Arizona State law allows those who pay state taxes to redirect up to $400 ($800 for jointly filing couples) to qualifying charitable organizations, like The Welcome to America Project. Any amount that is given is then deducted, dollar for dollar, from the total amount of owed state taxes. So, if you owe $400 in state taxes, and you gave away $400 to qualifying charitable organizations, you will have to pay $0 to the state at tax time. It’s that simple! You can take part of your taxes and spend them directly at organizations you know are doing good work for our community.

Here’s what you need to know:

The law allows individuals to give up to $400, and jointly filing couples can give up to $800.

Yes. The maximum allowed may be divided amongst multiple qualifying organizations.

No. A full list of qualifying organizations is available at the AZ Department of Revenue website.  (https://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/QualifyingCharitableOrganizations.aspx)

Yes. If you give to your public or private school, you can also make a tax credit contribution to a charitable organization and a separate one to Foster Care Charitable Organizations, too. Please note that the maximum contributions for each program are different.

Complete Department of Revenue Fprm 321. You do not need to itemize deductions to claim this credit. Please consult a tax expert if you have specific questions.

Beginning in 2016, the deadline for claiming a tax credit is April 15. Credits donated on or before this day may be applied to either the current or preceding taxable year. Many people like to make their contribution by Dec. 31, the end of the fiscal year for accounting purposes.



October 7, 2001

15 years ago today, still reeling from the loss of her brother-in-law in the 9/11 original-tribune-photo-articleterrorist attacks, Carolyn Manning was drawn to a powerful image of a young refugee family on the front page of a local newspaper. This mother, father, and four children, with a fifth on the way, sat together in a noticeably barren and unwelcoming apartment.

Carolyn would come to find out that the young family had fled Afghanistan after also suffering at the hands of the same terrorist organization that had brought down the Twin Towers, killing her brother-in-law. She yearned to connect with this family who uniquely shared in her family’s suffering. This image and Carolyn’s subsequent actions were seeds of compassion that grew into the Welcome to America Project.

Check out this video about how the Welcome to America Project got started.

Don’t Miss Out!

There are only a few more days until our Welcome Breakfast, where we’ll celebrate 15 years of welcoming refugees to the Phoenix area! Our speakers include Wasan, a refugee from Iraq, who will share her family’s journey, fleeing persecution to resettlement and prosperous lives of safety and opportunity. Also speaking, Phoenix, Arizona mayor Greg Stanton! Don’t miss out on this inspirational, educational, and free event! RSVP here


Volunteer Spotlight: Annette Bouw

How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?14247690_10209124343298738_128295454_o
I have been volunteering with WTAP for almost 4 years now.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?

I have met wonderful community volunteers from all walks of life, backgrounds and from all ages. Our Youngestvolunteer has been Abby Anhalt who has volunteered multiple times with her mother Adina, and some of our seniorvolunteers have been the “Golden Girls” Laura, Connie and Denise who showed me the ins and outs of how we sort, organize and pack items for our refugee families when I first began. At that point they had been activelyvolunteering weekly for about 5 years. That is dedication!

Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
As the daughter of a refugee, my Dad George who came to the United States through the IRC in 1950, I know the plight of the refugee families from within my own family and understand the hardships all too well. I was fortunate enough to come into this world when my father was in solid financial standing but he shared many stories over the years, just how hard the beginning was. There was no WTAP back then, and my father could only rely on himself and his few family members. I want this generation of refugees to know someone else is out there to help them, and they do not have to do it all alone. I want them to have more than just the mattress on the floor that my father had when he first came. WTAP allows me to help furnish their near empty apartments so that they can become their homes, filled with what they need to be able to comfortably sit, study, eat and enjoy their home life as we all do.Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.

One time, on a delivery I learned that a 5 year old child was not attending school, and that the parents were told he did not need to go until the fall, and yet, this was only January. I explained that school was required at that age and that there must have been a misunderstanding. I then assisted the family with phone calls during the week and the child began school. The parents were very happy that indeed their child could start learning and not have to wait.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I recently finished my M. S. In Professional Counseling, and will soon commence my job search. I love to travel, spend time with family and friends and I love to cook, bake and entertain. I also mentor International Students at Scottsdale Community College.

