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Local Ukrainian aid organization responds to 10 requests a week from desperate families

Grassroots Response needs help finding homes for refugees as war in Ukraine drags on
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A young Ukrainian boy and his family received their Welcome Basket and say a big thank you to the Waterloo Region Grassroots Response to the Ukrainian Crisis.

A Waterloo region-based, volunteer-led group focused on helping displaced Ukrainian refugees is appealing to the community for help as it responds to up to 10 requests a week from families and individuals looking for homes.

Grassroots Response operates several houses in Waterloo Region, Tillsonburg, Listowel, Palmerston, Brunner, helping over 75 people at a time, not only with housing but employment and settlement support.

"We are seeking donations to not only continue this essential emergency housing support but also expand it as the need continues to grow," said Stephanie Goertz in a press release.

Last winter, a family of three, fleeing the terrors of the Ukrainian war, arrived in Canada during the winter only to fall victim to a housing scam.

They had lost everything back home and sought a fresh start. Upon landing, with limited English and hearts heavy with the scars of war, they found momentary solace through volunteers who helped them secure a hotel room and government financial aid.

But as their 14-day hotel stay neared its end, they were hit with a daunting realization: they had four days left and no idea where to go next.

Despite their pleas for guidance, the response was cold and clear: "It's your problem." With the little money they had, they found a rental place. But in their naivety and desperation, they paid the first and last month’s rent via bank transfer, only to discover they had been scammed.

The real landlord soon came knocking for rent they couldn't afford. With just $1,000 left and no home, they faced the ruthless cold of the streets.

The father, who had secured a job despite his low English proficiency, was let go when his employer learned of his homelessness. The family's brief stint in a tent on the streets led to their child falling gravely ill, necessitating a five-hour hospital stay.

Their ordeal on the streets shattered them. Hope faded. By the time they connected with us through local volunteers, it was too late.

"Though we provided what aid we could, their spirit to start anew in Canada was irreparably broken. Ultimately, they chose to leave the country," Goertz said.

She said stories like these are tragically common.

Many Ukrainians arrive with a work permit, not as refugees, and are expected to fend for themselves. The harsh reality is that without support, even the most resilient can find themselves in despair.

Grassroots Response's mission is to provide the basic necessities to Ukrainian families, children, and single mothers struggling to rebuild their lives in Canada. Your support can turn the tide of despair into a story of hope and new beginnings.