Bridge of Hope

For a long time I have wanted a place in my community where I could experience the diversity of my city and where I could be of service. I am so grateful to have landed in just this kind of organization. It’s called Bridge of Hope. This is a very harmonious group, fortunate in leadership and able members.
I’m working with other volunteers at Bridge of Hope to support a young Syrian family. I’m watching them take root and thrive. The learning never stops, not least of which is when tutoring English and learning about life in Syria. I’ve learned some geography, some Arabic script, and cultural practices – enough to have a friendly glimpse of a life that is very different from mine. And, sad to say, in a painful, horrifying way, I’ve learned from the fact that neighbours of the Syrians I work with here in the Niagara region were killed in Syria by a bomb.
There is a depth of gratitude and learning also in moving closer to people not usually in my Quaker circle – Mennonites, Muslims, and United Church members – whom I have known only at arm’s length. Doing this work together at a time with such a charged political climate, being able to enjoy each other’s company as we work and socialize, filling hours with satisfying helpful activity, is empowering. We are working into a vision of caring and inclusion. We have a voice and presence in the community, which is also strengthening for others as a model of how to peacefully live together.
While we support our Syrian family, we also have a vision of establishing an alliance with local Indigenous Peoples and, in time, reaching out to the marginalized in the St. Catharine’s community as well.
The leaders of Bridge of Hope have drawn up a constitution and by-laws that will support a means of growing community. The structure holds that all people are equal, equally deserving of the goodness that we are privileged to share in the Bridge of Hope.
One personal vision I have is to come to the day when group identities blur and I am simply with my friends.
Rose Marie Cipryk is member of Pelham Executive Meeting. Bridge of Hope is a refugee settlement team of various faith groups in the Niagara Region. CFSC gave Don Alexander an individual grant to support work with Bridge of Hope.