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Committee still waiting for families

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Call it a waiting game, if you will.

The committee behind last year’s “Families for Families” fundraiser, which raised more than $60,000 to bring two refugee families to Rainy River District, are still waiting on the government to process paperwork.

“We haven’t heard anything yet and it tells you right online not to contact them because it takes up time,” noted committee chair Kathy Mueller. “So when it happens, it happens.”

With the initial goal to raise $35,000 and sponsor one family, the committee was assigned a six-member Iraqi family consisting of a father, a mother, a 16-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old son, an eight-year-old son, and a three-year-old son.

When funds surpassed the goal, the committee decided to apply for a second family, which is related to the initial family, with a father, a mother, a three-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old daughter.

Mueller noted paper work on their end was completed and submitted.

And now they wait.

Mueller said she was told back in December the process would take about four-six months.

However, once the applications are approved, she noted the families will arrive soon afterwards, likely within one to two weeks.

“So it will happen quickly once we hear,” she voiced, citing she’s hoping applications will be processed more quickly now that the 25,000 Syrian refugees have been brought into Canada.

“So I think now they will go to the next pile of papers and I’m hoping ours is somewhere close to the top, but we have no way of knowing that,” she expressed.

In the meantime, the committee is working on tasks in preparation of their arrival, such arranging for housing, transportation, clothing and other household items.

But since they don’t have much room to store items, they are not taking too many donations yet.

The committee is asking those who have items to donate to just wait.

“Then when the time comes, we’ll let everybody know what is needed,” Mueller voiced. “I’m quite confident that we’ll get everything together.”

She has also been in contact with the Multicultural Association from Thunder Bay.

“I’m not sure what they can provide for us, but that option is open for us,” she expressed, citing she also spoke at the

local Celebrating Diversity Committee meeting last month and they are interested in providing assistance and maybe even hosting a welcoming party for the families.

She added NCDS has offered to help match work skills with jobs for some of the family members, a local quilting group has made quilts for the families, and the Catholic Women’s League is having a kitchen shower in April to purchase new kitchen items for the families.

“So the community is getting on board to help in many different ways,” she noted. “And we should take some time to breath and relax now because it will be busy once they arrive.”

Mueller said people some people are even continuing to contribute financially.

“We’re very pleased that donations are still coming in,” she voiced, citing the money will pay for rent, food, transportation, clothing, activities—all the families’ expenses for a year.

“You don’t want them to come and live in poverty,” she stressed. “You want to give them a chance to get on their feet.”

Mueller added if something happens and those families are unable to come, the committee will certainly be sponsoring another family or two.

“We’ve got this money and we take that seriously because people dug deep into their pockets so we don’t want to waste any of it,” she expressed.

“It’s just a waiting game now, so we’re waiting and trying to be patient.”

Anyone interested in still contributing financially can do that by contacting St. Mary’s Parish (274-5233).

The church office is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

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