Lacombe Community Refugee Effort comes together

Plans to bring a Syrian refugee family to Lacombe are beginning to take shape.

Plans to bring a Syrian refugee family to Lacombe are beginning to take shape.

The newly formed Lacombe Community Refugee Effort is a group of concerned citizens who have come together to work on a refugee project – sponsoring one Syrian family.

A group of around 30 people gathered at St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church hall last Sunday night to brainstorm ideas and form committees to cover all aspects of the new family’s future life in Lacombe.

Co-organizer Marlene Ironside said that around double the amount of attendees have reached out via email, noting their interest to participate in the effort.

“We want to make a difference to a Syrian family to settle in Lacombe,” said Ironside. “In light of the Syrian refugee crisis, a discussion has begun to consider the option of sponsoring a family in Lacombe. We have learned in our meetings that, if it takes a community to raise a child, it takes a small army of willing, compassionate citizens to successfully sponsor a refugee family.”

The small army will assist the family in all aspects of life including securing housing, giving rides to the grocery store and Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) in Red Deer, translation services, filling out forms, childcare and securing a bus pass.

The group is applying for sponsorship through a blended visa office referral.

“The goal is to engage in a three-way partnership with the Government of Canada, the United Nations and through private sponsorship,” said Ironside.

In this arrangement, the federal government supplies funding for the resettlement of the family for six months, followed by the sponsors supplying funding and social, emotional support for another six months. After a year has passed, the sponsored family may still require assistance.

Through the application process, once a family has been found that fits the Lacombe group’s specifications, they will be contacted and have two days to respond. “It will all happen very fast,” said Ironside.

This is why the group is gathering volunteers, donations and creating databases, in preparation of the arrival of the family of a maximum of eight.

The federal government estimates the cost of settling a single refugee to be around $12,000. The cost of a family of four is estimated at $25,000.

A timeline was not provided for the family’s selection or arrival in Lacombe.

Those who could not attend the meeting, but would still like to be involved or make a donation to the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort can contact Ironside at 403-350-1753, call Rod Vandaelle at 403-782-1842 or Betty Cruickshank at 403-782-5357.

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