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    Date(s) - 28/07/2018 - 31/12/2018
    All Day

    St. Croix Vineyard Cafe


    July 15, 2018

    A financial update will go out with the reminder for the Loon Bay party at month end. We are still waiting for the bill from the School District for 2017 Summer school.

              LOON BAY PARTY !


     We are inviting the entire group and the Syrian families together for a summer party and BBQ at Loon Bay on Saturday July 28th, rain date Sunday the 29th. Come any time after noon and stay late ! Please bring what you want to eat, BBQ and drink.


     If you have friends or family visiting they are welcome to join the party !  Please check your email on the 27th for any changes due to weather or call the Olmstead’s at 466-2893, 466-6169 Loon Bay.





    Latest newsletter was emailed out today. If you did not receive it and want to be included on our mailing list, contact Mary Ellen Fitch  at mefitch@gmail.com



                                 SUNDAY FEB 18, 2018  7-8:30 PM

                We have not met since our pot luck in December and felt we ought to connect and catch up.

                While there are no pressing issues we should consider where we see the future of the group; how often we ought to meet; use of remaining funds, etc.

              We should be able to wrap up by 8:30 if y’all can get there by 7 pm !

                See you Sunday the 18th7 pm at the Vineyard Centre.




                Our Syrian/Canadian Christmas Party is this Sunday at 2pm at the Vineyard Church.

                It being a Pot Luck please bring far too much food !

                Is there someone who could volunteer to set up a few balloons etc to celebrate Waddah’s first birthday ? Please call Karen so we know someone is on this.

                We need some able-bodied folk at 1:30 Sunday to help set up tables and chairs and rearrange couches etc.

                See you Sunday for a great celebration !



    DECEMBER 3rd  !!

                At our last meeting, we set Sunday, December 3rd for a Christmas Party for our full group and all the Syrian families together. It is a double celebration as Waddah Aljneid’s birthday is a few days later so we will celebrate the first Syrian/Canadian birthday too!

    It will be at the Vineyard Church starting at 2 pm. Dinner will follow around 3 pm or so as that is when the Syrians normally have their big meal. So skip lunch!

    If anyone has any ideas for party games that might work please let us know.



                The Shayah/Bitar family of three arrived in July and we did not organize a specific

    “ team “  for that family as was the case for the others. There is a need for more social interaction, language help and occasionally some help with other things.

                If you have some spare time, or have not been as involved as you would like then this would be a perfect opportunity that does not carry a heavy commitment.

                If you can help please get in touch with Don. We have all been enormously enriched by our friendships with the Syrian families. This is a great opportunity.


    SCV&F   MEETING NOTICE   SUNDAY October 15  7-9 PM

    Our next meeting is Sunday October 15th from 7-9 pm at the Vineyard Centre.

    We are meeting about every two months now so please do your best to attend.


    MONDAY AUGUST 14th 7-9 pm  Vineyard Centre

               We have not met for a few months and while there are no pressing issues we want to bring everyone up to date on the details of the new family, where finances stand, etc.

               Recognizing there are no good dates in summer and that weekends are busy we decided to go with a Mondaynight a few weeks away to give people time to plan on attending.

              Hope to see you there !


    Loon Bay party was a huge success! We are still looking for household items and furniture for our new family.

    Needed…. Table and chairs, lamps, dishes, bedding, towels…. really all household items for a family of 3! If you are able to help, message or call Mohammed at 1-506-321-1045.


    Hey Everyone – looks like we might have rain on Saturday so we are partying on SUNDAY!!!!  All other deets are the same.  Let’s encourage all our families to come.


    We  would like to get together with the full group so we have settled on Saturday July 8th ( rain date Sunday July 9th) for a party/BBQ at Loon Bay for both our full group and the Syrian families. Hopefully Mohammad’s aunt, husband and son will be here by then.

    We will assess the weather forecast on Friday and email confirmation or change to Sunday.

    Any time after lunch is fine to arrive and we will be there late so whatever suits your schedule is great.

    Usual rules of bring what you want to eat and drink.

    Hope everyone makes it!!

