A New American Artist and Photographer

Hala is a talented New American artist and photographer in the local community.

She attended the AccessCal annual job fair  to expand her exposure among local businesses and to meet new people. She said, “Photography to me is more than just a camera, it’s my creativity canvas. Everyone has a beauty within. I love to capture and preserve those unique and beautiful personalities through my pictures.”

Access California Services has its doors open to many New Americans like Hala to be connected to local businesses and business leadership.

Founded in 1998, Access California Services (AccessCal) is a culturally and linguistically sensitive health and human services nonprofit organization, which provides social and economic services to local Arab- and Muslim-Americans, refugees, and immigrants; however, AccessCal is nonsectarian. Anyone who needs support in the community will receive it regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. In 2014, AccessCal served over 11,000 community members, providing close to 30,000 units of service. Services include: Vocational English training, case management and advocacy in 16 languages, citizenship and immigration services, employment and tax services, emergency financial assistance, educational services, healthcare access services, counseling and support, community service and civic engagement, refugee services, and refugee health assessments.

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.