Volunteers needed to help resettle refugees in Saint John

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With Canada’s commitment to receiving 25,000 refugees, Saint John has had to do some more groundwork to accept the newcomers.

Part of this groundwork includes special efforts taken at the new YMCA on Churchill Boulevard. A team of very dedicated individuals have fully taken over the processes of receiving the refugees and getting them integrated into Canadian society here in Saint John.

Image courtesy of peacechild.org
Image courtesy of peacechild.org

They are currently looking for volunteers to help sponsor a family. This is by no means a financial obligation, but simply a volunteer opportunity to help Syrian families get integrated into Saint John’s community.

This includes finding new families housing, setting up bank accounts, and showing them around the city. The YMCA is looking for teams of five to sponsor a family and this past Thursday they held an information session regarding the logistics on how individuals can help out.

These individuals at the YMCA do everything that could possibly be thought of, from the most basic things such as getting the newcomers debit cards, to finding them a house. Even after they are integrated the YMCA offers english classes and even helps get the families into schools.

Lindsay Vautour a 3rd year UNBSJ student attended the information session “I feel that they are doing an amazing job. Everything is extremely organized for the refugee families arrival, and the YMCA ensures that all of the resources are available for the families to use.”

The problem with sponsoring a family is that it is time consuming. It takes a lot of effort to take care of these families, as almost everything they do for the first few weeks in Saint John will need assistance.

It makes it hard as university students to be able to help out and consciously do our part to be involved. Even though this may be the case specifically for sponsoring a family there are many other ways to help out.

Emily Fox, Students’ Representative Council’s vice president external has been extensively researching other opportunities for university students to get involved. “I was interested in finding out how students could volunteer and how I could facilitate in helping to communicate between the two groups and how we could provide more information to students.”

It is important for students to realize that these opportunities exist in the community and that with a small amount of effort we can get involved.

If sponsoring a family is too much work here are some other options to help: child minding, getting involved with a club on campus that focuses their efforts towards refugees such as WUSC and UNB/HIV Aids Initiative or even contacting the YMCA to see what other options they have.

There is a lot of work to be done and these organizations are looking for any help that they can get.

To get involved contact the YMCA at (506) 693-YMCA or on their website at http://www.saintjohny.com/contact-us/

If you want to hear more about initiatives going on at UNB Saint John contact Emily Fox at external@unbsrc.ca.