    Don & Karen

    PS – we really need tables, lamps, dishes etc for that family, please see what you or friends might have. We have ordered mattresses and box springs. Contact Mohammad at 321-1045




    Sunday, April 23 – 7 pm in the Vineyard Cafe


    Hi Everyone
    Sorry for the short notice but this event was inspired by a casual conversation that took place late yesterday between Karen, Wilma, Asma and Zehra.  This Friday, the 7th, marks the one year anniversary of our friends’ arrival to St. Stephen and we thought we should have a party!  Zehra thought it would be fitting to have it at SCV seeing as this was the place they were first introduced to everyone and St. Stephen.  We thought it was a lovely idea!!!  
    So if we all pitch in, we can make this happen.  Please RSVP, and let me know if you can help, so we will know approximately how many to set up and prepare for.  Here is what you need to know and how you can help.
    WHAT:     Anniversary “Welcome to St. Stephen Party” 
    WHEN:    Friday, April 7th at 5 pm
    WHERE:   SCV – downstairs in the main hall
    BRING:    Potluck (dish to share and a beverage)
    HOW CAN I HELP (let me know asap please)
    We will be using paper plates, etc but there will be                  some clean up and furniture will have to be put back where it was originally.
    Nothing crazy but a little bit.  We have the original “welcome” sign in Arabic we can use but a little spring color would be nice.  I have some resources, let me know if you want to take this piece on or know someone who would enjoy it.
    Donna Dunsmore is organizing a few activities for the kiddos. We need a couple of young people to help with this.  Any ideas???
    Who would enjoy creating a video picture loop for the event.  If someone would take this on, we could all send you what pictures we have taken over the past year and have it playing while we are there.
    Whew!  I think that covers it.  The ladies seemed all up for this so I hope we can pull it off and make it a fun celebration for everyone.  
    Thank you!


     Sunday March 26th at 7 pm

    Vineyard Cafe

    No big issues but some info to exchange and keep everyone updated. Mohamad’s aunt and her husband and son are likely to arrive in early April and there will be some planning associated with that. We anticipate a shorter meeting so please arrive for 7!

    Thank you,




    We do not have any issues that need attention at this time so we decided not to call 25 people together. No solid news to report on family relatives and we are still waiting for Fuat Gumushels availability to convene a meeting to discuss details. No changes in finance. The movement of refugees from the US into Canada may be an issue in a few months. We will set up a meeting in March for sure. If anything needs attention do let one of the leadership team know about it

    As always, the daily dedication to our Syrian friends is awesome !

    Next group meeting is January 29, 2017. 7 pm at the Vineyard Center

    15355748_10209025993902071_674646146676958518_nWelcome baby Wdah, born Monday, December 5, 2016









    DEC 4th POTLUCK !

    In keeping with the season and knowing we will not likely meet in December we have shifted the November 20th meeting to  a December 4th POT LUCK at 6 pm at the Olmstead’s at 37 Prince William St.

                 There are no big issues looming so we will have a brief meeting on the 4th to keep everyone up to speed.

                 Please bring your spouses or significant others as the case may be ! Look forward to seeing you all !

                6pm, Sunday December 4th, Pot Luck at the Olmstead’s – mark it on the calendar now !


    SCV’s ESL program is changed from Monday to THURSDAY mornings, 10-12, at the Vineyard Center.

    Child minders needed, please contact Karen at 466-2893 or banknote@nbnet.nb.ca

    Be sure to sign up for helping with the kids, only 4 of them who are not in school!



    Next meeting is scheduled for October 16, Vineyard Cafe at 7pm

    Sunday, September 11, 2016

    Meeting to catch up and go over new things. Vineyard Cafe, 7 – 9 pm, this Sunday


    Friday, August 26



    We are inviting everyone to Loon Bay tomorrow the 27th from 1 pm to dark for a Loon Bay Day


    At least two of the Syrian families are coming, maybe all of them.


    If you are coming and have room for a family or part of it let Karen know at 466-6169


    We decided to avoid irritating cancellations by being more casual and last minute.


    Hope to see you tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Don & Karen


    ****It looks like the weather for the next bit is iffy at best.  We have decided to cancel this Saturday’s event.  If we get a stretch of expected 2-3 good days, we will reschedule.


    Apologies for any inconvenience.

