If you have a basement suite or an extra bedroom going unused in New Westminster, the organizers of local Ukrainian relief efforts would like to hear from you.
So far, two refugee families from Ukraine have been settled in New Westminster, out of about 100 settled in B.C., as citizens of Ukraine flee the Russian invasion.
Rev. Mykhailo Ozorovych of Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church would love to be able to welcome more, but he needs the space to do it.
The church, at 501 Fourth Ave., is serving as a local hub for fundraising and volunteer efforts to help both on the ground in Ukraine and with resettlement efforts locally.
A major push right now is to help people get out of Europe and into Canada by helping with visa applications, plane tickets, paperwork and temporary free accommodation to start.
That’s where basement suites, condos and extra bedrooms come in.
“I’m so grateful to our neighbours that have opened their basements here in the Queen’s Park area,” Ozorovych said.
He’s hoping to be able to find more people in New Westminster to follow suit so newcomers from Ukraine can be settled close by for a two- to three-month transition period. With Holy Eucharist Church acting as a community hub, families can then find the help they need to settle in the community – with Ozorovych and his parishioners to offer spiritual, emotional and practical support in their own language.
Ozorovych is overwhelmed by the way the wider New Westminster has rallied to help.
Since Russia first launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, a church-led fundraising drive has brought in close to $300,000 – an enormous amount of money for a parish that typically sees 100 people at a Sunday service and that operates on an annual budget of half that amount.
In March alone, more than $150,000 worth of medical and tactical supplies were sent to Ukraine; another $50,000 has already been provided in April.
The money has come from church fundraisers, including perogy dinners and a sold-out Easter bake sale, and from fundraisers by other organizations – including two art sale events by New West Artists. It has also included direct donations from the community, with people chipping in to the church’s Help Us Help Ukraine fund.
“That’s the people of New Westminster standing in solidarity with Ukraine,” Ozorovych said.
People have also been chipping in with practical support: offering jobs for newcomers, providing accommodation, and volunteering with everything from perogy-making to coordinating donated goods and supplies.
The central Help Us Help Ukraine website lists 328 “pairs of helping hands” – and those efforts aren’t slowing down.
“It’s all been very great,” Ozorovych said. “It’s been incredibly generous and incredibly beautiful.”
To offer help, services or money to the cause, visit the Help Us Help Ukraine website for all the details.
How to donate money to Ukrainian relief efforts in New Westminster
There are three ways to donate to the Help Us Help Ukraine fund:
- Send e-transfers to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate via Facebook
- Mail a cheque payable to Holy Eucharist Cathedral to 501 Fourth Ave., New Westminster, BC, V3L 1P3