Strathmore resident opens her doors to Ukrainian family

·3 min read

A local Strathmore resident will soon be hosting a family immigrating from Ukraine and are encouraging others to consider opening their homes to do the same.

Heather Vanderveer explained that she was fed up with seeing empty words in posts on social media and decided she wanted to actively make a difference.

“The reason I am so passionate about Ukraine is, in the (early) 1900’s my family immigrated from areas that are now Ukraine. It’s my heritage, so I wanted to do more than just donate money or donate clothes,” said Vanderveer who submitted her name as being open and available to host a family fleeing Ukraine, and would be happy to take in a family for whatever they needed.

“I put (myself) out there and thought whatever happens, happens. If I hear from somebody, great, if I don’t, that is okay too.”

She said it wasn’t long before a family reached out to her expressing interest in having her as their host. Prior to making the agreement to reside together, Vanderveer met with the family online to chat back and forth in order to get to know them and determine whether the arrangement would be a good fit.

After determining that she would be a good fit to host the family, Vanderveer took to Facebook to see if the community would be able to donate articles including a bed, bedding, clothes and toys.

“We have (also) had job offers for both parents already, so it has just been fabulous to see the community coming together,” said Vanderveer. “I want to encourage more people in Strathmore – if they can host, please do it. There are so many more families coming and there’s such a need for these spaces.”

Hosting, she explained, is not at all like having family members visit who need to be entertained. The responsibility is to provide a space where they can be warm, safe and stage themselves for success in Canada.

“They’re going to need SIN numbers and driver’s licenses and where to get a doctor – the day-to-day things that are challenging if you don’t speak the language,” said Vanderveer.

Upon their arrival, the family who will be residing with Vanderveer will be required to quarantine for two weeks before integrating into the community.

For those who may be interested in hosting, there are options available to make clear whether it will be for a certain amount of time.

For Vanderveer, she said she would rather the family she is hosting feel like they do not need to rush to find work and alternative accommodation.

“For me personally, when I put in to host, (you are) asked how long you can host for, like one month, two months, three months. I put the maximum because I don’t want this family to come and then feel that they have a need to move on right away,” said Vanderveer. “There’s so much that we can’t even imagine as Canadians like having to quickly uproot from your country and having to come to a new one and immediately find jobs.”

More information about how to host is available through the Alberta and Canada websites.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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