UMFA grant helps renovate space for homeless healthcare clinics at CanvasCommunity Church

UAMS College of Nursing to lead clinic initiative

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA) on March 17 announced an anonymous gift of $25,000 from a Little Rock family to help renovate the facility at CanvasCommunity Church at 1111 West 7th St. in Little Rock, to house clinics for a homeless healthcare initiative led by the UAMS College of Nursing.

“The clinics will save lives,” said the Rev. Carter Ferguson, senior pastor at CanvasCommunity, in a news release. “But they also allow CanvasCommunity to do things to love our friends on the street in ways that we were simply never able to do before because of lack of resources.”

Thanks in part to a group of teenage volunteers from Baptist Preparatory School who took on demolition tasks as part of their school’s annual Missions Week, renovations began in March. With construction professionals now handling the remodeling phase, the work should conclude in early April. The congregation and UAMS hope to open the clinic the week of May 1.

The College of Nursing will coordinate with its faculty and students to hold weekly clinics at CanvasCommunity—likely with operating hours overlapping the church’s existing Dinner and a Movie ministry held each Wednesday. With a different focus each week of the month, the clinic will provide education and screenings for mental health, women’s health issues, general health promotion topics and foot care. The clinic’s programs will offer educational experiences for UAMS nursing students while potentially leading to a reduction in unreimbursed medical care associated with the homeless population, according to the College of Nursing.

“Providing much-needed healthcare to the Little Rock homeless population is an effort that follows the footsteps of Christ,” said Jim Argue Jr., UMFA president and CEO. “We are pleased to have a role in making healthcare services available to our brothers and sisters on the street.”

A United Methodist mission congregation, CanvasCommunity has been working with homeless individuals for six years, providing worship services, fellowship, food, clothing and more. The idea for the clinics grew out of a ministry providing women’s hygiene products to those on the street.

“Our intent is to continuously expand our programming and deepen our medical involvement, which has already grown beyond women’s health before it began,” Ferguson said. “We appreciate and thank the United Methodist Foundation for an additional grant of $20,750 which will allow us to bring our facilities up to medical code so that the clinics can begin.”

Services already being offered through CanvasCommunity’s homeless outreach efforts, such as HIV testing and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, will continue as currently supported through a partnership with ARCare. In addition to support from secular community organizations, a number of other United Methodist churches have signed on to support CanvasCommunity and its clinic, including First UMC Little Rock, St. James UMC Little Rock, Salem UMC Conway and Oaklawn UMC Hot Springs.