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Richmond Elvis Valentine’s concert to fundraise for Congolese refugee family

Community members are invited to enjoy a romantic evening for a good cause on Feb. 12.
The fundraising concert will be held on Feb. 12.

A charity concert is being held at Gilmore Park United Church to support a refugee family’s first year in Canada.

The “Love Me Tender with Elvis” concert, organized by Safe Arms Richmond, will feature a performance by Elvis impersonator Steve Elliott to help a Congolese family of nine.

The three-generation Congolese family, which includes three children, is currently living in Uganda while they wait for approval to come to Canada as sponsored refugees. The process has been hugely delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safe Arms Richmond, which is a coalition of Richmond churches, is sponsoring the family. Members include Gilmore Park United, South Arm United, Richmond United and Richmond Presbyterian Church.

Spokesperson Susan Johnsen said it is a rare occasion for the churches to hold a joint event such as the charity concert, and they wanted to make it special.

“We wanted to do something that would bring people together… and something we would enjoy inviting our friends and family,” she said.

Safe Arms Richmond is also hoping to raise awareness for their efforts in helping refugees integrate into the local community.

The coalition had initially planned to raise $60,000 when the project began in 2019 but rising costs of living and lack of affordable housing have forced them to increase their goal to $80,000. So far, more than $30,000 has been raised through regular bake sales and other fundraisers.

Johnsen said the biggest concern at the moment is finding affordable housing for the family, as they would like to avoid separating the family of nine.

“They’ve been living together as three generations. They’re going to be quite traumatized… By the time they get here, we want to keep them together so they can support each other,” she said.

“Anybody that has ideas that we can pursue for (housing), we would welcome their thoughts.”

The “Love Me Tender with Elvis” charity concert will be held on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m. The show will consist of two 45-minute acts and a 20-minute intermission. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased from [email protected] or 604 277 5377.