News Local

Effort kicks off to help refugees

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

A Syrian man pushes a civilian on a wheelchair as others carry their belongings while crossing back into Syria at the Syrian border crossing of Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian-Turkish border in Idlib Governorate Wednesday.

A Syrian man pushes a civilian on a wheelchair as others carry their belongings while crossing back into Syria at the Syrian border crossing of Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian-Turkish border in Idlib Governorate Wednesday.

 

There hasn’t been many events that has captured the hearts and feelings of the world like the crisis that has been taking place in Europe with the mass exodus of Syrian refugees.

For a lot of people it is just another item on the news cycle.

And then there is Thom Vincent.

“I just sat there after seeing that picture of that boy who passed away on that beach,” said Vincent, local businessman and developer. “It was just a nightmare,and then I’m just sitting there watching the whole flood of refugees, and I thought what can you do?”

It didn’t take long before he realized that he had to do something. Vincent had raised funds before and he thought ‘Let’s raise funds and sponsor a family or two to come to Collingwood.’

It was a tangible solution that he was looking for.

Vincent then hit the phones, calling everyone that he thought might be on board.

“So I went to Elephant Thoughts and talked to Jeremy (Jeremy Rhodes, Elephant Thoughts founder) I wanted to get him on board, it took about 10 seconds,” said Vincent. “ And I said I wanted to use your company as a vehicle from a tax standpoint so that we could get a taxable receipt for donations.”

The die was cast at this point. Now it is a matter of setting up protocols and establishing a committee.

The committee is setting a wide net inviting all of the faith communities to help where they can either with services or helping with the fund-raising.

Guidelines established by the government set financial commitments of $30,000. Vincent has set his sights of welcoming two families to town.

“We have already gone to a sponsorship organization, we fit all of the criteria with the committee that we have,” Vincent said. “These families will be vetted by the federal government and then the sponsorship groups will find the best matches.”

People have already come forward with offers of supplies and services that the group may need, including accommodation.

Vincent’s vision doesn’t stop there.

He is meeting with town council to encourage them to challenge all small towns across Canada to take similar steps

“Here we are as community of 19,500, Here you have Toronto raising money, Mississauga saying they will support 32 families, and then there’s Barrie and the mayor setting up a fund,” said Vincent. “These are all large population areas, so I would like to say can we challenge small town Canada and offer them the template that we have developed so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

“I think it would be great to show the leadership and compassion that Collingwood has.”

For more information see www.collingwoodsyriansponsorship.ca. 



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