I would like to give a brief update of our activities over the past few months but most of all to thank everyone - from the little kids trick-or-treating for ARCARe, to people donating furniture or money, to those giving a helping hand at a moment's notice.
When we started meeting a few months ago we were very fortunate to have Gord Hay and Karen Lenthall-Ascott, from the Paradise Refugee Support group, explain how things had unfolded with the sponsorship of their Iraqi family. Since then, Gord has helped us in an ongoing way and his advice has been especially timely. Their group has been almost a year ahead of us and he has pointed us in the right direction many times.
Since then, everything has happened so quickly: a core group of volunteers has formed, with a large supporting group, and all the churches in town have been very supportive, with the United Church, St. George and St. Andrew - under the leadership of Rev. Elisabeth Bachem - taking the next step of being the conduit for full government support through the United Church of Canada - our Sponsorship Agreement Holder, or SAH. The Church's Treasurer, Jane DeWolfe, has become ARCARe's Treasurer, and is ensuring that the receipting of donations - via the Church, is proceeding in an orderly way.
We receive good wishes and offers of help almost daily, and a few fundraising activities really come to the fore:
- right off the bat, individuals were asked if they would like to donate to our yet-unnamed group, and they did in great amounts;
- with little lead-time, Champlain Elementary School, AWEC (and especially "The Social Issues Club" there), and The Booker School (Port Williams) helped raise over $1,500 from family, friends, and neighbours with a "Trick-or-Treat for ARCARe" Halloween box program;
- the three United Baptist Churches under the leadership of Pastor Elizabeth Legassie raised over $500 by hosting an evening choral concert of the "Lawrencetown Men's Choir" in the Granville Ferry United Baptist Church;
- the Granville Ferry Community Hall raised over $700 with a potluck and auction, with proceeds going to ARCARe;
- Sally Tinker, the Grade 4 teacher at Champlain Elementary School organized a walkathon with the school children that raised over $900 for ARCARe, and her class composed a welcome song for the family that they look forward to singing someday soon!
Our Treasurer reports that we have over $16,000 raised so far by an exceedingly generous community that truly cares.
It has felt like things have just fallen into place, but in reality people from all around and even outside the community are giving generously - in a way that is hard to put to words. We hear of doors getting slammed in other places on the idea of helping refugees, but it is good to report that the exact opposite of that is happening here. Sharing, kindness, and hope is what people are giving here. Although we will be completely ready to choose a family by next week, we really can't wait for them to arrive!
Thank you, everyone.
Laurie McGowan, ARCARe Chair