December 23, 2019
For immigrants and refugees across New York and beyond, 2019 was an alarming and tumultuous year. In the face of rising xenophobia, racism, and hate, AAFSC doubled down and strengthened our commitment to our mission – empowering immigrants and refugees with the tools they need to successfully acclimate to the world around them and become active participants in their communities. Your support was key to making our work possible throughout these hardships and a testimony to the power of community solidarity.
Over the past 25 years, AAFSC has provided culturally and linguistically competent services to immigrants and refugees, with special expertise serving Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian populations. We pride ourselves in our commitment to healing and ensure our staff are trauma-informed. We approach our four priority areas – Prevent, Promote, Get Ready, and Communicate – through a mental health lens, prioritizing safety, trust, collaboration, and mutual respect. This enables us to practice our anti-oppression and social justice framework with the health of our clients at the heart of all we do. But, we didn’t stop there. This past year, we also trained our staff in the Community Resiliency Model, taking our trauma-informed work a step further to ensure that all staff can support our constituents in returning their minds and bodies back to balance in the face of triggering experiences.
Thanks to you – our generous donors, volunteers, partners, and allies – AAFSC’s growth has been exponential. Our staff have more than doubled in size since 2017 and we now collectively speak 21 languages, expanding our reach and impact across hard-to-reach communities throughout New York City. We’ve introduced multiple 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 non-traditional, trusted community stakeholders in reducing stigma and increasing access to mental health care for immigrant populations. We piloted our one-of-its-kind Caregiver-Child Bonding Circles to support caregivers and their 0-3 year old children build social-emotional well-being in the face of trauma, and expanded our Young Adult Program, helping the next generation build their academic, leadership, and healthy relationship skills to ensure they are prepared for the next step in their journey. We also actively educated our community about threats to Public Charge and pledges from hard-to-count communities to participate in the Census.
Although we continuously break barriers, AAFSC’s work is far from over. As we continue to strive towards our vision of a socially just society where all immigrants and refugees can fully partake as Americans, we must raise our voices even louder for social justice. Our strength is in our diversity, and together, we will create a future that is safe and just for all. We cannot wait to share our journey with you in 2020 – thank you for being a committed ally and friend to AAFSC.