What secret powers or talents do you have?

I have the gift of learning languages and can speak Polish, Ukrainian, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch in varying degrees as well as being able to understand some Russian. This is a blessing when I travel and has come in handy with some of our refugee families.

End of Summer Facebook Contest!

Thanks to all who participated in our end-of-summer contest!

The winner is Annette from Chandler!

Click here to see our director, Collin announcing the winner

We’re celebrating the end of summer with a chance to

diamondbacks-logo-alternatewin 4 tickets to a 2016 season Dbacks game of your choice!

To enter all you have to do is share this video with a personal message about refugees and tag our WTAP Facebook page:

Welcome to America: Giving Refugees New Hope with Household Goods

The more times you share the video, the better chance you have to win the tickets!

The contest runs from Sunday, August 7th-Sunday,  August 21.

The winner will be announced on Monday, August 22nd.

contest terms :
1. The post must be shared directly from our FB account, or link to our FB account
2. Participants can share only once per day.
3. Posts must contain a personal message about refugees.  The statement can be about people they know, personal experience, refugee resettlement, refugee success, innovations, etc. The statement can be as short as one sentence.
4. The winner will be announced on Monday, August 22nd.
5. In the case that there’s a tie, WTAP will randomly draw a name.

Refugees in Our Communities

IMG_1897Marina Kovacevic, Law Student and Former Refugee from Banjaluka, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Where are you from?
Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Why did you have to leave? Who did you leave with?
I left when I was 8 years old with my mom and sister. We had to leave because the living conditions in Bosnia at the time were unbearable. We had just gone through a civil war, and much of my family was either killed or in financial despair. We did not know the future of our home or what would happen to us if we stayed, if we would even live to see another year. During the war, my father was drafted into the army on the Serb side because we lived predominantly in a Serb region. His platoon was captured and taken to Croatia. He was held in a prison camp, but was allowed to leave when he called an aunt who proved that he was half Croatian. However, the Croatian army had taken all of his identification documents, so he could not stay in Croatia as half Croatian and could not prove his half Serbian identity when he tried to return to Bosnia. He applied for refugee resettlement with the United States and several other countries. Luckily, the Catholic Social Services in the U.S. helped him immigrate to the United States and after several failed attempts that took a year, my mom, sister and I, were able to immigrate as his dependents.

What were you able to bring with you?
I brought clothes and one doll. We also brought some photographs, video cassettes, and music cassettes.

When did you arrive in the U.S.? Which organizations helped you when you arrived?
I arrived on January 16, 1997 and the Catholic Social Services helped us.

What surprised you about daily life in the U.S.?

I was surprised about how HOT it was in Arizona in the middle of January.

I remember thinking that the grocery stores were gigantic and I had so much fun going. In Bosnia, we only had coca cola on birthdays and New Years because it was expensive. So I thought it was wonderful to have coca cola whenever I wanted. I also gorged on cookies, chips, and McDonalds, which I had only seen in movies. It isn’t that my family was poor in Bosnia, but chocolate and snacks were just not sold ever since I can remember.

I also found it wonderful that everyone always smiles in the U.S., something that we consider ingenuine in Bosnia. But, I loved it.

I loved the desert and the fact that western movies that I had seen stayed true to the actual scenery.

I loved how many children’s movies there were on TV and even though we only had basic cable back then (about 10 channels), there was always something fun to watch. Once we got the Disney Channel, I was in heaven.

Lastly, I was mostly surprised how emotional people are here. I felt this as a child, but more so as I grew older. Here, it is okay to express your emotions, even encouraged. It is okay to stop in the middle of what you are doing and smile, cry, or laugh. It is okay to tell people you love them every day and you will not be seen as weak or ingenuine. That is my favorite thing about America.

