After two months of work, the local group that intends to bring a refugee family to Sooke/Juan de Fuca has raised $20,000 of the minimum $35,000 needed to support the family for one year.
“We’re pleased with how many in the community have realized that this is an important cause, but we still have to raise almost $15,000 more before we can invite a family” said Sid Jorna, chair of the Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca Refugee Sponsorship Committee.
“We have to reach more people.”
Since calling the committee’s inaugural meeting in early December the sponsorship group has put together a settlement plan for the new family, approached individuals and groups for donations and support, and created an online presence.
People have been responding with generosity. Those contributing so far include SeaFlora, Butler Brothers Supplies Ltd., Sooke’s Rotary clubs and many individual donors. There have also been offers of in-kind donations of items such as furniture and household goods.
And Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks has promised a significant sum once the refugee committee hits $35,000.
All donated monies will go directly to supporting the newcomers. Administration and overhead costs are being donated by the many volunteers.
The overall fundraising goal is $50,000: $40,000 for basic expenses, and $10,000 contingency fund. Every cent will be needed as the family has to be housed, fed, clothed and have all basic needs met for a full year. Also, the group doesn’t know how many people will arrive.
Some communities have resettled families of six or eight. “So, we feel a lot more comfortable with a contingency amount,” Jorna said.
The young people of Sooke have been quick to get “on board.” At Journey Middle School, students and teachers will be coming up with events to raise awareness about refugees. At EMCS, the Youth for Change group is looking to partner with the sponsorship group in hopes of hosting a spring concert/awareness celebration.
The sponsorship group doesn’t yet know where the family will be from. It could be anywhere in the world such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria or Syria.
“Some people ask why Sooke?” Jorna remarks. “Why not, I answer. We have friendly residents and a generous spirit, not to mention a lower cost of living than the big cities and our uplifting natural beauty. We have many things to offer a family that has lost so much.”