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City Shaper: Dawne Hoeg

Dawne Hoeg is the founder of Stitch Buffalo, which is a non-profit that empowers women who are refugees.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Every Monday in 2019, we're featuring a woman who is helping to make Western New York a better place in our City Shapers reports. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik shows us how one woman's passion is helping to empower the refugee women of Buffalo.

Dawne Hoeg is from East Aurora. She’s the Director of Stitch Buffalo on Niagara Street in Buffalo.

Hoeg started Stitch Buffalo five years ago as a small project to connect with the women in the neighborhoods surrounding SUNY Buffalo State where she teaches. She started out doing sewing workshops, and Stitch Buffalo grew so fast, Hoeg decided to turn it into a non-profit.

For someone who has her masters in textile design, fiber arts, and education, Stitch Buffalo was a natural fit.

"I got to a point in my life where I really needed to start to give back in different ways, and I knew this was a way I could help these women," Hoeg said.

Stitch Buffalo helps refugee women develop skills in the textile arts and supports women who already have the skills. They get supplies and learn how to make products, or come up with their own, and sell them in the Niagara Street shop. Forty-five to 55 women participate. They also do commission work.

"We've done ornaments for wedding parties, companies, trying to expand our skills beyond just retail," Hoeg said.

You can help by donating. There's a list on the website of the materials they need. There are also volunteer opportunities as the work space doubles as a community space for women who are new to the country.

"What's it like to hand somebody that check, and for them to know that they are valued, people value their work, and that they can come here and earn a living with the skills that they have?" Asked Dudzik.

"It's tear jerking, really, almost every time because every payout, there's always new women that are getting their first paycheck," Hoeg said. "First paycheck being in America. First paycheck maybe ever. And, they're so excited. It's so empowering for them to be able to make their own money with their own hands."

Donated materials that aren't used by the women don't go to waste. They're part of Second Stitch and are available for you to buy at deep discounts. That money goes back to Stitch Buffalo.

If you know someone who would be a great City Shaper in 2020, send Kelly an email.

WATCH: City Shaper Miranda Dube makes and sells jewelry to help human trafficking survivors:

LOCKPORT, N.Y. - Each week in our City Shapers reports this year, we're highlighting the women of Western New York who are making a difference. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik shows us how a woman in Niagara County taught herself how to make jewelry so she can help sex trafficking survivors a world away.

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