The Welcome Project is a social enterprise that trains our newest neighbors in fabrication and art skills as well as store management while bringing new life to the business district of Camp Washington, Cincinnati.
Welcome is an idea that spawned from a partnership between artist Cal Cullen, executive director of Wave Pool Art Gallery and Sheryl Rajbhandari, founder and executive director of Heartfelt Tidbits. Both have a passion for art and humanitarian work associated with immigrants and refugees. The Welcome Project was a natural fit to provide solutions to gaps they had identified within the local community of the immigrants and refugees.
Cincinnati has a rich heritage of being an immigrant rich city. Specifics related to Ohio can be found in Appendix A obtained from the American Immigration Council. While the city has 80+ providers that do a tremendous job in assisting with welcoming refugees we recognize the need to expand this. Many who are marginalized and at risk feel isolated and vulnerable. Their art enables them to share their voice without the language and build friendships through the program. Our goal is that this through this business we will be empower immigrants and refugees with knowledge and break down the barriers that many face related to employment and housing.
“The women in our weekly art classes are learning much more than just art skills, they are learning language, making friends, and building community.”
— Sheryl Rajbhandari, FOUNDER
There are approximately 20 women working weekly with the existing artesian programs offered by Wave Pool and Heartfelt Tidbits. They are from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Tanzania, Bhutan, Russia, Mexico, Nepal, Congo, Eritrea, and other countries.
Local immigrant and refugees bring developed skills to their new home but lack the ability to utilize these skills due to language, economic and business barriers. Welcome will help solve this by engaging them in a social enterprise that will have a retail store that also functions as a workshop and educational space. A third component is housing above the retail and workspace venue.
As executive directors of small non-profits, Cal and Sheryl understand the importance of leveraging and engaging partners and the value that they bring. Both feel this venue will be new and exciting to Cincinnati. The desired outcome is not only success for the participants in the program but that other cities will be inspired and leverage this model to assist with the development and economic opportunities for their newest neighbors.
Welcome's mission is to empower marginalized and at risk refugees and immigrants by providing affordable housing, jobs, education and skills training, so that they will one day take these opportunities and turn them into a lasting, better way of life.
million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, refugees who left their home, where it was too dangerous to stay.
refugees were resettled in Cincinnati last year. Most came from Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lass than 1% of refugees are resettled. Most live their lives in refugee camps.
If you live nearby and would like to help, we accept volunteers regardless of skill level. We specifically need help cleaning, rehabbing the storefronts, and are also looking for people to help transport people to our programs and teach new skills to our newest neighbors and our larger commuity. Donations are vital to the feasibility of this project. You are also most welcome to make a tax-deductable donation to help us continue and grow our program offerings.