First United Presbyterian Church

FUPC Supports Canopy

Canopy NWA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to welcoming refugees to Northwest Arkansas. Since 2016, Canopy has welcomed people from around the world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. Now with a staff of 32, the group is united in the desire to provide refugees with a good, safe home here in Northwest Arkansas and the understanding that NWA will be a stronger, more diverse community thanks to these new neighbors.

Canopy provides services and support for individuals and families, helping them find housing, connect with local resources, and begin their new lives in our community. Part of the process is connecting the new households with a Cosponsor team — a group of six to eight local people who are the first friends the new residents make here in Northwest Arkansas.

Several members of FUPC attended a cosponsorship training with Canopy last week: participants were Ron Woodruff, Dennis and Elizabeth Nelson, Rebecca Haden, and Leigh Woodruff. We have signed up to form a cosponsor team. Canopy will assign a new household to us. We hope to bring the congregation together to welcome our new Northwest Arkansas neighbors.

Who are refugees?

Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their original home countries because they face persecution on the basis of their membership in a particular nationality, religion, race, or social group. It is a legal designation. People must apply for refugee status and the process of gaining this status and permission to come to the United States can take years.

Everyone helped by Canopy has already been recognized as a refugee.

What services does Canopy provide?

Through the Reception and Placement program, Canopy provides all newly arriving refugee families with intensive case management and financial support for their first 90 days in the United States. Many households are also eligible for the Matching Grant Program, which extends these services up to 180 days. 

Specifically, Canopy helps with the following needs:

  • Securing permanent safe and affordable housing
  • Applying for social security and public benefits 
  • Enrolling family members in school 
  • Accessing healthcare for all members of the family
  • Job training and securing employment
  • Cultural orientation classes
    • English language learning
    • Community integration
    • Navigating Northwest Arkansas

At the end of this resettlement period, the goal is that all families will be financially self-sufficient.

How can we help?

Each Cosponsor team helps to furnish an apartment for a family. You may have new or gently used items to donate to the family we’re assigned to help.

Once the family arrives, we will get to know them and help them get to know their new home and community. You may choose to help with transportation, to visit the family or to invite them to visit you, or to give them an opportunity to practice their English.

Please contact Rob Button or Dennis Nelson if you’d like to join the effort!

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