How you can help

Can you help with transportation?

February 2016 — If you are from the Bracebridge area and are able to help provide transportation for the family when they arrive, please answer the questions below. You can either cut and paste into an email and send to Christine or Jacqui (their email addresses are at the bottom of the page), or you can print and fill out the PDF HERE and drop it at the Bracebridge United Church. Thank you!

SYRIAN REFUGE TRANSPORTATION

Thank you for volunteering your time to accommodate the needs of our Syrian family.  To assist us in efficiently managing this project, it would be helpful if you could provide us with the following information.

1.  First and last name:
2.  Telephone #:
3.  Email address:
4. Cell phone#:
5. Are you available during day:  Yes……..  No………
6. Are you available during the evening:  Yes…….  No…….
7. Are there any limitations that we should note:  Yes…… No…….
If yes, please explain:
Please return this completed form to Christine Knudson at the Bracebridge United Church.  If you have any questions, please contact:

Christine Knudson:   christine.knudson@sympatico.ca
Jacqui Barron:   twinjacqui@gmail.com

 

Update — January 2016

(Bracebridge) January 26, 2016 — Greetings, everyone. Here’s what you’ll find in this update on what’s happening at Syrian Refuge Bracebridge.
Fundraising
Indiegogo Tax Receipts
Sponsorship Agreement Holder Change
Committee Time!
Cross-Cultural Workshop Invite

Fundraising — We have reached our goal!

We are thrilled to let you know that donors have contributed more than $38,600 to Syrian Refuge Bracebridge! That well exceeds the minimum of $27,000 for a family of four. We have therefore decided to sponsor a family of up to seven members. Which is a good thing, since the average Syrian family size is seven.

Thank you so much, to those of you who donated. If you made your donation via Indiegogo, you would have recently received an email from Indiegogo indicating that the online campaign is now closed and that the Indiegogo fund raised $4,255, or 42% of its goal of $10,000. Please note that this goal is only for the online (Indiegogo) portion of the campaign.

Indiegogo Tax Receipts

If you donated via Indiegogo, please note that we require your Snail Mail address to issue you a tax receipt. Please email it to United Church of Bracebridge administrator Barb Mason (buc@bellnet.ca). Because your donation was held in trust by Indiegogo until after the new year, your tax receipt will be issued in early 2017 and will be applied to the 2016 tax year. This is our first time using Indiegogo and we did not realize this would be the case. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Change in Sponsorhip Agreement Holder

Any group that applies to sponsor a refugee family must do so through an organization that has a Sponsorship Agreement Holder designation. The SAH helps get the paperwork right and makes the process as smooth as possible. The original Sponsorship Agreement Holder that we were going to use, AURA  (Anglican United Refugee Alliance), has a long backlog due to the number of groups looking for their assistance. We have therefore decided to use the United Church of Canada, which also has an SAH designation, instead. Our application has now gone in and we are awaiting feedback.

Committee Time!

The money is raised and the application is in. Things may start to happen very quickly now, so it is time to organize our committees and finalize our settlement plan. We are dividing the work into four committee headings:
• Paperwork
• Finances & Fundraising
• Community Relations & Communication
• Settlement

For those of you who have not already done so, please email us to let us know if you’d like to join one of these committees and if you do have a specific hope, goal or expectation about your contribution, let us know what it is. Do not hesitate to contact Nancy Knox at nancybuc@bellnet.ca if you have questions or wish to discuss. Next step will be to distribute organizing material and to get together as individual committees. We will email you to arrange meeting times.

Cross-cultural Sensitivity Workshop

February 3rd. Please RSVP

Join us to look at some of the cultural similarities and differences between Syrian and Canadian cultures, to reflect on our expectations of the sponsorship settlement process, and to learn a few important phrases and greetings in Arabic. Wednesday Feburary 3rd at 7:00 pm at the United Church of Bracebridge. Please RSVP by February 1st at syrianrefugebracebridge@gmail.com so we know which room to book.

Thank you for your support. We look forward to speaking with you further!

Nancy Knox, Keith Montgomery, Susie Phillips, John Purdon, Kim Schroeder, Tamsen Tillson, Carol Turner and Ken Turner
Syrian Refugee Working Group
Syrian Refuge Bracebridge
(705) 645-5713 | syrianrefugebracebridge@gmail.com | syrianrefugebracebridge.ca
Find us on Facebook at Syrian Refuge Bracebridge.

Year-end Update

The holiday season is upon us.

December 2015 — We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and let you know how we’re doing at Syrian Refuge Bracebridge.

What is Syrian Refuge Bracebridge?

