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Refugee Sponsorship

June 1, 2017: Our family has arrived!
Needless to say, the Harrisons, the McKinnies, and Rick McRonald were excited and nervous while waiting for the Alsawal family at the airport, but with the help of our wonderful friend and translator, Walaa, the family was met this morning and no one could stop smiling, even wee Youssef who was safely held in his sister, Fidaa's arms. What a joyous meeting it was!
Thanks be to God for God's goodness and mercy. Bill McKinnie took lots of pictures, and they should be posted on the bulletin board in the church hall.

Family: Father's name is Ghazi, age 42; mother is Fatima,31; daughter is Fidaa, 13; and the boys are Hasan, 12; Mohamad, 10; Abdelnour, 7; Mahmoud, 3; and Youssef, 1.

June 8, 2017: It has been a very busy week since the Alsawals arrived last Friday. Paul and Joanne Harrison have been crazily busy helping the family get started in their new life, and many others are doing their part, as well. Their university townhouse is a great starter home for them.
The family will move to its permanent home, a four-bedroom townhouse in Westminster Woods, towards the end of June. In the meantime, the children are delighted to be riding their bikes all over the university grounds.
The family has been to the bank, Immigration Services Centre, the telephone kiosk, grocery stores, clothing stores, and many other places. The children are enrolled in school and Fidaa has had her orientation for the ESL program at John F. Ross. The four oldest children will start school at Westminster Woods Public School on Monday, and they are both excited and nervous, as you can imagine. It's amazing how much English, Fidaa, in particular, has internalized and can speak. When visitors drop in for some errand, the whole family greets them warmly, and gets out the juice and fruit. Such hospitality! They are lovely people, and we hope that many of you will get to know them.

St. Andrew's Refugee Support Committee has been working at breakneck speed to gather information and complete the paperwork necessary to bring a refugee family to Guelph as soon as possible. Our new government has also been putting the necessary services in place, and organizing transportation for thousands of refugees.
The emails have been flying back and forth in huge numbers between the committee and Session, and things are starting to take shape.

Now we are relying on you to do your part to raise funds and help with other arrangements to support a refugee family.

We need your help!
Please don't leave the refugees out in the cold for another harsh winter.

Unless otherwise noted, click on file titles below to open, view and download documents.

Refugee Sponsorship Forum - Guelph and area:
Providing information, educational opportunities and coordination to refugee sponsorship groups in Guelph and area.
Click here for the link to the Sponsorship Forum

Refugee Announcement: March 16, 2017
From Paul and Joanne Harrison
on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

Introducing our Syrian Family

Download the pdf file

The committee thought all of you would like to see the names of the Syrian family of 8 that we are sponsoring through PWS&D. The father's name is Ghazi and he has worked with cement and knows a little English. He is 42. Mother is Fatima; she is 31, speaks no English, and works in the home. Their daughter, Fidaa, is 13-years old, and the boys are Hasan 12, Mohamad 10, Abdelnour 7, Mahmoud 3, and Youssef 1. They are all originally from Syria, but have sought refuge in Lebanon. They do not feel safe returning to Syria and want to start a new life here. They have no relatives or friends in Canada; however with the growing Syrian population here in Guelph and because of all the things available here for new refugee families, we hope that they will feel safe and happy to begin their new life. This will take a lot of time and willing and sympathetic volunteer support from us.

At the present time we have a list in the church hall asking for people to drive them to appointments; that will start right after they arrive in Guelph. The first three weeks will be very busy and we hope we will be able to depend on some transportation help from all three churches involved. All we know now is that their arrival could be any time within 1 to 3 months after we get the OK from Rob Shropshire. Before they arrive, we will be able to meet and talk with them (through a translator) on social media. We look forward to that.

So ... we need volunteers to indicate that they will help with the driving. We will also need other things, but as we find out what they are, we will post them on the church refugee bulletin board and in Prayers and Blessings. We will also post a list of things we do NOT need at the moment.

We thank you all for being interested and willing to see this venture through to the end.

