Get a Blue Key, give refugees a home

June 7, 2011


You can buy a #Bluekey for just $5 and change the lives of refugees who are looking to find their way home. (Image credit:

I remember when I was seven. Or maybe it was eight. My parents sat me down one day when I got home from school and asked me how my day was. Now my standard response to this was “fine.” But after some prodding, I told them about my school work and of course, the more glamorous points of the elementary school — recess and snack.

After I’d finished explaining why I like graham crackers a whole lot better than saltines, my parents got sort of a serious look on their face and told me they wanted to talk to me about something important. Then my mom asked me to imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t have my favorite graham crackers every day, couldn’t play with my friends at recess, didn’t have a school to go to, barely had a place to live or enough food and water to survive.

As a kid, you remember moments like these because they’re the first time you realize that not everyone in the world has what you have or lives the same type of life you do. My parents way of introducing that reality to me was through an adopt-a-child program in South America. I remember my mom saying that if we could send our adopted child just $20 a month or so, he and his family would have enough to eat and would be able to stay together. The kid was seven or eight years old just like me. Only he wasn’t like me at all, because he was literally trying to survive and stay with his family day-to-day while I was deciding whether to play with blocks or legos.


A lot of people need help right now. The tornadoes in Joplin and across the country have left people without a home. I’ll never forget reading the story about the Joplin family who huddled in their bathtub and were spun around in it like a teacup ride while their house was destroyed around them. Your hearts breaks for those people. You want to help. And so many people have.

With so much happening at home, it’s easy to forget about those who need our help across the world. It’s definitely not something I think about ever day, week or even month. Just being honest. I try to find opportunities to give back, but I won’t say I’m the most aware of the people in need outside of our borders. But my friend, Shonali Burke, has changed that recently.

Shonali is helping the USA for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA for UNHCR) with its Blue Key Campaign. Now, I’ll tell you that I had never heard of this organization and had to go look up what the acronym meant even as I write this post. But it’s not to difficult to comprehend the problem this group is trying to address:

  • 43.3 million refugees — nearly the combined population of New York and Texas — forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide. Imagine not having a home. Not having a place to talk about snack and recess with your family.
  • 17 million refugees and displaced children under the age of 18. These are children in situations like the child my family adopted or worse…because at least he had a family to live with and a place to call home.
  • 128 countries where refugees need our help. Reminds me of how good we have it here and how tough it is for so many others across the world.
  • 6,000. The number of Blue Keys Shonali and USA for UNHCR need to sell by World Refugee Day on June 20. We’re about halfway there, but need your help to truly make a difference. $5 is all it cost to be a part of the Blue Key community and help refugees get closer to that feeling of home so many of us enjoy everyday and even take for granted. I know I do.


A Starbucks venti drink. Or two grande Americanos if you’re like me. A good IPA draft beer at your favorite local watering hole. Lunch at the local deli across the street from your office. A month of Netflix. A taxi ride. A gallon of gas. Internet access on a short flight. A foot-long sub endorsed by a dorky dude named Jared.

These are all things that cost about $5, give or take. And I’m asking you to give up one. Just one. And spend it on a #bluekey instead.

Skip the Starbucks one day and brew you’re own coffee at home. Buy a 12-pack of your favorite IPA beer for the price of two beers at that bar you love so much. Bring your lunch from home instead…the deli will be there tomorrow. Give up Netflix for a month. It won’t hurt. Just make sure to be really diligent with your DVR so you have some good programming to watch. Highly recommend Dateline, btw. Instead of a taxi, take the subway. Instead of driving to places close by, walk — it’s summer time. Or ride your bike. Take a nap on the next plane ride. I’m sure you earned it. And skip the $5 foot long for something more healthy you can find in your own refrigerator. Trust me…Jared doesn’t need your money.

I’m giving up the Starbucks runs and brewing my Dunkin’ Donuts at home, even on the weekends. That’s how I’m getting my #Bluekey. How will you get yours? What will you give up?


I remember sitting in Sunday School one day when I was about 10 and watching a news story about a kid named Trevor. Yes, Jewish kids go to Sunday School too :) . At least I did. My wife is always surprised by that.

Anyway, I will never forget Trevor’s name or that video because it chronicled how a 11-year-old kid had made it his life’s mission to feed the homeless. He would go around every night and bring food to people living on the street. He even established a shelter called Trevor’s Place that became a home to many of Philadelphia’s homeless residents who needed a place to stay and some food to eat.

What Trevor did was incredible. And not everyone can be Trevor. Or the 6,000 UNHCR staffers worldwide who are working to provide refugees food, water, shelter…a home. It takes a special person to give your life to helping others like that. And part of the reason special people like that are able to do what they do is because of a lot of help in different pockets of the world from people like you and me. The #Bluekey campaign is no different.


$20 is what the child my family adopted in the late 1980s needed to survive through the next month and keep his family’s home. Nearly 20 years later, $5 from a lot of different members of the Blue Key community will help displaced refugees across the world find the home they’ve been searching for. It’s a small amount of money that can have a really big impact.

Because, when you think about it, everybody deserves to sit down in their home after a long day and talk to their family about recess and snack. Don’t you think?

Related posts:

, , , , ,
Post comment as twitter logo facebook logo
Sort: Newest | Oldest
unrefugeeagency 9 pts

Thank you so much for posting such personal connections to our cause!! I hope this inspires more parents to teach their kids the same way yours inspired you. We are proud to have you as a Blue Key champion!

JGoldsborough 213 pts

unrefugeeagency Thanks so much for the kind words. I am proud to be Blue Key champion and of all the work you, shonali , lmeling and others are doing to help :).

Shonali 907 pts

JGoldsborough I think just seeing the way people are coming together for this great cause is heartwarming - thank you again, Justin! unrefugeeagency lmeling

KDillabough 695 pts

Great post Justin, and love what my friend Shonali is doing. Can't buy a blue key (not in USA) but will be supporting #bluekey tweetathon today. Cheers! Kaarina


  1. [...] you read this site for information and insight into community managing, I’ll just direct you to a great post from Justin Goldsborough, another Blue Key champion. From a community perspective, Shonali and the [...]

  2. [...] Get a Blue Key, give refugees a chance to find a home, by Justin Goldsborough [...]

  3. [...] Burke Her passion exudes. Shonali is currently a huge proponent and advocate of #bluekey Check it [...]