Submitted by Corrie King, volunteer
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Megan O’Connor, Executive Director of The Welcome to America Project. Megan has been a part of the WTAP family for the past five years and has been executive director for almost two years. She is an incredible asset to the organization. Read on to learn more about how Megan came to work with WTAP.
Q: How did you become involved with The Welcome to America Project?
A: Right after college I began an internship at the International Rescue Committee, an organization that works with the government to resettle refugees in the U.S. At IRC, part of my responsibilities were to refer clients to The Welcome to America Project for supplemental household items. Because of the passion and teamwork I saw, I knew WTAP was the place I wanted to be. It has been incredible to work in such a community-based organization in the city where I grew up. I have not been disappointed by the volunteers, donors, staff and board members who have all been drawn to such an important and valuable project.
Q: What is most motivating for you about WTAP?
A: Saturday deliveries always end the week on a positive note. When I see an American student sharing a laugh with a newly-arrived refugee for the first time, it motivates me to continue engaging others to support our mission.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you have learned while working with refugees?
A: Despite cultural differences and language variations, people are actually quite similar–no matter their background. We all have the need to feel safe, welcomed and part of a community.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience while working with WTAP?
A: I have had so many touching experiences. One of the best experiences I can recall was painting the delivery truck. Every time I see that bright vibrant painting I remember all the children that helped paint it and the incredible volunteers who worked behind the scenes to put that day together. The kids at the complex love to tell me, “Remember when we painted that? I helped!” Those memories warm my heart.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests?
A: Theater – I love Southwest Shakespeare Co. here in Mesa. I also enjoy reading, traveling, camping, and the hit classic television series, The Golden Girls.
Thank you Megan for sharing your journey!