What would you like fellow Americans to know about refugees arriving in the U.S.?
I would like them to know that refugees and immigrants are just as intelligent and capable as you. I did not appreciate being talked down to (which I still do) because people thought that just because I did not speak English, I was not as intelligent. I work with immigrants and always imagine where they used to work in their home countries and how intelligently they speak in the native languages. So, I appreciate that someone does the same to me.

I would also like people to know that immigrants and refugees are not “stealing” Americans’ economic opportunities or social benefits. Refugees did not choose to leave their countries and the lives they likely loved before things became ugly. They simply needed to save their own lives and do what is best for them. They had to find another countries and if they need any public benefits Americans claim they abuse, refugees are only allowed to use it for a certain amount of time until they settle in.

I would also like Americans to know that we are the same. I would like to put themselves in refugees’ shoes and think–would I do anything necessary to save my own life and the life of my child? If so, what would that be?

What do you (and your family) do now?
I am immigration attorney in the making, my sister is a bankruptcy attorney and my mother is a student liaison for refugee and immigrant students at an elementary school district and she teaches behavioral health (psychology) at a university.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I want to continue traveling the world. I want to learn Spanish and several other languages. I want to ride an elephant, sky dive, and have my own garden. I want to live in a big city and work for a non profit organization that deals with human rights. I want to present a case to the U.S. Supreme Court. I want to write a book. I want to have a column in a fashion magazine. I want my mom to retire in a beach house. And lots more!


Volunteer Spotlight: Manya, Tatijana, and Maja


How long have you been volunteering with WTAP? 

Our family, my two daughters and I, have been volunteering since September 2014.   We have helped with deliveries, organized the warehouse, worked at the clothing closet, and have adopted a family for the annual event.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?  
We have met many amazing volunteers who come out regularly to spend their Saturday mornings – individuals, couples, and parents and their children.  More importantly, we have had the privilege of meeting families from all over the world.  One Somali family really stands out in our minds.  There were about 9 people in the family, all in one apartment.  While they had very little in way of furniture or material belongings they had turned their home into a beautiful, welcoming place by covering the walls, ceiling, and even floors with colorful, patterned cloths.  You walked into their home and you immediately felt as if you had been transported half-way around the world. With so little, they had made a welcoming home.  Each time we volunteer we are  humbled by the families we meet who have their own personal challenges and dreams to share.


Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?

We initially found out about WTAP when looking for an organization to support for Manya’s alma mater’s annual national alumni volunteer day. Manya coordinated the Arizona alumni volunteer group in 2014 and 2015.  We absolutely loved our first experience and committed ourselves to becoming regular volunteers.  The joy we feel from helping families find clothing and set-up their new homes is unbeatable.  We selfishly keep returning to volunteer to keep re-experiencing that joy.

Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.  Not long after we first started volunteering, we had the privilege of helping a young family from Afghanistan.  The father/husband had been a interpreter supporting U.S. troops forcing them to leave their country to be safe from violent retaliation. They had 2 young children under the age of about 5 and the wife was pregnant with another child.  When we arrived at their home, we found out that they had really been hoping for a stroller for the younger child because the pregnant mom could not carry him. We knew there was no stroller on the truck for them.  We made the decision to run to a store down the street and to buy the family a stroller.  It was just a simple, basic stroller, but the impact it had on that family was significant.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Besides caring for our small backyard flock of pampered hens, we keep busy with school activities.  Manya is a school psychologist.  Tatijana and Maja are middle school students.
What secret powers or talents do you have?  
The girls are proud of their physical strength when unloading the truck.  Manya claims no super power other than a commitment to raising caring children who are involved in their community. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Nina Melic