Paul and Joanne Harrison

Refugee Announcement: March 5, 2017
From Paul Harrison on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

Download the PDF file of the announcement

Our long wait is almost over. What began with Session's approval of our St. Andrew's Syrian Refugee Project in October 2015 is finally coming true.

Joanne and I received a phone call from Rob Shropshire at PWS&D on Tuesday this week about 5 pm. We had a match. Rob was able to "grab" a family for us which met all our criteria.

I have only a few details now but here is what we know:
• The family will arrive under the BVOR Blended Visa programme. • Rob's information to us is as follows…..he doesn't have a lot.
• Our family is Syrian and is presently in Lebanon. The family consists of Dad who is 42; a Mom who is 31. There are 6 children….a daughter, age 13 and 5 boys ages, 12, 10, 7, 3 and 1.
• Arabic is their first language. Dad speaks "a little English".
• No one in the family has any special settlement needs or requires assistance (this means as far as I know, no significant physical or health problems.)
• They have no accompanying family members. i.e. they aren't part of an even larger family, some members of whom are approved but not travelling with them.
• They have no relatives or friends in Canada, according to Rob's document sent to us.
• The document also says "The family is afraid to return back to Syria as they fear for their safety. The father is seeking a better life for his family and would appreciate the assistance of a sponsor during their settlement in Canada".
• As yet we do not have their names—neither has Rob. That's all we know about our family right now.

And here is some other pertinent information.
• The Application Forms which we completed in 2015 are no longer valid!!! So, as soon as Rob sends us the new ones by email attachment, we will get them completed and return them to him. Rob at that time will know their names and they will be on our application.
• Rob verifies our application --- part stays at Presbyterian headquarters in Toronto and the other part is sent to the Federal Government in Ottawa.
• Once Toronto and Ottawa approve our documentation, the arrival time for families is between one and three months. Our family is travel ready….all of their documents have been approved and are in order. We just want to say that we are very fortunate to have Sara and Muhammad at the Water Street Mosque. They work with all of Jim Estill's families.
• Joanne has arranged a meeting with Sara at the Mosque for this coming Wednesday to find out how our 3 churches can tap into all their available resources. Rick, the McKinnie's, Arnold Bethune from Knox and possibly Susan Lodge from First Baptist (Susan teaches for a living!!), Joanne and I will attend.
• Sara and Joanne have already been discussing Guelph housing for a large family.
• Housing is a very big issue for a family of 8 and our housing group will be taking the lead here. We have already had one generous offer of temporary accommodation but we need to explore the whole housing question much further.
• If anyone has any information/suggestions re accommodation --- a townhouse or whatever, please let Rick know.

Joanne has contacted Red Car again to make sure the company will still give free transportation for up to 8 refugees from the airport to Guelph. Our family has 8 and Red Car will pick them up.
This has been a long announcement. I will try to tell you more about our family reasonably soon, I hope. There will be a meeting of all the 3 churches' volunteers when we can figure out a date.
Thank you for your prayers and your continued support.

Updates from Rob Shropshire, November 17, 2016

Good day friends, We have received a few updates from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that I want to share with you, as well as a quick update from here.

New BVOR cases: IRCC is now saying that new BVOR cases will be circulated in December. The reason for the delay has been the work they have been doing on "replacement cases" (see below) and the work on processing Government-Assisted Refugee cases as they strive to meet their end-of-year target. (The number of 2016 BVOR cases My sense is that they do sincerely regret the delays and that they are doing their best with the resources they have. Meanwhile, we have our BVOR-interested waiting list primed and ready to go on short notice.

Replacement cases: IRCC reports that they are now 80% of the way through the 150-odd Syrian BVOR cases they had that were matched in late 2015 / early 2016, but had "stalled," primarily due to incomplete security and background assessments. All 5 such PCC cases have now been addressed: 1 stalled case has arrived; 1 is due to arrive next week; 1 group took a replacement case and the family arrived this week; 1 group has accepted a replacement case and is awaiting their arrival and 1 group decided to wait for the conclusion of processing of the family they originally sponsored.

