Like a Lotus, Young Iraqi Immigrant Blooms with Confidence

A thirteen-year-old Iraqi refugee moved to the United States with her mother and grandmother. Everything was new to her here; the language, the styles of communication, even the diversity of cultures surprised her. The young girl learned of Access California Services and joined AccessCal’s Arab Youth Collective in its early months of launching last year. Upon joining the group she was slightly reserved, quiet, and reluctant to meeting new people. During one of the Collective’s weekly meetings, she fleetingly expressed experiencing difficulty adapting to her new life in this entirely new culture.

“[The Arab Youth Collective] taught me to never give up and to always ask questions.”

As months progressed, she gradually began interacting more openly with her peers at the Arab Youth Collective. She realized that their issues and anxieties were similar to hers. She began expressing her own ideas and opinions. Her confidence was beginning to grow.

When we recently asked her about her experiences with the Arab Youth Collective she said, “It taught me to never give up and to always ask questions. I always look forward to our weekly gatherings.”

Early on, her visits may have seemed like casual meetings with peers, but this group of delightful young Arab Americans has become her outlet to question issues and to talk about her stresses and concerns. It has allowed her to exchange ideas and create a dialogue about complex matters in a safe, welcoming space.  Today, although she misses her home of Iraq, she believes the Arab Youth Collective is really her home away from home.


Abandoned Immigrant Woman Starts New Chapter in Life

Sandra is an immigrant woman who comes from a well-off background. In her country of origin, she worked as a teacher. Her husband took great care of her. She was independent and happy. When she immigrated to the United States of America with her husband, they had high hopes of starting a new chapter of their lives together in the newfound land.

When she met with one of AccessCal’s team members, her hopes and expectations, coupled with our unconditional support, motivated her.

Life took a sharp turn. Her husband left her. He left her with nothing. She was overwhelmed with grief and a great deal of rejections.

She had to find support. She was told about Access California Services. When she met with one of AccessCal’s team members, her hopes and expectations, coupled with our unconditional support, motivated her. One of our team members met with her weekly to help her secure employment. She never missed a meeting. She never gave excuses. One day, she was referred to a job fair, where she was unfortunately rejected due to her surpassing qualifications. She was disappointed but did not lose hope; neither did the team at AccessCal. Sure enough, Sandra was able to secure an interview at a local department store as a sales associate. After filling out the job application with her case manager at AccessCal, she was called in for an interview where was offered the job on the spot.

We are so proud of Sandra. Her successes allow us to continue loving what we do. We wish her the best.

AccessCal Honors New Citizens with City of Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Access California Services (AccessCal) celebrated the success of its citizenship class students, who recently passed their citizenship exam or who have recently become US citizens after having recently  taken oath. The City of Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray joined the celebration and congratulated the new US citizens.

Nahla Kayali Receives 2014 Cal Wellness Sabbatical Award

Nahla Kayali, founder and executive director of Access California Services (AccessCal), received The California Wellness Foundation Sabbatical Program Award. The award recognizes executives’ dedication to their communities and grants $35,000 to cover each executive director’s salary and other expenses during a minimum three-month sabbatical.

“When I launched AccessCal 15 years ago with a set of folding chairs and tables, I never imagined that I’d ever receive such an esteemed sabbatical one day,” Kayali said. “I am eager to use this precious time off to revitalize myself and refocus my priorities for the organization to better help enrich the lives of those in our local immigrant and refugee community. I am certain that we have built a sturdy leadership team who will unquestionably hold down the fort during my temporary absence.”

The California Wellness Foundation Sabbatical Program Award was created to improve the long-term effectiveness of health-focused nonprofits by providing their executives with the rest they need to continue to direct their organizations’ missions. The California Wellness Foundation is a private, independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.

AccessCal Celebrates its Community’s Educational Accomplishments

Access California Services (AccessCal) celebrates today as it graduates community members from its programs in para-professional mental health, childcare/daycare licensing, computer techniques, sewing and beading. We are so proud of them and their accomplishments. We wish them all the success as they now hold the necessary skills to pursue new careers. Congratulations!

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