November 2011

Vol. 3 Issue 5

Latest news and stories 
In This Issue
Opening Doors Working to Investigate & Improve Iraqi Refugee Health
MoneyWork$ Spanish Cohort Graduates
Zumbathon® Event Benefits Survivors of Human Trafficking
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Current Events


Enroll Now in MoneyWork$ Financial Makeover Program


Having trouble making ends meet?  There is still space available in the MoneyWork$ program.  Call immediately.


MoneyWork$ is a six-month program with financial coaching, support groups and seminars by industry professionals.  If you or somone you know is ready for a financial make-over, contact us today.

Please visit our website for more info: click here.



Donations Needed for Refugee Children


Our Refugee Resettlement program is currently in need of mentors for incoming Burmese refugees.


This is a brand new population for the Sacramento area and many of the families arriving have small children, or are expecting.


Donations and goods, particularly for babies and small children would be especially appreciated. To donate or become a mentor, please visit our website for more info: click here.



 High School Students Examine the Refugee Experience in Theater


Join us for IMAGO DEI, an original documentary written and produced by the students at Jesuit High School. 


To support our efforts in assisting refugees in Sacramento, Jesuit High School is providing Opening Doors with the opportunity to display information and talk to audiences about our work.


The show will run at Jesuit's Black Box Theater from November 3-13. For more info: click here.



Join Us for an Evening of Live Improv Comedy!


CSU, Sacramento's student organization, Peace & Conflict International (PCI) has selected Opening Doors as its non-profit of the semester.  


Each semester, PCI chooses a social issue to focus on, and an affiliated organization to fundraise on behalf of. This semester, PCI is focusing on human trafficking, and has partnered with Opening Doors.


PCI's first fundraiser will be taking place Wednesday, November 9 at Comedy Sportz in Sacramento. The show starts at 8pm and admission is $5. 100% of the proceeds go to Opening Doors.  For more information on PCI: click here.


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It is thanks to community-wide efforts that Opening Doors is able to continue assisting underserved members of the Greater Sacramento Area. The articles you will read below highlight some of the recent successes and improvements we have made in our programs. Thanks to community support, Opening Doors has expanded our REAP program, has seen another Spanish MoneyWork$ cohort graduate, and was able to raise crucial funds for our Survivors of Human Trafficking program. Please help us continue improving these programs and assisting victims of human trafficking, immigrants, refugees, and low-income citizens by remembering Opening Doors in your holiday giving.

 Opening Doors Working to Investigate & Improve Iraqi Refugee Health

The Expanded R(H)EAP Program & Iraqi Health Assessment Study 


Unsurprisingly, refugee populations arrive to the United States with their own unique sets of needs and concerns. Among these concerns, health care issues are no less important than the linguistic and occupational issues which frequently take precedence in resettling a new population. As governmental agencies attempt to provide incoming refugees with resources for housing and employment, a question that often fails to get asked is, "Are refugee health issues properly being addressed by our existing health system?"


To assist with this issue and help address the health needs of Iraqi refugees, a growing community within the Sacramento area, Opening Doors has recently received two grants which will serve to expand our Refugee Employment Attainment Program (REAP) and also aid in researching the health concerns of this local population. 



'H' is for Health: Opening Doors Expands RHEAP!


Opening Doors' past REAP programs have become a valuable resource in the Iraqi community by providing ESL and employment attainment training. Now, RHEAP (Refugee Health & Employment Attainment Program) will include a healthy living component addressing general health care issues and nutrition.


Currently there are approximately 750 Iraqi refugees in Sacramento and the population is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. This has created an increasing need to offer local resources and to understand the health concerns of the Iraqi refugee population.


With the expansion of RHEAP to include health, Opening Doors hopes to draw in the entire Iraqi family. RHEAP Co-director, Emily Freunerbrum believes that by including health more women and children will be drawn to the program, thereby allowing RHEAP to become a more holistic family-based resource. Frenubrem hopes that these new and expanded health classes will become a "safe place" to discuss health and other cultural issues as refugees adapt to living in the U.S.


RHEAP classes will begin early next year.


To facilitate the changes in the RHEAP program, Opening Doors will be hiring a new Project Manager who will work to raise awareness in the Iraqi community about the RHEAP and recruit students for weekly classes. In particular, the RHEAP Manager will focus on reaching out to Iraqi women.



Investigating Iraqi Refugee Health in Sacramento


Many Iraqi refugees arrive to the U.S. with undiagnosed medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and anemia, and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.  In the first study of its kind in Northern California, Opening Doors will be involved in a collaborative project assessing the health concerns of Sacramento Iraqi refugees. In this project, Opening Doors will work in conjunction with the Clinical and Translational Science Center at UC Davis and the Mesopotamia Association (MESA), a nonprofit organization comprised of, and servicing Northern California Iraqi refugees and immigrants.


Consistent access to doctors and translators, and cultural issues such as the social stigma attached to mental health define some of the prominent health concerns of the Iraqi community.


