Efforts to sponsor a Syrian refugee have hit some hitches.
The Houston Group to Support Syrian Refugees’ (HGSSR) third meeting last Tuesday made some headway but it has also come under criticism on social media. Co-chair Bobby Seinen believes group members need to do more.
“I am disappointed at such a low turnout of people, and I find people don’t want to volunteer to assist in doing something,” said Seinen. “We can sit around a table and talk but we need to do some action and it’s slow.”
“But I have to understand that it was the Christmas season and that we weren’t able to meet and that slows things down.”
Since the last meeting, the group learned that the Mennonite Central Committee has agreed to assist them in sponsoring a refugee.
“I am heartened by the Mennonite Central Committee’s response to [fellow member] Paul Comparelli in that they are willing to accommodate us as a charitable organization,” she said.
The group needs the MCC’s help because the MCC is a settlement agreement holder. This means the MCC will act as the bridge between the federal government and the HGSSR.
“Several people from MCC weighed in on an email,” said Seinen. “They provided us with links to different resources that they have on their websites.”
“They have also said that if it’s not possible to resettle a family in Houston, that we can direct those funds towards humanitarian relief in refugee camps that are housing Syrians.”
At the roundtable discussions during the meeting, Seinen delegated fundraising tasks to different people. Its members will contact various places of worship in town to ask for funds.
“We haven’t had responses to those emails,” said Seinen.
They estimate that they need to raise about $30,000.
HGSSR is also exploring other fundraising avenues.
“We are hoping to approach people in our community and see if we can have a special evening where people can come and we can raise awareness of what’s happening, and if people want to make donations, we will have that set up,” she said.