Volunteer Update – June 2017

From Linda Van Sickle, WRSG Secretary

Just in time for summer, here’s an update for our WRSG volunteers:

The Festive Evening event at Church of the Advent on Saturday, May 13th, was a wonderful success in every way. There was lots of fun and socializing as well as generous bidding on an amazing array of auction items. The Church of the Advent has turned over $2,000 to WRSG from the net proceeds for the evening. This means that we have now gone “over the top” of our goal of raising $30,000 to support our family for the first year after their arrival in Canada, expected sometime in the fall.  (They will also receive about $18,000 from the federal government in Canada Child Benefits.) Thanks to all of you who helped and/or came to enjoy the evening! The fundraising aspect of this WRSG undertaking has called upon a lot of effort, imagination and generosity on the part of many people during the past year, and we want to thank you all for every part you have played in this success.

In our last update of April 10th, I told you about the online sale of original paintings by Rebecca Barnard that she donated to WRSG.  Nine of the ten paintings are now sold (8 sold at the auctions during A Festive Evening), and at Rebecca’s suggestion, the remaining painting will be given to the family after they arrive to hang in their new home. Thank you again, Rebecca, for your generous donation of your artistic gifts.

On May 22nd, the WRSG core committee met at the home of the brother of the husband of the family we are sponsoring, as he’d arranged for us to “meet” the family by video phone call that day. What a wonderful, exciting time it was for all of us to be able to greet the parents and their three lovely young daughters. They are very excited to come to Canada, especially the oldest girl, who is 7. Her father sent a text to his brother after the phone call to say that she wants to come to Canada NOW!

There is much to celebrate and still much to do to prepare for their arrival, for the core committee as well as for all the volunteers. To that end, there will be a meeting/social time for all volunteers on Monday, July 17th, at 7 pm at Westside Bible Church, 3307 Wishart Road. At this gathering, we will enjoy some refreshments together, meet some of our new volunteers, and go over some important guidelines and information as we anticipate what is required to help the new family settle in Victoria. We will have a checklist to indicate which tasks/roles you wish to undertake, which day(s) and times you are available, whether you are available to help on short notice, and so on. Some of the roles/tasks will include driving, shopping assistance, bus buddy (help them get used to the bus system), visits with the family, supplementary language support, use of local community centre, going to community events, playdates, child care,  etc. Please note that drivers are required to have at least $3,000,000 liability coverage in their insurance. Please also note that WRSG is not able to reimburse car mileage for drivers and bus fares for bus buddies.

Please remember, if you intend to have direct contact with the family as a WRSG representative (i.e.: shopping, driving to appointments, child care), you must have a criminal record check and a completed volunteer application on file with the Diocese, and you are required to take their Sensitivity Training workshop. Contact Susan Davis for upcoming training dates, or for the volunteer application form.

We know that you may not be in town or otherwise not be available to come to the meeting on July 17th. If that is the case, can you please let Susan know, and she’ll make sure that you have the checklist to complete by email?

You may be interested in reading the document Refugees from Syria, found by using the link below. It provides a wealth of good information about all aspects of Syrian culture, history, and current situation. The core committee has been reading through it together at our meetings and are finding it to be very helpful. Open culturalorientation.net/library/publications/refugees-from-syria, then click on the link below the title Refugees from Syria to download a PDF.

We are getting closer to actually welcoming this family and beginning to help them settle, thanks in no small part to your ongoing interest, help and support. Enjoy the summer, and we hope to see you on July 17th!

Wonderful News

We have some wonderful news to share!  In late January, we learned that our application to sponsor the family with whom we have been matched has been approved by Immigration Canada!  The application has now been sent on to Lebanon where the family is currently staying.  It will take another eight months or so before the process is completed and they are able to come.  However, it is fantastic to know that we are officially underway!


January PaintIns were a great success, and the February 7th session is already fully booked. However, there’s still space for you on February 10th (watercolours) and on March 7th or 10th (mixed media). Did you miss the January sessions? Here are photos:

For more information, see the Home page.

News from the WRSG – September 2016

Great News! We have raised enough money to be matched with a refugee family. We now know who our family will be. Fundraising continues, with an amount of $14,000 still needed to meet our requirement to support the family for one year in the Private Sponsorship program. If you would like to provide financial support, see here.

Two events are upcoming – a Volunteer Gathering on October 6th with coffee and dessert, and A Night of Music on October 22nd – and more information about each is on the home page here. Bring your friends and neighbours for a wonderful evening of music!

Any questions? Contact Susan Davis at susan@wrsg.ca. Thanks for your interest, prayers and support!

Download Newsletter or Download Poster for A Night of Music

New WRSG Chair – Susan Davis

The WRSG is at a transition point, for having reached at least the 50% mark of its fundraising goal, it may formally apply to sponsor a family. Sponsorship Agreement Holders now see very few potential matches on bimonthly lists, so the way ahead will require strategic decisions. It is with joy that we announce that Susan Davis has accepted the position of Chair to lead us forward.

Susan is no stranger to the WRSG: She and Pastor Tim Davis were instrumental in its formation, and she delivered our initial training in refugee sponsorship in late 2015 and early 2016. They have often been away during Tim’s sabbatical leave from Westside Bible Church, but both Susan and Tim had already committed to joining the Committee.

We are grateful to Hilary Mackey, who brought energy and commitment to the role of Chair from the formation of the Committee through the recent fundraising gala. Hilary is stepping down to focus on rebuilding her professional practise as a Registered Clinical Counsellor and therapeutic bodyworker, after an eight-year hiatus. As such, she will provide some pro bono services through the Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refuges, and remain involved with the WRSG.

For some months, the five-member Committee was augmented by Henry and Yvonne Van Boxtel of the Canvas Church, and we again thank them for their support. Once the new Committee meets, there may be more adjustments to personnel and roles. Fundraising isn’t complete, but there is a need for further team building and training before we can support a refugee family. Now would be a great time for new volunteers to join the Committee or take on other equally important roles.