    SYRIA AT LOON BAY – Saturday August 13


            The last event was very successful so we have arranged sparkling sunshine for Saturday the 13th of August to have another party at Loon Bay.


            Please connect with your families to make travel arrangements so they can be transported. Any date in summer does not work for everyone so we will be content with as many as can make it.


            Every family and every SCV & FRIENDS group member is invited. If you have company feel free to bring them along !


            As before we are “open” from 1 pm to 10 pm; bring what you want for the BBQ.


            If anyone needs directions contact Don at banknote@nbnet.nb.ca or 466-2893


            See y’all on the 13th !


            Don & Karen





                Due to the rain through the weekend we are cancelling it for this Saturday and rescheduling for SUNDAY the 17th, 1-10 pm.

                 We have another group at Loon Bay next Saturday, hence the move to Sunday the 17th. I happen to see all four husbands today and advised them of the change.

               So let us plan for next Sunday the 17th and hope the rain does not hit us again. 

                Also remember our Monday night meeting 7-9 pm


                Thanks – Don


    *** July 1, 2016



                We would like to host all the Syrians and the full SCV & Friends group for a post-Ramadan party. The first opportunity is Saturday the 9th as the children are in summer school starting Monday the 4th.


                Is anyone aware of any plans for the families on Saturday the 9th or Sunday the 10th ? ( think of Sunday as the rain date) We have not asked any of the families if they have plans that weekend. Can you check with your family to see if that date works ?


                There is no summer date that works for everyone but hopefully that weekend is OK.


                Please let us know if there are problems with the 9th, rain date 10th.


    Don & Karen



    ***Saturday, June 25, 2016


               Remember everyone and their families and visitors are invitedthis Saturday to Loon Bay for a party and BBQ. We have canoes, paddleboat, tubes etc.  Starts at 1 pm until 10 pm or so and you are welcome to come for the whole time, supper,  some of the time etc. Bring your food and drinks, BBQ is there to cook on.  Hope to see you !!


               In you ain’t been there yet or have a bad memory…. Leave St Stephen on Rte 3 heading for Fredericton, about 5 miles/ 8 Km out at the top of the hill follow signs for OAK HILL on Rte 745, effectively straight ahead.  Follow that through Oak Hill and on until you come to the end of pavement where you take the LEFT FORK into Loon Bay. You will have three miles of dirt road, you will pass the Loon Bay Lodge driveway and see the river, follow the little road to your left as you approach the river – your only option unless your car floats. That will bring you to our place !!  Don & Karen


    ***SCV & Friends Refugee Group Meeting this Sunday, June 19 – 7:00 at the Vineyard Center***


    June 25, 2016

    Supporting Refugee Settlement Workshop by CCMA on June 25, 9:30 – 4:00)  at Garcelon Civic Center. For info click here.

    May 21, 2016

    Hi Everyone,
    Please take note of the following info …

    CCMA SURVEY Volunteers have received a survey from CCMA asking them about their degree and type of volunteering going forward into the summer.

    Our meeting on the 29th will discuss our future relationship with CCMA. You may wish to skip the survey now and make decisions regarding CCMA after the 29th, that is your decision .

    MAY 29th MEETING

    Please remember our next full meeting of SCV & FRIENDS on Sunday May 29th 7-9 pm at the Vineyard Church.

    We have some major issues to discuss such as whether we have involvement with future BVOR or GAR families and our relationship with CCMA.


    April 28, @016


                      We feel we need a full meeting to bring everyone up to date, share our initial experiences since the family arrived and set a course for the next several weeks. Due to many conflicts over the weekend and early the following week we are going with this Thursday the 28th at 7 pm at the Vineyard Church.

    Hope to see you there !!



    To refine our family team organization, we suggest that starting this week you reduce visiting schedules to every other day or every third day depending on your team’s assessment of your family’s needs.

                      We are trying not to wear our families out with too much dropping in in, while staying connected as friends. When you see your schedule for your team, hopefully you will drop in a day when no one is scheduled. If it works for each week’s team leader to find a new leader for the next week, then keep on doing so. We will be meeting Thursday night this week as the full group and we can refine this as needed. The Main St family might need more visiting for another week or two because of the late arrival of that family.

