Arab-American Family Support Center provides aid to immigrants across NYC
A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the Arab-American community in the city has expanded its efforts since the start of the pandemic.
The Arab-American Family Support Center has provided aid to a community that felt overlooked for over a quarter of a century.
Farah Salam, the community health and wellbeing coordinator, says she was inundated with applications from people desperate for assistance when the pandemic hit.
"Many people wouldn't apply for benefits thinking that it would affect their immigration status or their chances for citizenship,” she says.
The organization has 120 employees who speak 27 different languages.
Salam says the group helps residents get vaccinated, especially since there was some reluctance and a digital divide in the community.
"A lot of our community members were afraid of it, so through this information, we have been able to assuage a lot of those fears," she says.
Arab-American Family Support Center was able to help 2,000 people last year through its emergency fund. This is one of many services that it has been providing since 1994, particularly to new immigrants and refugees.
Rawaa Nancy Albilal, president and CEO of the center, says other programs include child abuse and neglect prevention, anti-violence programs that focus on domestic violence, and programs to help find jobs.
Albilal says the Cobble Hill Organization was started by the Arab-American community because they realized other agencies lacked in their approach.
"Language was the biggest barrier as well as cultural competency," she says. "In this organization, the client does not have to explain too much or educate the person that is providing the services."
The Arab-American Family Support Center prides itself on being a trusted entity in the Arab-American community, but staff says its doors are open to anyone in need of assistance.