Welcome 'H.O.M.E.': Website connects Syrian refugees, donors, sponsors

A Toronto-based organization has launched a new online hub aimed at connecting Syrian refugees with sponsors, donors and employers in their new home city.

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Woodgreen Community Services launched the Housing Opportunities and Marketplace Exchange, or H.O.M.E., portal this weekend.

The online hub is open to privately sponsored and government sponsored refugees, as well as people who want to help the newcomers, Woodgreen Community Services President and CEO Anne Babcock said.

Anybody falling into these categories can register online on the Woodgreen website.

Once registration is complete, Babcock told CTV's Canada AM, the organization will send users their log-in information.

Then, the refugees, sponsors and donors can access the portal and begin connecting with each other.

"It's as simple as that," Babcock said.

The idea for H.O.M.E. first emerged at the end of November, Babcock said, when the City of Toronto asked if Woodgreen could set up a website to help refugees.

"I said 'of course (it's possible),' not knowing it was," Babcock said on Monday.

Babcock says she proposed the idea to the organization's board shortly after meeting with the city, and the next day they began work on the online hub.

Six weeks later, H.O.M.E. is up and running, and Babcock says they're ready for sponsors, donors and others to register.

The Woodgreen president says they need a wide range of services and donations, from housing and employment opportunities to backpacks and household items.

"It's amazing, when we talk to the Syrian refugees that we're working with, they have nothing, they've come with nothing," she said. "(They need) furniture, clothing, linens, all the kind of things you need to make a home."

Babcock also guaranteed that all donations will go to Syrian refugees.

She said the site requires newcomers to provide their unique settlement number, so that the organization knows those registering really are refugees.

"We know specifically that all of the goods and services will be going to Syrian refugees," she said.



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