Southwest Plaza - Littleton, Colorado
Abdella is an asylee from Ethiopia. He arrived in the United States in 2007 and was granted political asylum after leaving Ethiopia, his home country.
Back in Ethiopia, his family owned a shoe shop and helped inspire him to want to become a business owner.
When Abdella arrived in the United States, life was very difficult. His first jobs were odd jobs selling jewelry, small toy trains and sunglasses. Abdella did these jobs to support him and his family. Later, he started working at the APO Pets (Cuddly Animals) stand in the Southwest Plaza mall in Littleton, Colorado.
Abdella joined the Spring Entrepreneurial Development Services Individual Development Account (IDA) program in 2010 with the goal to own a business. He took Household Income Management Training, worked hard on his budget and planned to save $100 per month for 20 months to achieve the maximum benefit from the program.
Once enrolled in the program, Abdella also learned about several other financial topics, including Credit, Bank Services, Investing and Business Management. These courses helped give Abdella the skills to run a successful business and promote his ability to be economically self-sufficient in the United States.
As fate would have it, the owner of APO Pets decided in late 2010 he could no longer manage the three locations and informed the employees, including Abdella that he would need to close the shops at all three locations, including the Southwest Plaza location in Littleton. This put Abdella's employment in jeopardy.
In order to save his job and support himself and his family without public assistance, Abdella decided to talk to the owner about taking over the store. During that conversation, Abdella convinced the existing owner of the store that he had the skills necessary to operate the business successfully.
To gain the required capital for the store purchase, the IDA program at Spring Institute was a true blessing for Abdella. He worked very aggressively to save more than $160 per month. The combined savings and matching funds from Spring Institute's IDA program allowed Abdella to put together enough money to purchase the business and sign a lease with the mall. By doing this, he was able to maintain his employment and continue contributing to the tax base as a productive member of society.
Abdella now has plans to open a second display stand at the mall to sell men's and women's hats, scarves and other accessories, giving him additional opportunities to employ others. He also has plans to continue to expand his operations and have a good sized business here in Colorado in the future. This will help create more jobs, expand opportunities for the community. Abdella is very thankful for the assistance from Spring Institute's Entrepreneurial Development Services IDA Program in order to reach these goals.
6:35 AM, Mar 15, 2011
9Kids Who Care (click here to watch the video)
DENVER - There is a café where every visitor, no matter their story, is the same. It is called the SAME Café, and visitors will always get a meal, no matter their economic or social status.
Eighteen-year-old Amina Salat does not have to share much of her story before it is clear why she is a volunteer there.
"Not all have the money to buy food, you know?" she said. "It's [the café is] a really good thing."
Her family settled in the United States as refugees from Somalia in 2004 after their home was torn apart by war.
"I didn't speak English," she said.
In Colorado, Salat not only found a new home, she found a community that reached out to her.
"In life, there's people who are helping you. It's good to give back what they have given you, you know?" she said.
Serving became Salat's way of saying thanks.
"I'm making a difference by helping out. It's kind of good," she said. "Every time I come here or volunteer, I learn something new, which is cool."
That attitude and her service is one of the reasons she is March's winner of the 9Kids Who Care award.
When she is not preparing lunch at the SAME Café, she works with Growing Colorado Kids. It is a nonprofit that encourages students to sow, care for and harvest their own backyard gardens. The food is then donated to neighbors in need.
"I feel happy volunteering," she said.
(KUSA-TV (c) 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)