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Who We Are



Kathie OCallaghan  Kathie O’Callaghan

President & Founder

Why I started Hearts and Homes for Refugees

There was a NEED (humanitarian crisis) and there was a VOID (absence of any support) and there was a PRECEDENT FOR SOLUTIONS (community co-sponsors with Resettlement Agencies during 1970s Vietnamese refugee resettlement) and there was an AMPLE SUPPLY (people of good will willing looking for a somewhere to place their energy – time, experience and resources– to be part of the solution.

Anne McCool Nixon Anne McCool Nixon


Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

My own family, as with most other Americans, can trace our history through an immigrant journey. It is a vital part of our past, it is what has made us the country we are today. Now, in the wake of an unprecedented crisis, the U.S. needs to continue to be a world leader and share in the global responsibility of offering refuge to those in need. I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees to take a stand for those who have been cruelly displaced, and against those who believe that we are a nation that should turn our backs on outsiders.

Peter Collery  Peter Collery

Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

As a matter of self-interest, I believe that immigration strengthens and enriches our country.  As a matter of morality, I believe we have a duty to ameliorate the suffering of those whose lives have imperiled  by war or oppression. Hearts and Homes represents a tangible way to act on these sentiments.

Steve Grieder  Steve Grieder

Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

I consider immigrant and refugee rights an issue that goes to the heart of what being American means today. We are a glorious mix of people from around the world drawn together by the fact that our rights and freedoms are not subject to gender, race, creed or national origin, and we are replenished and strengthened with the arrival of new Americans every year.  We cannot shut that door behind us.

Lori Kapner Hosp

Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

As our nation’s policies have become less welcoming of (and even hostile to) those who need to share our homeland, I discovered in myself a need to take action. I grew up hearing about my ancestors who came to America to escape persecution, and life experience has strengthened my belief that diversity must be embraced. We teach our children to be kind and inclusive; anything less is, well, not human. Our society, our economy, our well-being as a country and as a global “family” is at stake. Hearts and Homes for Refugees’ commitment to offer hope and help to refugees here in Westchester is a mission I am honored to support. As the sticker on my car says: “Immigrants Help Make America Great”.

Lisa Kiernan

Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

I could not sit by and do nothing in the face of the humanitarian crisis.

Joan Morgan  Joan Morgan

Why I joined Heart and Homes for Refugees

I wanted to join Kathie O’Callaghan and her wonderful concept for Hearts and Homes for Refugees because I was very frustrated with the direction that politics in the U.S. were going. It was obvious that as the global refugee crisis was getting more dire, the U.S. response was becoming more insular and less kind and welcoming.  This response went against everything in my nature and everything I have stood for all my life. I believe in offering a hand, helping others to thrive, that there is enough for all of us, that our differences make us great. I am not threatened by “other.” I grew up believing that the mix that is America is the bedrock of this country. I believe in the poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty and I will not let some rogues come along and derail the American dream and all of us who believe in it without fighting like hell to stop them.

Donna Shirreffs  Donna Shirreffs

Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

Upon retirement from the State Department, I followed the news of the Syrian refugee crisis, and searched for some small way to help.  I was so pleased to be introduced to HHR founder Kathie O’Callaghan, who was happy to put my skill sets and passion to help those in need to good use.

Robert Tracy  Robert J. Tracy


Why I joined Hearts and Homes for Refugees

When Kathie O’Callaghan me to get involved with Hearts and Homes for Refugees (“HHR”), I jumped at the chance. I view HHR as a wonderful way to focus some of the community’s unique energy and generosity toward the most vulnerable. At a time when some political leaders encourage citizens to close our doors and fear strangers, the best antidote is for local communities to welcome refugee families. I believe that welcoming refugees strengthens our community as much as it helps those refugees seeking a new home. With the overwhelming magnitude of the refugee crisis, many people in our area are looking for concrete ways to help those forced from their homes. HHR gives us an opportunity to put their concern into action.


Ambassadors of the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) spread the word about the welcoming movement by sharing their stories and convications about refugee resettlement. 

Reshad Ahmadi