Host volunteers needed in Calgary to house Ukrainians fleeing the war

WATCH: Dozens of Ukrainians fleeing the war are scheduled to arrive in Calgary over the next few weeks and as Jayme Doll reports, finding temporary housing for them is proving to be a struggle.

As the bloody war in Ukraine churns on, so does the need for Canadians to open their doors to those fleeing it. The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society is putting a call out for volunteers.

“With the increase in numbers of Ukrainian arrivals in the past few weeks we are desperately looking for more volunteer host families,” said Mariana Solomchak, project manager of Ukrainian Services for Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.

“Due to the housing situation right now in Calgary, it’s very difficult for Ukrainians to find accommodation — first of all, it’s very expensive and many places are asking for advanced payment,” said Solomchak.

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According to Solomchak, 40 people are arriving from Ukraine next week and 60 the week after. So far, 131 Ukrainians have found refuge in 50 Calgary homes. Cathy Garbo opened her doors to a mother and her two daughters in July.

“I have a large house with empty bedrooms and here was an opportunity to help,” said Garbo. “If in some small way we can extend a helping hand for a short period of time, it’s really about changing a family’s life,” she said.

Khrystyna Klapushchak, along with her sister Soffia and mother Olha, fled the war leaving everything they loved behind, including their father.

“You leave all your friends, you know that your life will never be the same. Now I feel like I have a second chance,” said 23-year-old Khrystyna who is working as a cashier in Calgary and studying for her master’s degree in mathematics.

“It was difficult but I feel myself lucky because I feel safe here,” she said.

Cathy and the Klapushchak women agree they had an instant bond and common interests. Cathy helped them with their paper work and introduced them to the city and a community. She took them to the Calgary Stampede and theatre and they taught her about Ukrainian culture and food.

“I couldn’t of asked for a better match. We felt like we knew each other for years — we had the same sense of humor, they are very loving and oh so grateful,” said Garbo, adding the entire experience has been incredibly rewarding.

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“Cathy is an amazing person. She was really kind to us. She felt like family and helped us out so much,” said Khrystyna.

The family is now settled into their own place but talk to Cathy daily. Khrystyna said their transition to living in a new country in the midst of so much uncertainty was made a lot easier, thanks to Cathy. She hopes others will consider doing the same for those still fighting to find safety and some peace.

If you are interested in a hosting, you can contact the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society or Centre for Newcomers in Calgary.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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