Staff and contractors from MESA will work together with Opening Doors' Iraqi staff to interview local refugees about their specific health concerns and what resources are still needed in the Sacramento Iraqi community. Investigators in this study want to gain a deeper understanding of the specific health needs of the Iraqi community and hope that this study will become a basis for further studies.


For more information on the Sacramento Iraqi Refugee Health Assessment Study: click here

MoneyWork$ Spanish Cohort Graduates

Help Us Celebrate Their Success!



On September 29, Opening Doors' MoneyWork$ program proudly celebrated the graduation of our second Spanish-language cohort. A group of 11 participants who attended and contributed in all classes, support group meetings, and one-on-one counseling sessions geared toward altering fiscal behavior were honored at Trinity Lutheran Church in a ceremony that included live music and a dinner catered by El Mana Catering.


Whereas English cohort graduations tend to be more informal and intimate events, Spanish graduation ceremonies turn into formal celebrations, reflecting the Latino/a community's deep value for education. At the September 29th ceremony, graduates listened to speeches and presentations by Opening Doors' Executive Director, David Blicker and Cortez L. Quinn, District Director for Assemblymember Roger Dickinson. Afterward, interested graduates were allowed to give testimonials discussing their own experiences in the program. We were overwhelmed when all 11 graduates expressed interest in speaking! Though time constraints prevented all 11 from sharing their stories, participants expressed their appreciation for the program and how much it changed their lives.


MoneyWork$ is an intensive, six-month program that helps participants gain control over their finances. Program participants attend workshops, group meetings, and one-on-one discussions with a financial coach to discuss their specific needs and issues. After completing MoneyWork$, participants will meet with their support group twice more in the six months that follow to ensure they stay on track with their financial goals.


During workshops, financial experts from different institutions share their knowledge on a wide variety of topics such as personal budgeting, creating savings plans, finding banking accounts and insurance plans which better meet individual needs, credit options and credit repair, home buying and mortgages, taxes, debt, and bankruptcy.


During this process, participants become each other's sounding board and support group as they discuss their frustrations, concerns, and eventually, successes as they move through the program. Upon entering MoneyWork$, many participants begin the program with the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and frustration caused by personal debt, little or no savings, and a variety of other individual financial issues such as IRS problems and credit card debt. For the Spanish-language cohort in particular, participants also experience frustration over differences in the U.S. financial system from those they have left behind.


Upon completing MoneyWork$, participants report increased savings, better understanding of banking, budgeting, and debt management, and most importantly, a greater awareness of their personal finances and spending habits. By developing a budget, tracking income and expenses, and learning how to reduce expenditures, participants gain the confidence to set and achieve financial goals.


With a new, more positive outlook on their finances, participants begin looking forward to achieving previously-thought unreachable long-term financial goals such as purchasing a home and opening a business. By working step-by-step to achieve their financial goals, participants realize a financial makeover is, indeed, possible. We are especially proud of the hard work and dedication of our second Spanish-language cohort, and Opening Doors wishes them continued success in the future.


A third Spanish cohort began in early October. Our English cohort is currently recruiting students. If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about our upcoming MoneyWork$ cohorts please contact Nele at 916.492.2591.

Zumbathon� Event Benefits Survivors of Human Trafficking


On Saturday, October 1, 63 participants danced, sweated, and felt the burn at Opening Doors' Zumbathon� event benefitting the Survivors of Human Trafficking program. All $1,005.00 of the proceeds raised will be contributing directly to improving the lives of survivors within the Sacramento area as they navigate their newfound freedom, including providing food, housing, education, and job skills training.


 First developed in the mid-1990s in Columbia before being introduced to the United States in 2001, Zumba� incorporates music from traditional and contemporary Latin styles along with choreography that borrows elements from merengue, mambo, salsa, samba, hip-hop, and even belly dance. Zumba� is now a popular fitness style throughout the United States and internationally, and includes a devoted following here in the Sacramento area.


Helping to make our event a success, six instructors from 24 Hour Fitness--Nadia, Sarah, Stephanie, Kelsey, Francine, and Jessica--volunteered their time on a Saturday morning to help keep participants on their toes as instructors traded off leading the class. Held at Trinity Lutheran Church, the event included a raffle and drew families and groups of men, women, and children. As the adults sweated it out in the gym, Opening Doors' staff provided free daycare to ensure everyone had a good time. In addition to event participants, some of Opening Doors' Survivors of Human Trafficking clients were able to attend and got to have fun while witnessing firsthand Sacramento's support for ending human trafficking and improving the lives of its victims.


Opening Doors would like to thank all participants, sponsors, and supporters who helped make this event a success, including the Molina Health Care, Davis Massage Center, The Laundry Lounge, and Trinity Lutheran Church. 

Thank you for following our work. Together we can make a difference in the lives of refugees, survivors of human trafficking  and other underserved residents in the Greater Sacramento region. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation, please click here



David Blicker

Executive Director
Opening Doors, Inc.