Description & History
AAANY works to assist in making the transition into American society as fluid as possible for the Arab immigrant community. We have even been dubbed the "Ellis Island for the Arab community".
Some of the challenges facing the community include:
* Language and cultural barriers
* Issues pertaining to immigration
* Psychological issues involved in adjusting to new cultural norms as well as past trauma due to war experiences, etc.
* The lack of understanding of legal rights, and/or access to legal representation and counsel when necessary
* Lack of access to adequate health care or knowledge of affordable health insurance possibilities as well as other public benefits
* Imbalance of parent-child power relations in families (resulting from children who speak English and parents who do not)
We strive to meet the needs of the community by providing a variety of social services including, bi-lingual case management, assistance accessing affordable health care, assistance with immigration, support for victims of domestic violence, translations, and much more, youth programs, adult education programs, community events, such as the Bay Ridge Arab American Bazaar and Arab World Mother's Day Celebration and many more.
Because "Arab" is not listed as an ethnicity on any demographic studies, it is difficult to know exactly how many Arab and Arab Americans reside in the five boroughs.
A report released by the Department of City Planning used the 2000 Census number to track languages spoken at home, illustrating the distribution of Arabic-speaking New Yorkers by neighborhood.
Brooklyn has by far the largest number of the five boroughs: approximately 24,000 of its 2 million residents are Arabic speakers. They are overwhelmingly concentrated in Bay Ridge, which has 7,942 residents who speak Arabic at home. More recent estimates put the number of Arabs and Arab-Americans in Brooklyn above 117,00. We are located in the heart of this community.
The vast majority of our clients live in Brooklyn, though some come from other boroughs. Our clients hail from many different countries with the largest number from Egypt, Morocco, Palestine and Yemen. Although our organization tailors our services and programs to serve the Arab immigrant community, 4 percent of our clients are non-Arabs from several countries, including Mexico, Poland and Montenegro. Since our founding, we have helped more than 9,000 clients; most are from low-income families and 85 percent are women and children.
The founders of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), all prominent and active members of the Arab and Arab American community, envisioned an organization that would serve the social and economic needs of the growing Arab population in Brooklyn. Although the process of establishing the organization began before the September 11th attacks, the founders felt compelled to more immediate action after they witnessed the heightened sense of fear and acts of blatant discrimination aimed at their community in the days following the attacks. It was thus that AAANY officially opened its doors as a not for profit (501(c)3) organization in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in December 2001, not only providing invaluable social services to the community, but also empowering and defending the community.
"Instead of social services, we had to move into empowering the community, defending the community and supporting the community. It was not easy. We had to prove ourselves as Americans, show that we do care, that we are part of the community...", Dr. Ahmad Jaber, co-founder and current board president, was quoted in a recent article in the Daily News. AAANY serves as a bridge between the Arab community and the greater New York City community, fostering understanding of Arab culture and immigrant issues, serving as a liaison between police, schools and residents to address issues of discrimination, and providing a variety of culturally sensitive social services.