Volunteer efforts come full circle

Published on March 17, 2017

Local woman recognized by Bar Society for work helping refugee families

Sarah MacIntosh has always been a believer in building your community and making it a better place. When she volunteered, she focused her efforts on Pictou County and the people.

It’s because of that local focus she wasn’t involved with the refugee crisis as early as many other Canadians were.

Her perspective changed when the picture of a Syrian toddler’s body washed up on a beach hit the front pages.

“I stopped feeling satisfied with my narrow focus on just our own community,” she said. She decided to look beyond the county’s borders and ended up helping welcome two new families to Pictou County, as a result building closer ties with those already here. For her work MacIntosh has been recognized by the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Bar Society with their Community Service Award.

In a nomination letter to the Canadian Bar Association of Nova Scotia, Gerald Green, a managing partner at MacMac&Mac where MacIntosh works, described how she led the efforts.

As chair for Pictou County Safe Harbour, he said she was responsible for handling the sponsorship applications; overseeing fundraising and board meetings; locating suitable housing for the families; liaising with the families after their arrival; and leading advocacy efforts to improve communication between provincial/federal governments and rural sponsorship groups like PCSH.

Her other work ranged from collecting and delivering clothing donations to support the sponsored families, to having those families into her home for meals and fellowship. She even donated a vehicle to one of the Almethyb families to assist as they settled.

In a letter of support Rev. Donna Tourneur of Trinity United Church described how MacIntosh worked to make the families’ arrival possible.

“We are in a different place in Pictou County and specifically New Glasgow because of her work, and she is changing the world, one person at a time,” Tourneur wrote.

“Typically, Sarah does not take credit for this work, but it would not have happened without her, and we recognize that lives of refugees have been impacted, yet so have ours. She is a leader in our community in the best way possible; quietly, consistently and with a great team behind her.”

MacIntosh said she was a bit reluctant to receive the award at first, but honoured to be chosen.

“My contributions to Safe Harbour and the other community groups I work with are only one piece of the puzzle – there were and are many, many hands involved in the wonderful work that’s happening in Pictou County.”

MacIntosh said for her one of the biggest highlights of the Safe Harbour work has been seeing the volunteer efforts come full circle.

“Not only are the Syrian families proud to call New Glasgow and Pictou County home, they are committed to helping our community flourish,” she said. “Several of the family members have spent time volunteering – at local fundraisers, at the Museum of Industry to help set up for the March Break activities, and at the library…. They are eager to give back to the community that provided a safe home for them in their time of need.”