Processing times: We have seen significant improvements in processing times for sponsorship cases overseas; not at the speed we saw (for most cases) during the 25,000 Syrian airlift, but still significant improvements in Africa and Asia. That said, the volume of applications is putting strains on the processing of sponsors' applications for named cases at the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPOW). CPOW is currently processing applications submitted by Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs), such as ourselves, in September 2016. For Group of 5 (G-5) sponsorships, where there is no sponsorship agreement holder, they are working on cases submitted in November 2015. They note that the SAH applications tend to be much better prepared than the G-5 sponsorships, which slows things down for the latter.

Interim Federal Heath Program (IFHP): Several groups have been reporting delays of several weeks in approval of emergency dental work by Manuvie/Blue Cross (the company that manages IFHP insurance coverage). This is due to the high volume of requests coming out of the Syrian airlift. Manuvie is working to get caught up, but last month they were receiving 150 requests for pre-approval of work per day. Given that the coverage is for emergency dental work, this leaves those in need in difficult situations. The expectation is that we will see waiting times approaching the 5-day service standard in the near future.

Case work in our office is increasing as groups sponsoring "named refugees" are submitting their draft applications as the end-of-year deadline for using our 2016 quota approaches. We are doing our best to process things as quickly as possible on a first-in/first-out basis, while still ensuring accurate and complete applications, but recognize that our response times aren't always what we hope. Your patience and understanding (and prayers!) are appreciated.


Update: IKEA donating furniture and supplies for refugee families
Posted September 16, 2016, with text supplied by Paul and Joanne Harrison

We are very happy to have such good news for our refugee family and our church families.

Last October, Paul and I read that IKEA was offering $5,000 for many Syrian refugee families across Canada if IKEA chose the sponsoring group's application. You had to live within 100 K of an IKEA. I applied back then giving the information they asked for and then waited. I knew if we didn't hear within 2 weeks, our application had not been chosen. I had almost forgotten about it until on July 28 when I got an email from "Nicole" from IKEA, offering our sponsoring group $5,000 worth of IKEA goods. Because we didn't have our family and because I had no idea when we would get our family, I worried that she would pass us by. Fortunately, when we spoke on the phone, Nicole said she was finding this was the case with most people she had been talking with and that if we could come over to shop and if we could get a warehouse to store things in, we would still be able to take advantage of the offer, which ended at the end of August. We thank Bob Ireland for the use of a warehouse.

On August 24, Paul and I and also our daughter (lawyer, because we thought we would have to sign and agree to certain things with IKEA!!) met with Nicole at 9:30 and shopped until 1:30. We were exhausted, but by the end we had 4 overflowing large IKEA shopping carts and a smaller one filled on the scooter I was driving. We brought home a full car load of little things now in our garage and all the big items are now stored in the warehouse. I am in the process of preparing a list of what we got because the volunteer groups will need to know what we already have.

Before we left for IKEA, I had asked several people what we should choose for our unknown family and for whom we have no accommodation!! They sent in several suggestions ... Jean Berner spent a long time that day on her computer pretending to shop at IKEA and sent me what she had "bought". Her 6 computer sheets were a very big help and we thank her.

There are many funny stories connected with this day that we can tell you as we talk about things in the future.


On Thursday, July 28, 2016 1:19 PM, Nicole Blake wrote:

Hi Paul,

Thank you for applying for support from IKEA's Refugee Support Program. After reviewing all of our applications, we would like to work with you on fulfilling your request for support to settle the family that the Presbyterian Church in Canada has sponsored.

Please contact me if you are interested and we can get to work!

