#WorldRefugeeDay – An Interview with Martin Storrow, Co-Founder of Keys for Refugees

In honor of #WorldRefugeeDay this week, we’re happy to share a few stories from some of the changemakers working tirelessly to make a difference.  In this post, we feature Martin Storrow, who until recently was part of our North County Hub community.

Martin Storrow


martin-storrow-squareWhat is Keys for Refugees?
Keys for Refugees is a grassroots campaign rooted in the belief that everyone should have a place to call home. We sell and distribute red keys to raise awareness, spread hope, and inspire action on behalf of the 65 million refugees and displaced people around the globe. The red keys are designed to serve as symbols and conversation starters – they can be used as house keys, worn as jewelry, or gifted to a friend. We currently donate all profits from key sales to our partners at HIAS, who assist with relief and resettlement around the world.
How did you get involved?
I was in Europe last fall when the Syrian crisis was reaching a tipping point, and I’ll never forget seeing refugee families everywhere – living in train stations, on the streets. It was shocking. These people could have been anyone; our neighbors, our friends, or ourselves. My fiancee (Rachel Brandt) and I wanted to help, and the more we spoke with our families and friends the more we understood the power of a simple conversation in raising awareness and inspiring people to get involved. We started Keys For Refugees with the idea that a key can unlock a conversation, a conversation can lead to action, and a series of actions can change the world.

It’s important to us to focus on the type of world we hope to create and how we can come together to create it.

What have you learned from starting up this project?
People gravitate toward hope. We may be drawn to an issue because it’s shocking or tragic, but hope is what sustains us and keeps us moving forward toward something better. There’s a lot of difficult refugee news out there, but there’s also an overwhelming amount of good. It’s important to us to focus on the type of world we hope to create and how we can come together to create it.
What is one piece of information you wish everyone understood about refugee resettlement?
Welcoming refugees isn’t just morally responsible; it can also be economically beneficial. Recent studies in multiple countries (including the US) have found that resettling refugees in a community often has a net positive effect on the local economy, and refugees are more likely to start businesses than any other types of migrants. The US has a rich tradition of refugees who have gone on to contribute incredible things; talented people such as Albert Einstein, Madeline Albright, Marc Chagall, and Regina Spektor – as well as countless others who are lesser-known, but whose contributions have made our country stronger and more diverse.
How can someone get involved with Keys for Refugees?
It’s so easy to join us! Visit us online at www.keysforrefugees.org to get a red key or gift one to a friend, and help us start meaningful conversations about how we can welcome and support refugees in our communities. It’s not enough to be observers. We must become active participants in creating the world we hope to live in.