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San Diego Refugee Forum Minutes Tuesday September


									                                San Diego Refugee Forum
                    Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
         Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

I. Call to order at 10:40 a.m.

Present: Ralph Achenbach, Tim Slade, Sara Vaz, Elizabeth Lou, Joe Rocha, Kristi Evans, Elaine McLevie, Brenda
Flores, Gail Patterson, Emilie Edquid, Nick Popaditch, Jim Kneebone, Melissa Dennison, Mike Buchanan, Nadine
Peausseau, Paige Newman, Noemi Duenas, Ghazwan Haboash, Nancy Garcia, Intisan Kiya, Jamie Regalbuto, Phil
Mamuad, Nicole Levin, Ann Durham, Vernita Gutierrez, Dawn Stary, Paulina Plascencia, Dawn-Marie Ta, Sahar
Sadish Pour, Alexander Sandoval, Abdi Mohamou, Jibriel Blejani, Kim Forrester, Calvin Clayton, Bryan Nazareth,
Kelly Becker Tirrill, Liz Miles, Besma Coda, Jill McGougan, Deanneka Goodwin, Ayan Mohamed, Kathi Anderson,
Suzanne Bacon, Jan McKeel, Jacob Gatkuoth, Jennifer Polumsky, Deb Joffe, Juan Estrada, Bahmo Abdi, Paulino
Paida, Celia Pezzi, Lieutenant Marco Garmo, Wadie Deddeh, Adan Muhumud

Total attendance: 54 (of which 18 guests or first-time attendees)

II. Introduction and Announcements
      New attendees included: Gail Patterson, the new program manager at the
        Welcome Back Center; Emilie Edquid of Operation Samahan Community
        Clinic; Celia Pezzi, Centers for Disease Control; Nancy Garcia-Drew of the
        County of San Diego’s Aging and Independent Services; Kelly Becker-Tirrill;
        Calvin Clayton, Alliance for African Assistance; Suzanne Bacon of Survivors of
        Torture, Int’l; Nicole Levin of SDSU’s ISCOR; Sanjani Varkey; Marco Garmo;
        Wadie Deddeh. (This list is not exhaustive.)
      An audio recording was taken of this Forum meeting.
      Ann Durham announced that the Welcome Back Center has received funding
        through a RefugeeWorks pilot project to provide case management services
        and educational assistance for 20 health professionals and 10 engineers;
        would-be participants should be referred to Ann and Gail at the WBC.
      Nicole Levin announced SDSU’s Refugee Awareness Week, forthcoming on
        Thursday, November 4th. She extended an invitation to community
        organizations to staff a booth to raise awareness of their services, and
        requested that anyone who can make any donations to the effort do so. A
        sign-up sheet was circulated.
III. New Members Welcome- Elizabeth Lou
      There were no new members to welcome to the Forum.

IV. Task Force Updates

    Health Task Force (Samm Hurst, Bonnie Copland)
       The next meeting of the HTF will be held at 9:00 a.m. on 10/4 at the Horn of
          Africa Community (5296 University Ave, Suite F).
       A meeting was held on Monday 9/13 at Horn of Africa during which Elaine
          McLevie gave an update on the CHIP Needs Assessment meetings of the
          prior few months. It appeared from the meetings that refugees and their
          particular health needs are not currently on CHIP & Co.’s radar.
                              San Diego Refugee Forum
                  Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
       Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

       A consensus exists among HTF attendees to make use of the energy and
         excitement produced by April’s Collaborating for Healthy Communication
         conference, especially the issues around language access.
          Better data regarding secondary migration of refugees to the SD area is
             needed. A robust discussion about existing data sources has taken
             place, and the American Community Survey was mentioned specifically.
       In other health-related news, Ann Durham of the WBC mentioned that
         progress continues to be made toward launching the Certification Program
         for healthcare interpretation at Grossmont/Cuyamaca.
   Asylee Task Force (Kathy Anderson)
       Carmen Chavez of Casa Cornelia Law Center is working on organizing the
         next tour of the CCA asylee detention facility.
       The La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary club, in partnership with Somali Family
         Service, opened 2 housing facilities on 9/1/2010 to facilitate the release of
         asylum-seekers from detention. They are currently serving 5 residents (four
         men, one woman). (The facility is for East African asylum-seekers.)
   Employment Relations Task Force (Barbara Tucker, Bryan Nazareth)
       The ERTF’s next meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 5th from 10:00 a.m.
         – 12:00 p.m. at Springfield College (5348 University Ave., Suite 100)
       Only 4 ETF participants were able to attend the most recent session, held
         immediately prior to this Refugee Forum meeting, so the agenda was tabled
         until the next time the ERTF convenes.

