On Thursday, October 1, the Ottawa Community Foundation helped launch the United for Refugees initiative, the fundraising component of a local collaborative humanitarian effort to mobilize for the sponsorship and settlement of people affected by the Syrian crisis. As you may be aware from media reports, more than 1,000 citizens turned up for the public forum at City Hall.

Together with the City of Ottawa, United Way Ottawa and Refugee 613, the Community Foundation has committed to doing all we can to assist in responding to this dire situation as it unfolds locally.

While United Way Ottawa is conducting a public fundraising campaign, and Refugee 613 is providing links for those interested in sponsorship, volunteering and advocacy, the Foundation felt the best asset and resource we could provide is working with you, and providing our own intimate community knowledge and the agility to respond immediately and directly to critical needs in a cohesive, efficient manner.

The Ottawa Community Foundation has a long and proud history of helping newcomers through our support of local agencies and initiatives. For those of you who would like to participate, we can share that funds raised either through the United Way campaign or our own collaboration with you will be used to:

  • support local groups in their effort to mobilize Ottawa residents to sponsor and welcome refugees;
  • provide advice, training and assistance to sponsors to help them navigate sponsorship applications;
  • develop an assurance fund to reduce barriers to sponsoring refugees and unexpected expenses related to the refugees themselves;
  • provide comprehensive, community-based supports for refugees once they arrive, such as trauma counselling, settlement assistance and targeted integration programs for children and youth;
  • and promote employer engagement in hiring and training refugees.

Given how fluid the situation is, we anticipate this will be an ongoing need, so there will be many opportunities to participate in the future if that suits you better. More immediately, the needs reside in the mobilization of resources and sponsorship arenas.

If you are a current donor who is interested in using your Community Foundation fund to support this initiative and would like to discuss ways you can help those affected, please contact any of the following members of our Development and Donor Services team:

  • Bibi Patel, Vice-President, 613-236-1616 ext. 226/bpatel@cfo-fco.ca.
  • Daniel Brunette, Director, Development and Donor Services, 613-236-1616, ext. 224/dbrunette@cfo-fco.ca.
  • Janet Adams, Senior Associate, Development and Donor Services, 613-236-1616, ext. 231/jadams@cfo-fco.ca.
  • Barry Lam, Associate, Development and Donor Services, 613-236-1616, ext. 306/blam@cfo-fco.ca.

If you would like to make a direct donation to support this cause, please click here or on the Donate Now button at the top of this page and select the Refugees from Syria fund from our list of featured funds.