Recruitment for the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Program Has Begun!

Monday, June 28, 2021, kick-started our recruitment drive for the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Program. Access California Services (AccessCal) is the only organization in the State of California to have an AmeriCorps program dedicated to providing health and human services to refugee and immigrant communities from the Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim-American populations.

By joining the AmeriCorps Program at AccessCal, members gain a slew of experiences from working on the frontlines to enrich the lives of the underserved community, including refugees and immigrants. They work as case managers in the Health Services, Mental Health Services, Employment, Education and Health and Wellness Services for Seniors Department. Members undergo numerous trainings such as in case management, marketing, communications, fundraising, operation management, budget and accounting among others. Under the guidance of the senior management team at AccessCal, AmeriCorps members get to learn firsthand the multi-dimensional approach to addressing the needs of those suffering from economic disparity and inequity.   

To join AccessCal’s AmeriCorps Program, please email Suzanne Baker, Director of Operations, at

Refugee Youth Shine at RFOC’s World Refugee Day 2021 Virtual Event

The Refugee Forum of Orange County (RFOC) hosted its annual World Refugee Day event on Monday, June 21. This event saw refugee youth shine as leaders as they empowered the attendees with insightful knowledge about the life of refugees. Through short documentary films, the 70 plus participants watched four refugee youth’s journey in America. The films showcased different aspects of their life such as being the only English speaker in the family, having to take on a range of responsibilities at a young age, cultural barriers that hindered their progress, recreating their traditions in America as well as highlighting the role of parents. An inspirational panel discussion ensued thereafter, which witnessed youth answered a range of questions provided by the audience. This was followed by a motivation speeches by guest speakers, Dr. Clayton Chau, Director of the Orange County Healthcare Agency and Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, our Mental Health Advisor. Dr. Chau and Sheikh Yassir, shared their past experience as refugee youth and what they learned through their journey. They applauded the resiliency and bravery showcased by the refugee youth and commended them on gracefully tackling their hurdles to meet their goals and dreams. The youth thanked Dr. Chau and Sheikh Yassir for their guidance and advice.

This event also hosted an Advocacy through Artful Expression session featuring two youngsters. One of the youth sang traditional Bangla songs and the other entertained the audience with a live guitar performance. The event ended with a raffle and a discussion among the audience on how they can support refugee youth succeed in their home country. This event was extremely heartfelt. It brought tears to the eyes of the audience, who virtually sat in awe, listening to these youngsters narrate their struggles. They applauded them on their academic achievements and cheered them on their graduation news. Most of these refugee youth hope to be future doctors and public servants as they would like to help their community. They also hope to be role models and support new arrivals adapt to their surroundings. The members of Refugee Forum of Orange County look forward to hosting many such events that honor the bravery and resilience of refugees and supporting them as rebuild their future in Southern California.

Community Vaccine Drive at AccessCal

California has reopened and 48% of the population has received the vaccine. Getting vaccinated will help end the pandemic once and for all!

To provide our community with easy access to the vaccine, we partnered with United Way of Orange County to host a pop-up Covid-19 vaccine drive at our office on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Our clients and members of the community, who haven’t received their vaccine, dropped by to get their shot. They received a free $25 Target gift-card and also put their names towards a Disney Resort Vacation raffle draw.

World Refugee Day 2021

As proud members of the Refugee Forum of Orange County, we are delighted to welcome our community to our 2021 World Refugee Day event.

On Monday, June 21 at 3:30 PM, we will come together to celebrate refugee youth and hear from our future leaders. The event will feature a youth panel discussion, film screening and advocacy through artwork. Our guest speakers include Dr. Clayton Chau, Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and Acting County Health Officer, as well as our Mental Health Services Advisor, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga. We will also be joined by Viktorija Mickute, Senior Producer and Maria Fernanda Lauret, Post Production of Al Jazeera (AJ) Contrast – the Innovation Studio of Al Jazeera.  

Participants will learn about the struggles and successes of refugee youth and what they can do to empower these youngsters in their community. To register, click this link

For any questions or concerns, please email Lilly Ahmed at

Mental Health Awareness Month at AccessCal

Our Founder and Executive Director, Nahla Kayali, started AccessCal with the hope to one day provide culturally and linguistically sensitive mental health services to the underserved community. Since 1998, AccessCal has evolved and grown to providing close to 100 services in 16 languages. However, helping individuals uplift their mental and emotional well-being in a safe and sensitive environment stays core to our mission. We have a caring team of behavioral health professionals that offer marriage and family therapy, as well as group, couples and individual counseling services for children, teens and adults. We also aim to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness in the Arab-American and Muslim-American community. Mental health awareness is conducted year-round through workshops, classes and our annual wellness conference called, Peace of Mind. Through these interactive forums, we address issues of depression, anxiety, stress management, cultural adjustment, grief, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic violence, suicide prevention and parenting among others.