V. Other Updates
     VOLAG Updates
      Only the IRC was prepared to share its arrival numbers. Brent Freeman
         reported that the IRC is projected to welcome 130 new arrivals in
         September. While not as busy as in prior years, this is still a significant
         number. For FY 2010, the IRC resettled approximately 1000 newcomers, of
         which ~94% were Iraqi.
      Crittenton Services of Fullerton, CA, provides resettlement services for
         unaccompanied refugee minors in need of foster care. Brenda Flores
         announced that Crittenton is currently serving 45 children (33 young men, 12
         young women).
     SAC (State Advisory Committee) Updates
          None.
     County Updates
          Representatives of the County had agreed last Forum meeting to provide
            certain ‘deliverables’ at this meeting.
             From SDRF Minutes for 2010-08-17:
                A guide to the complaint resolution policy at each of the providers,
                  for the purpose of advocacy on behalf of newcomers, and to
                              San Diego Refugee Forum
                  Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
       Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

                 include the necessary Authorized Representative and Information
                 Release. (Collaboration between Arbor, PCG, and the County.)
              Some form of flow chart or document detailing the process /
                 procedure whereby Wilson/Fish providers (Catholic Charities,
                 Jewish Family Services, the IRC) will hand off newcomer clients to
                 Arbor and PCG for continued employment services.
              A chart or document identifying the different levels of service
                 provision available to newcomers, including which organizations
                 carry out which tasks.
           Bryan Nazareth noted that the County will be working internally on the
             referral process for non-CalWORKs clients to PCG & Arbor, and as it
             progresses further he would appreciate the input of a few Forum
             members to finalize that.
           Alex Sandoval, speaking in regard to progress on the other
             deliverables, said that providing the promised information regarding
             eligibility would be very difficult, because “there is no one answer” –
             they just always tell people “You need to apply.”
              The County will provide a link to the Access Benefits website, which
                 details the regulations regarding the above topics.
              Also, they are working on a pamphlet with very basic information
                 regarding the CalWORKs & TANF programs.
             Ralph reiterated the need for a handout that would speak to the
                 most common circumstances faced by refugee applicants, and
                 Kim Forrester agreed that something like that would be feasible to
                 produce, as long as service providers were able to articulate what
                 the most common circumstances are.
           With respect to the CalWORKs contractors’ commitment to provide a
            guide to their grievance processes, Deb Joffe (PCG) said that PCG’s
            grievance process is currently in draft form and awaiting approval by
            the agency’s lawyers.
                  Summarized, the process is as follows: a complaint is presented
                     to a worker, who then passes it up to their supervisor; a written
                     complaint must then be filed (using forms available in Spanish,
                     English, and Arabic; all resolutions require the signatures of the
                     client, the supervisor, and the grievance coordinator.
Community Updates
     The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation will be holding an Art &
      Culture Fest was announced for October 16th. They are looking for vendors
      and youth who are interested in participating.
     The Nile Sisters Development Initiative will be holding a fundraising banquet
      on Saturday, September 25th.
     The Pacific Safety Council and State Farm will be holding an educational fair
                              San Diego Refugee Forum
                  Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
       Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

        in San Ysidro on Saturday, September 25th.
       Jacob Gatkuoth announced a fundraising party to be held on Saturday,
        10/16/2010 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the South Sudan Community
        Center (4077 Fairmount Ave., San Diego 92105).
         There will also be a Referendum Rally held on Saturday 10/9/2010
            (location to be determined) to discuss “issues in Sudan.”
       Lieutenant Marco Garmo of the San Diego Sheriff Department addressed
        the Forum regarding the Dept’s growing concern over various issues within
        the East County community, including domestic violence.
         He said that the arrival of 14,000 refugees to the East County region over
            the last two years has been leading to an increase in domestic violence
             Brent Freeman of the IRC pointed out that the refugee agencies’ best
               numbers place the number of arrivals for 2009 at 5,000, with many
               fewer than that in 2008.
         Lieutenant Garmo expressed his desire for cultural orientation to be
            provided for new arrivals, and his willingness to participate in any CO-
            type outreach.
       A robust discussion ensued regarding service providers’ perception of
        cultural orientation services as either nonexistent or lacking (esp. with
        respect to adherence to local laws and customs, including use of child car
         Catholic Charities representatives noted that (a) many refugees elect to
            not participate in existing programmatic offerings, and the VOLAGs
            cannot compel them to participate; (b) changing behavior is a long-
            term process, and not something that happens immediately just because
            someone tells refugees that they must do a certain thing.

