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Posted: January 12, 2016

CHR seeks volunteer outreach team leaders

Next meeting Jan. 14

Almost 40 people showed up Wednesday, Jan. 6 at Christ Church Anglican for the first public meeting of the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR).

Several more donations were also received to sponsor a refugee family in Cranbrook from Syria or elsewhere in the world.

“It’s extremely gratifying to see so much support for this cause and it will go a long way towards seeing that we’re ultimately successful in bringing a refugee family here,” said CHR Co-Chair Gerry Warner.

The group, which formed in early October, has already raised almost $20,000, which is enough to get the group certified as an official refugee sponsor by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

CHR Finance Director and Treasurer Antoine Beurskens told the crowd this is approximately half the money required to support a family of four for a year, which is what the IRCC sponsorship agreement requires. But CHR will try to raise more money to “top up” this amount beyond the social assistance level which is the minimum required by IRCC.

CHR Co-Chair Bonnie Spence-Vinge said now that the group has raised the $15,000 minimum to be certified by IRCC the next major step is to develop a settlement plan to prepare for the refugee family’s arrival expected sometime in the spring.

“The settlement plan will detail what CHR has to do to orient and support the refugee family during the 12-month sponsorship period,” she said. “It will also provide a framework for working through the many details of who will do what, when and where with the resources we have.

“The task before the family’s arrival will be to create outreach teams headed by volunteers with experience and expertise in areas of support that the refugees will need,” she said. These will include short and long-term housing, furniture for the home or apartment, clothing, employment assistance and job training, ESL education, health and trauma counselling, cultural education and such everyday tasks as shopping assistance and childcare, she said.

A volunteer sign-up sheet was circulated at the meeting and signed by most of the people there. It’s hoped that many who signed the sheet will show up at the next CHR meeting Jan. 14 to volunteer as outreach team leaders, Spence-Vinge said.

“It’s important to remember that this is a partnership with the church, the general public and the government and it will only succeed if all three get involved,” she said.

The Thursday Jan. 14 CHR meeting will be held 7 p.m. at Christ Church Anglican at 46 – 13th Ave. Meetings generally last a little more than an hour and everyone is welcome.


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