Category Archives: News

Wine Tasting & Silent Auction Fundraiser!

Eventbrite - MURP Silent Auction

7 to 9 PM – TUESDAY, MAY 3 

Church of St. Mary Magdalene, 477 Manning Ave.

TICKETS $25.00 (includes admission, wine Waterfordand hors d’oeuvres), available here or at the door

             BIDS ON MANY ITEMS START AS LOW AS $2.00!

Bid for Silent Auction items while enjoying live jazz piano, superb wines fromAlsace,Tuscany and the Rhone Valley and gourmet charcuterie, finger foods and cheeses from Campagnolo and The Cheese Boutique. Auction items include:

AN ESCAPE TO ALSACE – 1 week’s accommodation for 6 in Andlau, voted the most beautiful village in FranceAndlau

Waterford crystal, and fine English bone china



1 week’s accommodation for 4 adults, 2 children at Casa Carole in the National Beach Reserve in a tropical, garden with a pool at Playa Grande


Tallis        TSO-Desktop COC               BlueJays

DINNERS AT FINE RESTAURANTS, AND OTHER ITEMS, INCLUDING A Second City Improv Class, Professional photo portraits and more!

CAMPAGNOLO_logo_black  HarbordRoomThe_Second_City-bnw-520x325

Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or  at St. Mary Magdalene after the 9:30 and 11:00 masses on April 17 and 24 in Hiscocks Hall. They will also be available at the door on May 3. Tickets and auction items may be purchased with major credit cards, personal cheques, or cash.

We hope you can join us!


We have been matched with a refugee!

Apropos of my last blog posting, you might have seen items in the news recently about how private sponsorship groups like ours are waiting much longer than we expected to be matched with refugee cases (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail).  While we continue to wait to see whether we’ll be matched with a Syrian family, we’re pleased to announce that we have been offered, and  have accepted a refugee case involving a 20-year old man from Iraq, who has been designated by the UNHCR as “at-risk”, and in urgent need of resettlement.

When AURA offered us this case last week, they alluded to the slow-down in the flow of Syrian refugees, suggesting that it might be many months before we were matched with a family.  We found out about this possibility on a Friday, and we had to let AURA know by Monday whether we’d proceed. After a flurry of emails back and forth between our team members, the feeling was unanimous that we should accept this case. The need was great for this individual; we have the funds to support him (and the government contributes a portion of the funding required);  and it could be many months before a family of the type that we’d requested is made available for sponsoring. We still intend to sponsor a larger family as soon as we can do so. But we feel that if we can help someone now, we should.

So, stay tuned — we’ll keep you updated as things develop!


Still waiting …

I just wanted to post a quick update about where we are at with our sponsorship.  We formally applied to AURA last month to be matched with a family.   Apparently, so far, no refugee cases for private sponsorship have been released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada since the last group was in late January/early February.  We’re not clear on what the hold-up is.  If I had to speculate, I would guess that after processing 25,000 cases by the end of February, CIC is taking a bit of a breather while it sorts out what it wants to do next. But that is purely speculation on my part.  AURA has indicated that there will be a “bulletin” sent out next week, which might clarify things.

In the meantime, we continue to be busy organizing fundraising events, and planning for our family’s eventual arrival.

We’re having a silent auction … Can you help?

As those of you who have seen the updates on will know, we have met our initial fundraising goal of $50,000 and have formally applied to have a family assigned to us.  Originally, we imagined resettling a family of four, however, most Syrian families arriving are between 5 and 7 members.  We revised our goal to $75,000 to better support a larger family and set them up for success in their new life in Toronto.  Our fundraising efforts include concerts, the first of which is on April 15!

We will also be holding a silent auction on May 3 at The Church of St. Mary Magdalene and are looking for items to auction. (See the list that follows).  Please get in touch as soon as you can at [email protected] if you have an item or items to contribute.


Examples of suitable auction items

Professional sports tickets

Do you know anyone, a friend or someone with season tickets who might donate a pair of tickets to Blue Jays, Raptors, Leafs, Royal Winter Fair Horse Show, Rogers’ Cup Tennis, Molson Indie, etc.  Maybe ask your lawyer or accountant if their firm has corporate tickets they might want to donate?

Professional performing arts tickets

For example:

  • Opera Atelier (Canadian Opera tickets have been donated)
  • National Ballet
  • Theatre – Canadian Stage, Shaw, Soulpepper, Luminato, Mirvish
  • Music – Hugh’s Room, Koerner Hall, Toronto Symphony, Roy Thomson Hall


  • Passes to ROM, AGO, Textile Museum, Gardiner, Power Plant, Casa Loma the City of Toronto historical museums (Fort York, Colborne Lodge, Spadina House, Mackenzie House, Gibson House )
  • Ideally these to be enhanced with lunch at the museum restaurant or somewhere nearby, a tour with a curator etc.

