So far local residents have pledged more than $20,000 to sponsor refugees to come to Williams Lake.
“We were requested to have $15,000 so we could guarantee sponsorship,” said Sharon Taylor, the interim secretary of the Williams Lake Refugees Sponsorship Group.
Formed this fall, the group has signed on with the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay for sponsorship, working co-ordinator Rev. Elizabeth Huether.
“At most we hope to sponsor one family of three to six people,” Taylor said. “There may be one or two more families if people are able to sponsor more.”
Taylor said the committee is prepared to sponsor people from Syria or Iraq, but said it is more likely those refugees will go to larger cities.
“We would be most able to support immigrants from Latin America, preferably with Spanish as one of their languages, as we have a strong Latino community,” Taylor said.
Sponsorship requires financially, emotionally and socially supporting the refugees for one year.
Their housing, transportation, food, startup costs and extra medical needs such as dental or eyeglass is part of that sponsorship, although some of that can be covered in-kind, as well as some possible training costs.
“We have had amazing support from the community and it is still coming in,” Taylor said. “The support just keeps getting stronger as people are so quick to offer money, even housing.”
Taylor works as a settlement practitioner with the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society Williams Lake Branch and said there are four different free language classes offered a day that are provincially funded.
“We have services here and work here,” she added. “We can support people.”