Once We Were Refugees
5001 Independence Ave.
Kansas City MO 64124
Mission Statement
Once We Were Refugees begins with the premise that we all share common roots in the refugee/immigrant experience and that we do well to honor today’s refugees with our love and our assistance. To this end we are organized to provide any and all aid we can in the pursuit of meaningful vocations for refugees. We intend to work together with any willing agencies and employers who support the employment of refugees.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Rev. William Say
Board Chair Rev William Say
Board Chair Company Affiliation
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2017
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer Please contact us directly for in kind donations, cash donations, pledges and for information on volunteering, including interest in teaching classes or otherwise supporting our programs.
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement Once We Were Refugees begins with the premise that we all share common roots in the refugee/immigrant experience and that we do well to honor today’s refugees with our love and our assistance. To this end we are organized to provide any and all aid we can in the pursuit of meaningful vocations for refugees. We intend to work together with any willing agencies and employers who support the employment of refugees.
Background Statement
Ann Say and volunteers teach a nine week beginning sewing class to folks, many of whom have never used a pair of scissors and most of whom do not speak English.
If completed satisfactorily, each student takes home the machine they have learned to use, scissors, an iron, ironing board, thread, notions, and ten yards of fabric. The last project is a quilt by each student that is sent to Lutheran World Relief for transmission to refugee camps around the world. Many have learned a skill that can now generate income for their families.
 
"The minute a refugee has a job, that's the minute they stop being a refugee". Hamdi Amdi Ulukaya, Chobani Yougurt Founder.
As we grow we need more volunteers and our financial needs increase. Initial support for the program came through a grant from Blessings Abound Thrift Store in Overland Park, Ks. and financial support came from the community and volunteers that work for Once We Were Refugees. We are most grateful for these donations, but more is desperately needed.

As this program grows . . . Initial support for the program came through grants from the InFaith Community Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and from the Blessings Abound Thrift Store in Overland Park, Kansas. Financial support for continued operations comes primarily from individuals, church congregations, and community groups across Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. We are most grateful for these donations, but more is desperately needed.
Impact Statement

 Past Accomplishments

  • 3 1/2 years of experience teaching job skills to refugees and immigrants exclusively.
  • 109 graduates of our Beginning Sewing class as of September, 2019.
  • Several home "cottage industry" start-ups.
  • Several sewing graduates placed with local employers.
  • Several clients granted scholarship assistance for outside training.
  • Start-up program in Columbia, Missouri, public schools for refugee ESL studies.

  Goals for the future:

  • Work with larger groups of refugees to assist them in gaining skills leading to employment.
  • Expand programs and services offered in addition to sewing and computer classes including a program to teach minor home repairs.
  • Include community engagement for refugees to address health and housing needs.
  • Help refugees transition into American Culture and embracing new lifestyles with confidence and community support.
  • Expand volunteer corps – currently have 17active in teaching and support.
  • Form an Advisory Board for community outreach.
Needs Statement
  1. Program needs includes operable sewing machines and related sewing supplies (material, needles, pins, patterns, notions, etc.)
  2. Desktop computers and/or laptops tor system training.
  3. Income to hold events that permit sewing students to sell their items and retain the money. Many students have never earned income.
  4. Locate and secure a permanent affordable new facility for expanding operations and services offered.
  5. Income to assist in critical needs that include temporary housing, transportation, medical/dental/health services and to repair used sewing machines and computers donated.
  6. Income to support hiring an Executive Director, for organization sustainability.
  7. Resources to begin a minor home repair program.
  8. Income to resource scholarships to clients for training beyond OWWR capability.
Service Categories
Ethnic/Immigrant Services
Employment Preparation & Procurement
Support NEC
Areas of Service
MO
KS
Geographic Area Served Narrative We welcome all immigrants and refugees who are able to participate and attend our programs and services.  Our doors are open to everyone who is interested in volunteering or financially supporting assisting our program and providing financial assistance and employment to immigrants and refugees.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
We have been excited and energized by the strong interest in Once We Were Refugees by the refugee community and by the strong interest and concern shown by the community by donations of in-kind materials as well as cash. We have not had to drive this program as much as to listen to the needs expressed and work to address them as requested. Our most urgent goal for this wonderful--though small--enterprise is to assure sustainability beyond its current leadership. To that end, we have contracted with our first paid staff, a part-time Director of Development. We are in process of searching for a domicile to adequately house our current sewing program, with room for expansion--classrooms, maintenance, storage, offices--affordably. We are excited to have reached agreement with the Bethel Neighborhood Center in Kansas City, Kansas for space to conduct a beginning sewing for refugees on their site beginning in January, 2020.
 
