September is rapidly approaching and TRAC is ramping up for another exciting year. This summer, our team, led by TRAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Andrea Rodriguez, has been working on partnering with local organizations to provide volunteer opportunities that fit all commitment levels.
New Hope Community Services is an organization working in Surrey that supports refugee claimants and immigrants through housing, employment, and community. TRAC is partnering with New Hope to establish a settlement team for a recently arrived Government Sponsored refugee family that is living at New Hope.
This opportunity is one of the most involved and rewarding volunteer opportunities available with TRAC. Walking alongside a recently arrived family is the most tangible way to experience mutual learning. TWU alumni Keith and Melissa Reed have taken the step of joining a settlement team to help a refugee family settle in Canada. This is what they have to say about their experience:
“In November of 2015, we were invited to be part of a group of Canadian families who had the goal of sponsoring a refugee family to come to Canada. We rarely follow local news stories and our knowledge of international events is limited, so we knew very little about the worldwide refugee crisis outside of the fact that there was one. However, as we discussed this invitation we knew that our family needed to take action.
Our decision to be part of this sponsorship group is one that we have come to call a decision of cerebral obedience. In our minds, we knew that a worldwide refugee crisis demanded a response of some kind on our part. Our thoughts went to the teachings of Jesus who commanded His followers to love others as themselves and to serve the least of these. In our hearts we felt God calling us to respond in this particular way, so we obeyed.
We anticipated a lot of work and we prepared for it. Since our roles on the team were finances (Keith) and household goods (Melissa), we created spreadsheets and collected blankets, couches and dishes. Our minds were ready to do what needed to be done. Little did we know that when our sponsored family arrived in November 2016 that our cerebral obedience would turn into incredible joy.
When our 6-year-old son learned that our group had finalized a rental suite for the family, something that all of us had been praying for, he joyfully shouted, “God did it!” Despite her expression in the picture, our 4-year-old adores their oldest daughter, loving to climb into her lap, hold her hand, and spend time with her. And this Christmas we were overjoyed to see the family set up a Christmas tree in their home for the first time in 4 years, below it carefully displayed a small nativity set that had travelled with them from Syria to Armenia to Lebanon and now their home in Canada.” - Keith ('03) and Melissa Kroeker ('03) Reed
Joining this team with New Hope is a substantial commitment. There will be challenges and there will also be unexplainable joys. By engaging in this opportunity, you have the ability to impact the lives of this family and the lives of the generations to come. It is also an opportunity to learn and grow in ways you can’t anticipate. Each position has unique responsibilities but the overall purpose of the entire settlement team is to develop relationships, and provide friendship and support for the family as they transition to a new country and culture.
To learn about this volunteer opportunity, and other TRAC volunteer opportunities, visit our volunteer page. If you have questions email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.