Hidden Toronto

We rarely discover the city where we live in the way we explore and experience a city we are visiting. We could put together packages that give people this unique experience of Toronto, for example:

  • A walking tour for four of Haunted Toronto (Muddy York Tours offers Toronto’s Haunted Streets and University of Toronto Ghosts) with dinner or lunch at the Keg in the old Massey Mansion where people have seen the ghost of a maid who hanged herself there
  • A tour of – for example –  Old City Hall or the Toronto Archives with historian and broadcaster Mike Filey
  • Wild Toronto – a tour for four of the Leslie Street Spit with a conservationist followed by lunch at e.g. the Cherry St. Restaurant
  • Toronto Harbour – a private boat tour of the harbour for 6 with cocktails
  • Paddling adventure – an adventure for 4 – learn to kayak, canoe or paddle board on the Humber River
  • Bird-watching on the Humber

Culinary adventures

Donations of e.g. dinners for 2 or 4 experiences such as:

  • 6 friends cooking a meal with a chef
  • A group learning to make a specific type of dish or specialty with an expert e.g. chocolate truffles, Indian snacks
  • An individual getting to help a craft brewer with a new beer

Vacation getaways

For example,  time at a cottage, hotel or country inn

Art and Antiques

  • Original prints, paintings, sculpture – ideally by established – i.e. searchable – artists
  • Silver, glass, china and ceramics, easily movable small furniture e.g. side tables, cabinets, lamps
  • First edition or collector books


Home and Garden

  • New or gently used high quality items, such as crystal, china, etc.
  • Garden items could such items as decorative urns, ceramic pots, wall fountains, metal or ceramic seating or décor such as obelisks, trellises, sculptures,  new/never used secateurs, etc.
  • A garden experience could be consultation with a landscaper or plant expert and a gift certificate for plants

If you have something to donate that you don’t see on this list, please get in touch!

Many thanks – keep checking out for updates.

Do you have any household goods you’d like to donate?

While we’re waiting to find out who our family will be, and when they will arrive, we’re starting to make plans for setting up a home for them. Since we don’t yet know any details about our family, such as how many kids there will be and their ages, we are holding off on committing ourselves to an apartment or house.  But we do know there are things that most families will need, like kitchen utensils, linens, or a telephone or shopping cart.

We’ve made a list of these items using a nifty web site called, which  works like a gift registry.  If you want to donate something that we need, all you need to do is click a button, enter a few details, and boom! You’re inscribed.

When we find out the details about who our family is, and when they will arrive in Toronto, we’ll contact you with details about how items will be collected.  We would ask that you continue to hang onto them for the time being. If this is a problem for your, please email us at [email protected], and we’ll see we can make alternative arrangements for storing items.

Note: for some items, like beds, we don’t know the exact numbers that we’ll need.  So, we might find ourselves in the fortunate situation of having more offers than we can make use of.  If that happens, we’ll try our best to find an alternate use for your donation.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. A special shout out to volunteer Michelle F., who is coordinating the information about donations of household goods. Thanks, Michelle!


It’s official – we’ve applied to have a family assigned to us!

We are delighted to be able to announce that we have officially applied to be taken into consideration when the next “release” of refugee cases is made available by  Citizenship and Immigration Canada in March.

That said …

… It might be some time before a family is assigned to us.

While there are many refugees coming into the country each month, there’s a limited number of refugees made available for private sponsorship in the “Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR)” category that we are hoping for. Most of what you have heard about in the news about the 25,000 Syrian refugees that the government has committed to resettle by Feb 28th, 2016 are Government-Assisted Refugees – refugees that are resettled in Canada by the federal government directly, as opposed to through private sponsorship.

There is another category of private sponsorship, known as “Named Cases”. These are instances where a sponsoring group identifies a specific refugee family to be reseted. We are not pursuing a named case, because it can take many, many months, more than a year, perhaps, before the individuals are reviewed and approved by the government. The BVOR program is preferable, because with families being  partially vetted by the UNHCR, the government can complete its checks more quickly … which means a family can be resettled more quickly.

The BVOR cases that are made available for sponsorship are offered to groups across the country … so we will keep our fingers crossed that we are matched with a family soon.  We have tried to be flexible in who we have said we will support. For example, we have not said we want a family of 4, with two parents and two children; apparently this is what many groups ask for, and there are actually a limited number of families like this. Most are larger, with 5, 6, 7 or more family members.  The housing stock and the cost of living in Toronto poses some hard constraints on the size of the family we can help, but we are aiming for one that can be reasonably accommodated in a 3-bedroom apartment or house.

In any case, we will keep you posted as developments happen. Wish us luck!

We have met our initial goal of $50,000!


Our initial goal of $50,000, set before refugees started arriving in numbers, was to sponsor a family of four. As the flow of Syrian refugees has increased, we now know the majority of families coming to Canada are between 5 and 7 members.

We’ve met the basic sponsorship amount for a family of 6 to resettle in Ontario, but the cost of living in Toronto is higher than in other Ontario communities. In addition, we’ve learned there is some question as to how much financial support the government might offer for travel and living expenses.  To be prepared for this, and for potential dental and medical expenses not covered by government programs and to be able to set up our family up for every possible success, we are raising our goal by $25,000 to build a buffer to better support the resettlement of a family of 6 or 7. 

There are more than 14 million refugees of concern to the United Nations, more than 4.5 million registered from Syria alone. If any funds are left over, they will help with the sponsorship of our next family.

Again, thanks very much to those who have contributed. If you haven’t donated yet and would like to help, please go to