Behind the storefront of a Glen Ellyn boutique, a crowdfunding effort is underway to support refugee women in the community.
The Re:new Project, a non-profit social enterprise that creates a space for refugee women to thrive, has launched a crowdfunding campaign in partnership with 100 Extraordinary Women (100EW), a nationally recognized women’s initiative that connects extraordinary women with extraordinary causes.
From now until September 30, Re:new seeks to engage 100 women (or groups of women) to each commit $1,000. The goal is to raise $100,000 to train, promote and employ 4 additional women onto Re:new’s team. The commitment can be divided into manageable annual or monthly contributions for up to 5 years, which translates to $17 per month.
What is the Re:new Project
Located in downtown Glen Ellyn, Re:new has a storefront where you’ll find hundreds of high-quality, beautiful bags each as unique as the refugee woman who made it. Look deeper and you’ll find a studio where these women not only sew, but also gain workplace experience, practice the English language in a safe environment, and integrate into a new culture. Among the hum of sewing machines, relationships are formed: between each other and the dozens of volunteers.
Most of these women were once working moms in their homeland: a schoolteacher, a nurse midwife, a university executive, and a small shop owner … But, they were suddenly forced to flee their homes because of war, persecution or political conflict. Brave and difficult journeys eventually lead to safety and freedom in the United States.
They now share unspeakable memories, as well as language and cultural barriers. The educational and professional degrees they once held are no longer valid.
Fiercely determined, they are stitching their lives back together as part of the Re:new Project.
Currently, within its Artisan Development Programs, Re:new offers free training to 8 refugee women and provides flexible employment to 7 refugee women from all over the world including Somalia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar), Iraq, Sierra Leone and The Kingdom of Bhutan.
Re:new provides refugee women a platform to lead a successful life in the United States. More than 140 women have come through the program, often while working to obtain their GEDs, college degrees and citizenship status. Many have gone on to pursue new careers, for example one woman honed her entrepreneurial skills while working at Re:new and went on to open her own successful flower shop.
How to join the campaign
Women can pledge support to the campaign individually, or they can gather a group of friends or family (e.g. Bible studies or book clubs) and ask them to pledge to the campaign with them. Here is a link to donate: https://100extraordinarywomen.com/projects/renew/.
Every woman who joins the campaign will have her name placed on a placard inside Re:new’s studio, and be invited to attend a celebration event on October 21 at 7:30 pm (graciously sponsored by Blackberry Market). If women join the campaign as a group, the group name will be listed on the placard and one representative will be invited to attend the celebration event.
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