Nicole Blake | Communications Responsible
IKEA Burlington 905-681-5531 ext. 2332

Click here to Download this September 16 posting as a pdf file

Early September, 2016
by Paul and Joanne Harrison

A week or so ago, we heard from Rob Shropshire, who was responding to a question we had sent to him when he was on holidays. His answer is encouraging, we think. Our group is #1 on the PCC list for bringing in a larger Syrian family ... around 7 people, but he can't pick the number he is given. He also has to put his request into a draw with all the other BVOR/SAHs in Canada and if his request is granted, we are the first he would call. He usually has been getting 2 groups from the draws. We are also #2 on his list of all Syrian refugees including smaller families. We don't know how he works this but he is very organized.
The lists are now closed and he won't get any more until October. The lists continued through July and they are taking a break for August and September. Just thought you would like to know this news.
Paul and Joanne Harrison

July Refugee Update: July 18, 2016
This is an update of what has been happening since mid-June as far as refugees are concerned.

• Every other Wednesday, the SAHs across Canada receive new lists of Refugee families approved to come to Canada. PWS & D is one of these and each time the lists come in, Rob Shropshire competes with others to get as many families as he can for groups like us who want one. The lists include Syrian refugees and refugees from other countries. For the last two months there have been more Syrian refugees than before. He manages one or two Syrian groups each time.

• This process was supposed to stop at the end of June and then resume again in September. Because so many Canadians want a family, the government has continued this process until the end of July. There is now word that it may continue into August too, but that is not definite yet. We should know that soon.

• We don't know where we are on Rob S's refugee list because it depends on the lists he receives. We can afford a family larger than 4 people. There are also many single men counted on the lists.

• In mid-June we received permission from Session to use another method of bringing in a family, if we and MOCC decided we would like to do that. We had been to a Guelph Refugee Forum meeting where we learned about another government group that brings in refugee families related to refugee families already in Canada. There are three refugee families already in Guelph who have registered families who wish to come to Guelph through this other method (FLI). After a mid-June meeting with MOCC, the two groups decided to get more information and in the meantime wait until September when more people are around. This FLI method is more expensive for us because we would be responsible for the total cost, unlike the BVOR method where the government contributes 6 months cost or half the cost for a family. We would still need patience because changing our method of bringing in a family will take time too. These refugees are not flight ready and would have to work through that process.

• We received an email late last week from the Guelph Refugee Forum asking if we would like to choose any furniture for our possible family. The full warehouse, where all of the donated furniture has been kept, needs to be cleared out. The owner needs it by the end of July. We contacted people from the 3 churches and also the Guelph Refugee Forum for an opinion. Because of the timing of this opportunity, for several reasons we declined the offer. Where would we store a lot of furniture? Previously, also, we had discussed that we would like the family to make most of the choices for what they would like.

• St. Andrews has received $5,000 from the Presbytery to be put towards our Syrian project.

This is all the news we have right now. Please keep this whole project in your prayers.
Paul and Joanne Harrison

Click here to Download the July 18 report as a pdf file

Refugee Sponsorship Update to the St. Andrew's Congregation
by Paul Harrison and Rick McRonald
on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Paul: Just another very brief update on the Syrian refugee situation. I need this to be brief because my friend John Holman has the clock on me!

There is really nothing new to report. Rob Shropshire receives his bi-weekly list of BVOR candidates from Immigration Canada and he scours the lists for possible matches and when he thinks he has found one he immediately puts a hold on it and contacts the Sponsoring group. The lists will keep coming until the end of June, followed by a summer pause, then restart in September.

When Joanne and I last spoke with him he said he was going to request more Syrian refugee families be placed on the BVOR lists and to support that and our own initiative here we wrote to Lloyd Longfield, again, and urged him to push the government to use its immigration personnel in the Middle East to do just that—to get more Syrian families on the BVOR listings.

Jaya James of the Guelph Refugee Forum told us when we visited her at First Baptist that about 76 Syrian families are expected to settle in Guelph and that by the end of June only 9 families will have arrived.

Everything is at a snail's pace. Our family will come eventually and we hope all our volunteers will be ready to pitch in when that happens.

In our wonderful Pentecost service last Sunday we sang Hymn 382 and Joanne wrote down a key line. It reads "TEACH ME THE PATIENCE OF UNANSWERED PRAYER ". So, until Joanne and I get that long awaited phone call from Toronto we can all phone or email Lloyd Longfield's office about BVOR refugees, keep praying and practise patience.


