EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EMPLOYMENT

Henrry and Michelle

Father and daughter work side by side

“All the work you guys do is foundational to the success of refugees… it changes lives.” These are the humbling words of Henrry, a Venezuelan refugee who now calls Chicago home. RefugeeOne welcomed Henrry and his 28-year-old daughter, Michelle, in April 2023.

Henrry, his wife, and their daughter left their home country of Venezuela in 2016, fleeing political persecution. Threats, attempted kidnappings, and an acute scarcity of resources marked their life in Venezuela before they left for Peru. Knowing they couldn’t return home or build a stable life in Peru, they applied with the UN Refugee Agency for resettlement.

Life in Peru was tough, and worsened when Henrry’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. Tragically, she passed before their case for resettlement was approved. Heartbroken by their loss, life seemed empty as Henrry and Michelle continued to wait for the opportunity to build a life elsewhere.

Finally, an offering of hope: they received a call letting them know they would be resettled in Chicago. RefugeeOne welcomed Henrry and Michelle at the airport and they immediately began to rebuild their lives with the resources and support provided, including RefugeeOne’s English classes and employment program. Just one month after his arrival, Henrry applied to Boombox Beverage, a specialty beverage manufacturer, and was offered a job in packaging.

The culture at Boombox emphasizes inclusivity and continuous learning. Since becoming a RefugeeOne employer partner a half year ago, they’ve hired five refugees, including one who has already risen to a supervisor position. These employees were given the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families – and in turn have become committed, growing professionals whose diverse backgrounds and perspectives better the whole team.


Meanwhile, Michelle had started a job in hospitality. She took the first job she could, as many refugees do out of necessity. It was difficult work and she found her colleagues unsupportive. After seeing her father’s enjoyment at his job, Michelle found the courage to apply at Boombox as well – and she got the position! As her English has improved, she’s taken on more responsibilities, and with time she plans to rise in the ranks. She’s excited about the learning curve and the opportunities that come with it.

Jennifer, a Boombox supervisor, speaks highly of Henrry and Michelle. She sees their growth as an accomplishment for the company as well. She finds joy in the duo’s achievements, like when they bought their first car. Jennifer states, “Their accomplishments are our accomplishments.”

To Henrry and Michelle, their work represents more than just a means to survive; it’s a testament to their resilience and hope for a brighter future, in honor and memory of their late wife and mother.


Your generosity means refugees like Henrry and Michelle are not left to face challenges alone. Through English classes, employment coaching, legal guidance, mental health care, volunteer mentors, and so much more, your gifts give newcomers the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Make a donation today to give refugees the resources they need to rebuild. >>

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