When The World Comes Knocking At Your Door!. Presenters: Deb Pipes – Nicollet County Minnesota...
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- When The World Comes Knocking At Your Door!
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- Presenters: Deb Pipes Nicollet County Minnesota Valley Action Council Employment Counselor Becki Hawkins Area Adult Learning Cooperative Consortium Coordinator Joan Tesdahl Nicollet County Social Services Director Dawn Michels Nicollet County Social Services Financial Assistance Supervisor (Eligibility Unit)
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- SERVICE PROVIDERS EFFORTS TO INTEGRATE REFUGEE FAMILIES INTO NICOLLET COUNTY March 1998 Before the tornado, Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) and Nicollet County Social Services (NCSS) were working with only one Somali family. By May 1998 we were working with 25 families. June, July, August 1998 MVAC and NCSS collaborated with Life Lines in Mankato and were able to provide intensive summer school ESL classes for the Somali families at Hoover Elementary School in North Mankato. Transportation and child care was arranged and paid for so that these families could participate in these classes. This program was for all age groups and was considered by all a great success.
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- Summer 1998 MVAC and NCSS subscribed to the Language Line in a continued effort to effectively and efficiently communicate with non English speaking clients. October 1998 and continuing The Area Adult Learning Cooperative (AALC) addressed the increased need for ESL classes in St. Peter. In addition to providing more hours of instruction, the ESL classes were used to educate the refugees about life in St. Peter. Educational material and speakers included: representatives from Law Enforcement; housing and landlords; Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) staff to clarify services and requirements; Public Health Nursing instruction on WIC, car seats and immunizations; University of Minnesota Extension office staff on nutrition and money management; food shelf and transit education, and child care assistance. December 4, 1998 NCSS sponsored A Conversation with Lul and Friends workshop for professionals who needed to learn about the Somali culture. Over 100 area service providers and educators attended this workshop.
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- January 1999 and continuing MVAC has provided subsidized employment opportunities for Somali men and women. These employment opportunities provided on-the-job training with local employers. March 1999 MVAC and NCSS brought service providers together from two counties to begin looking at grant opportunities that would assist with the needs of the refugee populations in our area. These meetings concluded with the hiring of a Somali case manager who divided her time between Nicollet and Blue Earth Counties. June 29, 1999 MVAC and NCSS met with area mental health providers to start addressing the mental health needs of the refugee population.
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- June 1999 MVAC and NCSS sponsored Drivers Education classes for our Somali families in Nicollet County. MVAC staff arranged for a retired Drivers Education instructor from Winthrop to teach 10 hours of permit learning in Mankato. Transportation and child care was arranged and paid for so that these families could participate in these classes. September 13, 1999 Lul Ahmed started as the Nicollet and Blue Earth Counties new Employment Counselor. September 1999 and continuing Lul Ahmed provided Somali education and information to area providers. Lul had spoken with the St. Peter School District, St. Peter Chamber of Commerce, St. Peter Kiwanis, Gustavus students, and the St. Peter Ministerial Association.
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- November 1999 MVAC and NCSS coordinated transportation for the St. Peter Somali families to participate in the Mankato Salvation Army Bundle Me Warm Program (a winter clothing program). November 1999 MVAC sponsored a community potluck at Trinity Church featuring Somali and American foods, as well as entertainment. Over 100 community members attended this potluck and it was considered a success. January 2000 NCSS and the University of Minnesota Extension office organized and facilitated a Somali Teen Girls Group. This group learned about food preparation, healthy foods, food safety, and sewing skills while providing support to each other.
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- February 24, 2000 The University of Minnesota Extension office facilitated the Women League of Voters Community Circle meetings. These meetings were held to provide immigration awareness in the community and to identify needs of the community. March 2000 The University of Minnesota Extension office, Gustavus Adolphus College, and the Area Adult Learning Cooperative coordinated efforts to implement a Community Garden. April 19, 2000 MVAC, NCSS and The Center for Victims of Torture sponsored a training Flight from Terror to Recovery: Caring for Torture and War Trauma Survivors. Approximately 120 Social Service, Medical, Mental Health and Education professionals attended this training.
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- June 28, 2000 MVAC and NCSS initiated an exchange of information meeting with the Community Circle Project. October 2000 MVAC and NCSS worked with Adult Area Education to write for funding to support intensive ESL classes in St. Peter, which focused on providing work-place competency skills. These classes were for limited English speaking people who were on MFIP and running out of lifetime limited months. October 4, 2000 MVAC, NCSS, Blue Earth County Human Services, Blue Earth County Employment Services and The Center for Victims of Torture sponsored a Hearing and Healing: Circles of Women Gather to Listen to Each Other workshop to continue addressing the mental health needs of the refugee women. This workshop brought together refugee women and mental health professionals.
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- October 31, 2000 MVAC, NCSS and the Work Force Center staff visited the Owatonna Work Force Center to learn about their employment efforts with refugee families. December 2000 ESL grant receives funding. April 2001 Intensive ESL classes began April, 2001, and grant funding for classes continued thru June, 2003. 2001 Projects: Citizenship and Immigration Training for Nicollet and Blue Earth County professionals. Implement a networking group of professionals in Nicollet and Blue Earth Counties to share what each agency is providing for refugee families. The intent is to share efforts that are already being implemented and expand the resources. Coordinate with the Area Adult Learning Cooperative to develop a task force to evaluate the Intensive ESL classes and to build bridges with community employers to expand employment opportunities for refugee families in the St. Peter community. Attend meetings initiated by Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc. to identify refugee needs and specific problems they are facing and work on solutions.
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- 2001 Projects: Citizenship and Immigration training for Nicollet and Blue Earth County professionals. Implemented a networking group of professionals in Nicollet and Blue Earth Counties to share what each agency provided for refugee families. The intent was to share efforts that were already being implemented and expand the resources. Coordinated with the Area Adult Learning Cooperative to develop a task force to evaluate the Intensive ESL classes and to build bridges with community employers to expand employment opportunities for refugee families in the St. Peter community. Attended meetings initiated by Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc. to identify refugee needs and specific problems they were facing and work on solutions.
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- ADDITIONAL PROJECTS: Cooking Matters classes with Amy Baack, University of Minnesota Nutrition Educator MVAC and NCSS staff met with County Commissioners to discuss employment opportunities for immigrants. Blending Journey project for new immigrant families in St Peter to learn what the community has to offer.. Provided by St Peter Community Recreation Department, St Peter Community & Family Education, and the Area Adult Learning Cooperative. City leaders met to discuss future Diversity Training opportunities for staff and immigrants.
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- LESSONS LEARNED: Cultural Competency Training is essential. Training needs to be ongoing for current and new staff. Training needs to be relevant to the new populations entering the community. Continue to educate immigrant communities regarding critical issues.. such as parenting, public assistance policies, integrating into a rural Minnesota community, law enforcement, legal issues, etc. The need for service provider collaboration.
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- QUESTIONS ?
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- CONTACT INFORMATION: Deb Pipes, MVAC 507-934-5224 email@example.com@mnvac.org Becki Hawkins, AALC 507-665-4626 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Joan Tesdahl, NCSS 507-934-8576 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Dawn Michels, NCSS 507-934-8545 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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