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Stitching Together a Better Life for Refugees


Westlake Ace Hardware general manager Bill Say knows what it means to have a Helpful Heart – both inside his store and with the Kansas City-area refugee community. In 2017, Bill’s family founded Once We Were Refugees (OWWR). The organization provides tuition-free, nine-week sewing classes to refugees in the Kansas City metro area. After graduation, each refugee is provided with a sewing machine and other supplies to get started in a career.

In addition to Bill’s busy role as general manager at Westlake Ace Hardware, he oversees all communication for OWWR, is a member of the board of directors, and works alongside his family to ensure OWWR’s mission continues well into the future.

To date, more than 200 students have graduated from the program, many going on to learn additional skills to use industrial sewing equipment, gain employment, and support their families




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