Settling in…

It’s been a busy three weeks for us at Bridge to Guelph, having welcomed our family to Guelph in the wee hours of the morning on March 1st.

Today the family moved into their permanent apartment and are so very happy and thankful to everyone who helped make the move possible. We have to thank Susan and Greg for so graciously hosting them in their temporary accommodations and helping to make them feel welcome. Through their stay, the kids were able to make some new friends, share a few meals (trying pancakes and maple syrup for the first time), and even got initiated into tobogganing culture very early on in their arrival – they quite loved it!

It’s been a busy few weeks for the family… a flurry of potlucks, meeting group members (only just now realizing how large our group is), meeting and making friends with other newcomers, getting oriented to how things get done around here, appointments, and taking time to visit some sights in and around Guelph. There’s a lot going on for them and at times it’s been quite overwhelming with the amount of information they’re taking in – we’re so grateful for our trusty translator friends who have been so generous with their time to help us communicate the important details.

The girls are very excited for their first day of school tomorrow. We’re all looking forward to seeing them get settled into their new place and life here. It seems like the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity so settling into a routine will be most welcome.

We’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date here. So many of you have offered your positive thoughts and best wishes to the family and we know you’re excited to hear more about how things are going. And we know… you want photos! However, those are going to have to wait as we’ve not gotten to the point where we’ve been able to ask about sharing details like that with the whole, wide world. You’ll just have to take our word for it when we say the kids are super-duper adorable😉

Again, our thanks to all of you who are sending emails to check in and reaching out to offer help. It’s great to see people coming together to welcome our new friends to Guelph!

We have an arrival date!

We have been waiting for this date for months now – the time has finally come! The family is arriving in Montreal this weekend and will be in Guelph shortly thereafter. We have kicked our preparations into high gear!

If you’re still looking for a way to support us, we have a few items left on our in-kind donation list that will go a long way to making the family feel at home in Guelph.

Thanks to all of you for your support, it’s been amazing!

Thanks to students at John McCrae Public School!

A huge thanks goes out to the John McCrae Public School community for generously purchasing candy cane grams by the hundreds in December! The Social Justice Club’s Candy Cane Fundraiser raised 665$ to help support a Syrian Refugee family starting a new life here in Guelph. Evan Stewart, a member of the Social Justice Club, presented Bridge to Guelph refugee sponsorship group representative Heather Callum with a cheque on Monday, January 18th.
Cheque from John McCrae Social Justice
The money raised by students at John McCrae will help Bridge to Guelph support the basic needs of a Syrian family of five over their first year in Guelph. The students had a chance to ask questions about the family and think about how they might like their funds to be used. Backpacks? Furniture? Food? Toys? Clothing? So many options for their money to be put to good use.

Thank you John McCrae Public School for your hard work and wonderful support!

Enlisting and Empowering My Kid

How we got our son to feel like a full member of our sponsorship group

Blog post by Marie Dixon-McCoy, Bridge to Guelph group member

Making the decision to try to find something to do to help refugees abroad was easy. I had been thinking about it for over a year. After the drowning of Aylan Kurdi, the awareness of what people were fleeing and the urgency to help led to a ground swell of empathy and action. So when I put out on Facebook in September I couldn’t stand by any longer, my friend Laura messaged me and asked if I wanted to join a group she was joining. I said yes even before talking to my spouse. I knew she would be on board. But we held a family meeting anyway mostly to introduce the idea to our then eight year old son and get him invested. He said yes, of course we should help in any way we could.

After bringing our son to a couple of meetings which he sat through very patiently and very quietly I soon realized, he didn’t have a role. We were all talking about going away and doing things. We all began to gather jobs, roles and more meetings. But Rowan had no role. We talked a lot about his involvement and his understanding. We talked about the upcoming election and our fears if the Conservatives got re-elected how much more difficult and lengthy it would be to get a refugee family here. I hoped that maybe he would just act as a youth ambassador with his friends. Keeping them up to date on the news of refugees. Sharing his thoughts on the how bad it would be if the Conservatives got elected. What was I thinking?? Eight year olds don’t normally just start talking about world politics and the election! More creativity was needed.

After being put on the spot by his teacher one day, I had my Eureka moment! She randomly wanted to hear Rowan play guitar with a badly tuned, too big guitar with no pick. It went horribly for him. He felt embarrassed and defeated. Well I knew how to bandage this hurt. A fundraising concert at his school with his band! He wanted to redeem himself with his peers and prove he really could play Heart of Gold and Satisfaction. His teacher wanted to make it up to him and surprisingly but also heart-warmingly LOVED the idea of being able to highlight the struggles of refugees with her students in a constructive way. She said she wanted the whole school to commit to doing some educational sections on the issues of refugees and invite the whole school to come to the concert. Fantastic! Since this was two days before the school took their winter break I had time to speak Rowan’s music teacher and the parents of the kids in his band.

I’m still working on getting the concert together but everyone so far has been enthusiastic and positive. I just have to get the school to give us a date. In the meanwhile, the band has perfected One Way or Another and are working on adding Free Falling. This concert is going to be awesome!

What has been exciting to see is that planning for this concert has given Rowan a platform to talk about refugees in general and the family we’re sponsoring specifically. He is able to say how the money he will help raise will help them. He then can talk about how challenging the transition will be for the family and especially the kids. He wonders what the kids will be like and if they will be friends. He wonders what music they will like.

I want Rowan to be aware of what is happening in the world. I want him to see his privilege. I want him to see that no matter what his age he has a part to play in making things better. We all have a part to play.

Exciting News!

Bridge to Guelph has been matched with a family of 5 (a couple with three young children) from the BVOR list. We don’t have an arrival date yet, but we’re excited to see the process moving along and are hopeful that it will only be a few short weeks before they arrive. We are very thankful for the tremendous support we’ve received over the last few months while we have prepared our application.

Our start-up group will be updating our in-kind donations listing to reflect the family composition so please take a look at the “how you can help” section if you would like to contribute in that way.

 

Getting closer to our goal!

Thanks to our supporters, our fundraising target of $40,000 is getting closer and closer!

Our finance team has been busy gathering cheques and dropping them off at the bank. Thank you so much for your support. It means so much to know we are part of a community that cares!

As of January 11, 2016 we have raised $31,215 from over 50 donors. Thank you!

Help us keep the momentum going so we can bring a family to safety early in the new year. We issue tax receipts for donations over $20. Online donations can be made on our Canada Helps site. We also accept cash, cheques, and e-transfers. To find out how to help, click on the “How you can help” tab.

Previous totals:
December 31, 2015 total of $30,615
December 24, 2015 total of $23,650.00
December 13, 2015 total of $19,437.00