October 6, 2020

REALTORS® help refugees settle in Metro Vancouver

Local REALTORS® Vern Jurovich, Andrew Leong, Steven Thom, and their office helped raise $350,000 for refugees fleeing violence and threats find new lives in Metro Vancouver.

These Realtors and their office, Macdonald Realty Westmar, work with Journey Home Community, a charity that for 15 years has provided shelter and support for refugees families as they work through the refugee status process. This was the third year Macdonald Realty Westmar was the main sponsor for the annual Ride for Refuge fundraiser and has also donated a much-needed car.

“I first learned about Journey Home when one of my Realtors asked for help supporting a new refugee,” said Leong. “They need to find homes and I work in the business, so it’s a natural fit and a worthy cause for us to give back to the community.”

In Canada, there are two general types of refugees: those sponsored by the federal government or private groups and arrive here with permanent residence status, and those who have to immediately leave their country of origin due to persecution and threats to their lives. These refugees don’t have time to follow the normal immigration channel, and often arrive without any belongings or documentation.

Unlike sponsored refugees, there’s no official infrastructure to provide basic housing or guidance through the refugee claimant system. This is where Journey Home Community and similar organisations step in.

“These families and individuals often leave on a moments notice to save their lives,” said James Grunau, Executive Director, Journey Home Community. “They’ve been threatened because of their or their family’s political or religious beliefs. When they arrive here, they’re traumatised and don’t know what to do.”

The charity provides refugees with housing and connects them with staff and volunteers who assist with their refugee application and integration into Canadian society. Since they formed 15 years ago, Journey Home Community has helped 800 refugees from 50 countries.

Macdonald Realty Westmar’s relationship with the charity has significantly increased the amount of donations they receive. Along with the sponsorship and car, they contribute their marketing expertise which has helped raise more than $1,120,000 from Ride for Refuge.

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