Churches host fundraiser for Syrian family sponsorship

Left to Right: Wendy Buchanan, Susan Hawker, Nancy Gelsthorpe, Claude-Aimee Villeneuve, Jim Gelsthorpe are on the Heart to Heart ogranizing committee. (Photo courtesy of Frans Lecluse.)
Wendy Buchanan (left), Susan Hawker, Nancy Gelsthorpe, Claude-Aimee Villeneuve and Jim Gelsthorpe are on the Heart to Heart ogranizing committee. (Photo courtesy of Frans Lecluse.)

Valentine weekend supper all about love

Congregations from three church groups including one in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue have joined forces to sponsor a refugee family and take on the responsibility of not only bringing them to Canada, but ensuring their needs are met for one year.

Members of Union Church in Ste. Anne-de-Belleuve, Beaurepaire United Church, Summerlea United Church and Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist have been working since September to raise $30,000, the amount needed to sponsor one Syrian family’s trip to Canada. To date the churches have amassed pledges totaling $25,000. They hope to raise the final $5,000 during a dinner dance fundraiser taking place on Feb. 13 at Union Church. Heart to Heart Spaghetti Dinner & Dance will run from 4 p.m. -10 p.m. at Union Church, 24 Maple, in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue. Tickets, $25, will include a full meal (salad, dinner, dessert) and dancing. A beer and wine cash bar will be open.

The effort

In order to meet their goal the churches formed the Summerlea Refugee Support Coalition as well as the West Island Refugee Network after attending a workshop last fall given by Action Refugiés Montréal. The newly formed West Island network is open to anyone wanting to help or learn more about the sponsorship process that “may not always easy to understand.” Susan Hawker, a member of Union Church who is on the Heart to Heart organizing committee said the group may sponsor more families if all goes well. “It is our plan to start with one family, but as we have learned …once you get one family here, if they get on their feet fairly quickly, you may not need the full $30,000, and so you may be able to start work on sponsoring a second family.” Though they don’t know which family they will sponsor, the Summerlea Refugee Support Coalition knows it can be responsible for all of the family’s costs for one year including accommodations, food, supplies, dental, psychological help, communication (phone, computer), transportation and utilities.  A group or organization wishing to sponsor a family of four must first show proof that they have $30,000 in funds.

The event

The musical part of the benefit evening taking place on Valentine’s weekend will feature Latin jazz band Los Mapaches, as well as musicians Kimberley Beyea, Geneviève Lapointe and Christian Chevrier. Organizer Claude Aimée Villeneuve says participants should bring their dancing shoes as they “won’t be able to resist our music.” In addition to selling tickets, organizers are accpeting raffle prize donations as well as monitory donations. Tax receipts can be issued. For tickets, information or reservations call 514 453-7564, 438 936-7306, or email: jim.gelsthorpe@videotron.ca.

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