Formed in October 2015 by the Bracebridge United Church, Syrian Refuge Bracebridge is a group of citizens united by a shared concern for the Syrian refugee crisis working together to help sponsor the settlement of a Syrian refugee family in Bracebridge and to assist them for one year while they start a new life in Canada.

How to connect with us

Website | Facebook | Email | Donate online through Indiegogo

You do not have to be affiliated with the church to become involved, nor is there any expectation that the family be Christian or become involved in the church.


How many Muskoka groups are there?

Syrian Refuge Bracebridge is one of a number of groups in Muskoka working to sponsor Syrian refugees. Here is a list of others that we are aware of. There may be others.

Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Huntsville
Contact: Website | Facebook  | email
• Fundraising to bring two families

Syrian Refugees Gravenhurst
Contact: Facebook
• This group has identified their family

Central Muskoka Syrian Relief
Contact: 705-645-7508 | email
•  Includes Rotary Bracebridge, Rotary Port Carling, Knox Presbyterian Church, Parish of Muskoka Lakes, St Joseph’s, St. Trinity, and Trinity St. Albans
• working to bring in two families

While all Muskoka groups are working to stay connected and to share resources and advice, we are working most closely with the Central Muskoka Syrian Relief. Keith Montgomery is on both working groups and we have agreed to pool our resource list.


FUNDRAISING

Picture of coin box in front of Hairquarters in BracebridgeWe are proud to let you know that with your help Syrian Refuge Bracebridge has raised more than $28,000! About $25,000 of that is by cheque or cash and $3,000 through our online Indiegogo fund.

That exceeds our minimum goal of $27,000+. But we are going to keep fundraising. As you know, that is not a lot of money to support a family of four in Muskoka for a year.

Thank you again for your donations!


In-Kind Support

In addition to monetary donations, we have received numerous offers of in-kind support from individuals and groups in the community and beyond, including;

  • ESL teaching
  • Settlement assistance from a Bracebridge native who works in a new Canadians’ office elsewhere
  • Cultural sensitivity workshops
  • Computer and phone tech assistance
  • Fundraising
  • Moving the family in
  • Greeting party
  • Hand-knitted Tuques with welcome messages (from 25,000 Tuques – Muskoka)
  • Several local not-for-profit and helping organizations have offered their assistance as and when needed
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Household goods
  • And many many offers that are less specific; “How can we help?”

Thank you! We have created a resource database and will call on you again when we have more information about where and when you are needed. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas, questions or concerns in the meantime.


ORGANIZATION

The group discusses the tasks at hand.As of our latest meeting on December 15, our application paperwork well underway.

We brainstormed what tasks might fall into which category, with the four main categories (for now) being;

Nancy Knox leads a brainstorming session.1) Paperwork
2) Finances & Fundraising
3) Community Relations & Communication
4) Settlement

If you can see yourself in a particular working group in one of these categories, let us know!


Timeline

We have been told that the timeline could be four to six months, but the information seems to change so quickly, it could be longer — or shorter. The key is to be ready, and to be flexible.


Tell Your Friends

We encourage you to tell your friends and colleagues about our group and to have them contact us directly if they wish to pitch in.

We believe that housing will be one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle because we don’t know when the family will be arriving and we don’t know how much notice we will have. If you know a landlord or someone in real estate business, please ask them to connect with us. We are not expecting free accommodation, but we may need to find affordable accommodation at short notice.

Thank you again for your support.

Our contact information is above and in the links below. Unsubscribe and Update links are also below. Please share this email with interested friends we may have missed and invite them to email us to be added to our list. We plan to send updates regularly.

Have a wonderful Christmas and new year!

Nancy Knox, Keith Montgomery, Susie Phillips, Kim Schroeder, Tamsen Tillson, Carol Turner and Ken Turner
Syrian Refugee Working Group
Syrian Refuge Bracebridge

Notes from Meeting December 15, 2015

Thursday December 17, 2015 — Thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting on Tuesday evening. We made some great progress. Our application paperwork is well underway. We have been told that the timeline could be four to six months, but the information seems to change so quickly, it could be longer — or shorter! The key, we feel, is to be ready and to be flexible.

Picture of Nancy Knox and information sheets
Nancy Knox leading the brainstorming session

Keith Montgomery and Catherine Thompson from Central Muskoka Syrian Relief, (a collaborative which includes Rotary Bracebridge, Rotary Port Carling, Knox Presbyterian Church, Parish of Muskoka Lakes, St Joseph’s, St. Trinity, and Trinity St. Albans and is working to bring in two families), told us about their fundraising and organizational work to date and we compared organizational structures. We will be sharing information wherever possible along the way. Two (or more) heads are better than one!

