The Hyde Park Refugee Project is a volunteer organization. It consists of Hyde Park residents and other volunteers from Chicago’s South Side working together to resettle refugee families in our neighborhood and helping to transition them to self-sufficiency.

“We help refugee families rebuild their lives for a brighter future.”


Dorothy Pytel

Refugee Project Leadership

Co-Directors: Dorothy Pytel, Lisa Jenschke and Anna Zonderman

Working Group

The Refugee Project “Working Group” of dedicated volunteers meets weekly to discuss major issues and projects. Members are responsible for decision-making related to major policy, training of new volunteers and volunteer assignments. Communication Coordinators who are part of the working group maintain our volunteer database, website, social media and email. Invited guests often attend working group meetings as do family mentors, new volunteers, partners and contributing specialists.

Refugee Family Mentors

The Refugee Project organization revolves primarily around our refugee families. Each family sponsored by the HPRP has two to three volunteers assigned as its “Family Mentors.” All needed activities and services related to that individual family are arranged and coordinated by these primary Family Mentors.

Consultants and Specialists

Volunteers with specific interests or areas of expertise offer guidance and assistance for services, projects and programs, including:

  • Tutoring and Educational Enrichment
  • Medical and Healthcare resources
  • Employment
  • Translations
  • Childcare
  • Legal and Immigration Process and Issues
  • Fundraising
  • Liaison with Partners
  • Transportation Services
  • Communications and Media Relations


The Refugee Project maintains partnerships with many organizations who provide funding and other resources.

Examples include:

  • Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Counsel
  • Refugee One
  • SIRAT Chicago
  • World Relief
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
  • Syrian Community Network
  • 2019 Supplementary Programs:Adult Education:

Adult Education

The Refugee PRoject provides English as a Second Language (“ESL”) Training for adults. In addition, the Refugee Project provides training and workshops to volunteers in areas related to working with refugees.

Child Education

The Refugee Project provides in-school and after school ESL and tutoring. The organization has also initiated a summer camp for refugee and immigrant children which offers tutoring, games, arts and crafts, sports, and cultural outings.

Top image: Refugee Project volunteers receive in-kind donations from partner Alpha Kapa Alpha