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Tag: Community

February 4, 2013 Posted by admin in Blog

Keeping the Community A-breast

  “Nobody should die of breast cancer. Knowledge is the key to health, both physically and spiritually,” believes Dr. Donna-Marie Manasseh, the Director of Breast surgery at Maimonides Medical Center. Breast cancer is a serious issue among Arab American women due to the lack of language and culturally appropriate information available in the community. However, through the efforts of the Arab American Association of New York and the Maimonides Medical Center of Brooklyn, women’s health awareness has become more accessible. On January 24th, both organizations partnered together to host a “Breast Health Symposium.” A crowd of over 60 Arab-American women of all ages gathered in front of AAANY to board a bus and visit the new Breast Center and share in a night of open dialogue on the importance of maintaining good breast health and ways in which to identify signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

The night opened with a complementary halal dinner and various speeches by the President and CEO of Maimonides Medical Center, Pam Brier, Directors of the Breast Center. Dr. Patrick Borgen, the Chairman of the Department of Surgery and the Brooklyn Breast Cancer Program delivered a Breast Health Awareness Overview followed by a lecture on Breast Health Awareness and Surgery by the Director of Breast Surgery, Dr. Donna-Marie Manasseh. The final presentation was about Breast Screening and Radiology by the Director of Breast Imaging, Dr. Christina Giuliano. The Maimonides staff gave a tour of the state-of-the art Center and introduced their new machinery, including the LVAD and TAVR Programs, the first in Brooklyn, which both offer life saving cardiovascular care.

“When I walked in to the clinic, the beauty and the relaxing atmosphere surprised me. It was a big, clean, comfortable place with incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic doctors. And it was nice to see such a place so local, in Brooklyn,” said Manal Abusamaha, a long time volunteer and friend of the AAANY.

“Everything we were shown was really amazing. It was great to see not only how much the Maimonides Center provides for women in terms of services, but also how much the staff genuinely cares for and appreciates the health of all women,” said board member Zeinab Bader who also serves as the Vice President of the Arab-American Women’s Committee. “The environment was open and comfortable which was perfect for women who would have otherwise been too frightened to ask about their breast health. These women deserve these services. Already ten women have made appointments for breast screening. It was an incredibly successful and useful event. It was an amazing opportunity,” said Bader, “I hope to do more with Maimonides Medical Center in the future, insha’allah.”

We are grateful to Sahar Farah, the AMBER (Arab American Breast Cancer Education and Referral Program) Health Educator and Patient Navigator, and the English to Arabic interpreter, who helped tremendously in making the event comprehensible for all. Through AMBER , Sahar has been active with AAANY, and the week prior to the event presented to over 40 women in our adult education program.

AAANY is honored to be Partners in Health with Maimonides Medical Center.

- Chelsea Estevez    
August 7, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Voter Registration: A Perspective from a Youth Community Organizer

Since I became a volunteer at the Arab American Association, I have gained many valuable skills, including community organizing. The most important part of my job as a community organizer is registering voters. One of the Association’s many goals is to register members of the Bay Ridge community, especially Arabs, to vote. We want to empower our community and register people to vote because we believe everyone’s voices should be heard.

As community organizers, we meet at the Association almost everyday, except for the weekends and usually we canvas the area at least a few times a week. We go out into the community in groups of two or three or sometimes even eight. As teams we establish an objective for the number of forms we want completed that day. In addition to canvassing the neighborhood, we travel to Manhattan and meet other organizations that are working against practices such as Stop and Frisk, deportation, and racial profiling. Our meetings there help us learn how to organize communities by hosting events that encourage others to come and listen to issues that affect the community. One of these events was the 2nd Annual Iftar held at the Association on Friday, July 27th where we provided food and games for everyone to take part in, while informing them about our efforts in the community. The Arab American Association is now establishing a connection between diverse groups of voters in Brooklyn and Staten Island as part of our goal to achieve over 3,500 newly registered voters between the two boroughs. I am proud to be a part of this effort.

I was surprised to discover how simple it was to fill out voter registration forms. All I have to do is ask people if they are registered to vote, and if they are not, I encourage them to fill out a form. I establish trust between the potential voter and the Association and allow them to fill out the information required. I will walk in any weather to any street in Bay Ridge to find new voters, but alas, the weather is not the hardest part of my job. As it turns out, most people in the Bay Ridge community seem like they do not want to vote. They avoid registering despite the positive change their voice could make.

Though this month of Ramadan should be a time when the Arab community amplifies their voices, many still do not recognize the importance of voting. I noticed that many people are too busy with their daily routine and do not realize the change they could make by simply filling out a short form. Though many might complain that they are tired or cranky from fasting all day, or simply too tired from their daily activities in this hot weather, there is really no excuse not to register. I am also fasting for Ramadan, and yet I am still out working to register voters.

