Omar Shekhey goes above and beyond the 9-to-5 work day to benefit those in need.
He's the CEO and president of the Somali American Community Center (SACC), which helps refugees assimilate into the U.S., but Shekhey doesn't call it quits after his day job ends.
The Somali-American spends his nights and weekends behind the wheel of a yellow minivan in part so he can further help refugees who've settled in the greater Atlanta area, NPR reported. Shekhey will often give them money he's earned from driving for things like food, paying bills or clothing.
It's just one more way he's helping those who've been displaced by conflict and found a new home in the U.S. His community center offers a variety of services to those who could benefit -- assistance with and translation of official documents, after-school programs for youth, parenting workshops and job placement, to name a few.
Special thanks to Sergeant Jack for visiting the after school program yesterday! We enjoyed your talk!
"It's a tough life, but at the end of [the] day, they are better off [than] where they were," Shekhey told NPR of the refugees who benefit from the center. "They were in a camp where they didn't have [a] future for their kids. So, this is the American dream. You have to work for everything, and communities have to help each other. That's the way we build dreams."
Up to 70,000 refugees can be admitted into the U.S during the current fiscal year, according to the White House. Many refugees from Somalia, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma and Bhutan have found their home in Clarkston, Georgia, where SACC is located.
The group's initial focus was on helping those from Somalia, but it has expanded to help any and all refugees seeking help.
Although refugees are escaping persecution and violence in their homelands, adjusting to American life can be a daunting task.
A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Dayton that compared refugees to those who've traveled to the U.S. by choice found that those forced from their native countries experienced significant mental health issues and often lacked the proper education on Western culture norms.
“In one or two weeks, some refugees find themselves going from a place like a Burundian refugee camp to a Midwestern city like Dayton,” Theo Majka, a sociology professor involved in the study, said. “The journey from a rural environment in a developing country to a post-modern urban world causes all sorts of crises.”
SACC is there to make that journey a smoother one for the refugees in Georgia. Shekhey told NPR that the center's small team often picks up where government agencies leave off.
"We are like soldiers," he told the outlet. "We go do whatever's needed. No time sheets, no nothing. Just go."