Our First Three Families Have Arrived!
First of all, we want to say thank you to all of you who gave backpacks, welcome baskets and financial contributions to help us Prepare a Place for refugees.
Your gifts could not have come at a better time because, by Christmas, we had welcomed not one, not two, but three refugee families to Northwest Arkansas!
They are here and our work has fully begun.
Our Case Manager has helped these families apply for social security cards, taken them to their health screenings and helped everyone to settle in to their new homes (apartments). Our employment specialist has worked with each family to set short and long term goals for their new life here in Arkansas, starting with English classes and job training.
But no one has been busier than our co-sponsor teams. They have taught these families how to ride the bus, how to navigate Walmart, how to do laundry in an laundromat. They've had them over for dinner and taken them to see the lights on the Fayetteville square. They held the kids' hands when they had to get dental work done and celebrated with them when they made it through their first day of school. And most importantly, they've introduced the refugee families to their friends and networks.
And that's all thanks to YOU -- our community.
We all still have a long way to go though! In the weeks to come, our families' days will be full with job training, cultural orientation and English classes. Their kids will have school and after-school homework help. Our employment specialist will help the adults fill out job applications, polish their resumes and practice a firm handshake so that as soon as their Social Security cards arrive, they can begin working. We can't wait to watch these first families begin to stand on their own.
And this is only the beginning: several more families are scheduled to arrive in the coming months. As we prepare to welcome them, we need more co-sponsor teams to help them integrate into our community, we need homework helpers to help the kids become the best students they can be, and we need volunteers to help with childcare, transportation, and interpretation (the majority of our families will come from the Congo, so if you speak Swahili, let us know!).
If you would like to give your time or talent to help a refugee become an Arkansan, please sign up as a volunteer!
Thank you so much for joining with us in providing welcome and new beginnings to refugees in Northwest Arkansas.
On the day after she arrived, a young mother told me, “I’ve only been here a few hours, but already this place is home.”
Today, a young refugee mother has the opportunity to call Arkansas home because of YOU, our community.
"Thank you" is truly insufficient to express our gratitude.
Emily Crane Linn