NNAAC welcomes newest members: Somali Family Service, Mizna

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) has recently grown to include 24 members in 11 different states in its 10th anniversary year and is eager to introduce its newest members: Somali Family Service of San Diego and Mizna.

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Somali Family Service of San Diego

Somali Family Service of San Diego (SFS) is a California-based nonprofit that aids Somali, East African, Arab American and other refugee and immigrant families in their journey to becoming contributing members of society through programs that promote health, educational and economic success and leadership efforts.

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The organization was established in 2000 as a non-profit, community-based social service organization and has since addressed the critical needs and concerns of approximately 35,000 Somali refugees and other immigrants living in San Diego County. Since its inception, the organization has provided culturally and linguistically appropriate services like programs tailored to youth, health and wellness and economic development – to ease the transition into a new home. SFS steps in to fill the gap where there is a serious lack of support services specific to the needs of Somalis and other immigrants and refugees.

“Somali Family Service of San Diego is grateful to be a member of NNAAC. Our membership and partnership with NNAAC will not only open new opportunities in fundraising, capacity building, and resources that would benefit the community that we serve, but also promote dialogue on Arab American issues and embark upon new and exciting initiatives that strengthen our youth, our families, and our communities as a whole. We are grateful to NNAAC for uniting Arab American organizations from all over the nation and for promoting cultural understanding and inclusion of Arab Americans on a national level,” said Ahmed Sahid, President and CEO of SFS.

Mizna

NNAAC’s other newest member is Mizna, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based nonprofit that promotes Arab American culture by providing a forum for expression that gives a voice to Arab Americans through literature and art.

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Mizna started in 1999 when it published its first issue of “Mizna,” its journal of Arab American literature. It has since published hundreds of Arab American writers in its award-winning journal and has presented some of the most talented Arab American artists in the visual arts, on stage, in music and in film.

“Mizna” continues to be the only journal of Arab American literature in the country, and is currently in libraries, museums and on coffee tables throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. Mizna has also presented six editions of its Arab Film Festival in Minnesota – the only such festival in the upper Midwest, nine public arts events featuring over 50 emerging writers, musicians, dancers, and visual artists and the first performance of an Arab American play in the Twin Cities.

Mizna opened its center in 2004, enabling it to embark on new initiatives like offering cultural classes to the community and furthering its goal to expose American audiences to the breadth and depth of Middle Eastern and Arab culture in America while countering daily stereotypes and prejudices.

“Mizna is happy to be part of NNAAC and the wonderful community of Arab American non-profit organizations that NNAAC brings together. We're looking forward to sharing experiences and benefiting from the know-how of other Arab American organizations around the country. The opportunities for leadership training and thoughtful capacity building are very exciting,” said Lana Barkawi, Executive and Artistic Director of Mizna.

NNAAC is proud to welcome these outstanding and enterprising organizations into our ever-growing Network.

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