Doug Holmes

Funding available to support third refugee family

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group has most of the funding in place to help another refugee family in the community.

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group has most of the funding in place to help another refugee family in the community.

“We pretty much have enough money to support a third family,” said Doug Holmes, outgoing chair of the group. “This community has been incredible.”

The committee has already supported two families of Syrian refugees.

On Feb. 14, the Al Sheblaqe family of six arrived and one month later, on March 14, the Abdulrahman family arrived.

The costs of sponsoring a family are estimated at around $30,000 depending on the size of the family.

Holmes said the two families are adjusting well to life in Canada.

In the summer, some family members worked in local orchards to earn extra income, but the majority of their time has been spent acquiring the necessary language skills.

“The priority is learning English,” Holmes said. “They need the language to get good jobs.”

The children have been attending school and have been fitting in with their Canadian classmates, Holmes added.

He said the community has been generous in providing financial support.

“We haven’t really made much effort into fundraising,” he said. “The community has been supportive.”

However, volunteers, including drivers, are still needed as the families must attend appointments and language classes.

Most immigrant services in the region are in Penticton, not Summerland, but this year, because of the number of newcomers in Summerland, the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services has been providing English language classes in Summerland as well.

Sponsorship group’s AGM planned

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group will hold its first annual meeting next week.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in the lower level of the former library building on Wharton Street.

At the meeting, the sponsorship group will elect a new board of directors. The group will also discuss the size and final composition of the board.

In addition, Lesley Vaisanen will speak about her experiences helping refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos last winter.