Alumna helps build up refugee community through her nonprofit Welcome Neighbor STL

 In Press
UMSL Daily

July 12, 2019 | By: SARA BELL

It was a typical day when Jessica Bueler’s heart broke.

She headed to work in the Delmar Loop and stopped to pick up a copy of the Riverfront Times as she usually did. The marketing professional flipped through the paper that November morning, pouring through the week’s headlines before focusing on a soul-crushing story.

She didn’t have any particular attachment to the article. She didn’t know the sources. She didn’t have existing knowledge about the central problems of the piece. But Bueler did know two key things.

She knew her proximity to where four young Syrian refugees had been attacked and recognized she had to do something about it.

“I had this moment where I pictured all of these people in St. Louis reading this article and going, ‘Oh my God. That’s terrible,’ and then turning the page to the next thing,” she said. “I thought at that moment, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it, Jessica?’”

Bueler’s response to that simple yet powerful question has consumed much of her time in the years since. Her answer is Welcome Neighbor STL.

Jessica Bueler - UMSL Daily
Business alumna Jessica Bueler (second from left) founded the nonprofit Welcome Neighbor STL in 2016 to improve the lives of refugees settling in St. Louis. She’s helped 30 women, including Badur Mohmaed (at left) and Duaa Alzatari (at right) earn meaningful incomes through the organization’s frequent supper club events. (Photos by August Jennewein)
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