How to help a refugee

The arrival of refugees in the Okanagan is prompting individuals, businesses and non-profits to get involved.

And a region-wide co-ordinated effort is underway. 

It's anticipated that 20 Syrian families will arrive at Kelowna Airport during the next four months. Their needs will reflect both the unique settlement issues of newcomers and the typical concerns of any family moving to another country taking few material possessions with them.

Kelowna Community Resources, in partnership with School District 23 and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre have delivered settlement services throughout the Central Okanagan for more than 13 years. Services are offered in more than 20 languages.

Meanwhile, UBC Okanagan has created a mapping website that provides people who want to donate with the ability to share information about household items, employment opportunities, services, housing and volunteering that might be used by incoming refugees. 

“Families suffering because of war are coming here, and we want to extend open arms and helping hands to demonstrate the Canadian heart and spirit that has become famous worldwide”, says Rawle James, partnership co-ordinator. 

United Ways across Canada are stepping up to support the settlement of refugees and ensure they are welcomed and able to adapt and thrive. 

The Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen United Way has launched a United for Refugees campaign that will collect monetary donations for a fund earmarked for programs supporting the refugees with housing, childcare, education, translation, counselling, transportation and immigrant services. 

“Supporting our community is what we do, and these new community members need our assistance and our compassion,” says Shelley Gilmore, executive director of United Way CSO.  “Integrating into a new country and a new community presents many challenges that are innate to the refugee and immigration process.  Partnering with these many other organizations to assist both the families moving here and the families and systems that will now support them is key to our community’s overall success and health.”

To donate to United for Refugees, visit: www.unitedwaycso.com/refugees. United Way will match funds up to $5,000 with hopes of raising a total of $10,000 for the cause.

A summary of information about how to become involved is available on the Central Okanagan Refugee Community Resources section of the KCR website.


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