Rick: With the delays outlined by Paul, we haven't said much lately about fundraising. However, in the past 2 weeks, initiatives started some months ago came to fruition and we need to inform you accordingly.

Presbytery: Following up on a recommendation made by Rev. John Borthwick last fall, the Presbytery had decided to make $10,000.00 available per quadrant to congregations that committed to Syrian refugee sponsorship. St. Andrew's applied for funding in February and as it turned out, only 2 congregations in our quadrant (St. Andrew's and Kortright) had moved forward with a refugee sponsorship initiative. We learned last week that each of the two congregations will receive $5,000.00.

Concert in Support of Refugees: Some of you attended the concert on April 23, 2016 that was produced by the Royal City Ambassadors in partnership with Holy Rosary and St. Andrew's. Proceeds were split 3 ways and the Ambassadors delivered a cheque to St. Andrew's last week for $1,850.00.

These two contributions bring our total to over $57,000.00! Let's keep praying for the refugees.

Click here to download a pdf of the entire text
of this May 22, 2016 announcement

Sample Letter to Send to Lloyd Longfield, MP
April 11, 2016: from the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

When we visited Lloyd Longfield's office last week, one thing he mentioned that might help our refugee cause is for people to write letters to him so he could have them to say he has received _________(number of letters) from his constituents. This information will be very valuable to him as a member of the Refugee and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons.

Please sign the letter. Typing your name and address is sufficient and send it to the email address at the top of the letter.

Thanks for your help with this.
Paul, Rick, and Joanne

Click here to download Sample Letter - Word file

Click here to download Sample letter - PDF file

Letter to Lloyd Longfield, MP - March 31, 2016

Extract from the 3-page letter:
... We are extremely disappointed to hear and read recently that the Canadian government has left the registration centres in both Lebanon and Jordan. We are hoping that you and the Liberal government will find a solution for the backlog so that Syrians can continue to settle in Canada and so that all of the groups who have been working to help them settle can get a family. Our group wants to use the BVOR Syrian refugee programme. ...

To read the letter in its entirety, Click to
Download the PDF file of the 3-page here

The Royal City Ambassadors in partnership with
Holy Rosary Parish Community and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
present on Saturday, April 23, 2016

Concert in
Support of Refugees

Click here to download the Event Poster
(PDF file)


concert poster


Announcement to the St. Andrew's Congregation
by Paul Harrison on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

March 10, 2016

This past Monday morning, Paul and Joanne both spoke with Rob Shropshire (PWS&D) in his office in Toronto. He can't say for sure but there should be new refugee lists coming out from Citizenship and Immigration Canada in mid-March (quite soon) and he says hopefully Syrian families will be listed. He will contact us as soon as he has a family for us to consider sponsoring.

We know this is still very uncertain but we must remember how uncertain this all must be for the family that we will eventually sponsor, and for all the other families who will be coming to Canada. PWS&D, the Muslim Groups, and other sponsors in Canada cannot control this. You may have heard about some sponsors getting word that their family is coming on a certain date and then that changes; they arrive unexpectedly earlier or some have not yet arrived. We know of one Guelph group where the family arrived in two parts which was different from what the sponsors were told at the beginning .... the grandparents arrived later and, of course, all has turned out fine. So, we need to be patient and as ready as we can be whenever our family arrives.

Announcement to the St. Andrew's Congregation
by Paul Harrison on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

January 31, 2016

Just a brief update…

Things are moving slowly but they are moving. Rob Shropshire was not in his PWSD Toronto office until January 13, and he had some catching up to do.

Our application forms arrived last week, just before we left for Ottawa. The government forms are now slightly different and we are filling them out. Some of your names will appear on the government forms if you signed up to help. We will let you know if we would like to use your name. Citizenship and Immigration Canada wants to know that there is enough money and enough helpers for this project. Rob Shropshire's name is on our forms as the National Presbyterian contact and he will be the one dealing with the refugee family lists when they come to him.

We are fortunate that our 3 churches plus friends have raised enough money to support a family -- we want a somewhat larger family as we don't want to separate generations. The first Estill family of 7 people is due to arrive at the end of February with housing starting March 1, so the arrival of their first family has taken them a long time too.