                      If this leaves you with any extra time please consider babysitting during English ESL classes.


    April 8, 2016

    We had 3 families arrive yesterday and they are settled into their new homes. Another family came to check things out and they went back to Fredericton to decide. Lots of updates on Facebook. Watch the CBC news from last night, our story starts at the 5:20 mark


    Here is the CBC newstory: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/syrian-refugees-st-stephen-1.3525990



    April 1, 2016


     THIS SUNDAY APRIL 3rd  7-8 PM


    It is evident that the major shift from one or two BVOR families to working through the Multi-Cultural Association on four Government Sponsored Refugee families has raised a number of questions about our role, our relationship with the refugee families, use of money raised and related issues.

    We therefore thought it wise to meet without the CCMAand work through the questions and issues so all are informed, comfortable and confident. We welcome everyone who has been involved and those who were new this past Sunday night.

    We will keep this to an hour as people are busy and will be far busier once the families arrive hopefully Thursday the 7th.

    Please make an effort to come Sunday and bring your concerns and questions so we can move forward with clarity and strength.

    Extra Meeting – you could come either night

    To accommodate everyone interested, there will be a “Cultural Awareness Orientation Meeting” on:

    Monday, April 4th at 7 pm at the Vineyard Centre


    Tuesday, April 5th at 7 pm at the Vineyard Centre

    March 25

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry for the long email.  Will try to summarize in bullet points!

    • Attached is an updated contact list for our group
    • Reminder – IMPORTANT meeting Tuesday (29th) at 6:30 in the St. Croix Vineyard.  We will be receiving important information on how to move forward (relationally, practically, etc) with our families arriving in two weeks.  We should all be there if at all possible.
    • Following is some information I have emailed to individuals who might be interested in being part of a team helping our newcomers to integrate well in our community.  Feel free to copy, paste this info (or parts of it) in an email to someone who you might know that would be interested.  We need more people to be involved in supporting these families!
    Sheila”I am part of the SCV & Friends Refugee Committee and we are looking for people to help support our newcomers to the community and help them integrate in a new culture with as little trauma as possible.  They have already suffered more than enough for a lifetime. We have just heard that three new families will be arriving in early April.  I have shared below the pertinent information from our last meeting.  It identifies the areas that we need help with.  Laurie and Kwame are with the  Charlotte County Multicultural Association. ( CCMA)
    If you feel you would like to be involved in this effort, please attend our meeting on Tuesday, March 29th at 6:30 pm in the St. Croix Center, 32 Victoria Street.  This will be an information night when we will informed on how best to approach this endeavor.  Given the differences between our cultures, I would say it is imperative that we are well informed.  If you know of someone else who would have a passion for this, or is just interested in knowing more, please share this info with them. 

    • Welcome Team – 3-4 people per family – first Canadian friends – be at house when
    they arrive, stop in to see how they are doing, take for walks, get oriented in
    neighbourhood, common interest (swimming, knitting, etc.)
    • Driving Team – to appointments, grocery shopping
    • Child Minding Helpers – while when running ESL classes, in order to get both
    parents involved – at location of classes (ie)library
    • Tutors – work under Carlos (language instructor), has paced curriculum that could
    be volunteers would follow

    • support them, help them step by step
    • they are very overwhelmed but will learn to cope with gentle support
    • want to empower them to be responsible citizens
    • all are literate

    • pushing IRCC for a budget for this
    • have 4 people identified that may be able to help, but they work full time
    • Community Foundation – possible funding – Town of St Stephen
    • Apps – Talking Translator for Android

    • will be go to person for answering questions and help
    • he is living with his family here in St Stephen –  kwame@ccmanb.com

    • with Laurie & Kwame
    TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 6:30 pm at Vineyard

    If you didn’t sign up at the meeting, please send Laurie Parris an email with your name so she can send you the document you need to go get your Vulnerable Sector Check at the RCMP. This is needed in order to help with the families.


    March 18


                 To inject some fun into the process we decided to make the Sunday March 20th meeting a pot luck as well !

      So …            6:00

    at the Vineyard – POT LUCK – bring great food!


     MEETING – bring great minds !


