November 2013

Vol. 5 Issue 5  

Latest News and Stories
In This Issue
ODI Loan Helps Family Business
A Volunteer Inspires Others
Introducing Refugee Resettlement
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Returned Peace
Corps Volunteers Collaboration

Each quarter, the Sac Valley RPCV organization raises money for a local nonprofit with a mission that aligns with their goals and values. From October to December of 2013, they have set a goal of fundraising $2,000 for Opening Doors.

A big Thank You to the Sac Valley RPCV organization for participating in this collaboration.

Adventures in Dining 
November 15 - 7PM - $15

Are you interested in trying new cuisine or learning more about Peace Corps?
Join Sac Valley RPCV and Opening Doors for an evening to enjoy a variety of ethnic food.
Click here for details. 

Mentorship Program

Help orient refugees to their new community by becoming a mentor! Learn more about our revamped Mentorship Program here.

Thank You!

Thank you to First Northern Bank for supporting MoneyWork$  to improve financial literacy in the community. 

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         Opening Doors' mission is to provide support for people to become self-sufficient and successful. We don't do the work for them; we offer opportunities so they can reach their goals and potential. 


         In this issue, we visit a hardworking family who started their business with help from an Opening Doors small business loan. We also celebrate a MoneyWork$ graduate and entrepreneur who gives back to her community by helping organize Opening Doors' Business Expos. And finally, we introduce you to three staff members who make our Refugee Resettlement program possible.


         Our work is possible because of you, our donors, sponsors and volunteers. Donate now.

Eeso & Sons
A Family Business 
by Jenna Brinkman

We pull up to a shop surrounded by car dealerships and mechanics near Marconi and Fulton. There's a simple sign hanging above the garage that reads "Fulton Car Detailing" and two phone numbers. Although it's a busy day at the shop, business owner Rabeea Lasoo gives us a warm welcome and a tour as Opening Doors Business Specialist Mohammed Mahmood translates.


I am introduced to Rabeea's father-in-law Sabri Eeso, who is cleaning the interior of a Mercedes SUV with a spray bottle and electric brush. Sabri's son-in-law, Ghazwan Iskander, is using a power washer to clean the wheels of a BMW while Sabri's son Layth is cleaning the interior of a Subaru. They are proud to show us how they have utilized their loan from Opening Doors to buy equipment and supplies. Having machinery like the power washer and being able to buy supplies in bulk saves them time and money.



This family had a successful car detailing business in Iraq and would also purchase cars from auction, fix them up and resell them. It was only a year ago when friends told them about Opening Doors' special loan program for refugees. They were confident they would be approved because of their business experience and complete business plan.


Fulton Car Detailing opened in February 2013 after they received a $4,000 two-year loan from Opening Doors. They are on track to pay off their loan in only one year and have applied for an additional loan to expand their business to buying and selling wholesale cars as they did in Iraq.


They all agree that owning a business here is more stable than it was in war-torn Iraq. "We never knew what might happen each day," says Ghazwan. Layth adds that the loan from Opening Doors has given them relief because they can depend on themselves rather than government aid. "It has given us control of our lives."


There are smiles on each of their faces as we leave them to their work. "We want to thank Opening Doors for the opportunity to open a business," Rabeea says. "It has made so much difference in our lives and we hope to continue with Opening Doors in the future."

The Importance of Volunteering
How a MoneyWork$ Graduate Gives Back


"Roxana is a beautiful person," says Maria Cetina, one of our star volunteers, about a long-time Opening Doors staff member.


Maria is a woman with many aspirations. As a small business owner, she strives for financial stability and entrepreneurial success. As a Mexican immigrant, she focuses on helping the local Hispanic community. As a volunteer, Maria passionately coordinates Business Expos - a platform for not only advertising her own business, but also for helping the local economy flourish.


Maria's success began when she started attending MoneyWork$ and Bank on Sacramento classes, where she met Roxana Calderon, our Hispanic Prosperity Program Manager. "Roxana is very nice to everyone and likes to help her community," Maria says. She cites Roxana's work, passion and expertise as the example she emulates as she supports one of Opening Doors' programs.

Recently, Maria was granted a free membership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for her work in the community.


Maria took full advantage of our business seminars in order to improve her business acumen and is now using her hard earned knowledge to educate her community. She wants to see more economic opportunities for Hispanic business owners. She encourages them to reach out to new clients and other business owners by participating in the business expos.


The expos are unique opportunities for business owners to learn, network, and expand their business. By attending, they will increase their client base and connect with other business owners who can help them improve their business strategies. Maria hopes the program receives additional funding in order to expand the expos and create a responsible and united group to accomplish its goals.


The expos are reliant on volunteer participants and Maria primarily works as the secretary, keeping meeting agendas and minutes, and calling people to remind them about meetings. However, Roxana says that Maria is most influential with her testimonials. "She talks to people about how important the programs are at Opening Doors. Because of the coaching and support she received, she is at the Expos advertising her business."

Maria notes that all the Expo volunteer participants have a common desire to learn and give back to their community. For Maria, volunteering is about the reward of helping others without expecting anything in return.

Meet the Staff 
Refugee Resettlement 
David Dauer 
Program Manager 

David has ten years of experience in the field of international development and an extensive background working in refugee resettlement. He spent two years living in Tonga as a Peace Corps volunteer, and has also worked in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Washington, D.C. In January 2013, David accepted the position at Opening Doors and moved back to his hometown. His exposure to many cultures gives him an understanding of our participants' way of life. David finds their humility and duty to family and community refreshing. He finds it rewarding to see them rebuild a life and community here.

AzraAzra Bajramovic
Case Coordinator

Azra was born and raised in Bosnia and came to Sacramento as a refugee in 1994. In 2006 she worked for Opening Doors as Outreach Coordinator in Sacramento's Bosnian community. She became Case Coordinator for the Refugee Resettlement program in 2009 and loves what she does. Azra relates to the problems our participants are facing because she has been in their shoes. She suggests that if you want to make a difference, you should consider volunteering as a refugee mentor. She thinks the experience will not only help the newcomer, but it will have a huge impact on your life.

Russul Russul Tawffeq 
RHEAP Program Coordinator 

Russul came to Opening Doors as a refugee from Iraq in 2008 with her three children. Since then she has been helping refugees through Opening Doors and as a volunteer for the Mesopotamia Organization and the Muslim American Society Social Service Foundation. When Russul became program coordinator for RHEAP in December 2011 she says it was the happiest day of her life. RHEAP is a unique community-building program that teaches Iraqi refugees valuable skills and about American culture in a fun, social setting. Russul loves life and making new friends, so it is the perfect opportunity for her to make a difference.

Thank you for following our work. You can forward our newsletter to family, friends, and colleagues by clicking the "Forward email" link just below my signature. Our staff, interns and volunteers wish you the best. 


Debra DeBondt 

Chief Executive Officer

Opening Doors, Inc.