Álvaro came to Canada as a refugee in 1985. Working with immigrants and refugees became an important part of his professional experience when he moved to Victoria in 1993. His experiences include Community Development Facilitator with the Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) and a part of the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC), where he led a variety of community-based research and development projects, particularly the Community Action Plan on Poverty (2012).
Álvaro’s most recent experience relevant to this new job was with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre (VIRCS), where he worked as the manager of the Settlement Program and as Chair of the Vancouver Island Refugee Response Team. This team was formed to welcome the arrival of almost 900 Syrian refugees on Vancouver Island (2015-17). Besides the successful integration of the Syrian newcomers, this project contributed to strengthen alliances among stakeholders in all of the sectors involved.
He then went to Colombia for a year! His job was to help small organic fruit producers in the development of leadership and organizational skills to improve their productivity and sustainability.
After spending most of her 20s traveling abroad, Andrea found herself wanting to engage with refugee newcomers in the United States. She taught writing classes to refugee women, tutored in people's homes and worked with children for many years.
In 2016, she worked as a co-coordinator for the Vancouver Island Refugee Response Team which enabled settlement for over 500 Syrian refugees to the island in 2016.
She is excited to be working with refugees and involving the community to enable healthy and culturally responsive support for newcomer families.
Tony brings over 50 years of administrative, financial, training and group facilitation experience to his role as coordinator for the northern part of the island. He manages and coordinates the work of over 20 groups spread out geographically from Mill Bay to Port Hardy, and all points in between.
For the past two years, over 65 sponsorship groups were formed to help enable refugee settlement. Being a sponsor is hard work but rewarding work. Our sponsors take care of the details that often go unnoticed: car rides to the dentist for the family, picking up last minute groceries, acquiring backpacks for newcomer children, and the list goes on. Without our sponsors, refugee families would not have homes. We are so very thankful for their work, dedication, and energy to make refugee settlement a possibility.
The Refugee Sponsorship Program has many needs in order for it to run smooth and efficiently. Our volunteers not only provide help with our sponsorship groups and families, but they help in the day-to-day operations. Filing paperwork, answering the telephone, taking photos, coordinating meetings are just a few of the many things our volunteers do. We are so thankful that people are willing to work with us, donating their time and their talents to make refugee sponsorship possible.