Even though this job has been tough and we are not always successful in our canvassing efforts, I think we can still register about more than 1,000 people in the future. I know that if we become more persistent, develop our spoken Arabic and connect to our community, we can reach our goal. We are a strong Arab American community and we need to show our local politicians that we are a powerful force. If we raise our voices as registered voters, we can choose who we want to represent us on a political level. I feel that this is important because the politicians, who currently represent this district, don’t reflect the true nature of our community. We need to inform people about the importance of voting because our voices are important. We need to show people that this hits home.

RAMA ALHERISH, 15, Student at Brooklyn Technical High School, Youth Community Organizer
August 7, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY Expresses Condolences for Sikh Community

The Arab American Association of New York and the Arab American community of Bay Ridge would like to express our sincere condolences to the Sikh community following the terrible massacre that occurred this past Sunday in Wisconsin. Since 9/11 the Sikh community has stood side by side with the Muslim community with courage and solidarity against racism and bigotry, including hate crimes and discriminatory police practices. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those who were victims of the shooting, and to the rest of the community as they gather in this time of mourning.

There will be a candlelight vigil in Union Square on August 8th at 7:30 PM in remembrance of those who lost their lives in this tragic event. For event details click here.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." - Martin Luther King Jr.
May 21, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

It's My Park Clean Up

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The Arab American Association of New York brought out over 50 volunteers as part of the national Arab American service day. On Saturday, May 19th we collaborated with the Shore Rd. Parks Conservancy on their "It's my park day"It was a great opportunity to build community with other groups such as the Moroccan American House Association, and the First Church of the Brethren. Together we raked leaves, picked up trash, repainted benches, and enjoyed a beautiful Saturday outside. We are happy to provide substantive volunteer efforts and are particularly excited about upcoming  volunteer opportunities related to the upcoming electoral campaign. Thank you to everyone who came out to last week's park clean up. See pictures from Saturday here!      
April 23, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY’s English Students Step Out On The Town

If you walked into the Capitol One Bank on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge this past Thursday, you may have seen the women of AAANY’s English program participating in our first ever financial literacy workshop!

A group of about 25 students met at AAANY and walked across the street to Capitol One to attend a lecture and demonstration given by the bank’s Branch Manager, Aneta Dowlatram. Ms. Dowlatram gave up her morning to do a presentation on the different services offered at the bank and give a tour of the bank’s safety deposit boxes. Each student received a folder with literature about Capitol One’s services as well as example deposit slips and savings account forms. The trip ended with several group practice sessions at Capitol One’s ATM machines.

For the past month, AAANY students learned about all aspects of the banking system. The classes covered a wide range of terms, skills and topics, ranging from writing checks to debating the finer points of Islamic Law and its analysis of interest (all in English of course). AAANY’s Adult Education Coordinator, Katie McCulloch, worked with the other volunteer teachers, Amida Alessandrini, Loren Diesi, and Megan Tribble, in order to make sure that students in each level of English received a solid foundation of bank vocabulary that they could put into practice in their everyday lives. Students did numerous conversation drills, a variety of readings, and even made individual presentations in front of their classmates about specific banking concepts. Before the big outing, Katie brought all of the classes together for a large group discussion so the more advanced students could help the beginner students practice conversations.

AAANY’s students arrived at the bank Thursday morning having previously addressed a number of important subjects, including how to teach a child about handling money responsibly, how to open a college savings account and how to wire transfer money to one’s family in another country, and so were well prepared to ask many questions of Ms. Dowlatram.

But by far the highlight of the day was the ATM lesson. Using a loud, beeping machine in a language that is not your first can be intimidating, especially because of the stress that any money transaction involves. But by the end of the trip, students were able to navigate through the most important functions of the machine. The donut breakfast everyone shared afterwards wasn’t too bad, either. This next week’s lesson plan is inspired by the ATM excitement; we are going to conquer the subway system and the metro card machines!

-Megan Tribble
March 5, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

South Brooklyn Comes Through on Community Survey

  Thanks to some amazing hustle by our community, we have completed our survey collection for our Community Needs Assessment! This needs assessment is the first ever to be conducted in the Arab American community in New York City, and AAANY is proud to be working with New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. AAANY’s grassroots credibility and outreach, coupled with NYU Wagner’s technical skill, analysis, and dedication, are moving us forward in capturing demographic and needs data for the Arab American community.

Our high school students made the survey a competition among themselves, using a big poster to track how many surveys they had filled out with community members. Youth Community Organizer Kareem Meawad won, with 60 surveys – nice work, Kimo! We collected 415 surveys in total, in three weeks.

The surveys are currently being analyzed by our team at NYU Wagner, who will present a report of their findings in April 2012. They are running regressions to identify possible trends among the community, and to study what community members identify as their greatest needs. We look forward to this data on language access, experience with government offices, employment status, household size, and much more! Creating a clearer picture of the Arab American community will help AAANY and our partners do a better job of providing the services and programs our community needs to become independent, productive members of society.

-Jennie Goldstein