• Stouffville Cares concluded their operations this week after leading a Syrian refugee sponsorship program since 2015.
  • Over the past nine years, the group has sponsored 20 Syrian refugees from five related families.
  • Stouffville Cares also aided in their integration into Canadian life and the Stouffville community, where all the landed refugees continue to reside.
  • Volunteers included local residents and congregation members from St. James Presbyterian, Christ Church Anglican, and Stouffville United.
  • The group’s fundraising activities were bolstered by housing, education, and job placement assistance.
  • Joined by sponsored families, Stouffville Cares held a final dinner this week to celebrate their achievements. Group leaders received a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Iain Lovatt.


St. James Presbyterian held the refugee sponsorship agreement and initiated the Stouffville Cares group. At this week’s celebration, St. James Reverend Joan Masterton reflected on their journey. “It’s been a joy to work through this process,” she said. “It’s hugely difficult for [refugee] families to integrate into Canadian society, but [ours] have done it and done it so well.”

The refugees assisted by Stouffville Cares are all members of the Fandi family, and Masterton highlighted their accomplishments since arriving. Six children have been born, young graduates have plans for higher education, and adults are now working and living out their lives in Stouffville. Many have also become Canadian citizens.

Nariman Fandi, a mother and member of the first family sponsored by Stouffville Cares, shared her experience and expressed gratitude to the volunteers at the event. “Stouffville Cares did a lot for our family; they made my children’s future,” she said. “Everyone knows there has been war in my country for almost 30 years, and we did not see a future…there. We came to Canada and all started a new life here with a new future. Thank you to everyone who helped all of us.”

After St. James opened Stouffville Cares to the public, a group of community members came together for the first meeting in 2015. This included Sarah Carrick, who soon joined the Executive Committee and later became the group’s chairperson.

When asked about her most memorable Stouffville Cares experiences, Carrick highlighted teaching a newly arrived mother to drive: “Knowing how much that meant to her, and just the freedom of being able to do that and the opportunities it offered, it was amazing.”

Beyond driving lessons and monetary donations, Stouffville Cares members also assisted refugees with local job placements. After getting a licence, that family was later able to purchase a car of their own for travel to and from places of work. Additional aid included housing, ESL, and other education supports.

With their mission now complete, Carrick is confident in the lasting impact of Stouffville Cares’ work. “They can now support each other on their own, and that was the goal,” she explained. “As some are now Canadian citizens, they can also be sponsors themselves and bring over more members of their family.”

“It was a real community group effort,” Carrick concluded. “I just loved how such a non-denominational and diverse group pulled together to help in so many ways.”