Mount Pleasant residents and businesses are coming together this week for the annual Savour our Neighbourhood event, raising money to help refugee children and families starting a new life in Vancouver.
All the money raised at the event, which is in its sixth year, will go to the Mount Pleasant Family Centre and specifically its work supporting newcomers to Canada and refugee families with small children.
The centre’s Circles of Care and Connection program aims to bridge the gap that refugee families experience in accessing services in their communities with a focus on families with children six or younger.
Staff at the centre provides outreach services to those refugee families with a focus on early childhood development and parenting in Canada.
The program is based at the Immigrant Services Society (ISS) of B.C.’s Vancouver Welcome Centre where it includes a busy playroom and family drop-in program, the Welcome to Canada program, which provides orientation to life in Canada, as well as parent education and workshops on various topics. It works to ensure the refugee children and their families have knowledge and access to the resources they need to successfully integrate into their new home in Canada.
Refugee families usually spend the first few weeks in Canada living at the Welcome Centre before moving into a home. Gini Bonner, Mount Pleasant Family Centre executive director, said outreach staff continue to work with the families that are able to stay in Vancouver as long as they have children under the age of six. Outreach workers help families connect with their new community, provide advocacy and referrals to other services when needed, support in accessing early childhood development and elementary school resources, and organize field trips and special events.
The team aims to provide consistent and reliable relationships that foster confidence, decrease isolation and support parents.
Bonner said that the goal of this year’s event is to raise $40,000 for the program.
The sixth annual Savour our Neighbourhood is set for Thursday, March 7 at Heritage Hall (3120 Main St.). This year’s event includes catering by Tayybeh, an award-winning local food company and social enterprise that supports Syrian women who have recently arrived in Canada.
The evening will be hosted by local performer Jo Dworsha and will also feature live entertainment by Vancouver comedian Charlie Demers.
Tickets cost $80 and are available through Eventbrite.