We also went through the many offers of support that you have pledged. They include;

• ESL teaching
• Settlement assistance from someone who grew up in Bracebridge and now works in a new Canadians’ office elsewhere
• Cultural sensitivity workshops
• Computer and phone tech assistance
• Fundraising
• Moving the family in
• Greeting party
• Hand-knitted Tuques with welcome messages (from 25,000 Tuques – Muskoka)
• Several local not-for-profit and helping organizations have offered their assistance as and when needed
• Clothing
• Furniture
• Household goods
• And many many offers that are less specific; “How can we help?”

We brainstormed what tasks might fall into which category, with the four main categories (for now) being;

1) Paperwork
2) Finances & Fundraising
3) Community Relations & Communication
4) Settlement

Meeting attendees and organizational sheets.
The group discusses a daunting list. Lots to do!

If you can see yourself in a particular working group in one of these categories, let us know! There’s a lot to be done, bearing in mind that we must remember that we are helping the family adjust to being Canadians and to support but not dominate or do for them what they can do for themselves. We have a feeling that the fundraising will be the easy part!

Speaking of fundraising: we have subsequently learned that our group has raised more than $28,000! Thank you everyone! This takes us over our goal, but please bear in mind that it is a minimum and the more we raise the larger the positive impact. We will continue to fundraise.

What’s Next?

We’re planning on meeting again in January and will let you know when we set that date. In the meantime, send us an email at syrianrefugebracebridge@gmail.com if you’d like to keep in touch, join our email list (if you’re not already on it), contribute some ideas or tentatively add yourself to a working group, ask any questions you might have, or offer whatever support you are able to. We greatly appreciate anything you can do. (You do not have to be affiliated with the church to participate. Some of us are and some are not.)

Have a merry Christmas and all the best for 2016!

~Nancy Knox, Keith Montgomery, Susie Philips, Kim Schroeder, Tamsen Tillson, and Ken and Carol Turner
Syrian Refugee Working Group — Bracebridge United Church
December 17, 2015

Twenty-two thousand thank you’s

21398597571_8ee8cbbf08_hUpdate

December 12, 2015 — As of yesterday, Syrian Refuge Bracebridge has raised $22,000 out of the $27,000+ needed to bring a family here and to help them for the year. We have also received many offers of help and support, from furniture to clothing to ESL assistance. Thank you everyone!

We have now formed our initial core working group and are putting together the sponsorship application to submit through AURA (Anglican United Refugee Alliance, a Toronto-based charitable group whose mandate is to help in the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees. They know the ropes.)

The current Core Group is: Kim Schroeder, Keith Montgomery, Tamsen Tillson, Ken Turner, Carol Turner, Susie Philips and Nancy Knox. We’re working on getting our police record checks ready to submit (part of the application process) and are meeting again on Tuesday December 15 to continue to organize.

This core group is the main contact point for AURA, and it may evolve over time. Many others have expressed an interest in helping and we are looking forward to them being active in sub-groups.

We have been told that once the application goes in it will be about 4-6 months before the family arrives. So the family could be arriving next summer!

We are continuing to fund-raise, plus we have a call out for individuals, businesses and groups to let us know if you’re willing to help. In addition to monetary donations, we’re looking for those who can bring know-how, services, and connections to the table to help this family get here and to help them settle in and integrate once they arrive.

Can you help? Drop us an email and we’ll add you to our resource list, plus, we can keep you updated with regular emails. You can also join us on Facebook here.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

~Tamsen Tillson
December 12, 2015

$12,750 raised to date

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.10.45 PMDecember 7, 2015 — Hello everyone, a quick update on our fundraising so far. We’ve raised about $12,750.

Donors have contributed $2,650 on Indiegogo and the remaining $10,100 by writing cheques to the Bracebridge United Church’s Syrian Refugee Fund.

We have two streams so that we can encourage those young’uns who prefer to work digitally to do it that way. Nancy, Kevin and Barb at the church are of course old hands at fundraising “the old fashioned way” and have done a great job.

Our goal is $27,000+, so we’re almost half-way there. Yay! Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed. If you know someone who you feel might be willing to donate, please invite them to do so.

They can either write a cheque to Bracebridge United Church with Syrian Refugee Fund in the subject line (mailing addy is 46 Dominion Street, Bracebridge, P1L 2A5) or they can go to Indiegogo.com and donate online.

Please note that there is an 8% charge for donating online, (a 3% transaction fee and 5% to Indiegogo), so if you don’t have a preference we suggest cutting a cheque to the church. Anyone who donates $20 or more will receive a tax receipt. Please note that because Indiegogo holds the funds until after the new year, tax receipts for Indiegogo donations will be issued in December 2016 and will be for fiscal 2016.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.

Thank you!!

Welcome to our new website!

