A group of Somali intellectuals, social workers, and elders realized the need to establish a community center to serve the demands of Seattle’s increasing Somali population as early as 1995. The founders put their resources together and started offering basic services. Government agencies and some non-profit organizations supported the emerging organization. SCSS started to employ an executive director and supporting staff to replace the part time volunteers. It was incorporated in 1997 as a community based non-profit organization.
The organizational set up consists of a Board of directors, Executive, and three main functional departments:
1.Referral service & outreac
3.Translation and interpretation
4.Job search & employment referral
Family And Youth Programs
1. Youth & Sports
2.After school program
4.Housing assistance to homeless families
5.Cultural & behavioral orientation
6.Counseling and case management
7.Senior Program (Education & Nutrition)
8.Open Internet Lab for the community
9.Drug and tobacco prevention program
Admin & Finance
1. Routine office work
2.Accounts & Bookkeeping
4.Fund raising & grant writing
A majority of the refugee parents are either educated in their language or have no education. In the USA they need to learn a new language and culture, here is where the need for parent education arises. SCSS provides parenting classes that cover the following:
1.How to deal with school rules and regulations. How to contact school staff
2.How to answer school forms and letters, if the child is sick or absent, or what to do
3.How to raise your children in a multi (cultural, lingual and ethnic) environment.
4.Parent rights and obligations in a child’s education and homework
5.Intra-family communication-how to deal with your new neighbors.
6.ESL and computer foundation classes
Oriental culture gives the utmost reverence to the seniors. Seniors are looked at differently in their new home; the social structure and family relationships are dramatically changing mainly with the younger generations who are learning the mainstream culture. Seniors hardly know what is happening with their children and grandchildren. SCSS role is to find room for the seniors where they can feel admired, socialize, and have their education and nutrition programs continue. These programs keep them vibrant and contributive to the community. Three of the seniors volunteers are members of SCSS board of directors and sub-committees.
Seattle’s moderate climate attracted many Somalis to make it their home. SCSS for the last seven years has established working relationship with: Seattle Housing Authority, King County Housing Authority, Muslim Housing Agency, and other transitional housing agencies. SCSS helps refugees’ needs for housing and issues Section 8 Vouchers to homeless families in Seattle in collaboration with SHA.
The refugee community consists of educated, uneducated, seniors, women, children, and youth. These varying social groups have different needs and ways of adopting the new culture. Here is where SCSS and similar organizations help the new refugees to avoid boredom and frustration. The role of SCSS is to educate the community members about the advantages and disadvantages of each culture, and to respect the culture and beliefs of others to attain mutual respect in the society at large.
Counseling And Casemanagement
SCSS case managers study the concerns of the clients and provide appropriate solutions, referrals, and assistance based on the need type:
-Health and hospital referral
-Filling out forms and applications
-Translation and interpretation
-Cultural and behavioral orientations
After School Program
Many Somali children did not have a schooling opportunity before coming to the USA. They are graded based on their age not academic level. The need to help the child develop language skills and an academic background is indispensable to the future of the children. The program has the following advantages:
Appropriate environment culturally
Bilingual staff in English and Somali
Emphasis on academic success
Parents are pleased with the program
Substantial change in the students’
Building students’ confidence
Youth And Sport Programs
Youth is the backbone of the community. SCSS arranges different programs to meet their demands. The sport activities include five soccer and basketball teams, and cultural orientation sessions. The teams’ games are not confined only to Washington State, but other teams come from different states to participate in the tournaments. Teams come from, St. Paul, Minnesota, Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver BC. The community is looking for access to some of the indoor games during the winter days to secure the continuity of the sport activities.
As a community we have access to transportation that allows them to move freely around their communities. They need and deserve transportation options that preserve dignity, maximize independence, and provide access to the full range of activities that contribute to quality of life