Visit Welcome House at Belong 2017 and experience the impact of the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

Amélie PicherThis guest post is by Amélie Picher, Director of Corporate Donations at Manulife.

The Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees is an inspiring story about how Manulife and its employees pulled together to make a significant impact in communities across Canada over the past year.

In late 2015, then Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum issued a call to corporate Canada to contribute to the government’s effort to assist refugees coming from war-torn Syria. Manulife and Community Foundations of Canada immediately announced the establishment of the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees.

Seeded by an initial commitment from Manulife of $500,000, The Welcome Fund quickly grew with major donations from other corporate partners. Within 45 days of establishing the Welcome Fund, Community Foundations of Canada started to make strategic contributions. Through consultations with government, local community foundations and refugee service providers, they were able to identify the communities with the most pressing and urgent needs and quickly mobilize their networks to distribute funds to those communities as quickly as possible. By June 2016, they had issued $5.3 million to 27 communities across the country, helping families get settled in their new communities and prepare to enter the workforce.

We invite you to visit Welcome House at Belong 2017 and experience the story of the Welcome Fund and its impact. The Welcome House was the name used for the spaces and buildings in many communities across Canada where refugees first arrived. These spaces where designed to be welcoming, and provide the initial supports needed for refugees begin settling in their new homes. At Belong 2017, Welcome House will be a place to welcome guests, share stories, and explore the importance of fostering belonging in our communities.

Get to know Manulife

Tell us about your company, and who we can look forward to meeting at the Belong 2017 Conference?

Manulife wants to help more Canadians achieve their dreams and aspirations by motivating and empowering them to reach their wellness goals. Our objective is to inspire Canadians to make well-informed choices that help them live longer, healthier and more financially-secure lives.

Manulife and Community Foundations of Canada enjoy a meaningful collaboration that was further strengthened over the past year with the creation of the Welcome Fund. We are proud to have been able to help welcome newcomers to Canada and support them as they get settled in their new homes. We look forward to sharing some of their stories through the Welcome House during the conference.

What does Belonging mean to you?

Feeling included and part of a community helps contribute positively to our sense of well-being. It is important to have these shared experiences that makes us feel as though we belong to something greater than ourselves.

What are you most excited about for the conference?

I am really looking forward to the unique virtual reality experience that will be central to the Welcome House exhibition. Videos, storyboards and photography will highlight the impact of our efforts by sharing the experience of Syrian refugees assisted by the Welcome Fund in the past year. It will also be a very moving opportunity for participants to hear from a 12-year old girl living in a refugee camp in Jordon. I hope it inspires meaningful conversations and a better understanding of the refugee experience.

What other exciting or innovative activities are you presently doing to support your community?

At Manulife, we believe that a life-long commitment to healthy, active living is essential to a long and happy life. We also know that feeling in control of one’s financial future is key to a person’s sense of belonging and necessary to succeed in today’s economy, says Amélie Picher. By investing in many diverse innovative community programs, our objective is to promote well-being – both physical and financial.

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