As you will have read in Prayers and Blessings, we are hosting a meeting here in the church hall this Thursday, February 4 at 7 pm. This meeting is for anyone, who has indicated on the volunteer computer list or personally, that they want to help with the refugees. We have all the volunteer names from the 3 churches, St. Andrews, First Baptist and Knox.

The coordinators of the various groups will be here and it will be an opportunity to meet each other and discuss group responsibilities. Depending on how you answered the questionnaire, your name may appear on more than one list and that is fine.

Finally, just another reminder that all helpers need the "working with vulnerable people" police check. You can get the form here from Shainna and Joanne and I have some. It is quite easy to fill in and you return it to Shainna who will take the forms to the police station and you will eventually get that back. First Baptist is also offering this service. There is no cost to you if you go through a church directly rather than the police station. Thanks.

We will be at coffee if you have any questions.

Additional Announcement by Rick McRonald
on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

All of the pledges have been confirmed – i.e., paid in full or installments begun
• Additional gifts have been received where there was no pledge,
• Our partners at Knox have just begun fundraising and report that they have about $6,755.00 so far,
• That makes a total of $44,102.16! Praise the Lord!!
• This means that we have surpassed our original goal of $35,000.00 -$40,000.00 -– which was based on a family of 5, and we are well on our way to being able to support a larger family as we had hoped to be able to do.

Click here to download a pdf of the entire text
of this January 31, 2016 announcement

January 9, 2016 -- The Refugee Support Team wishes to let all those who have signed up to help out with the refugees to fill out a Volunteer Screening form. You can pick up the forms from Shainna in the church office. Completed forms need to be returned to Shainna. There is no cost to you for the screening.
You will read more about this in Prayers and Blessings and on the Refugee bulletin board in the church hall.

Update re donation of goods
January 9, 2016

Donations for Syrian refugees are once again being received at the Salvation Army location on Victoria Road at the corner of York Rd. This is the other side of the Len's Mill Store plaza .... across from and slightly east of Tim Horton's. Donations are invited weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The organization of this initiative is being coordinated by the Rotary clubs for the Salvation Army with help from many other volunteers. Clothes are still very welcome; however items most needed at this point are pots and pans and cutlery. Volunteers are putting together kitchen starter boxes. They are fairly well supplied with plates, but other cooking, serving and table items are particularly needed. More furniture will be needed in future; but space is limited, so organizers would prefer that it not be donated until an additional storage/sorting location is secured.

Announcement to the St. Andrew's Congregation
January 3, 2016

Donations of goods for Syrian refugees: Many have offered donations of furniture, household goods, etc. for Syrian refugees. St. Andrew's has no place to store such items so, we were cooperating with the Muslim Society and the Salvation Army, asking folks to deliver goods to the Salvation Army warehouse on Victoria Road.
The response from the community-at-large has been so great that the warehouse is full! Therefore, until further notice, no further donations can be accepted. We will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, see the following story from the Guelph Mercury:

Announcement to the St. Andrew's Congregation
by Paul Harrison on behalf of the St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

December 20, 2015

On behalf of your refugee committee, I want to give you an update on recent refugee developments.

Last Monday we attended a meeting with interested people at Knox. The outcome was that Knox would like to partner with us and to that end Rick has been invited to speak at Knox sometime in the New Year. This means that now we are partnered not just with First Baptist but also with fellow Presbyterians and together we ought to be able to sponsor a somewhat larger family, although that is yet to be determined.

On Tuesday night we returned to Knox for another meeting, this time with Rob Shropshire, the PWS&D refugee coordinator from Toronto. He is an amazing individual, very well equipped for his huge task and right of top of the latest developments. And this is not an easy task as the new government is over-hauling some elements of its predecessor's refugee programme in an attempt to streamline the movement of Syrian refugees.

At the present time there are no new Syrian refugees on the approved Blended Visa/BVOR list and it won't be until probably sometime in January that new listings will be made available.

