The words welcome home take on a deeper meaning when spoken to one of the more than 150 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Lethbridge since January 2016. The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta hopes to make their transition to a new life smoother through a $50,000 Welcome Fund grant to Lethbridge Family Services (LFS) Immigrant Services. The announcement was made at the World Refugee Day event, held by LFS, on June 20. (Learn more about the Welcome Fund below.)
“We are happy to join community foundations across the country in supporting refugee settlement efforts,” says Dennis Hatt, Community Foundation President. “After receiving $25,000 from the Community Foundations of Canada’s Welcome Fund, our Board decided to contribute as part of our ongoing celebration of our 50th year. Along with a contribution from the Bruce McKillop Endowment Fund, which brings our total gift equals to $50,000. We partnered with Lethbridge Family Services to ensure this funding will have the greatest impact possible.”
The $25,000 from the Welcome Fund will be used towards housing needs, while the Community Foundation’s $25,000 contribution will be spent on much-needed children’s shoes, as well as bicycles for the children and families.
“One of the Community Foundation’s primary goals is to build an inclusive community and promote a strong sense of belonging for all residents,” explains Charleen Davidson, Community Foundation Executive Director. “In addition to the funds that we received for housing needs, we are happy to support the purchase of bicycles, as a mode of transportation. This will give adults more independence and freedom; they can ride to work or to school, do some shopping, and explore the city. For the children, bicycles bring the promise of a fun-filled summer spent riding around the neighbourhood with their new friends. Similarly, by making sure that all the children have proper footwear, we’re helping them to get outside and join the fun.”
The Welcome Fund was established by the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) in December 2015 to address the urgent gap for permanent and affordable housing for Syrian refugees. The fund was seeded by Manulife, and quickly augmented by CN’s $5 million donation, as well as by generous support from GM. The fund works in partnership with community foundations to allocate funds to local settlement non-profits and charities, working in collaboration with other community leaders.