January 30, 2019
As we continue reflecting on the new year, we are proud to share our continued commitment to inclusion and social equity in 2019.
Results that Matter
We are sincerely grateful to all of you, along with friends, supporters, and allies, for helping us to improve, sustain and operationalize our mission—empowering immigrants and refugees with the tools needed to acclimate to the world around them and become active and productive participants in their communities. With your help in 2018, AAFSC reengaged the communities we serve, and effectively addressed emerging community challenges, by consolidating its work across four priority areas: Promote, Get Ready, Prevent, and Communicate with a focus on strengthening families. In each of these strategic priority areas, we are promoting mental and physical well-being, healthy relationships, and family reunification. We are helping our families by getting them ready to lead productive lives. We are preventing domestic violence, and child abuse. Perhaps most importantly, AAFSC is communicating the needs of the marginalized, amplifying their voices to guide policy, improve services, and decision-making for better strategies that deliver results.
In 2018, AAFSC grew in its size (staff and service area of coverage) and in its quality and quantity of community impact. We developed several new initiatives, including our Mental Health Initiative, through which we offer individual counseling to youth and adults, and ‘Reclaiming our Health’ through which we include traditional and non-traditional stakeholders in reducing stigma and increasing access to care. AAFSC publicly launched Reclaiming our Health in June 2018 in partnership with Maimonides Medical Center’s Community Care of Brooklyn (CCB), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and community stakeholders. This launch was the result of a yearlong intensive and collaborative planning, community outreach, and coordination efforts. The aim is to engage community leaders, faith leaders, and stakeholders across Brooklyn, and promote wellness, early detection, access to support and care, and connections to effective interventions within immigrant and refugee communities.
We also expanded our Youth Initiatives through our new young men’s group MENar (meaning guiding light in Arabic), and our young women’s group AYWA (Audacious Young Women of Action). Through these initiatives, we are preparing young adults with healthy relationship skills, financial literacy, and leadership development.
Social Justice Framework
AAFSC’s vision is more pressing today than ever: We are striving for a socially just society where all immigrants, including Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian populations, can fully partake as Americans. We pursue our vision across all priority areas and we structure our activities around impact and outcomes for adults, families, and children. We need to be hopeful as we hold onto this vision, especially during dark and difficult times when our communities are being targeted by insensitive and oppressive policies and programs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words remind us that we need to be a beacon of light for those that are impacted, giving us hope in that “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Although we have made significant strides toward our priorities in 2018, there are key issues that will continue to be pressing into the future—AAFSC’s commitment to social justice, and our steadfastness in confronting xenophobia, racism, and all forms of oppression. As an organization that values healing, our anti-oppression and social justice framework necessitates that we continue to have a staff that is trauma-informed. This means we approach every interaction through a lens of safety, trustworthiness, peer support, collaboration, mutual respect, and an appreciation for cultural, historical, and gender-based sensitivity.
Over the past 25 years, since our founding, we have been working to amplify the voices of populations we serve by raising awareness with key decision-makers about the increased access to resources and tools our service recipients need to succeed and thrive. We have been working diligently to engage, learn from, and raise the voices and concerns of the marginalized populations that we serve—stressing the need for access, equality, and participation. Establishing an engaged, compassionate and proactive social justice framework directs our work around the concerns of our service recipients. This helps us to communicate a more informed message about the issues that disproportionately or uniquely impact our service recipients. This year, we look forward to communicating with you all on key issues through this blog. We are aiming to advance our mission by building a public conversation through a dialog with key decision-makers to enhance freedom and possibilities for marginalized populations, new immigrants, and refugees.
Thank you for your dedication to immigrants and refugees, and for helping us achieve our mission and work. Together, we will continue to be a beacon of hope and a champion for social justice in 2019!