Chaldean Community Foundation Hosts Global Detroit’s Welcome Mat Members

Global Detroit’s Welcome Mat Detroit is committed to strengthening communities and service capacity by broadening access to and knowledge of services and resources, fostering a welcoming atmosphere for all, and building capacity of immigrant service providers. In addition to one of the nation’s largest online searchable databases of immigrant and refugee integration services (with over 800 entries for Southeast Michigan), Welcome Mat Detroit routinely brings together various ethnic communities for networking opportunities.

Music, food, and conversation were part of the most recent Welcome Mat networking evening Thursday, June 29, hosted by the Chaldean Community Foundation at its headquarters in Sterling Heights.

It is important to note that Metro-Detroit is home to 150,000 Chaldeans who contribute nearly $11 billion annually to Michigan’s economy, and more than 15,000 businesses in southeast Michigan are owned by Chaldeans. Since the U.S. involvement in Iraq, civil strife, ethnic and religious violence has erupted with incredibly devastating impacts on the Chaldean community in Iraq and throughout the world.

Sharon Hannawa, Refugee Acculturation and Sustainability Training Program Manager (RAST),   welcomed the group and provided information on the history of the Chaldean community. She gave a brief overview of the services provided by the Chaldean Community Foundation. Sue Kattula, Behavioral Health Services Manager explained the Breaking Barriers program which provides assistance and advocacy to the disabled, and respite to caregivers. The program includes the Braille ESL Acculturation Mobility (B.E.A.M.) Project which helps to equip those with visual impairments to live independent lives. The Hard of Hearing ESL, American Sign Language, Life Skills (H.E.A.L.) Project –helps to better equip those with hearing impairments.

The Welcome Mat Detroit group then received a tour of the organization’s state-of-the-art facility which houses their services including referrals to Refugee Mental Health providers, Naturalization courses, career services, and cultural competency trainings, to name a few. In addition through private donations, they also provide low-interest loans for refugees to purchase transportation, financial aid to Chaldean college students; and through Project Bismutha, free-or reduced-cost healthcare to Iraqi Christian and Chaldean refugees with no medical insurance. Many of these services are entirely funded through the Community.  Certified healthcare navigators are also on site to enroll individuals in the Affordable Care Act and Healthy Michigan Plan. In 2016 the Chaldean Community Foundation served more than 22,000 individuals.

The rooms were filled with beautiful original art. Ms Hannawa explained, “Because so much of our art has been lost or destroyed, we made it a point to fill the new Foundation headquarters with pieces that reflect our culture and history.”

Since June 11 more than 100 Iraqi nationals, mostly Christians, in the Metro Detroit area were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, tearing families apart, as loved ones prepare for deportation. When asked about the impact this current situation is having on the organization, Ms. Hannawa said they have received a serious uptick in requests with lawful permanent residents wanting to file for citizenship.

In a national effort to provide resources to Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal, the ACLU is spearheading a national effort to provide resources, coordinate, and to help match lawyers with those facing deportation. Those Iraqi nationals facing removal are being asked to fill out this form. Please also spread the word and send more people to this page, so they can receive assistance.

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