Chilliwack Cares to hold public meeting Thursday

They're mobilizing help for Syrian refugees from local faith communities, business people and musicians

Vern Tompke has been mobilizing help for Syrian refugees under the Chilliwack Cares banner. They're coordinating efforts among local faith communities

People are coming to city hall Thursday night to talk about ways to help refugees in a concerted way.

A public meeting organized by Chilliwack Cares is set for Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal hall.

“It’s to pull people together around the refugee issue, and present some ideas,” said spokesperson Vern Tompke of Chilliwack Cares.

A pastor with Vineyard Community Church, Tompke has been trying to mobilize help for Syrian refugees from local faith communities, business people and musicians.

Jennifer Mpungu from Mennonite Central Committee will be at city hall Thursday as one of the speakers.

“At MCC they have the experience and the expertise to help us do this.

“Together let’s show that Chilliwack cares,” he said.

The public meeting is for anyone who wants to get involved and looking for some specific ways to do so.

“They can take their good intentions and find a way to channel them,” said Tompke. “Part of the idea is not to silo our efforts, but to coordinate them.”

That way they can get some momentum.

“Our goal isn’t to recreate We Are The World, but we are one part of the puzzle,” he said.

The effort will be two-fold. First direct most of the funding for groups planning to sponsor refugees, and bring them to Chilliwack. Second, direct some funding for people languishing in refugee camps overseas.

“There’s a huge need in the camps in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.”

Donations to refugee camps will be matched with federal funds.

“So any money we provide goes further.”

They’re challenging musicians to put on live shows as fundraisers in the Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 window, and challenging churches to donate Christmastime offerings.

“It’s a human response to a global crisis. People with the same heartbeat are moved by what they see of the plight of these people, and now they can get involved in ways that fit.

“It’s not the compassion Olympics. It’s more about how do we do this in a concerted and effective way.”

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