I managed to speak by phone with Rob on Thursday to get clarification of a few key points from his Tuesday night presentation. He told me that, yes, St. Andrew's is already on his refugee list and that he will be sending us the required application by email in a few days. This very calm man is literally run off his feet. So, as soon as the official forms arrive, we can begin to fill them out with all of the appropriate information. Once Rob receives our completed application he will enter it into his file and will inform us when a suitable family is available and when we agree to that family, he will add their name to the top of our completed application form. All of this takes approximately ONE to FOUR months so we cannot say at this point when our Blended Visa/BVOR family arrive here in Guelph. That's where we are at the moment. We will keep you all informed with what we are doing on your behalf. There is a system to follow and we will do just that.

Right now we need to proceed thoughtfully, patiently and prayerfully. Thank you very much.

Click here to download a pdf of the entire text
of this December 20, 2015 announcement

Help Needed to Receive our Refugee Family

Dear Friends,

As you know, St. Andrew's is sponsoring a refugee family, probably from Syria. We thank you for your generous donations and support. Now is the time to give you an opportunity to help with some of the jobs leading up to the family's arrival and the early weeks of settlement.

The Committee is using a free software program called VolunteerSpot, a volunteer organizational tool to assist the Sponsorship Committee to involve the congregation in this project. Your help is urgently needed.

The survey consists of a list of tasks like taking the family to the dentist, helping with grocery shopping, setting up bank accounts, and tutoring adults and/or children. To complete the survey now, click on the button below which will take you to the survey. Fill in your name, email address, and phone number at the top of the page, and then check those spots which interest you. Don't forget to save your choices. Information will be compiled by the committee, and you'll be contacted at a later date.

VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone.
If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact Sheilagh at and she will sign you up manually.

St. Andrew's Refugee Sponsorship Committee

St. Andrew's Refugee Fact Sheet - November 1 2015
(1-page document)

Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) website:
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is an official Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This enables Presbyterian congregations to sponsor refugees to resettle in Canada. PWS&D advocates for refugees through a number of Canadian refugee advocacy groups, including the Canadian Council for Refugees.
Click here to view the PWS&D refugee sponsorship url:

Refugee Sponsorship Pledge Form

Click here for 1-page Word doc

Click here for 1-page PDF version

Blended Visa Office-Referred (VOR) Program (2-page brochure)
A program designed to resettle refugees identified by UNHCR and submitted to Canadian visa offices abroad
This program responds by offering protection to refugees and providing them with a chance for a new life in Canada
For more information on the program and on specific VOR profiles, contact: Felisa Ponce
Refugee Resettlement Project Worker
Toll Free: 1-877-290-1701
416-290-1700, ext. 403

The Blended VOR Initiative
(1-page document)
Presbyterian congregations interested in sponsoring refugees under the Blended VOR Program should contact Rob Shropshire at
or phone (416) 441-1111 or 1-800-619-7301, x249.
Rob will provide profiles of available cases and information about how to apply under The Presbyterian Church in Canada's sponsorship agreement with the federal government.

Lifeline Syria- Frequently Asked Questions (12-page document)
What is the sponsorship process with Lifeline Syria?
Lifeline Syria will recruit, train and assist sponsor groups to welcome and support 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the GTA over the next two years. We will work with the Syrian community in the GTA to link refugee families with potential sponsorship groups and we will work with governments at all levels to ensure that these sponsorships are approved quickly. Most often, we will work with organizations who now hold contracts with the federal government (Sponsorship Agreement Holders - SAHs) and link them to local groups interested in sponsoring refugees.

Costs of Refugee Sponsorship
(2-page document)
Although the cost of living varies from one region to another, the table in this attachment can assist the sponsoring group in estimating the cost involved in sponsoring a refugee family for 12 months.

Refugee Sponsorship Budget Worksheet (2-page document)
Note: You will need to submit a budget for your sponsorship indicating funds available and anticipated expenses. The attachement's worksheet is provided for you to use if helpful.

For more information, contact the MOCC at St. Andrew's by email:

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