate that Della Lamb provides for us the classroom spaces for no charge.  This allows us to use all donations directly for the benefit of the refugees.


   We receive a large amount of in kind donations such as sewing machines, fabric, yarn and supplies for sewing which helps to keep our cash need to a minimum.  What we have needed cash for has been to service and repair donated sewing machines that are of high quality and much loved sewing machines that have been received by the students and have broken for one reason or another.  At the end of each 9 week beginning class, the students take home the machine they have learned on, an iron, ironing board, new pair of scissors, 10 yards of fabric and all the notions they need to begin to sew at home.  If we have not received any of these as in kind donations, we purchase them to assure that each student has the best opportunity possible to begin supplementing their family income with sewing.

    We use a large amount of batting in our classes. This is not an item that is generally donated.  Each student makes a quilt to be sent to the refugee camps as a final project.  We also are making story quilts to capture each refugees story of their journey to the United States.  Many of the students do not read or write, so are unable to record their journey for their children and grandchildren to keep.  This has been a tremendously meaningful activity for the students. In addition we have needed specific tools to enable students, such as a 34 year old that had experienced a stroke, be successful in their new vocation.  At times we need specific fabrics and notions for particular lessons.

    We have also been able to obtain professional machines so that we can teach those students that want to work at business locations in our community how to use these machines.  Missouri Sewing Machine Company has been very generous in helping us get these machines at as low cost as possible, but they have cost money.


   Since we have opened our emphasis on other vocational efforts and are currently also offering computer training, we have been able to obtain a used computer, software and tuition for one of our students to learn to repair computers.  This student has now been able to obtain additional education, continuing to grow in his field.

    We are now able to offer income to the students that wish to work at home making items that we sell when we are out in the community educating on our project.  Several of the students are earning enough to pay their families’ utility bills.  

  We also have an employer who is working with us now to hire our students, both part-time and full time to work at his site sewing items such as athletic uniforms.  This employer pays a fair wage and focuses his employment on assisting refugees.

     As this ministry grows, we have more volunteers and we are able to accept more students, our financial needs also grow.  Our first year of operation, which ended August 31, we received and spent $4,500.00.  This was contributed by the community and the volunteers that work for Once We Were Refugees. In addition we also received a large grant from Blessings Abound Thrift Store at 105th and Metcalf in Overland Park, KS., to purchase a long arm sewing machine so that we could make the refugee quilts and story quilts.  We are most grateful for all of these donations.

    We keep overhead to a minimum – just occasional print needs such as information brochures and business cards at very minimal costs.  We are very grateful for cash gifts that help to defray these items.

    Our students often declare, “God is Good!”  We agree! All the time!