VI. FOCUS: Refugee Seniors.
       Aden Muhumed expressed his thanks to all parties who have aided the
        Somali community, in light of its particular vulnerability stemming from the
        collapse of the Somali government.
         Mr. Muhumed noted that many have left behind a great deal, and that
            resettlement in this country is particularly difficult because of the great
            cultural distance between Somalia and the United States.
             Large families, which are common in Somali culture, are particularly
               vulnerable; refugees rely heavily on public assistance, and in the case
               of large families it never stretches far enough.
         “We need more help than ever,” he says. “We will teach our younger
            generation to serve this country as it has served them.”
       Chaldean Middle Eastern Social Services invited a few members of the
        Chaldean community to attend, representing two groups: those who came
                       San Diego Refugee Forum
           Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

    by choice (like Senator Wadie Deddeh), and those who were forced to
    come as refugees.
     Ahlam Salim, Nabeel Abdulahad, and Sabah Mansour have come
       representing the refugee community.
        Mr. Salim noted that the lack of health and dental care is a problem
           for refugee seniors.
        Mr. Mansour, who arrived last year, said “[Things] were not as we
           expected.” They have had difficulty finding a job; rent is very
           expensive; most people who come have no income.
            Mr. Mansour noted that he feels like they only know CMSS – they
               don’t know any of the other service providers in the community.
   Melissa Dennison, the Coordinator for Jewish Family Services’ Fix-It Program,
    discussed various temporary home modifications her program is able to
    provide to facilitate independent living for refugee seniors.
     She emphasized that the installation and removal of the tools the
       program uses are non-destructive, and that the refugees’ landlords need
       not become involved in the process (alleviating a major concern of
       refugee seniors).
     Eligibility is limited to those people who are 60+ years old, have
       completed intake forms, and have an unpaid caregiver (e.g., a family
       member) who serves them.
        The final criterion is critical, because the program’s funding comes
           from ORR’s Caregiver Respite Grant.
   Bryan Nazareth discussed the new ORR grant that is partially funding
    Melissa’s program, and other ways they are trying to leverage it.
     Helping older refugees access citizenship and immigration assistance is
       one of the main purposes of the grant
     They’re trying to create a bridge between Melissa’s Fix-It program and
       the various programs that provide immigration / naturalization assistance;
       identifying which programs provide those services, coming up with a
       referral mechanism, and tracking reporting data are the next steps that
       need to be undertaken.
        Organizations that choose to cooperate will most likely not be able to
           receive additional funding as a direct result of that cooperation,
           given the small size (~$20,000) of the grant.
   Ralph noted that the grant appears to be addressing needs that were not
    mentioned by the refugee seniors themselves as among their top priorities,
    and that seeking to address those priorities should perhaps be a
    consideration moving forward.
   Elaine McLevie noted that many of the same concerns facing American
    seniors face refugee seniors, and it may be useful to use those concerns as a
    starting point for further investigation (while recognizing that refugee seniors
                              San Diego Refugee Forum
                  Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:15p.m.
       Springfield College, 5348 University Ave. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92105

        also have additional problems) in the absence of robust firsthand
        information about refugee seniors’ needs.
       Brent Freeman noted that the IRC’s Golden Door program provides some of
        the services that Elaine and Bryan mentioned as important (getting seniors
        out of the home, making immigration an accessible reality).
       Sara noted that the Refugee Forum listserv could be a valuable tool for
        sharing information about new tools that forum members identify.
       Nancy Garcia-Drew of the County’s Aging and Independent Services
        program acknowledged the challenges facing the refugee senior
        population, and made note of them as something to take back to her
        organization to work on.

VII. Questions and Further Discussion
      None.

         Next Meeting: Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 10:30a.m.-12:00p.m. Springfield College
                            Focus on – Service Provider Collaboration

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