The idea for the Rainy River District to sponsor a Syrian refugee family is moving ahead after a “Families for Families” committee was struck last Thursday.
“We had a good turnout,” said Kathy Mueller, who took the initiative to pitch the idea of helping families amid the conflict zone in the Middle East.
She was pleased that 20 people gathered at the Fort Frances Public Library to support her proposal and were willing to sit on a committee, which is a necessary step to support the application to sponsor a family.
Mueller, who will chair the committee, noted it was decided during Thursday’s meeting that in order to expedite the sponsorship process, they would operate under the D.O.O.R.s to New Life Refugee Services run by the Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay.
“They are ongoing sponsorship agreement-holders and will be able to assist the local group in the application and settlement processes,” she explained.
“They also have a list of families who have already been approved and are waiting for sponsorship to Canada.”
She added the next step requires the sponsoring group to raise enough money to support the refugee family for one year.
Mueller said it costs about $7,000 per person. So for a family of five, it would be $35,000.
“The group thought this was not an unreasonable amount to try to raise by Christmas, using the ‘Families for Families’ model,” she remarked, noting to raise that amount, it only would take 35 families willing to donate $1,000 each.
Mueller suggested a “family” could extend to include siblings, children, aunts, and uncles—or even a group or organization.
“A family could be a family of church members, for example, 100 people giving $10 each,” she said, adding a “family” could consist of relatives, a group of friends, or people living in the same apartment building.
“It would take only 35 such ‘families’ to raise enough money,” she reasoned.
Mueller noted people could give what they are able to.
She also said she doesn’t want to have to hold a fundraising event to raise the money.
“I don’t think we should always have to have something back for giving—we should just give,” Mueller stressed.
After the money is in the bank, Mueller said an application is made to the federal government and a family is matched to the community.
“The government agencies then assist the family by arranging the necessary documents, preparations, and travel to the host community,” she explained.
“The sponsorship group prepares a home [or apartment], complete with necessary furnishings, appliances, utensils, cleaning supplies, clothing, and food,” she noted, referring to the responsibilities of the community beyond the funds.
“When the family arrives, they need assistance applying for government documentation, finding a job, registering children in schools, getting to know the community services, finding a doctor and dentist, getting help with improving their English, if that is needed, and connecting them with people with common interests,” she added.
“It is the hope of the committee that our community make this sponsorship possible, and then help the refugee family in its transition to regain a sense of belonging and safety and give all family members a chance for a brighter future,” Mueller stressed.
“Get your family involved in giving this gift of love.”
Donations can be brought to St. Mary’s Church from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
Charitable tax receipts can be issued for donations of $20 or more.
E-transfers also can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
As well, arrangements are being made so that donations can be deposited at the CIBC branch in Fort Frances.
Make cheques payable to St. Mary’s Church, with “Families for Families” on the memo line.
For more information, call Mueller at 274-0583.