Since Hyde Park Refugee Project’s inception in October 2016, the volunteer-run organization has accomplished a great deal, including:

  • Recruited more than 70 community members
  • Partnered with more than 25 organizations
  • Held one fundraising event
  • Raised more than $40,000 in donations
  • Secured and fully furnished two apartments and provided clothing for two refugee families
  • Enrolled nine children in school, scheduled and accompanied 13 family members to more than 100 doctor visits
  • Provided ongoing ESL tutoring and mentoring
  • Helped place two dads in jobs
  • Conducted one refugee resettlement training and two English as a second language training sessions for volunteers
  • Co-sponsored a summer program that provided enrichment activities for kids and families
  • Extended assistance and resources to two additional Syrian refugee families living in Hyde Park.  

Hyde Park Refugee Project Timeline

Fall 2015 Refugee relief is identified as a priority of the Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council.
December 2015 First Unitarian Church sponsors a refugee family on Chicago’s North Side. Inspired, Dorothy Pytel, a member of Augustana Lutheran Church and its representative to the Interfaith Council, organizes a series of talks about the refugee experience. She begins exploring options for resettling a refugee family in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.
Spring and Summer 2016 Organizational meetings of the community build capacity and relationships between interested groups around the idea of resettling refugee families in Hyde Park.

Early efforts include outreach to RefugeeOne, Illinois’ largest refugee relief agency, and initial fundraising events to demonstrate commitment.

Late Summer 2016 RefugeeOne agrees to place a family in Hyde Park.
Mid October 2016 December 15 is chosen as the target date to resettle a family in Hyde Park.

RefugeeOne creates a fundraising page and Hyde Park Refugee Project is officially begun. Funding goals are met within weeks.

November 2016 Due to overwhelming community support, the Refugee Project organizers start fundraising for a second family.

Penny Visser joins the Refugee Project to provide additional leadership.

Mid-December 2016 The first apartment is fully furnished with donated items.
December 23, 2016 The first family of five arrives with children whose ages range from 1 – 5.
Early February 2017 The second apartment is fully furnished with donated items.
February 9, 2017 The Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, formally recognizes the Refugee Project as one of its official programs.
February 22, 2017 The second family of eight arrives with children whose ages range from 4 – 17.