It has been just over two months since the DJC-sponsored newcomer family first arrived in Canada on March 20! Once the immediate settlement tasks were completed, we went about finding the family a permanent home. Since moving day, a tireless team of DJC volunteers has helped to orient, connect and settle them in their new neighbourhood, and we hope that this brief update will show you how your generous contributions of time and money have already made a huge difference in seven new Canadians’ lives.
Liat organized a two-day-long move on May 7 and 8 with the help of mom, dad and thirteen other volunteers. The amazing couple who had accommodated the family in their home while we secured the apartment, watched the kids. The primary task was to move all of the DJC community’s generous donations from storage to the new apartment. An apartment’s worth of donated goods sat in a locker generously donated by Real Storage for almost 18 months, so job number one was to clean everything before it went into the moving truck!
On moving day one, the coffee-fuelled crew hauled, schlepped, cleaned, unpacked and assembled from 9:30am to 6pm. One crew, including dad, met at Real Storage and moved the donated furniture and household items (everything from dishes to lamps to TVs to toys and books for the kids) into the moving truck generously donated by Your Friend with a Cube Van (YFCV). The owner of YFCV not only volunteered his truck but also his time for the move, as he has previously done on two occasions when the DJC community collected donations of larger furniture.
The second crew, including mom, met at the apartment and began cleaning, including all the windows and the dishes. The two crews together unloaded the moving truck and volunteer cars, which carried the smaller items. The volunteers were able to enjoy lunch, provided in part by a $100 donation from Loblaws at Leslie and Eastern, on the sunny balcony. The afternoon continued with more cleaning and unpacking as well as laundering items and assembling of beds, wardrobes and shelves. Having left some pieces of the beds in the storage locker (oops!), the crews called it a day.
On day two, a few returning volunteers got the missing pieces from the locker, completed furniture assembly, took delivery of all the family’s brand new mattresses, and helped move the family’s personal belongings from the house into their new apartment. The kids made their beds and dug around in the boxes and bags for new toys and books. They clearly enjoyed this seemingly small thing tremendously: having their own duvet covers with designs that they picked out themselves. Mom and dad, surrounded by boxes, wearing smiles, and with homemade coffee in hand, set about settling in. In sum, the move is a success shared by many generous and hard-working mensches in DJC community! We turned an empty apartment into a home and a launch pad for seven new Canadians’ lives.
“Kol hakavod,” as Evelyn said to Liat, “for coordinating such a huge job.” Amen!
In the time since moving day, Diana, who is a former teacher, arranged to register the older kids for school and found English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for the parents at a facility that has an onsite daycare for the younger children. The kids have been in school since May 11 and, as of June 5, both parents (and the two little ones) are now attending daily classes! Liat and Diana are monitoring the kids’ progress in school and Liat and her daughters are helping the kids with their homework and English on a weekly basis in June. Allen helped the family set up cell phone and internet service and familiarized them with online banking so they can monitor and manage their finances. Deborah has been collecting and delivering most of the clothing needed by the family and has taken dad shopping to fill in the gaps. Deborah also dropped off new car seats and showed dad how to use them so that the family can accept rides with the kids as needed. Sharron delivered three donated bicycles to the kids and took them shopping for helmets as well as a number of other needed items. The kids love being out on their bikes! JoAnne and Margot have arranged and accompanied mom, dad and the kids to many medical and dental appointments over the past several weeks. After years without seeing a dentist, dental needs had accumulated and ensuring these are addressed has been a primary focus for Margot since the move. Eve-Lynn has been orienting the family to the community, including the local library, and reading with the kids.
Kathy and Sharron, as co-coordinators of the settlement team, with terrific support from the team leads, ensure things are running smoothly and seamlessly for the family, any needs are addressed, the committee is kept up-to-date, finances are tracked and next steps are contemplated.
The DJC Social Justice Committee infrastructure has served the volunteer team and family well. The online calendar seems to work universally well for everyone – including the family! – making scheduling easy. Quick settlement reports mean that we can all stay up to date and ensure the family’s needs are met without duplicating effort. Teleconferences every four to six weeks help the larger group stay connected to the core of volunteers who interact with the family most often.
The Social Justice Committee wishes the entire community a happy, healthy and beautiful summer! We are currently planning an event for the DJC community to welcome the family this summer. Stay tuned for details! To get involved and if you have any questions, you can reach the committee leadership by email anytime at djcSocialJustice@gmail.com.