Syrian refugee sponsorship group has collected $11,500

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees have made steps towards their goal of bringing in a Syrian refugee.

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees have made steps towards their goal of bringing in a Syrian refugee.

Co-chair Bobby Seinen said they have collected $11,500 from private donors that will go towards the estimated $34,000-$35,000 needed to support a family of five — an estimate based on 2014 World Renew’s literature. They are now trying to find further avenues for fundraising.

“We’re going out to research different fundraising activities,” said Seinen. “We’re going to contact a couple of community associations to see if they would be willing to support a raffle on behalf of [HGSSR], we are looking at perhaps a sports events, we’re looking at going into the schools and making presentations.”

The HGSSR wants to bring in a family of four or five. They are estimating that they might be able to access the federal child tax benefit.

The group will go through World Renew, a Christian Reformed Church organization, which Seinen said would provide charitable tax receipts and put 100 per cent of the funds raised towards the refugee.

She further added that the Mennonite Central Committee, which they wanted to go with initially, would not provide charitable tax receipts since the HGSSR wanted to pick their refugee. Furthermore, they would charge a 5 per cent administrative fee.

“For somebody who believes in charity, they give a lot during the course of the year, so it’s in their benefit to get a tax receipt,” she said.

At their Feb. 23 meeting, members raised the challenge of getting the word out. “We’re trying to raise awareness of the community and we’re wondering how to do that.”

So far, the HGSSR advertises on newspapers and posts signs on businesses. They do some outreach on social media too, and they are considering creating their own Facebook page.

The group also has to manage the challenges of the refugee’s life in the first year.

“I think it would be really unlikely that a refugee adult actively seek a job in the first year,” she said. “Because their certifications aren’t transferable to Canada.”

Seinen added that while there is no guarantee that the refugee Houston will receive will be skilled, even unskilled workers would find it hard because of the language barrier.

To solve them, the HGSSR will get volunteers to help in teaching English.

“I think the fear that some people have shared with me that they’re going to compete for local jobs is misplaced,” she said. “We’re prepared to support them financially for one year.”