                Food makes everything better so we hope everyone can make it Sunday!     

    Hope to see everyone there

    .  We need to make decisions on how we are going forward with the government sponsored newcomers … we are getting very close to seeing someone benefit from all of our hard work!


    March 9, 2016


                    Recent efforts to secure an initial family through the Blended Visa Office Referral program, known as BVOR, has not been successful for our group (nor for others across Canada). It is uncertain when referrals may come or if more referrals may come in the near future.

                    On Tuesday we received a call from Laurie Parris of the Charlotte County Multicultural Association ( CCMA) asking if our group was interested in helping CCMA settle as many families as possible in St Stephen commencing late March, just a few weeks away.  Another 100-200 refugees are being placed in Fredericton and the settlement agencies there are overwhelmed and reaching out to other interested groups for help. At our last general meeting we had a brief discussion about the possibility of helping the CCMA after our first family arrives, with remaining financial and other resources ( furniture, volunteer time) if they were successful in their effort to bring fifteen families to St Stephen – likely after June 2016. We resolved to take a wait-and-see approach.

                    Now there is shift in the movement of refugees into New Brunswick and something of a crisis in placement. Available housing is an issue as well as the people to assist in this process. This would be a major change from our initial plan to comprehensively assist 1-2 families in 2016. However, it does present opportunities to assist many more refugees, an invitation to do more good.

                    The Weibes, Olmstead and Fitchs  met briefly Tuesday morning and concluded that we need to seek guidance from the full group as soon as possible and decide whether we should commit to walk forward and to explore the possibility of a larger commitment.

                    At this time we do not have complete information on what financial assistance, health programs etc these refugees would have as government assisted refugees (GAR’s) as compared to the BVOR program we intended to work within. Initial information suggests it would be pretty close but we need to get more detail. We recognize that there is danger in our 50+ team losing a sense of personal connection and thus commitment as the months go by. This concern can be addressed in part by limiting our work to say five families, thus being able to still know these people personally.

                    Because timing is important we settled on an emergency meeting Thursday evening at6pm at the Vineyard Church. March break is an issue and several other nights through to Sunday are impossible for various reasons. We would try to keep the meeting to an hour and suggest you bring your sandwich if that works best for you. Laurie Parris from the CCMA will be there.

    THURSDAY March 10, 6 – 7 pm

    St Croix Vineyard Church



    March 3, 2016


    We do not have any major items requiring a meeting until we get word on the arrival of our first family. So we felt it best to defer this meeting until issues arise that require our group attention. Additionally, it is March break and some people felt attendance would be low.



    Wow ! Congratulations and thanks to the many people who worked so long on this major effort ! Results are a net gain of $4,230.50, a big boost that puts our fund close to $45,000 ! Well done ! Community attendance was about 115, an excellent dance turnout we are told,  and everything went very well.


    A meeting with Karen was achieved on Tuesday noon on short notice but she was fully updated on our situation and the concerns about the lack of families being posted for uptake by BVOR groups like ours. She is aware that many NB groups are waiting for families under the BVOR Program while thousands of refugees are being housed in hotels at great expense. We expect to hear back from her efforts in about a week and will update everyone.


    Spoke with Paul who is our contact at the Atlantic Baptist Convention, the Sponsorship Agreement Holder group we work through, and Paul has no word on when postings of families may resume.

    When asked about all the families in hotels in Saint John under the Government Sponsorship Program ( GSP) , as distinct from the BVOR ( Blended Visa Office Referral)  Program we come under, Paul advised he would explore the possibility of getting families from the GSP as was done just recently in Sussex. What is unclear is the funding formula for these families. Taking a family parked in a hotel under the GSP may mean we do not get the $5,000 to $10,000 per family subsidy available under the BVOR Program.

    Once we hear from Paul whether this is possible AND we sort out the subsidy issues, there may be need for a group meeting to make a decision about this other option. First we need to fully understand the plan and the finances and we also need to hear back from Karen Ludwig. Estimating a week or more before we have sufficient information on which to make a decision.



    Don & Tom         March 2, 2016

    Here are two announcements from Don & Tom, our beloved “co-chairs” ….


