June 20 is World Refugee Day, which aims to bring attention to the plight of the world’s refugees and to offer support, encouragement and respect.

Here in Toronto, the Canadian Red Cross helps refugees arriving in the area with the First Contact program. I recently met a First Contact client who is originally from Kenya. He has no friends or family in Canada and needed help with referral to a shelter.

First Contact staff explained to him the immigration process and what to expect, how to access social welfare, advice on careers and where to volunteer. First Contact also helped him find a place to live. He told me that without the program he would likely be living on the street.

First Contact supports refugees by providing information on how to find shelter, health care, language and legal assistance. During office hours, people can also visit the Toronto Region office for assistance.

Last year, the program helped 1780 clients with only 2 staff and 5 volunteers!

There are some interesting events in the city for World Refugee Day. Check it out.