April 1, 2022
Press Release – The Arab-American Family Support Center Hosts a Grand Opening of New Community Center and Citizenship Celebration
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 25th, 2022
NEW YORK— The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) hosted a grand opening of their new community center located on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. In attendance were elected officials, funders, partners, and supporters of AAFSC’s trauma-informed social services for immigrant and refugee communities in NYC. The event celebrated AAFSC’s 62 Adult Readiness program participants who passed their U.S. citizenship interview and exam in 2021 and AAFSC distributed resources to the community in honor of Ramadan, a month dedicated to compassion.
An increased physical presence is more critical now than ever to address pressing and unmet needs in immigrant communities. “The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) is proudly opening doors to a new community center, where we will offer our range of culturally and linguistically accessible support and tangible resources. Underserved immigrant communities deserve a haven, and we are honored to provide that space in every neighborhood in NYC. As we celebrate our new citizens today, we are reminded of the work ahead to build a just society for all,” says AAFSC President & CEO Rawaa Nancy Albilal. Through the center, AAFSC will distribute tangible resources and provide a confidential space for survivors of domestic violence and mental health counseling clients, while fostering equity for historically underrepresented and underserved communities. The center will also house a ‘Family Essentials Bank,’ stocked with diapers, caregiver essentials, and food, which was distributed following the ribbon cutting ceremony. In partnership with Met Council, United Sikhs, and Food Bank for NYC, AAFSC distributed over 300 bags of produce, 200 boxes of non-perishable items, and 200 culturally appropriate hot meals. “Food Bank For New York City is pleased to support the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) with fresh produce that will be used to prepare Iftar meals for families celebrating Ramadan,” said Camesha Grant, Vice President of Community Connection and Reach at Food Bank For New York City. “We’re incredibly proud to support the hundreds of organizations and member agencies across the city and to celebrate the diversity of the communities, holidays and traditions that New Yorkers recognize and observe,” says Grant.
The NYC Civic Engagement Commission program and outreach team members were on site to share information on their Poll Site Language Assistance Program and conduct voter registration with forms in English and Arabic. “The CEC is honored to partner with the Arab-American Family Support Center in our shared missions to empower communities through voter registration, voter education, and through the NYC Taskforce on Racial Equity and Inclusion (TRIE) neighborhood-based participatory budgeting process. AAFSC is a vital voice and advocate for New Yorkers; we celebrate the expansion of their services and opening of the new Brooklyn Center as a resource and gathering space for community,” said Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director, NYC Civic Engagement Commission. In addition to voter registration tabling, The JBT Foundation offered COVID-19 rapid testing outside AAFSC’s storefront.
Event speakers included local elected officials and community leaders, including NYC Council Member Tiffany Cabán, NYC Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, NYC Council Member Lincoln Restler, and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “I’m so honored to join AAFSC for their Grand Opening of what I hope will be a welcoming, vibrant center in which to do all their amazing work for years to come. AAFSC’s trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and linguistically competent services for immigrant communities beautifully exemplify the approaches we need to take in order to make our city safer and healthier for all New Yorkers”, said Cabán.
“I want to congratulate the Arab-American Family Support Center on their new office! As an organization committed to community empowerment, I know this space will be a center for continued organizing and growth. The Arab-American Family Support Center is one of the few culturally responsive and linguistically competent service providers for New York City’s Muslim and immigrant communities, making their work critical across the five boroughs. I look forward to working with them closely to plan food distributions, know your rights workshops, and other necessary programming to support families across the City”, says NYC Council Member Shahana Hanif.
The Arab-American Family Support Center used the Grand Opening to preview the launch of their upcoming Ramadan campaign, Fuel Your Community, a citywide Ramadan campaign to address the disproportionate rates of food insecurity in immigrant communities. The campaign will officially launch on the first day of Ramadan (expected April 2nd) and include digital advocacy efforts, in-person food distribution events, testimonies amplifying the voices of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) community members, and highlight the efficacy of culturally-responsive initiatives through findings from the AAFSC Research Institute.
“Community support centers provide neighborhoods and groups of people valuable services, but they also serve as a welcoming place where people belong. The new Arab-American Family Support Center on Atlantic Avenue will do just that,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “In a borough as diverse as Brooklyn, making available linguistically competent, trauma-informed social services to low-income immigrants and refugees is critical to foster a positive environment where people can thrive. I look forward to seeing all of the positive work this new center will bring communities”, says Antonio Reynoso, Brooklyn Borough President.
The Arab-American Family Support Center is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization established in 1994 to provide culturally and linguistically competent, trauma-informed social services to low-income immigrants and refugees in New York City. While our doors are open to all, over 27 years, we have developed expertise serving Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) populations. AAFSC staff speak 36 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Nepali, Pashto, Punjabi, Urdu, and Wakhi, enabling us to reach traditionally underserved communities. AAFSC’s free, trauma-informed programs include adult education, youth enrichment, mental health counseling, health insurance and SNAP enrollment, domestic violence case management, parenting classes, emergency financial assistance, legal services, and vaccine education/enrollment.
WHAT: The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) Grand Opening on
Atlantic Avenue, U.S. Citizenship Celebration, and Community Resources
WHEN: Friday, March 25, 11AM-1PM
WHERE: 384-386 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
WHO: Partners and Speakers include:
City Council Member Tiffany Cabán
City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse
City Council Member Lincoln Restler
Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon
The NYC Civic Engagement Commission
Food Bank for New York City