Welcome Baskets




Welcome Baskets reaches out to new migrants in central Indiana, builds relationships, fills gaps in services, and connects people to resources and each other. We envision all migrants to Indianapolis feeling welcome, with the shocks of their transition cushioned by friendship and community. We provide baskets of household goods to recently arrived refugees in Indianapolis, building relationships to help people through the shock of relocating. Resettlement agencies get people started but aren’t open 24×7 and can only help for so long. We help to fill in the gaps and to build communities of mutual support.


All migrants to Indianapolis feel welcome, with the shocks of their transition cushioned by friendship and community.


Welcome Baskets, Inc. reaches out to new migrants, builds relationships, fills gaps in services, and connects people to resources and each other.







Welcome Baskets stands firm in its opposition to racial and ethnic discrimination. We recognize that racism and ethnic discrimination, both implicit and explicit, exist in our community and pose significant barriers to the attainment of economic well-being and high quality of life for many people in the communities we serve. Welcome Baskets is committed to listening, learning, and amplifying our neighbors’ voices. We will do so with dignity and respect for all.

Welcome Baskets



Meet the Team

Our dedication is to serving the impoverished, protecting the vulnerable, and welcoming strangers.


Winnie Bulaya

Executive Director

Winnie (founder and executive director of Welcome Baskets Inc.) was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was studying to be a healthcare professional when a brutal war broke out in the mid-90s. Winnie and her small children were forced to flee to Tanzania and then Kenya and stay in refugee camps. Finally, in 2010, she and her family got their resettlement and immigrated to Indianapolis, Indiana.
Winnie secured work as a Housekeeper, then Team Lead at IUPUI, and brought up her two daughters and son successfully. She became a US citizen in 2015.
Within a short time, just after arriving in the United States, Winnie was also paying it forward by collecting and distributing baskets of household supplies, toiletries, diapers, and clothes to other newly arrived refugee families worldwide. With her ability to speak five languages, and her natural warmth, she has connected with and helped hundreds of newly arrived families. She is motivated to show love to all human beings.

Lesley MacKellar

Board President

Lesley was born in Zimbabwe and lived in Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom before settling in the United States over 30 years ago. For 25 years of her working career, she was a Leadership Development Consultant at Eli Lilly and Company, where she designed, developed, and, sometimes, delivered training to sales leaders from over 50 different countries.
For the past five years, she has led her business as an executive coach and leadership development consultant, Lesley is a past president of the board of The International Center in Indianapolis and has been an active member of several not-for-profit boards.
She is married, has an adult daughter, and is a mom to three crazy, but lovable dogs. Being an immigrant, she is passionate about helping those less fortunate find their way in a new country. She is particularly inspired by the goodness and leadership of The Welcome Baskets Inc. founder, Winnie Bulaya.


Andrew D. Arenson

Board Secretary

Andy grew up in Delaware and Hong Kong and lived in Texas and California before settling in Indiana over 20 years ago. He’s done programming and analysis work for Rice University, the Human Genome Project at The Baylor College of Medicine, Indiana University, and as a consultant.
Andy is the chair or active in multiple committees and groups at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and on the board of his homeowner’s association, as well as being a past member of the Marion County City of Indianapolis Plat Committee. He and his spouse look after three indoor and a rotating bevy of outdoor cats. Having moved many times, and being the grandchild of immigrants, he is proud to be a part of helping newcomers feel welcome.




Trisha Gleason

Board Treasurer

Trisha has lived in Indianapolis most of her adult life. She is a transplant from South Texas where she learned firsthand about a different culture and realized how important it is to speak the local language. Helping Refugees and displaced families in Indianapolis learn English and get established in their community, church, and schools has been very important to Trisha because she can relate in some tiny ways.
Refugees and displaced families in our community must overcome many obstacles. It is a privilege to be a part of Welcome Baskets, Inc. and to support Winnie Bulaya in her passion and generous heart to encourage them and help them feel welcome in Indianapolis. Trisha works in the healthcare community. She volunteers within programs there, as well as many programs at her church. She and her husband have two adult married daughters and three fun-loving grandchildren.

Howaida Abdulahad

Board Member

Howaida Abdulahad is a distinguished scholar and educator hailing from Syria, with a profound understanding of sociology and education. With years of experience as an academic guidance counselor and a faculty member in numerous academic institutions, she holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s and Doctorate of Science in Sociology, complemented by her training in computer and medical interpreting. Dr. Abdulahad’s research interests span from rural women’s empowerment to the effects of the global financial crisis, including computer usage among men and women. Her contributions to academia and research have been widely recognized, and she has served as an Associate Professor while providing indispensable services to schools. Dr. Abdulahad’s vast skills and knowledge make her a valuable asset to any organization, and her expertise is poised to make a significant impact on Welcome Baskets.


Bobby Mafuta

Board Member

Mr. Bobby Mafuta is a distinguished native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has spent the entirety of his life residing in the vibrant city of Indianapolis. With an unyielding passion for helping others, Mr. Mafuta has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to encouraging and uplifting those around him. Throughout his illustrious career, as well as through his extensive years of service as a volunteer in Catholic Church and community ministries, Mr. Mafuta has become recognized as a tireless advocate for the well-being of his community. Mr. Mafuta is a bilingual information center assistant at Sedgwick Inc., where he has honed his skills over eight years of experience. He has additionally served in various men’s and children’s ministry roles at his local church, further strengthening his reputation as a respected leader and mentor.




Josh Varab


Josh serves as the Human Resources Coordinator at the Indiana Youth Services Association in Indianapolis, IN. Josh received his bachelor’s in International Studies from Bethel College, South Bend, and spent two years in International Development before transitioning to Indianapolis, IN. Before joining IYSA in 2022, Josh served four years as a Program Coordinator at the John Boner Neighborhood Centers in Indianapolis, IN. During his time there he served youth and youth workers in Marion County in the afterschool and summer camp setting. Josh is passionate about helping others find hope and belonging in their communities.

In his spare time, Josh is a drummer for the Indianapolis Colts, has taught drumlines across the country at the high school and college level, and loves to travel, hike and spend time with his wife Maria, dog Baxter, and cat Stella. He is excited to join the Welcome Baskets team!

Gloria Bulaya

Board Member

Gloria Bulaya is a warm-hearted and dedicated professional with remarkable expertise in data management and talent acquisition. Throughout her career, she has embraced various roles, including Data Specialist, Associate Sourcer, and Career Placement Coordinator, leaving a lasting impact on the organizations she served. One can easily witness Gloria’s compassionate nature through her long-standing commitment as a Case Manager at a non-profit organization, where she consistently extends a helping hand to those in need.

With a B.A. in Political Science and certifications in recruiting and project management, Gloria’s educational foundation is strong. Moreover, her heart finds solace and joy in the simple pleasures of life, such as photography, food, flowers, dogs, and other inspiring aspects. Gloria’s rich experiences and unwavering dedication to excellence position her as a true asset, seamlessly blending her exceptional skills in data management, talent acquisition, and community service to create a positive and lasting impact.


Support dOG

Luna is a compassionate companion, spreading joy and comfort wherever she goes. With her endearing personality, Luna instantly brightens any room and melts hearts with her gentle and amiable nature. Luna’s playful spirit brings happiness and laughter to those around her, making every moment joyful and positive. Her unwavering loyalty and affection make her an irreplaceable member of her human family, serving as a constant reminder of the unconditional love and support dogs offer.