The Opportunity Knox Refugee Sponsorship Group is thrilled to announce that it has reached and surpassed its goal to raise the approximately $40,000 needed to bring four Syrian refugees to safety in the Vankleek Hill area.

“As I look back over the year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this little community, and I’m amazed by all the hard work that has been done by so many community members,” says Lisa Jennings, a member of the Opportunity Knox steering committee.

“As of today, our new total is $42,571.61!  It was wonderful to see how everyone pulled together, and we have met (and become friends with) some fantastic people.  We have had several successful fundraisers, and have received many generous financial and in-kind donations from businesses and individuals within the community and beyond.  Thank you so much to everyone who has organized fundraisers, given their valuable time to pitch in, supported us, and donated funds and articles to get us to this point!”

Refugee update

Opportunity Knox is sponsoring four Syrian refugees, Samih, Mekael, Jiana and little Nabil.  They are all currently living in Lebanon and are waiting to hear more from Immigration Canada.  Their applications have been submitted, each refugee now has a registered file number, and the files have been sent to visa offices in Beirut.  The hard part is now waiting to hear more news from Immigration Canada.

“Sadly, we have been told that it could be a long wait before Immigration reaches the next step in their applications, due to a significant backlog of refugee applicant cases overseas,” says Jennings.  “We are anxious to meet Mekael, Jiana, Nabil and Samih, and are looking forward to welcoming them to our little corner of Canada.  We think of them every day and are in contact often.”

Moving forward to Phase Two!

Thanks to the overwhelming support received from the community, Opportunity Knox has decided to continue fundraising, and has committed to another sponsorship.

“We are very excited about our next project,” says Jennings.

“This is a different type of sponsorship, called a BVOR (Blended Visa Office Referral), and is a joint partnership between the Canadian Government, the UN Refugee Agency, and Opportunity Knox.”  The amount needed to sponsor is less (approximately $15,000 for a family of four), because monthly expenses are shared equally between the government and the sponsorship group.  In addition, the refugees are travel-ready, which will hopefully mean they arrive in the not too distant future.

“Our first fundraiser for this new project is to be the ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ Radio Presentation by the Arbor Gallery Cultural Group this Sunday, February 17 at Knox Church.  We are so happy and grateful that the group has chosen to support us,” says Jennings.  “50% of the proceeds will go towards our new sponsorship.  Hope to see you there!”

Opportunity Knox is very grateful to have the backing of a local church.  Sponsorship without a community partner is a difficult thing to do, and so the group is very appreciative that Knox Presbyterian Church of Vankleek Hill has agreed to continue supporting the latest project.

If you would like more information about Opportunity Knox, if you have questions, or if you would like to help or make a donation, the group can be reached at [email protected].