In 2004, WTB volunteers began meeting with refugees at the Center for New Americans. The goal was to create community with women new to the United States. Through songs, dancing, crafts, picture books, and laughter, several WTB women interacted weekly with up to 40 women from nations such as Congo, Sudan, Bhutan, and Burma.
Knowing that these refugees came to us with traditional skills, WTB applied for and received a grant to help the refugees polish those skills and sell their hand-made products. This evolved in 2010 into a new class, teaching machine sewing skills.
In eight-week sessions with one-on-one volunteers, eight refugee women learn to sew on identical Janome sewing machines. Some of our students are totally new to sewing. Others had experience in their home countries.
We meet on Thursdays during the school year, with four consecutive sessions. On Fridays another group of volunteers meets with women to work with clay– sculpting figurines, jewelry, or anything that makes them happy.
In addition, we help the refugees market sewn, knitted, and ceramic items at stores and craft shows.
We are temporarily located at Bob School, 501 Park Street. Over the 2013 summer we will move to InterFaith Works new location on Elm Street.
Although we do have some funds from the Presbytery of Cayuga/Syracuse to support this program, we are always grateful for donations of fabric, thread, notions, and machines.