FUNDRAISING EFFORTS:Bev McMullen
BRACEBRIDGE – Two Syrian families, now in Lebanon, are destined for Bracebridge and it is taking a community to get them here.
The Central Muskoka Community Syrian Relief committee and its partners have been fundraising steadily to bring two families to Bracebridge and it is hoped that an upcoming dinner on April 1 at St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School will tip the scale in the group’s favour. There are two seatings for the dinner at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
Committee member and one of the organizers for the event Gord Nielsen said the school has been a great supporter of their initiative with fundraising efforts.
“The students and the staff have been tremendously engaged in this whole process,” he said. “They’ve offered up their school and the assistance of their hospitality group and students to be preparing the food.”
The dinner has a middle-eastern theme and features dishes including the traditional Arabic salad tabbouleh, an Arabic meat dish Shawarma, Syrian meatballs, Syrian lamb meat pie, and the sweet pastry baklava.
“It will be a very interesting dinner and a great way for the community to come out in support of this initiative both financially and in terms of offering support,” said Nielsen.
In addition to a need for big appetites, the committee is also looking for donations to the silent auction held the night of the dinner.
Nielsen said the fundraising dinner actually serves two purposes. One is “an opportunity for us to get very close to the finish line” in terms of fundraising, and secondly, it provides an opportunity for other members in the community, outside of the committee to find away to assist by supporting the dinner and auction.
Thanks to the support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough, the committee has two families lined up to move to Bracebridge and, although things are at a standstill at the moment, they could arrive as early as late spring. Temporary accommodation has been lined up in the event their arrival is sooner or on short notice.
The committee is comprised of representatives from the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, the Rotary Club of Bracebridge Muskoka Lakes, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Knox Presbyterian Church, St. Thomas Anglican Church, St. Marks Parish of Muskoka Lakes Anglican Church in Milford Bay, Trinity St. Albans Anglican in Bala, All Saints Anglican in MacTier, and the Harvest Bible Chapel of Muskoka.
The families are a family of five that is comprised of a mother, father, two young children and a mother-in-law and the other a family of six with mom and dad, two teenaged daughters, a 28-year-old son and his spouse.
Although Nielsen wouldn’t say what their target figure would be, he said it is higher than the government recommendation, which is $27,000 for a family of four. Because the families are larger, the estimated cost of apartment rentals is higher than in the government model, and with the committee’s desire to build in some contingency, the “fundraising objective is a fair bit more than the $54,000 that would be for two families of four.”
More information on the families themselves will be revealed at the fundraising dinner.
The extent of the English language skills of the arriving families are also unclear at this time. Nielsen said they have had some emailed communication and they seem to have “fairly modest English skills at the present time.”
The committee is working with the Bracebridge United Church, which has identified English as a second language teachers to help with the adult’s English skills. The boards of education are equipped to assist the school-aged children.
Nielsen said the committee has learned a lot along the way.
“I think when you do something like this you have to take some leaps of faith. You don’t have all the answers on exactly how this is going to transpire and, as families arrive, we learn new things every day,” he said. “What’s important, I think, is that those families are greeted in a community that is welcoming to them and after that everything is easily enough figured out.”
Tickets are $25, children under five eat free, and must be purchased in advance. For tickets, more information or to make a donation contact Gord Nielsen at 705-644-9590, Rev. John Young at 705-641-8997, Linda http://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/6405909-dinner-in-bracebridge-brings-aid-to-pull-11-people-from-crisis/Brouillette at 705-645-6724, or St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School at 705-646-8772.