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Marcy Jaimeson's Fundraiser:

Open Arms: Austin, Texas

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Marcy Jaimeson


Austin, TX There is a new company in Austin, Texas helping refugee women break out of minimum-wage poverty by offering them a living wage to create stylish products that make a difference. With products ranging from hand-stitched rugs to tote bags, the company offers customers a chance to make a fashion statement while advancing social justice.
“Every year, tens of thousands of refugee families arrive in America, ready to work and enjoy the freedom for which our country is known, but too often land in dead-end jobs,” said company co-founder, Leslie Beasley. “Our goal is to employ refugee women at a living wage, on a family-friendly schedule, and be part of their embrace of the American dream.”
The brainchild of a small group of socially-aware women in Austin, Texas, Open Arms is a social enterprise created to complement the charitable and governmental organizations that currently invest in America’s rapidly-growing refugee population.
“Having endured difficult journeys away from civil unrest, warfare and religious persecution, these refugees are looking for the opportunity to provide for their families,” said Trina Barlow, another co-founder. “Refugees live in our neighborhoods, worship in our churches, and enroll their children in our schools, yet they get stuck on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. This company is designed to change that.”
At first glance, one might guess that Open Arms is a charity, but it is, instead, one of a growing number of for-profit social enterprises that seeks to achieve a social purpose through the materials they use, the products they sell and the impact they have. In this case, it is employing refugee women to rescue t-shirts bound for landfills and transform them into quality, handmade products.
Although they’re starting small, the company’s founders envision a day when Open Arms manufacturing facilities are located all across the country, equipping refugee women to climb out of minimum-wage poverty. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, more than 166,000 refugees and asylum seekers were admitted to the U.S. in 2008. With strife ongoing in nations around the world, that number won’t likely drop anytime soon, nor will the need to gainfully employ these new arrivals.
To shop for Open Arms products, donate t-shirts or learn more about the company, visit



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Marcy is working on selecting a charity so you can support Open Arms: Austin, Texas.