CCI’s Community Connections team has begun training sessions for volunteers who will help pilot the new “Circle of Friends” program, which is designed to create support networks for refugees as they settle into their new homes in Ottawa. The trainee volunteers for the first session, held last month, were diverse in professional and cultural backgrounds and included new graduates and recent retirees, all eager to contribute their unique strengths to the project.

The response from Ottawa residents to the call for volunteers has been overwhelming. “We appreciate the patience and diligence of all volunteers as they go through our intake process,” says Community Connections staff member Jody Beeching.

At the session, Community Connections staff provided an overview of the Resettlement process for government assisted refugees (GARs) and led a group discussion relating to the challenges of integration, budgeting, language learning and parenting in a new culture. The Circle of Friends program will be volunteer-led. “We are proud that some of the first people our clients will meet are men and women from the established community who have volunteered their time to assist with welcoming newcomers,” Jody Beeching said.