United for Refugees campaign hands out $869,000 to help Syrians new to Ottawa
10 local organizations get money for language, counselling and other projects
By Kate Porter, CBC News Posted: May 27, 2016 3:44 PM ET Last Updated: May 27, 2016 3:44 PM ET
Three-quarters of the funding will go toward settlement projects, such as language and employment training. Jewish Family Services, for instance, will offer mental health counselling to children.
The Ottawa Food Bank will use its $35,000 to meet a growing demand for food.
“We’re estimating at this point between 400 and 600 people are turning to food banks across the city specifically from the Syrian refugee group,” said Michael Maidment, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank.
The other quarter of the amount raised, meanwhile, will go to private sponsors who plan to bring 89 refugees to Ottawa.
Bashar Alhalabi was a dermatologist in Damascus, but after bombs started falling and he started having nightmares about his three children being kidnapped, the family fled to Ottawa in 2013.
Alhalabi will receive funding to sponsor his sister, Sama, as well as her husband, son and daughter. They left their home in Syria last year and are currently in Lebanon.
“Because of your help, her kids will be able to play outside and go to school safely,” said Alhalabi.
Fundraising to continue
United for Refugees is a partnership among the United Way of Ottawa, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the City of Ottawa and Refugee 613 that was launched at a town hall meeting last fall.
“We promised to get every dollar we received out the door and into the community where it’s needed,” said Michael Allen, the president and CEO of United Way Ottawa.
A volunteer committee made up of representatives from community groups looked over the 52 funding applications that came in. Half of the applicants ended up receiving funds.
“There’s many, many more needs to come so we’re going to continue to fundraise,” said Allen.
City staff and settlement service providers acknowledge there could be pressure on community services in December or January, when a large number of government-sponsored refugees will lose federal support and could seek Ontario’s social assistance.
Ottawa has received more than 1,500 refugees since December, of whom 1,100 are assisted by the federal government and more than half are school-aged. Organizations expect several hundred more refugees to arrive in the city before the end of the year.
The ten organizations receiving money for 18 settlement projects are:
- Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.
- Helping with Furniture.
- Jewish Family Services.
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO).
- Ottawa Food Bank.
- Refugee 613.
- Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre.
- Somali Centre for Family Services.
- University of Ottawa’s Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.
- World Skills Employment Centre.
Originally published by CBC News Ottawa