Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Simithraaratchy.
Kim, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In January 2017, sudden travel bans for refugees were implemented, sparking protests at airports around the US. As the child of refugees from Vietnam, I was horrified by what was happening and refused to believe that these laws were representative of the true feelings of the American people. I had grown up witnessing and believed that there were many Americans who welcome refugees and want to help fellow humans who were just trying to survive and build a life for their families. At the time, I read an article in the NYT about a community in NJ with lots of Syrian refugees where everyone would get together for a Syrian supper club to connect these people to their new community. This sparked in my mind the idea that I could do something in the same vein in my city. At the same time, my friend Olga Pope, who had read the same article, reached out to me about it and we decided we could do something together to create a different type of space for refugees in our city. Our concept was to throw a big dinner party, ask a refugee family to cook food from their country, and then ask for donations for each seat that would then go to the family to help them on their journey. And so we announced our idea to our network and proceeded to throw the first party at my house, packing it full with about 25 people at a seated dinner where an Iraqi family cooked an amazing meal for us all. It was such a heartwarming and wonderful time that also raised money for this family, so we decided to keep doing it. And so, the Sunday Supper Foundation was born. Since then, we’ve held at least 1 supper a month for around 40 people at a time, hosted in the home of someone in the Dallas community who offers up their home. We’ve met and helped families from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ivory Coast, Congo, and Venezuela. The generosity of the Dallas community has moved us time and time again as we witness people come to our suppers, connect with the families, offer up their time, homes, and resources. We know we are directly helping these families who are starting with very little as they try to move forward from the very difficult situations they’ve escaped.
This year, we were sponsored for nonprofit status by Omnis Foundation, to allow us to expand our work with the families as we continue to learn more about their needs. We will continue with one supper a month and are working some ideas on how to connect refugees with the means to become self-sufficient via English classes and job opportunities. Our mission remains the same: to help refugee families on their American journeys by creating a space for connection and community through food.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Honestly, it has been quite a smooth road for us. Throwing the event requires a bit of sweat, but my partner and I make a great team and we’ve been super appreciative of hosts and guests who have donated the plates and tables and glasses, etc. that we’ve been able to use for the events. Sometimes it is a challenge to communicate with the families the concept of Sunday Suppers, and we work with Refugee services of Texas to find translators.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sunday Supper Foundation – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
What we do: We host monthly suppers in private homes featuring authentic food cooked by local refugee families to raise money for these families.
What we are most proud of: That we’ve been able to help so many families from different places. On average we raise about $2000/per supper and that goes a long way to help people who are just getting their feet under them in a whole new country and society.
What sets us apart from others: We do everything with a keen focus on sensitivity to the families we work with. They have been through so much, many having been on the road, struggling to survive for years in dangerous places. We want to show them with our words and actions that there is a compassionate and caring place here FOR them in America.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plans for the future are to continue to expand what we do to help these people. Money is of course really helpful, but we’ve learned that help with job opportunities so they can take care of themselves and their families for the long term is even more effective. There are many challenges here including language barriers and learning how to operate in a new society and we have some ideas on how we can help here.
- $75 tax-deductible donation per person for each supper
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/sundaysupperfoundation
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/sundaysupperfoundation
Sandra Bulow-Hube Photography