SUDBURY – The board members of Lifeline Sudbury, the umbrella organization representing a growing number of Sudburians sponsoring Syrian families resettling in the region, have appointed Dave Courtemanche as its Chairman. Dave is taking over the position from acting Chairman Jim Gordon. Another board member, Nilgiri Pearson, has been named as Coordinator.
Lifeline Sudbury was founded in October 2015 by former Mayor Jim Gordon as a non-denominational, humanitarian mechanism to help support and coordinate the activities of a number of sponsoring groups throughout Sudbury. “This was supposed to be a community-led response to refugee assistance” he said, “then again, I also knew from experience we’d need a facilitator. A way to make sure that resources and contacts were available to groups in case of problems, but more importantly so that they would have the tools to be successful.” As Lifeline Sudbury gathered its own momentum work commitments led Jim Gordon – who continues to sit on the Lifeline board as the Director of Sudbury Project Hope – to contact another former Mayor, Dave Courtemanche, and suggest that he assume the Chairmanship.
“I think this is an important issue. The response of the Sudbury community has been truly inspiring and I was happy to get involved,” Mr. Courtemanche said. Members of the Lifeline board which includes individuals representing groups from across the city agreed, formally appointing him to the position at a meeting on January 5th.
Lifeline Sudbury is staffed entirely by volunteers working collaboratively to ensure that the families’ transition into life in the city is as seamless as possible. While respecting the privacy of individual families, Lifeline Sudbury has also made public outreach a priority. A new website will soon provide a central communication platform. Meanwhile, the organization continues to broker resources and donations while liaising with a variety of city-wide stakeholders. The intention is that by creating a sustainable mechanism for sponsorship and integration, the work of Lifeline Sudbury will continue beyond the current crisis in Syria.
For Joanne Ross, also a founding member of Lifeline Sudbury and chair of the St Andrew's United Church Refugee Assistance Committee, having a lead organization ensures that the contributions of volunteers are maximized by eliminating duplication and through resource sharing. In addition to extending a helping hand to refugees, Ross noted that "Lifeline Sudbury has strengthened and enriched our community through collaborations between groups that would not have otherwise occurred."