    The date to request our refugee family has been moved to January 29th (tenatively) for a couple of reasons.
    • As always with construction there are delays.  Floors will not be ready to have furniture moved in until then barring any complications
    • There has been a news release today indicating that once we apply for a family they may already be in Canada in temporary housing.  This means our family would arrive very quickly so it is safer that we are pretty much ready for them when we apply.

    We will keep you posted on these developments.


    The Bank of Nova Scotia is holding a fundraiser for us.  They are having a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Sale on Friday, February 12th from 10 – 2:30 in the bank.  We need:

    • someone who is willing to take lead on advertising and create some stir!  A FB events page, putting up posters (someone is designing one), article in the Courier (Kathy Bockus is very keen), etc.  – Please connect with Karen or Donnie
    • anyone who is willing to bake some cupcakes – even better if decorated in a Valentine’s Day theme! – Please connect with Sheila by the 29th (next Friday) for details if interested.

    Meeting of Housing Committee, Sunday, January 17 after church in the cafe.

    The next general meeting for our group is on Sunday, January 17th at 7 pm.  The meeting will be held in the Cafe at St. Croix Vineyard.

    Update, January 12, 2016:

    Gary Soucoup has been hired to manage the renovation which will begin today.
    Target deadline for completion is January 31.
    If any of you would be able to volunteer, that would be so appreciated:)
    Jobs include:
    • tearing out old materials
    • removing old materials from the work space
    • crack filling
    • painting
    • and more
    To help with the renovation,
    please email, phone or text Gary directly
    with details of your availability, skill set and contact information. 
    You can contact Gary via:
    You will be notified to help as needed.
    It is exciting to see all our efforts moving us closer to welcoming a new family to St Stephen!
    Please pray for safety and unity as we work together on this most worthwhile project.

    Pray as well for the family as the work is done, that they will settle into their new home with grace and ease,

    Thank You

    Press Release, December 2015—-         The “St Croix Vineyard Church & Friends” refugee sponsorship group has held two meetings, raised $10,000 in donations and has organized over thirty volunteers into committees. Group co-chair Tom Wiebe expresses the excitement of the group: “We were surprised at the amount of enthusiasm within our church and the wider community. While our eventual goal is $30,000 for a single family we have been fortunate in seeing donations arrive already in our first ten days. It is very encouraging,” he said.        

    The initial plan is to sponsor one family of four to six persons and consider additional families depending on fundraising results and community support. As the group is partnering with the Atlantic Baptist Convention which is a federal “Sponsorship Agreement Holder,” it triggers federal funding and easier access to various forms of assistance.

    Co-chair Don Olmstead spoke of the amount of work involved. “We have committees for education, medical, housing, furniture and household needs, liaison with governments and support organizations, mental health, employment, cultural awareness training, family finances etc. Fortunately we have over thirty capable volunteers already so we are confident we can handle the challenge”, he said.

             The first two priorities are fundraising and furnishing an apartment or rental house. The group will be soliciting personal, corporate and group donations. Donations are deductible for tax purposes and 100% of funds raised are used for the refugee project. Persons interested in donating may contact the St Croix Vineyard Church (466-5725) or either co-chair Don Olmstead ( 466-2893) or Tom Wiebe (466-2717). Groups interested in doing a fundraising event are very welcome.

    Olmstead noted that “It is not often that we can invest in a genuine humanitarian cause and see the results right here in our town. The opportunity to truly save a family from the horrors of their destroyed country and constant threats to their very lives is one to which we should respond with energy.”

    In a similar comment Wiebe stated “Individuals, groups and governments from coast to coast are being creative in responding to this unique situation. Please join us in being a part of Canada’s peaceful and generous history.”

             Collecting sufficient furniture, appliances, lamps and housewares for a family of 4-6 is a major undertaking and that group is led by Tony and Madeline Huntjens. Refugee groups have generally adopted the standard that if you would not use the item yourself then it is not a suitable donation. Groups with experience have learned to exclude donations of items such as used mattresses. If you have extra items in suitable condition you can contact the Huntjens at 466-1977.

             This group is one of at least two that been established in Charlotte Country to bring refugee families to the area. Donations of all sizes are welcome as each enables our community rescue and give a future to an entire family.