New United Way campaign aims to raise urgently needed funds to assist Ukrainian refugees arriving in the Region

By: Sean Sutherland - For KW Now
| Published 04/14/2022


United Way campaign aims to assist Ukrainian refugees through Waterloo Region Relief Fund

'We always say a rising tide raises all boats.' Joan Fisk, CEO, UWWRC

In the weeks since their country was invaded by Russia, millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee, seeking refuge far from home.

With some of those refugees coming to Waterloo Region, the United Way Waterloo Region Communities (UWWRC) has launched a fundraising effort to provide assistance to help Ukrainians settling locally. UWWRC expects around 600 Ukrainian refugees to settle in Waterloo Region.

The campaign launched on April 4, continues until this Sunday and seeks to aid refugees as they cope not only with the loss of their homeland, but also with the struggles of beginning anew in a whole new country.

Joan Fisk, CEO, UWWRC, expressed that while there will be government support for refugees, the money raised through this fund will be going to the more social aspects of settling in Canada.

“This is about helping with related services such as language translation, making social connections, and pointing people in the right direction to help in a multitude of ways,” said Fisk.

Families and Children Facing Challenges

Some of the areas they will be providing aid in are: mental health support, English literacy, help with job applications, as well as assisting families to find schooling for their children.

Fisk said the issue of children arriving in area schools is something they will be working on with their partners. Famlies will be facing challenges together much greater than just a language or a culture barrier. Ukrainian children will also be struggling with fear, separation anxiety, amongst many other potential difficulties.

Refugees Fleeing a Global Disaster

These elements made it important for the campaign to be built around meeting the immediate needs for incoming refugees, especially as the continued war in Ukraine makes staying in the country untenable.

“Why you’re seeing us launch a very targeted fund now is that we are reacting to the incredible urgency that’s been created by this global issue,” said Fisk. “We’re looking at the local way of supporting this dramatically serious global disaster,” she said.

Fisk added that one of the most important elements of the fund is its immediacy. "The campaign could have lasted longer, but in having it end on April 18, it allows the United Way to begin aiding the refugees as soon as possible," she said.

A Campaign Connected to the Community

“We want to take whatever pot of money we raise, process it, and get it out,” Fisk said. “If we made this campaign a month long, what would happen is I might raise more money but I might not be able to get it out as fast.”

In the end, the campaign will be connected to locals. In this way, community ties will be forged with those refugees arriving in the region.

“We’re asking people to support our community. It’s where we live. We always say a rising tide raises all boats. The more we can support those folks, the more we strengthen and enhance the community,” she said.

The campaign runs until April 18. You can contribute to the Waterloo Region Relief Fund to help refugees from the Ukraine at the link below: