Refugee Sponsorship Project

Reflections and Looking Forward - 2018

Since the arrival of the Alyousef family in December 2016, St. Peter’s Refugee Sponsorship Committee has been active in supporting their settlement. During this time the family have developed their English language skills and settled into daily routines and life in the Sudbury community. As with any significant project or journey, there have been periods of great excitement, joy and jubilation, and also brief periods of fatigue and frustration. During this journey we have observed the coming together of our St. Peter’s community, the St. Mark’s congregation, and our Sudbury community who have supported this committee in fulfilling the obligations of sponsorship. We are grateful to the many people who have given of their time, talents and treasures to provide a home to these strangers whom we now call family. 

Although our one year commitment has been fulfilled, the St. Peter’s Refugee Sponsorship Committee continues to be active in an informal way, providing ongoing support to the Alyousef family, and in a formal manner while supporting re-unification of the Alyousef’s other son. Upon his arrival, we will continue to meet the formal sponsorship agreement for him, for a one year period. An application was made for this family re-unification early in 2017. Although he has met all criteria it is unknown as to when his admission to Canada will occur. The Alyousefs are no longer our “project”, but they are our extended family and so we share in their successes and struggles and have concern for their future. Members of the sponsorship committee and supporters continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and friendship.

Through this sponsorship we have been blessed by a multitude of memories which remind us of the incredible gifts we have been given and the importance of sharing these gifts with others. Our lives have been enriched by our friendship with the Alyousefs as they have welcomed us to share in their daily lives and in their cultural and religious celebrations.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gillian Schell and Kevin Reed 

Co-Chairpersons, St. Peter’s Refugee Sponsorship Committee

Committee and Activities History

Committee photo left to right:  Amy Hallman Grout, Carol Wighton, Judy Niesing, Kevin Reed (co-chair), Gillian Schell (co-chair), and Shirley Taylor.


In September 2015, a Refugee Sponsorship Committee was formed of members of St. Peter’s concerned with the ever growing refugee crisis in Syria and surrounding countries. We started by exploring the possibility of our congregation sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. Once we determined that it could be done, we divided up the tasks and began working on making it a reality. After official approval from our Church Council at the end of November 2015, a presentation was made to the congregation to lay out our plans and support was requested.

The response was wonderful. Along with our congregation, we have the support of community groups and schools and have received two grants. In mid 2016, with generous monetary and in kind support, we reached our fundraising goal and have furnished a town house for our family. We were very excited to receive word about the designating of our family from Syria - the Alyousefs - in November 2016.

This experience will stretch the welcoming capacity of our congregation and inform our spiritual growth during this upcoming year of sponsorship. If you would like to get involved, please contact our co-chair Gillian Schell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Donations can be directed to the St. Peter’s United Church with attention to Refugee Sponsorship Fund.


Update – December 2016

Church members greet the Alyousef family at the Sudbury airport


Recently, the St. Peter’s Refugee Sponsorship Committee received confirmation of a match for their sponsored family - the Alyousef family of 8 from Syria. We were excited to announce that they would arrive at the Sudbury airport on Wednesday December 7, 2016 at 9:25 am. 

On December 7, a group from the St. Peter’s refugee sponsorship committee and our church community welcomed the family, along with representatives of other refugee families and support groups.  The family is settled in their townhouse in New Sudbury and orientation and school arrangements are being completed.  The family is very happy to be in Sudbury and we look forward to further contacts as the settling process is completed. An account of the welcome can be found at http://www.thesudburystar.com/2016/12/07/new-syrian-family-arrives .

Thanks to the generosity of St. Peter’s congregation and the Sudbury community, the Alyousef’s house is now comfortably equipped and their closets are full of winter clothing and footwear. We are enormously grateful to all of you who helped us to welcome the family and to ensure that their needs are met. At this time, please do not bring any more donations of clothing or household items to the church. Thank you again for your warmth and generosity.


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