Nina Melic: Volunteer, Board Member

10801735_10205074368596211_8300777266501353985_n (1)How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
I have been volunteering only since August 2015. I was looking for a
new job on LinkedIn and came across the WTAP page. I sent Collin an email and the rest is history.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
Besides having the honor of meeting the wonderful people involved in planning the Fundraiser Breakfast in October, I have had the pleasure to meet all the student volunteers that put the time and effort in helping us organize and host the WTAP Breakfast at Scottsdale Community College.
Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP? Volunteering is good for the soul. I have been looking for the right organization for a while now but nothing really seemed to be calling my name. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of organizations and causes to be involved but they just weren’t for me. WTAP seemed appropriate. Being a former refugee myself, I can relate to what people go through and the challenges they face of starting over.
Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.
That realization came when we had a room full of people attending the WTAP Fundraiser Breakfast. With everything that’s going on today and the bias influence media has on people made me realize that what WTAP does is very important not only helping those resettled in Arizona but educating the public as well. It also made me realize that people want to help whether it is with their time, financially or spreading the awareness.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I work full time as a Catering Manager. My free time is spent hiking and exploring Arizona trails. I enjoy spending time with friends and family.
What secret powers or talents do you have?
Yikes, I don’t think any of my talents are secret and definitely no powers here. Not sure if it’s a talent but I am a very adaptive person. I adapt to changes very easily and that’s helped me in the past and has shaped who I am today.

Volunteer Spotlight: Quteiba Al-Timeemy

Quteiba “Q” Al-Timeemy: Communications Committee Intern

How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?IMG_1569
I’ve been a volunteer for almost 4 months now. I started with WTAP as a service learning project for school but I’ve grown very attached to WTAP’s vision and mission, so I decided to stay on board. 
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
Everyone I’ve met at WTAP is so extraordinary. The amount of compassion the volunteers have cannot be measured with words. I refuged from Iraq to America in the mid 90’s so I know how scary it is to be a refugee. To find so many who care about the position that people like my family and I were in is beyond amazing. 
Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started my school project with WTAP, but after a few days and speaking to some of the volunteers, it was clear that I wanted to be here. It’s incredibly difficult to know what a refugee goes through, even for me being a refugee, my story to me seems to be unreal. That first time I did a delivery and spoke to a Iraqi refugee and saw how happy they were even after everything they went through, I knew I was at the right place. 
Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference. 
The first delivery I did was truly exceptional. Not just the part where we delivered everything they needed, or set it up to their liking, but to actually take time to speak to them and get to know them. It’s hard to find people that are truly interested in lives of total strangers but the amount of compassion and support that the volunteers showed on that day and gratitude that refugees displayed really showed I was at the right place. 
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I am a prelaw student and work full time so I tend to stay busy. If I find any free time I’m usually working out or hiking or playing a pick up soccer or basketball game. 
What secret powers or talents do you have?
My secret powers include flying and having a mystery solving intuition but that’s a secret, so shhhhh. Not much of a secret power though is honestly just trying to make people smile. I think a smile is contagious so I try my best to spread it.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Abraham

Lauren Abraham: Communications Committee Intern

Lauren AbrahamHow long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
I started volunteering with WTAP in October, so it bas been about a month now.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?
While working with WTAP, I have had the privilege of meeting the members of the Communications Committee. It has been fascinating to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the organization, and getting to know the individuals who take on different roles to make everything run smoothly. In addition, it has been inspiring to see the passion these individuals have for helping refugees feel welcome coming to America.

Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
I am a social media intern for WTAP. I find information that sheds a positive light on refugees coming to America, and post on the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages. This has been a great experience, because I have been able use and apply my knowledge of social media, as well as learn information about refugees and their stories. I have enjoyed reading inspiring stories about refugees who have found success because of their hard work, despite the hardships they have had to overcome.

Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.  
I have not yet helped with a delivery, but through helping the organization with their social media, I feel I have made a difference. I think finding and sharing stories about refugees gives them a voice that they may not otherwise have. I believe refugees deserve to be recognized for their hard work and the challenges they have overcome.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I am currently a student at Grand Canyon University, and I live on campus. While I am not volunteering, I am busy with schoolwork and other various activities I am involved in, such as being part of the National Communication Honors Society. I am also busy planning for a mission trip I will be going on in the spring to the Navajo reservation. In my free time, I enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family and friends.

What secret powers or talents do you have?
I would not say I have any secret powers (although I wish I did), but one of my talents is that I love to write. This is something I have been passionate about since I was very young, and I hope to incorporate it into my career one day.

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