The roots of Homes Not Borders go back to the start of National Community Church’s Refugee Care Ministry in January of 2017. Laura Osuri, Homes Not Borders’ Executive Director, was a volunteer working with the ministry’s Agency Team, connecting with the local resettlement agencies. The call from them was clearly for help setting up new homes for refugee families. The Agency Team began to provide additional household items and smaller furnishings to turn these bare apartments with minimal furniture into homes.
Laura began leading the Agency Team in the summer of 2017. At the same time, the home set ups and donation collection began to grow. By the end of 2017, the Agency Team was working with all three local resettlement agencies to provide all needed items – from couches to wash cloths – for new refugee families.
In 2018, the Agency Team set up homes for 57 refugee families, saving them a total of $94,240. The Team also provided additional items for 43 refugee and asylum-seeking families.
During the home sets ups, the volunteers got to know the refugee community in the D.C. area and worked to provide them with other needed household items. The volunteers became acutely aware of the need for better employment opportunities, especially for those who already spoke fluent English and were hoping to continue to work in their specialties or field
But many refugee families arrive without English fluency, and the Team saw an employment need for them, as well. At the same time, the Team had received many “well-loved” furniture donations. So it appeared to be a perfect opportunity to train refugees in carpentry and furniture making and merge these two needs.
With the growing demand for apartment set ups and and the call for job training and employment skills, it was clear a new nonprofit needed to be established to tackle everything. So, in February 2019, Homes Not Borders was formed and spun off our operations from National Community Church.
Homes Not Borders incorporated two months later and formed a fiscal sponsorship partnership with the like-minded nonprofit Solutions in Hometown Connections. Homes Not Borders officially opened for business at its new Hyattsville location on June 1st.
During all of this transition, Homes Not Borders volunteers got the workshop up and running and continued a rapid pace of home sets. In 2019, Homes Not Borders set up welcoming homes for 87 new refugee families, saving them a total of $140,000!
In 2020 and beyond Homes Not Borders aims to:
- Bring on an Executive Director full-time
- Bring on a part-time assistant/program manager
- Become our own independent nonprofit
- Start selling furnishing and woodworking items online and through store partners.
- Expand the furniture making training to 30 new refugee carpenters
- Start our career mentoring program reaching at least 20 mentees
- Expand our storage facility for set up items
- Partner with moving companies for large donation pickups