The committee behind the recent “Families for Families” fundraiser, which raised more than $60,000 to bring a refugee family to Rainy River District, now is looking to bring in a second one given it significantly surpassed its initial goal of $35,000.
“The committee has decided we will use the additional funds on a second family,” noted committee chair Kathy Mueller.
“I’ve spoken to our contact in Toronto and he has a second family that is related to our first family,” she explained.
Mueller said the original family they were assigned has six members—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.
“It’s a young man, his wife, and they have a three-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old daughter,” she noted about the second family.
“So, hopefully, we will be able to bring both families in,” she remarked, adding she feels that’s the ideal scenario for the families.
“Then each family can support the other, especially emotionally,” she reasoned.
The application process for the first family is underway, with Mueller saying she soon will begin the paperwork for the second one.
“But at least this time we will know how to navigate all of that,” she remarked.
“So that part of it should be a little easier.
“But we still don’t know when they are coming,” Mueller added, noting she initially was told the process would take about four-six months.
However, once the applications are approved, she expects the families will arrive soon afterwards.
Mueller said the committee already has started to look for and arrange the necessities the families will require.
“We have different people on our committee responsible for different jobs in preparation for them,” she explained.
“So when we do find out that they are coming, that it all can just be set into high gear.”
For instance, one member of the committee is looking for housing while another is looking into getting them a doctor and a dentist.
“All that needs to be set up,” Mueller stressed.
“We’re also organizing the collecting of kitchen things and linens, and that kind of thing,” she added.
While they will be accepting donations of gently-used items, Mueller said there are some things, such as linens, that they would like to purchase new for the families.
“We want them to be able to start off on a good foot,” she reasoned.
“We figure they’ve gone through enough.”
Mueller noted if people have items they’d like to donated, the committee would appreciate it if they can hold onto them until they know exactly what they need.
“The money we have has to pay for rent, food, transportation, and clothing and all of those things,” she explained.
As such, additional assistance from the community is welcomed.
“We want the kids to be able to be in soccer or go to the pool,” Mueller said.
“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 noted the committee is responsible for the families for the first year they are here.
The adults, especially the heads of the household, are expected to find employment as soon as possible so the families can sustain themselves after one year.
“So that is something the community can be thinking about, too,” Mueller suggested, noting there likely will be a language barrier.
“If a small business has a position they think somebody could go in without a lot of language background,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Mueller said people still have been giving financially to the cause.
“Some didn’t have a chance to do so before Christmas,” she said about the fundraising campaign that began back in October and wrapped up on Christmas Eve.
“The bank account at CIBC is closed now but if people would still like to donate, they can do that at St. Mary’s,” she noted.
The church office is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
“The generosity of people has been overwhelming,” Mueller enthused.
“I knew our community was very supportive of different initiatives, but the large amounts of money we have gotten from ordinary people and you know, they have really reached into their hearts and into their wallets.
“It’s amazing what people have given,” she added, noting she is so excited about the year ahead.
“It’s really exciting,” Mueller reiterated. “I’m so happy we had enough to bring in a second family.
“I just think it’s so much healthier for them both,” she added.
“We still have lots of work ahead of us but I think it’s all for the good.”