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Nampa's Ukrainian Welcome Center has helped 500 people over the past year

Nonprofits collaborated to open the center, which has helped 500 people find their footing in Idaho after fleeing the war in Ukraine started by Russia's invasion.

NAMPA, Idaho — The Idaho Alliance for Ukrainian Refugees and Immigrants in collaboration with the Boise Rescue Mission has helped 500 people find their footing in Idaho after fleeing the war in Ukraine started by Russia's invasion.

The duo operates the Ukrainian Welcome Center in Nampa. The center provides english classes, financial literacy and work training.

"Despite the fact that there's so much evil happening, and half a world away, there's the flip side, there's a lot of generosity and a lot of goodness here in Idaho," welcome center Executive Director Tina Polishchuk said. "Right now, we're welcoming on average two to three cases a week. So, a case could be one individual person, or it could be an entire family."

People coming to America from Ukraine are under Humanitarian Parole status as oppose to official refugee status. Humanitarian Parole is a temporary status that allows the recipient to live and work in the United States for about a year without a visa. The person receiving the status must have a personal connection - like a family member - in the United States to qualify.

Under Humanitarian Parole, Ukrainian people were not qualifying for the government's refugee resettlement program in 2022. A large chunk of the welcome center's initial work was to bridge the gap between people's needs, and government support.

However, that has since changed.

"Government services that are available to Ukrainians have also sort of caught up," Polishchuk said. "Right now, most of the services that we provide are mostly access to social services."

Humanitarian Parole for the people served by the welcome center has been extended by another year, according to Polishchuk. Work authorization was a hurdle in 2022, but now the center now can get people approved to work legally in the United States in six weeks.

Self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal; however, overwhelming support and generosity has made the center successful.

"We've had people donate cars. We have had a family recently that we gifted a car to, and they have five children – a sixth one on their way," Polishchuk said. "There have been a lot of people step up and say 'I'm willing to be a cosigner for a home,' which, you know, when you live here, and you don't have a credit score, you don't have a rental history, that can be challenging."

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