Newcomers open Syrian Community Center of Windsor

A new centre that provides Syrians with education resources, counselling services, employment training, job help, translation assistance and kids programming has opened.

'As Syrians, we believe that we know what they need exactly,' says SCCW president Musaab Almasalmeh

Musaab Almasalmeh, president of the Syrian Community Center of Windsor, holds grand opening celebrations on Sunday. (Jason Viau/CBC)

A group of Syrian refugees in Windsor has opened a community centre to help newcomers like them who have fled the war-torn country.

The Syrian Community Center of Windsor (SCCW) welcomed a few hundred people to its grand opening Sunday at the Caboto Club. And the celebration in Windsor marks a difficult anniversary in Syria.

"The first day of the Syrian revolution started on March 18, 2011," said Musaab Almasalmeh, president of the Syrian Community Center of Windsor. 

"We're here because of that event."

A few hundred people gather to celebrate the opening of the new Syrian Community Center of Windsor. (Jason Viau/CBC)

A soft opening of the non-profit charity organization was held in January at the centre's location at 1214 Ottawa St. Now the Syrians want to get the word out.

"As Syrians, we believe that we know what they need exactly and we can better serve them," said Almasalmeh.

He said Syrian refugees have unique needs, especially when it comes to the culture shock, language barriers and "the circumstances they've been through while they were on camps" in areas surrounding Syria.

Syrian newcomers can find education resources, counselling services, employment training, job help, translation assistance and even kids programming at the new centre.

Money to run the programs and services is coming from citizens in the community, which means the resources are "very limited" right now.

SCCW not trying to replace existing services

Although the community centre's mandate is to help Syrian immigrants and refugees, they aren't trying to replace or duplicate the existing services in Windsor-Essex.

"We're here to compliment the existing organizations who did a great job and we're trying to add more value and services to our community members," said Almasalmeh.