The Cochrane Lions, Cochrane Rotary Club, Bow RiversEdge Campground (BREC), and the Cochrane Family and Support Services (FCSS) have teamed up to to help ease the burden upon Ukrainian newcomers moving to Cochrane.

In a joint press release by the groups, the Lions and Rotary Club both committed $5,000 each, and BREC added on an additional $10,000 (BREC is co-owned by the Lions, and Rotary Club).

According to the press release, the FCSS has been "authorized to use up to $20,000 to provide these families with Colt bus passes, passes to the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, and English language learning materials."

Past President of the Cochrane Rotary Club Kevin Shier says it started by just wanting to find a way to help the newcomers.

"As the Rotary Club we initially decided we wanted to find a way to assist newcomer Ukrainians who are coming into the Cochrane area specifically, and we held off on committing any money into any of the things we had read about until we had a better sense of what some of the most important needs were, and it took a bit of time to let that develop."

Shier says things really started to get going after getting in contact with local volunteer Chantal Barber who had been helping connect Ukrainians and Cochranites.

"I met Chantal in June and by that time she'd settled half a dozen families or so in Cochrane and we were at about 48 total families at that point. I went to her and said, well, what do you think our best biggest needs are? She said hands down transportation, english language training, and access to the REC Centre so that they can get out of their host homes and have a little bit of time to themselves and give their families a place where they can go and have some recreation without everything being doom and gloom and just trying to get settled when they come to town."

Shier then went to the Cochrane Lions, and the BREC committee and explained the problems facing the newly arrived Ukrainians says Chairman of the BRECS committee Jim Thorne.

"Kevin Shier brought up the issue of assisting Ukrainians who had been resettled, for lack of a better word, in Cochrane and explained the plight that they've gone through just to simply get here and how much of a need there was for assistance to help them. He illustrated a family that he's actually putting up, what they had been through and there was just no way we could not become involved in helping their situation."

The FCSS will be managing the funds and putting them into the above mentioned areas of need says Shier.

"We have said to FCSS, these funds are available for these particular programs, and then we're going to reassess with FCSS in a couple of weeks from now and see if they're getting used and see if it's the right place to put them, see if FCSS and Chantal have any suggestions as to what might be better. Maybe redirect them as needed, so we're just kind of in a holding pattern right at the moment just to see if any needs change or emerged that we didn't have before."

Another hurdle for Ukrainians to jump over as they were not given the same refugee status that had been given in the past.

"We saw that they're not coming in under a typical refugee program they're coming in under a visa that allows them to work or go to school, they can stay for three years under that visa, and they get a one-time payment when they get here for each adult in each child, and then that's it, and there are no other services presently, there might be something coming more from the province, but when we looked at that, it was different than the way the Syrian families came in, and we knew that these Ukrainian families were going to have a huge need when they got here."

"They haven't chosen to leave, and now they're just sort of being dumped here and made to fend for themselves again. We're hosting a family of five at our place, and we've had them at our place for just over two weeks we're learning a lot about what their experience was like and it has been exactly that. It's been we just had to leave, because we had no choice but to stay safe. They ended up here with whatever they could put in a suitcase and dumb and they have no idea what the future holds for them. So we're just trying to make it, you know, as easy as possible for them to at least get their feet under them when they get here." Says Shier

Thorne says that it is truly hard to comprehend what Ukrainians have had to go through.

"I have been following what's been going on over in the Ukraine, and I don't know how people's hearts can't go to these people they've you know to get over here they've left everything they've ever known. Some of them arrive with luggage that never followed them, so they come here with absolutely nothing and I don't know if any of us can really grasp what's that like. So, Canadians and Cochranites being humanitarian as they are I just don't see a way that we could not have become involved and help these people in whatever way we could, so this will help them in some of the things they're trying to achieve."

Lastly, Shier says that Cochrane is gaining quality people.

"We're happy to be doing it, it’s going to bring a lot of great people into our community and they're going to bring nothing but good for all of Cochrane."