The Wel­come Col­lec­tive first ever “Fun”Raiser

Montreal Times - - News -

The Wel­come Col­lec­tive will be host­ing their first e v e r “FUN”RAISER tak­ing place on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 4th at 7pm at Mandy’s Old Mon­treal (425 St. Ni­co­las).

Af­ter close to a year of good samar­i­tans do­ing good deeds for the refugee and asy­lum-seek­ing fam­i­lies in Mon­treal, the board is proud to an­nounce the launch of their non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion– The Wel­come Col­lec­tive. Es­tab­lished in early 2018, the Wel­come Col­lec­tive works with in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties across Mon­treal, as­sist­ing asy­lum seek­ers in gath­er­ing the es­sen­tial items they need to live and to in­te­grate into their new home. The board was cre­ated by a group of con­cerned cit­i­zens in the sum­mer of 2017 as a pi­lot project orig­i­nally called Ac­ceuil Refu­gies de Mon­treal.

Af­ter get­ting in­volved and be­ing paired up with an asy­lum-seek­ing fam­ily in Novem­ber 2017, the Mandys Salad sis­ters got heav­ily in­volved in help­ing find wel­come fam­i­lies, as well as us­ing their so­cial me­dia plat­form to spread the word and gather do­na­tions and vol­un­teers. With the help of the YMCA so­cial work­ers, sev­eral lo­cal phil­an­thropic foun­da­tions, lawyers, and other com­mit­ted board mem­bers, the Wel­come Col­lec­tive is of­fer­ing a help­ing hand to the city’s most vul­ner­a­ble new­com­ers.

Asy­lum seek­ers of­ten ar­rive in Canada with lit­tle or no pos­ses­sions and can ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­cul­ties when at­tempt­ing to ac­cess so­cial ser­vices.The Wel­come Col­lec­tive works with its part­ners, the YMCA and the Trot­tier Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, as well as sev­eral lo­cal com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, to pri­or­i­tize vul­ner­a­ble new­com­ers and form their “Wel­come Groups”. A Wel­come Group can be a fam­ily, friend group, col­leagues, or even a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual. Each group is paired with a new­comer fam­ily to help them gather in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal cul­ture, so­cial as­sis­tance, and es­sen­tial items that they need for their new home such as; fur­ni­ture, kitchen items, and clothes, to name but a few.

The idea of the col­lec­tive first came to light in the sum­mer of 2017 when lo­cal doc­tors no­ticed an in­flux of asy­lum­seek­ing women giv­ing birth in Mon­treal hos­pi­tals and go­ing back to empty apart­ments with their new­borns, and quite of­ten with a brood of other chil­dren. A pi­lot project was formed to help find do­na­tions for these vul­ner­a­ble women and chil­dren. As ex­plained by Mandy Wolfe “Af­ter meet­ing a few fam­i­lies on paired up mis­sions, we were in­tro­duced to dozens more fam­i­lies, kids, sin­gle moms, preg­nant women telling us their sto­ries, their sit­u­a­tion, what they needed most, ev­ery­day es­sen­tials like mat­tresses, di­a­pers, strollers, cut­lery, win­ter jack­ets, boots! We saw them walk­ing out­side in t-shirts and flip flops in 15 de­gree weather.

We took down their in­for­ma­tion and rented trucks, as­sem­bled vol­un­teer driv­ers and movers, an­nounced the ur­gency of the sit­u­a­tion over our restau­rant’s so­cial me­dia plat­forms, and col­lected hun­dreds of do­na­tions that we amassed in our var­i­ous lo­ca­tions over the hol­i­day sea­son. Our goal was to make sure that ev­ery­one we had met was taken care of in terms of their ba­sic needs when they moved out of the shel­ter and into their own apart­ments. A hand­ful of them are still friends of ours, we have them over for din­ner and vice versa.

Some are even em­ployed full time with us at our restau­rant! “

To date, The Wel­come Col­lec­tive has helped over 150 fam­i­lies feel at home in their new com­mu­ni­ties in Mon­treal. Their pur­pose comes from the peo­ple they help.“The un­der­ly­ing mis­sion was so heart­warm­ing and mean­ing­ful to us – we felt that we had been ex­posed to this huge move­ment of peo­ple both want­ing to help out, and in des­per­ate need of help.We couldn’t just do­nate once and walk away, and that’s how The Wel­come Col­lec­tive was formed.”

– Re­becca Wolfe.

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