This Mental Health Awareness month, we are continuing our year-round efforts to break the stigma as well as to provide avenues for our community members to relax and de-stress. We have initiated a digital communications campaign to highlight the importance of mental health. Additionally, we have organized a range of activities for people of all ages, such as the youth, the elderly, families and individuals to participate in. To participate, please email our Mental Health Case Manager, Aliza Ahmed, at

AccessCal Gets Covered by Voice of OC

It is with great delighted we share this amazing coverage on Access California Services. Titled, “Over 20 Years Ago an Arab Immigrant Sought Help; Now She And Her Nonprofit Are Serving OC Residents Amid a Pandemic”, this article covers the journey of our Founder and Executive Director, Nahla Kayali, from 1998 to 2021. It also highlights our programs and services including the assistance we provide to refugees, immigration and citizenship services and mental health counseling, Most importantly, it covers how the AccessCal team stepped up to serve on the frontlines during these challenging times.

On sharing the importance of keeping our doors open, Nahla stated, “I think each and every one of us chose to be in this profession to help the community and this is the time that they needed us and we responded immediately.”

To read more, click here.

Join Us to Give Back This Ramadan

As we look forward to celebrating this auspicious time of the year with our brothers and sisters, we invite you to join us in helping change lives. Each of us has the opportunity to leave a legacy behind. Ramadan is the month of self-discipline, reflection, community and charity. We hope you will think of AccessCal when you seek to alleviate the burden of those who suffer. Together with you, we can change the destiny of a person’s life.

RAMADAN FUNDRAISER – We invite our supporters to join us this auspicious month to help change the lives of the underserved individuals and families in our community. Your donations will go towards helping our clients access close to 100 programs and services. Click this LINK to give back!

WEEKLY IMPACT UPDATES – Every week, we will share how your support has positively impacted the lives of the underserved community. Don’t forget to share these impact stories if you feel inspired. Sign-up for our newsletter on our website.

ANNUAL EID TOY DRIVE – We look forward to hosting our Annual Eid Toy Drive this year. We need your help to bring smiles on the faces of the children in our community. You can donate via Amazon Smile or drop off new and unused toys at our office on Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Please click this LINK for Amazon Smile.

What Does It Mean to Be a Refugee Youth in America?

As part of our efforts to empower the youth in our community to make an impact while learning a new skill-set, we initiated a Refugee Youth Immersive Storytelling project with Al Jazeera Contrast (AJ Contrast) –  the innovation studio of Al Jazeera Digital. To kick-start this project, the youth first attended storytelling workshops led by the experts at AJ Contrast. The youngsters learned how to pitch a story, create a storyboard, plan a shoot, film stories using 360-degree camera and mobile phones and much more.

Over the next month, selected refugee youth will be supported by the AJ Contrast and AccessCal team to create short films that will highlight what it means to be a refugee in America. Their films will be published across AJ Contrast and AccessCal digital platforms on World Refugee Day. To learn more, check out and

AccessCal Provides Covid-19 Vaccine Registration Assistance

We at AccessCal have been working on the frontlines to ensure our community’s needs are being met during this challenging time. We have helped people with their EDD application, health coverage enrollment, rental assistance application and much more. With the vaccine rollout in Southern California, we knew individuals and families in our community would need help registering for the vaccine.

Many of the refugees and immigrants we serve have a limited command of the English language. They struggle to apply for government programs and services. We knew for all of us to move forward safely from this public health crisis, we all need to get vaccinated.

As part of our COVID-19 response efforts, we initiated a service to help individuals eligible for the vaccine, apply for their appointment. We rolled out an informational flyer across our digital channels and shared it with our clients. We started receiving many request from our clients.

When the vaccine was first rolled out for the elderly, our team assisted our elderly clients with their vaccine appointments. If an elderly client needed a ride to the vaccine site, we found volunteers to help them get there. Once the vaccine was opened up to individuals 16 years and older, we received a number of request and helped many of our clients’ sign-up to get their vaccine.

For anyone seeking assistance in making their vaccine appointment, email Nadia at

An Emergency Town Hall on Mental Health

The murder-suicide of a Muslim family in Texas sent shockwaves across the United States as an entire family lost their lives due to unresolved mental health issues. When this news broke out, our Mental Health Advisor, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, alongside our Mental Health Services Coordinator Noor Aljawad, and Mohammed Qazi of Muslim Family Circle, organized a virtual Emergency Town Hall meeting to discuss the importance of tending to our mental health. Speakers included Sheikh Yassir Fazaga himself, Sheikh Mohammad Faqih, Imam of Memphis Islamic Center, Sheikh Tariq Atta, Iman of Orange County Islamic Foundation, and Dr. Imran Rajput, Child Psychiatrist. This town-hall witnessed a robust discussion between the speakers and the attendees. The participants were grateful to be part of this dialogue as one said, “It’s helping break the barriers that exist in our community on this important topic.”

Some of the key points that were highlighted include:

  • • Spirituality as a protective factor and path for healing
  • • The importance of connectedness between family members, particularly between parent and child
  • • The importance of normalizing that mental health challenges exist, and are worthy of our attention, recognition, and treatment
  • • Demystifying the process of pursuing professional mental health support services

Many of those in our community may be reluctant to seek services for a variety of reasons. We urge community members experiencing mental health challenges and symptoms impairing mood and functionality (e.g. difficulty getting out of bed, persistent irritability) to approach our staff for a check-in. We are one call away to help you to explore your options and identify the interventions that may reduce the impact these challenges may be having on your life.