Rev. William B. Say, Chairperson and CEO
Programs
Description
OWWR staff and volunteers teach a nine week beginning sewing class that touches the basics-- sewing straight seams, cutting fabrics from patterns, using elastic, hemming and other skills--to folks, many of whom have never used a pair of scissors (not to mention an electric sewing machine!) and most of whom are not at all conversant in the English language.
 
At the end of nine weeks, if the assignments have been completed satisfactorily, each student will take home the machine they have learned on, a new pair of scissors, an iron, ironing board, thread, notions, and ten yards of fabric. They have completed five different sewing projects, the last of which is a quilt by each student that will be sent to Lutheran World Relief for transmission to refugee camps around the world.
Category Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Examples of Program Success Well over 100 students have successfully completed the 9 week program in the past 3 years.  Many have obtained employment in related sewing and/or tailor services in the textile industry.
Description Basic computer skills training session
Category Employment, General/Other
Population Served Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Examples of Program Success Many immigrants and refugees who come to our programs cannot converse in English  or read in their native language.  They have never worked on a computer.  We teach a basic computer course that participants have successfully used to learn language skills as well as learn how to use the computer for a variety of services including employment search and resource navigation.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Rev. William Say
Experience Rev. Say is retired ordained clergy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  He was involved in resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in the state of Hawaii in the mid 1970's and helped to found the Vietnamese Immigrant Volunteer Assistance (VIVA) in Honolulu.  Rev. Say and Ann Say are the founders of OWWR.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Co-CEO/Executive Director Ann Say
E-mail oncewewererefugees@gmail.com
Co-CEO Experience Ann Say is a retired Nursing Home Administrator and an award winning quilter.  Ann Say is the OWWR Director of Education.  Ann and William Say  have extensive experience beginning in the 1970's in resettling refugees from Vietnam, Laos, apartheid South Africa and Syria and have adopted orphans from Vietnam and Calcutta, India.  Ann is currently assisting two refugee tailors in starting their own businesses.
Senior Staff
Title Lead Sewing Teacher
Title Communication Director
Experience/Biography Helped to initiate Dress for Success program for young men needing help with interviewing prep and professional attire on the job while working as the Regional Manager with The Men's Wearhouse.
Title Sewing Teacher and OWWR Secretary
Experience/Biography Involved in starting new churches across several denominations in KC and Arkansas.
Title Technical Director
Experience/Biography Ken worked in start-up divisions for new lines of business at Sprint, Quest Diagnostics and National American University.  Taught the Capstone course for business BA at Ottawa University in KC for 10 years helping students develop business plans and marketing strategies.  Ken holds the Six Sigma Black Belt in process analysis.
Title Lead Sewing Teacher
Staff
Paid Contractors 1
Volunteers 20
Collaborations
OWWR has partnered with the Bethel Neighborhood Center in multiple projects focused on the well being and training of immigrants and refugees.
Board Chair
Board Chair Rev William Say
Email wmbsay@gmail.com
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Ann Say
Email oncewewererefugees@gmail.com
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Abdulkadir Bakar
Ken Heitland PhD
Nikki Johnson AA (HIS), BA
Dayna Kerr RN
Rev. William B. Say MDiv.
Ann Say BS,MBA
William D. Say
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 3
Governance
Board Meeting Attendance % 95%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Dec 31, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2020
Form 990s
2018 OWWR 990
Detailed Financials
 
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Anticipated In 3 Years
Organization Comments Fiscal Agent in place
Other Documents
Organization Name Once We Were Refugees
Address 5001 Independence Ave.
Kansas City, MO 64124
Primary Phone (816) 572-0711
CEO/Executive Director Rev. William Say
Board Chair Rev William Say
Year of Incorporation 2017