December 5, 2015 — It is Saturday morning, December 5, 2015. At our Syrian Refugee Working Group meeting yesterday, Nancy Knox and the team gave Ken Turner and me the go-ahead to set up this website.

Attending the Syrian Refugee Working Group meeting at the Bracebridge United Church on 2015-12-04 15.42.21.
Attending the meeting on December 4, 2015 are Bianca Coyne, Kim Schroeder, Carol Turner, Ken Turner, Nancy Knox, Keith Montgomery and Alana. Not pictured, taking the picture, is Tamsen Tillson.

Ken has purchased the url syrianrefugebracebridge.ca, and is kindly hosting the site on his server. Here I am, coffee and sleeping cat beside me, starting the build.

The website is for our group specifically but it is also meant as a resource for everyone in favour of the sponsorship and settlement of Syrian refugees in Bracebridge.

We are closely affiliated with the Bracebridge Rotary Club, which is very successfully fundraising and collecting community support to bring two more families. Bracebridge Rotarian Keith Montgomery is on our Syrian Refugee Working Group and is a wonderful liaison for the two groups. You can contact Keith at Keith.Montgomery@investorsgroup.com.

Like an increasing number of websites nowadays, this one is developing “organically”. (AKA we’re creating the structure as we go.) So you get to watch it change and develop in real time, and you get to help shape it too.

We welcome your input!

Do you have a question or concern? Can we add something to the site that will help you understand what we’re about? Feel free to let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate.

Tamsen Tillson and Ken Turner
Volunteers/Webmasters
Syrian Refugee Working Group
syrianrefugebracebridge@gmail.com

Join us on Facebook!

November 22, 2015 — We have just set up a Facebook group called Syrian Refuge Bracebridge. Please come join this forum for those supporting the sponsorship and settlement of Syrian Refugees in Bracebridge.

You can join the group here or by clicking the image.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 10.00.35 AM

Post! Post! Post!

Let’s keep the discussion and news flowing. Please feel free to post stories, pictures, links.

Thank you!

Tamsen Tillson
Volunteer
syrianrefugebracebridge@gmail.com

Bracebridge United Church to sponsor Syrian refugee family

Here is the press release we issued on November 13, 2015.

ATTENTION EDITORS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bracebridge United Church to Sponsor Syrian refugee family

One of a number of Muskoka groups working to provide support amid humanitarian crisis

Bracebridge, November 13, 2015  — The Bracebridge United Church is proud to announce that its Executive Council has passed a motion to sponsor a Syrian refugee family and to help them start a new life in Canada. The church is one of a number of groups in Muskoka working together to provide assistance to those fleeing the war-torn country.

The plan is to raise a minimum of $27,000 to bring a family to Bracebridge and to provide for them for one year while they get on their feet.

“This started because of a groundswell of compassion from members of the congregation in recent months as the world’s attention turned to this crisis,” said Reverend Nancy Knox of the Bracebridge United Church. “I have never seen an outpouring like this before.”

The Bracebridge United Church has sponsored refugee families before and The United Church of Canada is already a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, a designation required by the Federal Government to assume responsibility for such an undertaking. The Canadian government has pledged to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of 2015, and the BUC is working as quickly as possible to be ready to receive the family.

BUC is not the only group in Muskoka working to provide assistance. The Rotary Club of Bracebridge is also spearheading a community project to sponsor two Syrian refugee families, and the two groups are working closely together and hope to connect with others in Muskoka with similar aims.

Public information session on Syrian refugee sponsorship

Any individuals or groups interested in sponsoring or supporting Syrian refugees are invited to attend a public meeting on Tuesday December 1st at 7pm at the Canada Summit Centre in Huntsville. Bracebridge United Church and Bracebridge Rotary Club will be attending this meeting conducted by AURA (Anglican United Refugee Alliance) a Canadian charitable organization that assists in the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees. “This is for any group interested in helping to learn more about how they can become involved in sponsorship and resettlement,” said Knox.

How you can help the Bracebridge United Church initiative

Make a cash donation: Send a cheque addressed to the Bracebridge United Church with “Syrian Refugee Fund” on the memo line. You can also donate online through Indiegogo.com to “Syrian Refugee Fund — Bracebridge United Church.” Anyone donating $20 or more will receive a tax receipt.

Volunteer, donate goods or household items, put out a collection box at your place of business, or provide in-kind assistance: Send an email to SyrianRefugeBracebridge@gmail.com and tell the group what you might be able to provide when the time comes.

“It’s truly inspiring the way people have quickly come together to facilitate such an ambitious undertaking,” said Knox.

-30-

For more information:
Reverend Nancy Knox
Bracebridge United Church
(705) 645-5713
nancybuc@bellnet.ca