Auction takes wing to find homes for refugees

Birdhouses on the block to support Syrian families coming to Victoria

Jennifer Handley (left) and Ginny Glover of the St. George’s Refugee Sponsorship Project will have more than 140 elaborately decorated birdhouses up for bidding on Tuesday at the There’s No Place Like Home fundraiser for Syrian refugees. The birdhouses were painted and designed by local artists

A local church’s effort to find homes for Syrian refugees has resulted in more than 100 houses for some feathered friends.

On Tuesday, the St. George’s Refugee Sponsorship Project is hosting There’s No Place Like Home, a fundraiser at the Inn at Laurel Point where more than 140 birdhouses will be auctioned off to raise money for Syrian refugees. Each birdhouse has been decorated by a local artist, with a wide variety of designs and styles up for bidding.

“This evening is really going to be a celebration of all of the incredible efforts that the artistic community and the general community have put into this project,” said Ginny Glover, co-chair of the fundraising committee.

“The name ‘There’s No Place Like Home,’ that whole concept of home and safety and welcome is what’s reflected in this response from the artistic community,” said Jennifer Handley, who co-chairs the project with David Stuart.

Spearheaded by St. George’s with support from five local parishes, the event is an offshoot of a fundraiser that Glover organized in Calgary a few years back, where about 150 artists painted chairs in extravagant ways for auction.

“I brought it here when we were sponsoring a refugee family,” said Glover. “I talked to Rev. Canon Richard LeSueur and said, ‘I’d be happy to do another fundraiser with chairs,’ but I couldn’t find chairs, so he said, ‘Well, why don’t you try birdhouses?’ It was a fabulous idea.”

Glover and committee member Sheryl Fisher reached out to local artists and arts groups, who were more than willing to take on some birdhouses and spread the word to others. Before long, a group of 11 people built 110 birdhouses and distributed them to the artists, with an array of creative results.

The response has been incredible, with Glover noting some artists have opted to design and build their own birdhouses for the auction.

“We ended up getting owl houses, glass houses, seaweed houses, architectural ones from the sculpture guild that I’m a part of – they just kept coming,” she said. “I’ve had birdhouses dropped off on my door, from people who aren’t even on my list.”

The birdhouses will be up for grabs in a live auction, as well as two silent auctions, at the fundraiser. The group will also be raising money for the refugees through the sale of grab bags and tickets for a date night giveaway at Laurel Point.

The evening also includes live music from the Tom Vickery Trio with Rob Johnson and Kelby MacNayr, as well as light refreshments and a cash bar.

More than 40 of the artists are expected to be on hand at the event, and Glover noted that for some of them, the fundraiser hits particularly close to home.

“There are a number of people who were refugees and have come to Canada and made this their home, and if it’s not them, their parents were refugees,” said Glover. “They’re now creating a birdhouse for the new refugees.”

The fundraiser starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 at the Inn at Laurel Point, located at 680 Montreal St. Tickets are $50 and are available at the door or online at

Handley said they hope the fundraiser elicits the same charitable response from the general community as it has from the artistic community that has put much of their time and effort into the birdhouses.

“Victoria has really stepped up and is welcoming all these newcomers,” said Handley. “People really have been very open and responsive in helping out, and this is just another way that they can get involved and make a difference.”



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