People Stepping Up to Make a Difference for Refugees Northwest

It may be cold and gray outside, but at Refugees Northwest our hearts are warmed by friends and neighbors stepping up to extend a hand of welcome in our community! Just recently, the head of the nonprofit arm of the Washington State Psychological Association, clinician Dr. Jennifer Rough, led a drive to collect coats, warm clothing, and emergency food supplies for our families.


On a Saturday afternoon, Dr. Rough and colleagues, along with a separate group of friends, came together to sort and organize the items for distribution.  With Tom Petty music playing on a portable speaker, the group prepared the donated items and loaded in dozens of bags filled with a week’s supply of food.  “It’s a great feeling to give back for our second year,” said Dr. Rough.  “We’ll be looking for more ways to help.”


Our volunteers brighten the days of hardworking people who need a small ‘hand up’ now and then, and help us build a sense of community and hope.


Also recently, former City of Sammamish Communications Manager Tim Larson, now retired, spent a Sunday afternoon (notably, away from NFL playoff games) to spread the word about Refugees Northwest’s critical work.  “My own grandfather came to this country as a 15-year old truant from Sweden.  He wasn’t a Ph.D. but he worked hard and built a life for his family. This country offered that opportunity and I want to be sure we hand that spirit on.  It’s the DNA of what we’re all about,” Larson said.


At the same event, a former foster youth of Refugee Northwest, Hameed, spoke to a group of interested citizens, curious to see how they can become more involved in nonprofit efforts.  He described his harrowing journey to Turkey, fleeing the Iraq War, alone, at the age of 15.  With the help of our programs and a few special friends, Hameed finished four years of high school in just three years, and is now at a major local university on a full scholarship.  He’s studying psychology, and hoping to use those skills to work with young people who, like himself, have started with very little but are determined to make the most of every opportunity.  “My childhood was nothing but chaos and violence.  I lost my father in the war.  I never would have thought I could have such a life now.  I am grateful and happy, and committed to my education.”

What all these people have in common is the basic human desire to reach out a hand.  It doesn’t take millions of dollars or massive amounts of time, yet it can make a genuine difference in the lives of others.  If you’d like to take the next step to support or volunteer with us, please visit