Tempe Community Council

Volunteer of the Year
Amela Duric
A Bosnian refugee and devoted WTAP volunteer, Amela fled genocide and resettled to Tempe with her family as an elementary school child (see photo of social workers meeting her family upon arrival). Twenty years later, after graduating from Tempe McClintock High School, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University and volunteering thousands of hours, Amela was announced as the Tempe Community Council Volunteer of the Year! 
This prestigious award recognizes her lifetime of courage and selflessness and is acknowledgement of how very far she has come. A refugee helping refugees, Amela’s WTAP presence emotionally impacts volunteers, donors and most importantly, the refugees we welcome. 

Can you imagine your sudden feeling of hope if you were to resettled to a new world and greeted by someone who already traversed your path herself? Magical Amela is a walking, talking, loving inspiration for The Welcome to America Project community. Congratulations Amela, for an award we know you will accept humbly and that we celebrate loudly.

We asked Amela to answer a few questions in her own words.
Why do you volunteer?

There are endless reasons as to why I spend my time volunteering, but I think most importantly it is to connect to those who are in a position of vulnerability and uncertainty to remind them that there are people out there who, regardless of what circumstance they are in, are willing to lend a hand with no room for judgment and only room for love and acceptance. To remind them they are worthy in every way possible and that they deserve an opportunity at a better life. 

What does WTAP mean to you? Why do you volunteer here?

WTAP hits home! 20 years ago, I was the girl receiving donations from a similar organization in the Chicago area so to have the opportunity to now give back to those whose shoes I was once in is extremely humbling. Without the volunteers that helped my family, I may not be in the position I am in today. That is why WTAP means as much as it does to me; it is so important to give incoming and existing refugees the opportunity to rebuild and establish a new life here.
What does recognition as Volunteer of the Year mean to you? 

Being nominated, yet winning TCC's Volunteer of the Year is surreal. I do what I do because I genuinely appreciate the act of giving back so to have an organization recognize me is such a compliment. My parents have been such a driving force for me in all their sacrifices, they fled to a country they knew nothing about and made all the impossible things in life seem so effortless. They remind me every day that we must make conscious decisions to improve the lives of those around us, simply because we can and for no self-serving reason otherwise. My parents and brother have been my lifeline for as long as I can remember and by winning this award, it is my way of recognizing them for always supporting me in everything that I do. I am extremely grateful.

What do you tell others about volunteering? 

I try to remind everyone that it is important and necessary for us to expose ourselves to other ways of life; that we all are living differently, whether that be culturally or religiously, and everything in between, and that is what makes life so meaningful. That we can all become better neighbors to one another. That we have an obligation as human beings to do whatever we can to assure that those next to us have enough. Seeing that no matter how small or big a deed is, it's priceless effect on others is the true definition of humanity. Do not be afraid to get out there and make a change!
The Welcome to America Project
WTAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
Federal Tax ID#80-0038343 • Arizona QCO Code 20247
1711 West University Drive #158, Tempe, AZ 85281
 602-490-0088   wtap.org