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Better To Give

The Uncommon Life

Twice a Refugee: A Visit from the IRC

June 24, 2016

After recently partnering with a new Better to Give partner – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) – UncommonGoods was lucky enough to have an audience with Omar Almashhadani, a refugee client of the IRC. Omar describes himself as being a refugee twice in his life. In 2006, Omar was living in his native Iraq, studying prosthetic dentistry, and was hoping to continue his studies and move into practicing – but his life was in danger. The security situation in Iraq had collapsed, and his family fled the country to what they thought at the time might be a beacon of safety—Syria. They lived in a refugee camp, and Omar and his brother couldn’t go to college or work because of restrictions on refugees. Given the bleak outlook for their futures in a refugee camp, Omar and his family decided to apply for refugee resettlement in the United States, and in April 2008, were granted resettlement in the U.S. With help from the IRC, Omar became a U.S. citizen and has been going to school and working in New York City ever since. Here’s a look at our conversation with Omar.

Omar and Family

Omar (far right) with his family, who are now living in the United States

What was your life in Iraq like before the war?

It was peaceful, quiet, and I could go outside to hang out with my friends and family. We had many different communities and different religions, but we were all very happy and peaceful.

How did your family decide it was time to leave Iraq?

In 2003, the war drove me and my family out of my hometown and into the center of Baghdad where we stayed with my uncle. Unfortunately the conflict continued to escalate with suicide bombings and rumors of people being kidnapped. Then in 2005 my brother was shot in the leg, and we realized it was too dangerous to stay any longer. We knew we had to leave as soon as possible, so we applied for an Iraqi passport – which can take a year to be approved. Finally we fled to Syria in 2006. At that time, Syria was considered safer than Iraq.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Counting Beads, Caramel, and the IRC

June 22, 2016

As a certified B Corporation, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green”–we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always eager to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft–those who are making an uncommon impact.

IRC | Uncommon Impact | UncommonGoods

The International Rescue Committee is providing cash support to women-led households with the greatest need. Here, IRC staff ask a Syrian refugee about how effective she thinks the program is and whether it can be improved. | Photo: Ned Colt/IRC

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The Uncommon Life

Why it’s Better to Give with The International Rescue Committee

June 20, 2016

“The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities.                                                                                                     –The International Rescue Committee 

There’s a lot of information packed into that mission statement, and it’s difficult to actually sum up everything it means, because the organization behind it, The International Rescue Committee (IRC) does so much to help those in need. Humanitarian crises include war, natural disasters, famine, drought, and numerous other man-made and environmental tragedies. The IRC’s responses to those crises include education, vocational training, economic support, emergency medical care, and countless other programs to empower those impacted by situations they had no control over. While it’s hard to outline all of the fantastic work IRC does in a blog post, it’s less challenging to express the pride and honor we feel as we welcome them to our Better to Give program.

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The Uncommon Life

UncommonGoods for the Common Good

May 13, 2016

While our business has grown a lot since our founding in 1999, UncommonGoods’ commitment to positively impacting the communities we touch has not wavered. If you’ve shopped with UncommonGoods before, you know that being socially conscious is a concept baked right into our company DNA. From founder and CEO Dave Bolotsky meeting with President Obama, to advocating for small businesses, to paying our lowest-paid seasonal workers more than 50% above the federal minimum wage, to advocating for mandated paid family leave in the State of New York, UncommonGoods has been able to successfully champion progressive business practices since from day one. Below are a few choice highlights from our mission in promoting social good.

American Forests

Photo courtesy of our Better to Give partner American Forests

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The Uncommon Life

Checking in with Better to Give

May 11, 2016

There is a long list of reasons for why I begged to join the UncommonGoods team, but mainly it was my curiosity about our roots as a founding B Corp and our commitment to a creative flagship donation program called Better to Give. (Although, it also didn’t hurt that it is located near top-notch taco joints and the best dim sum and soup dumplings New York City has to offer.) The Better to Give program epitomizes what we strive to do in all aspects of our business. Through the program, we show how to use business as a force for good, while offering all stakeholders an opportunity to express themselves through digital advocacy for organizations that align with our values and vision.

Better to Give Logo

UncommonGoods | Better to Give

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