About 50 community leaders attended The Power of Small: Refugees Welcome cafe-style forum on Nov. 19 put on by Mission Community Services Society (MCSS) at Martin’s Downtown.
Stories of refugees from Syria and the Congo were told by Mission newcomers Alex Kabala (Congo) and Ismail Al-Youssef (Syria) as they made their way from strife to the safety of Mission.
Volunteers and faith groups spoke at the forum to help create a better understanding of what is happening with the 24 refugees/permanent residents in the community.
Volunteers Lesley Drown and Ann Murdoch outlined the volunteer challenges when managing support from the community, ranging from offering rides to storing furniture.
Parkside Church Pastor Clint Nelson explained how his church sponsorship for the Congolese worked, and how long-term volunteer commitment is as important as the funding.
Karl Rhebergen of Mission World Renew International Church told the crowd about the soon-to-arrive-in-Mission Iraqi family and what expectations his congregation had with the project.
Manager of newcomer services, Karen Laing, said the settlement program at MCSS switched into a different gear with the arrival of refugees while serving the traditional stream of newcomers.
“What makes us great is the power of small. We turn our advantages into opportunities,” she said.