© Jason Kerr
The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre recently announced they have received charitable status, a move that will allow them to issue tax receipts to donors as well as improve the services they offer.
The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre recently announced a big change, and revealed some new artwork along with it.
The Centre formally announced it had received charitable status, a move that will allow them to issue tax receipts to donors as well as improve the services it offers.
“Having this status opens up opportunities from funding sources that aren’t regularly there,” explained the centre’s executive director, Icasiana de Gala.
De Gala said they always got requests from people looking for charitable receipts, which the centre could not provide. However, they still have a list of loyal backers, even without charity status, and this change will only improve things.
“Some businesses or individuals we’d approach would still give, but having this charitable status opens up bigger and further opportunities.”
The change became official in November of 2013, although the Centre initially didn’t want to reveal it. De Gala said they wanted to wait until they were actually promoting programs, rather than simply asking for money.
“We didn’t want to tell people, okay, we are a charitable status, you can now give us money,” she said shortly after a presentation at the Welcome Centre on August 7th. “We waited for the opportunity (to show our) summer programs, to tell people we have these programs. If you’re able to support these programs, this is how you can give to us.”
The new status should help the Centre with everything from raising money to supporting their own programs, to helping fund aid projects around the world. For example, last year’s fundraiser for typhoon victims in the Philippines would go a lot smoother under the new rules.
“I think it will help newcomers a lot,” said Deanna Baje, who came to Canada in 2009 and now works at the centre. “Most of the funding organizations, they have a limit, like the dos and don’ts of where the (funds) would go. If the centre is now a charitable organization we can now accept more funding, and we can help more (people).”
In addition to the status change, the Welcome Centre also provided updates on the murals that are being painted in Shaunavon, Frontier and possibly Swift Current.
“We wanted to start with these three communities, so we got a response from Shaunavon and Frontier,” de Gala said. “I can’t wait to see the finished product.”
De Gala said the artwork is designed both as a celebration of community friendship, and a way to make new immigrants in the area feel welcome. She said the reception in Shaunavon in particular has been fantastic, with local businesses and volunteers chipping in with donations like paint, paintbrushes and wood.
Baje is heading up the mural project in Swift Current, and has hopes for a similar response here.
“What we hope is the community would open its doors more to the newcomers and make them feel more at home and more connected,” she said.
Baje, who received help from the Welcome Centre herself when she came to Canada, now works with immigrant school children. While some students arrive with good English skills, she said the language barrier does make it difficult for some students to connect with their peers, which leads to loneliness, especially in rural area.
She hopes these murals can help make it easier to establish a connection and make them feel welcome.
“They (the newcomers) are just looking for something that would make them feel more at home.”