Success Story and More!

We have some great news. Last week, one of our Syrian friends was hired by Pilgrim Place as a full-time painter. He’d been working night shifts at a bakery where hot temperatures and hard working conditions took their toll. Before he arrived in the U.S., he'd been a residential and commercial painter for a living and he hoped he could find similar work here. He was thrilled to be hired by Pilgrim Place. We heard that he came home from his first day of work Monday, happier than he'd been a long time (there may even have been some singing). Pilgrim Place is such a warm and embracing place. He was touched that he boss and the people he works with were so kind. And finally, after 14 months, he gets to stay home nights and enjoy dinner with his family.
A big congrats!

We are in the process of growing and changing. Our team has added two new members. 

Anita Shenoi, a Claremont McKenna College student, will be joining us for a summer internship, thanks to a grant from her college’s Mgrublian Center for Human Rights. She’s the community liaison for the 5C Refugee Advocacy Network (RAN), working to create opportunities for the college community to connect with Syrian families settled here. She’s also been an English tutor for the families. We’re super excited to have her help coordinate events, oversee the booming demand for Supper Club and help advance our Web site and social media outreach.

 Anita dancing with her brother (former president Jimmy Carter looks on) 

Anita dancing with her brother (former president Jimmy Carter looks on) 

Dr. Anne Bennett has also joined the Canopy family as head of the Job Committee. Many of us worked with her last year when some of our families arrived, helping to find them housing and furniture.  She’s an anthropologist who’s taught at the University of Arizona, California State University and Citrus College. She also spent four years as the Assistant Director of the University of Arizona's Center for Middle East Studies. Her ethnographic fieldwork in Syria, conducted in the mid-1990s, focused on the Druze sect. Lucky for us, she’s proficient in Arabic!

 Anne Bennett

Anne Bennett

Our Director Receives An Award!

What an exciting week! Our director, Christy Anderson, was honored as the Woman of Distinction for Claremont by our state’s 41st District for her dedicated service helping refugees in our community. The honor was well deserved — Christy has been tireless in her efforts to help local refugee families. It was also a vote of confidence for Claremont Canopy and its mission to help refugees thrive in their new country.

IMG_2062.JPEG

Assemblymember Chris Holden gave Christy the award in front of over a hundred people at his office in Pasadena. He talked about Christy’s special relationship with the refugee families she helps. Many think of her like family — and undeniably she makes them laugh! (They tease her by calling her Barbie because of her blond hair.)

Also this week, Canopy has received fiscal sponsorship from Claremont Community Foundation. Which means we will soon officially be a nonprofit! Through the support of California Community Foundation, the organization will house Claremont Canopy donations. So now all donations, financial and material, given to Canopy are tax deductible!

Please check out their website if you’re curious to learn more: https://claremontfoundation.org/

A big congrats to our friend, and lead translator, Abdul Kublan for being chosen for a medical residency at Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, California! PVH is just a few miles from Claremont! After receiving a medical degree in Damascus, Abdul has been working hard to get his license here in the states. We are thrilled he will stay local. We didn’t want to lose him for three years to another part of the country!

Canopy is happy to welcome Jessica Moss as a new board member. A resident of Diamond Bar, Jessica has worked closely with The Interfaith Council of Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster to help organizations that assist refugees. She’s worked with ACCESS, A Country Called Syria, and United Nations Association-USA, among others. She has a master’s degree in Sociology from California State University Fullerton and is a regular lecturer at Mt San Antonio College and CSU Fullerton. She’s looking forward to bringing her experience in Orange County to the Claremont area.  

In the coming week, we’re going to work on exploring how to offer more emotional support for our families and how to provide after-school tutoring to refugee kids. Please contact us if you’d like to get involved.

Yalla!

Claremont Canopy Screens "Human Flow"

On Saturday, March 10, Claremont Canopy held our first event and fundraiser at the Rose Hills Theater at Pomona College. Many members of the local community came out on a rainy night to enjoy Syrian food and a special screening of the Ai WeiWei documentary "Human Flow."

It was a festive night, kicked off with the singing of "Happy Birthday" to our dear friend Abdul Kanjo and introducing him to an American staple- Costco birthday cake! There was a great energy as people mingled and enjoyed drinks provided by Last Name Brewery and Syrian appetizers catered by the Kanjo family. Many of our resettled friends were there and it was fun watching everyone getting to know each other.

With stuffed bellies, we all went into the theater to hear brief remarks by Canopy director, Christy Anderson. Christy spoke about our group and our hopes for this community. Then, to the delight of our new neighbors, she gave a special message in Arabic, which our friends assured us was (mostly) understandable.

"Human Flow" is a beautifully filmed look at refugee movements around the world. The film took us into refugee camps, along the escape routes that snaked through multiple countries, and into the minds of those fleeing oppression and violence. It was sobering and moving, but also very humanizing. I think we were all able to conceptualize this overwhelming crisis in a very individual way.

This fun and educational evening was a huge success and raised a significant amount of money for Canopy's initiatives. We are now hard at work looking at how we might address areas of need as well as planning for long term support and resources for our local families. Thank you to all who joined us on Saturday!

 

Hello Claremont (and Beyond)!

It's an exciting moment for us. For months we've been scheming and planning, building relationships and creating structure. We're taking what we've learned as founding members of a local refugee resettlement team, looked at what works and what doesn't, assessed what the long-term needs of families are, and built an organization that puts the needs of resettled families first.

Claremont Canopy will be addressing core elements of long-term refugee success: Employment, Education, Health Care, and Empowerment. We will be partnering with leaders in community, local government, and business to ensure that we can offer the very best relationships and resources. We will be maintaining a Community Advisory Board for this purpose.

We will also work with our partners at Miry's List and the New Arrivals Supper Club to utilize the power of social media and crowdsourcing so that anyone who wants to help with refugee resettlement can easily do so.

Are you excited? We are. Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages, get on our mailing list, donate to support our mission. E-mail us if you're interested in volunteering, advising, or have any special expertise to lend. Claremont Canopy is a community driven organization and we welcome your help! There is a lot of work to be done, let's get started!

New Beginnings

It's an exciting day at Claremont Canopy! Today was move-in day for one of our refugee families. They joined us back in mid-April, coming to California from Syria by way of Connecticut--- two parents, four kids, and a baby on the way. A month and a half later and after taking care of so many other things, they finally found a house in the area and are moving in. They started their stay here using the rooms generously offered by Pomona Presbyterian Church. From there, they moved into a motel in Claremont as their kids got enrolled and started school. In the meantime, the house hunt was long and exhausting.

Affordable housing is a real need in this community. We plan on making this a priority for our group. We'll get educated about it, making connections with the city and with affordable housing providers, and figure out how to make this lovely area a viable option for everyone.

But for now, we celebrate! After a long journey, Claremont's new residents have a place to call home.