New Canadians are arriving in Kingston and KEYS needs your help!

(KINGSTON, December 11, 2018) - During the month of December, KEYS Job Centre will be welcoming 45 people from a variety of countries including Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. This is par for the course for the team at KEYS, who have seen more than 250 refugees arrive in the past two years. Along with Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), the necessary supports are in place to assist these newcomers to find homes and settle in their new community.

Volunteers and donors play a big role in welcoming the government-assisted refugees that arrive via KEYS. According to Madeleine Nerenberg, Manager, Newcomer Services, they are essential ingredients to the success of newcomers’ transition from their country to ours. “We really couldn’t do it without the financial and volunteer support from the community,” she says as she recounts a story of two recent gifts. “The Catholic Archdiocese and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints in Glenburnie both surprised us last week with generous gifts of winter clothing and household goods. This is a tremendous show of generosity and an example of how supportive the Kingston community continues to be.”  

Volunteer on family support teams

The latest arrival of newcomers presents an opportunity for Kingstonians to volunteer with family support teams. Nerenberg notes that more than 150 people have already stepped forward to serve on support teams in the last two years. Even newcomers themselves have volunteered to help those who arrived after them. Now she is looking for at least another 30 people to help families.

The role of these volunteers is to support refugee families through their transition and to help them with everyday tasks of life in Canada. It’s a neighbourly role, to draw newcomers into the community and build friendships. A volunteer can help a newcomer by assisting with shopping and learning about Kingston, enjoying social conversation and going to the library, or swimming, or out for tea and coffee, which will help build the confidence of someone who has never experienced Canadian life before. Volunteer commitments are six months to a year and new volunteer orientations occur every month. Register here.

“Befriending newcomers is such a rewarding experience and I feel I am doing something really worthwhile and purposeful. I also learn a lot – about other cultures and about the unbelievable resilience of these remarkable people who have had to overcome mindboggling obstacles to get to Canada. They need us and we need them. I encourage fellow Canadians to consider welcoming newly established refugees as well as those just arriving”, says KEYS family team volunteer Jackie Hassefras.

Donation funds so helpful

For those who don’t have the time to volunteer, another way to help newcomers is through donations of money or gift cards. While KEYS is grateful for all donations, it is not able to accept offers of food, clothing and furniture at this time. As a registered charity, receipts can be issued for donations over $20. Donors can be sure that every dollar they give will be directed to address newcomer needs. Cash, cheque and online donations will go into a fund to support newcomers. Gift cards let the newcomers buy the groceries or goods that suit their family needs.

  • Online donations can be made through Canada Helps.
  • Donations of funds and gift cards can also be brought in to the KEYS office at 182 Sydenham Street, Kingston.

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