Congrats to our Adult Literacy Class of 2019!

Last month, the Academy of Medical & Public Health Services graduated our second class of Adult Literacy ESOL students. This year, AMPHS received over 200 registrations and celebrated achievements of 131 of those students on Graduation Day. Students came from 21 different countries across Central America, Latin American, East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and Africa, and participated in classes at the Beginner, High Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels over a period of two semesters. Parents who otherwise would have needed to choose between going to class and taking care of their children were offered free babysitting services during class time. Students also received support through AMPHS’ health, mental health and social services programs throughout the term.

Over the course of the term, students not only developed their written and verbal communication skills, and connected with other English language learners in the community. They participated in workshops about immigrant rights, mental health, personal financial management, and college education opportunities. Classes went on field trips to plays Target Margin Theatre, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Aquarium, Governor’s Island, Sunset Park, NY Lantern Festival and participated in Iftar celebrations with the Arab-American Association of NY and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In celebration of the holidays in November, students across AMPHS’ class participated in a Thanksgiving Day feast, designed to educate students about the United States Thanksgiving tradition. We transformed cafeteria tables with a long dinner table holiday setting and brought drinks, turkey, and Thanksgiving Day staples. Students brought traditional home cooking to contribute to a multicultural Thanksgiving potluck feast. Teachers discussed the history and tradition of Thanksgiving and reviewed dining and dining etiquette terminology, while students across the different classes networked through food, drink and “speed-dating” activities. Students concluded the evening with a white elephant gift exchange. According to one student, “The event gave me a family feeling and made me feel the holiday spirit. I had never had a feast like that before.”

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They also attended AMPHS’ Holiday Party and had the chance to share their experiences with AMPHS’ programs over food and drink.

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On May 31st, Advanced class student Febe Xu was honored for a essay, “As a Beginner in New York” at the DYCD Student Achievement Ceremony, with a reading by Carlos Montivero, along with Mexican Folk Dance “Ballet Folklorico” from student Fatima Osorio.

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In May, students participated in a rally to advocate for additional funding to support ESOL classes, with an impassioned speech by Intermediate student Mauricio Paz Viola.

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On June 8th, we held our First Annual Sunset Park Career Day featured a combination of workshops, career panels, and tabling throughout the day, with an aim to provide community members with information about workforce development programs, workers’ rights, and job opportunities. The event was open to all members of the community, attracting over 120 attendees including AMPHS’ Adult Literacy students. Career Day connected students to work and training opportunities and showed students that if they committed themselves to achieving their goals, and with a little bit of help along the way, anything is possible — achieving the American Dream is possible.

Workshops were facilitated through the Center for Family Life and CUNY BMCC. Twenty agencies participated to offer information about their job and training opportunities. Panelists shared stories about their struggles entering their professions, including going to school, finding a job as an undocumented person, and dealing with discrimination, and provided recommendations on educational pathways to success.

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To our students, our Adult Literacy classes mean much more than a class or a program. It is a community and an opportunity for education.

“I never went to school when I was young. My parents didn’t allow me to,” said Ms. Li, a student in our Beginner class, who at 80 years old had been enrolled in our program with her daughter since last year. “My daughter only completed elementary school; she was the primary caretaker for her younger siblings and began working as a teenager to earn money for the family. Her brothers had a chance to go to school, but she never did. Now she is my primary caretaker, and I know I owe so much to her. This, for us, is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The commitment and motivation of our students are unmatched. They are at once the breadwinners, parents and caretakers of the family. While struggling to learn to thrive in a new country, they are also attending classes 6+ hours a week to build upon their English — making a commitment to excel and build a better life for their children. We cannot be more proud of our graduating class and happier to have played a role in their journey. Take a look at our graduation booklet to meet them all!

The success of the classes would not have been possible without the hard work of our 2018-2019 Adult Literacy team: Administrative Support team Mon Yuck Yu, Philip Lindsay, Aimee Kim, Jialiang Huang;  ESOL Instructors Weam Al-Rubaye, Somia El-Rowmeim, Tanya Chambers, and Bonnie Blaha; the Literacy Partners team Adriane Lee, Mary Sillman, Jessica Kan, Caitlin Mroz, Fatema Kabir, Megan McDonald, and Sarah Jaffe. Thank you for all your hard work!

Now Accepting Applications! 

Summer Classes: New and returning students can opt to enroll in a 5-week computer class and conversation table this summer between July 10th and August 10th to continue to build their English skills. Registration is on a rolling basis.

Fall Classes: Registration for our Fall Cycle is now open. To register, please call our offices at (212) 256-9036 to make an appointment for registration and testing.

 

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AMPHS Selected as 2019 CRE Rising Fund Recipient!

AMPHS is proud to have been selected as one of six CRE Rising Fund recipients this year. The CRE Rising Fund, now in its fifth year, assists small, dynamic nonprofit organizations that are working to improve the lives of the diverse people and communities of New York City. Through the Rising Fund, expert CRE consultants partner with small nonprofits to complete no-cost, three-month long consulting engagements.

“We are proud to be partnering with these incredible nonprofits,” said Katie Leonberger, President and Chief Executive Officer of CRE. “These groups are working across New York City to support historically underrepresented communities, promote equity, and expand opportunity. We are honored and excited to partner with them to build their capacity for the future.”

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with CRE to build our capacity and think strategically about how to make our programs stronger and more impactful for the communities we serve,” said Hewett Chiu, President & CEO. “This will mean better and more effective services, particularly in light of the increasing needs within immigrant communities now.”

The 2019 awardee nonprofits were selected from 28 applications. The six organizations will each receive customized, no cost consulting services to better serve their communities and achieve their missions.

AMPHS has been selected among the following six nonprofit awardees that will receive pro bono consulting services:

  • Academy of Medical & Public Health Services (AMPHS) is a not-for-profit health service organization with a triple aim to identify barriers to health and wellness in underserved immigrant communities; coordinate truly needed primary care with social assistance; and deliver care with dignity and empathy to marginalized New Yorkers.
  • Center for Law & Social Justice (CLSJ) provides quality advocacy, training, and expert services in a personal manner to people of African descent and the disenfranchised. CLSJ conducts research and initiates advocacy projects and litigation on behalf of community organizations and groups that promote human, national, and international understanding.
  • Custom Collaborative trains and supports women from low-income and immigrant communities to launch fashion careers and businesses. By learning the standard techniques and ethical business practices of the fashion industry, participants can achieve secure livelihoods in the fashion industry as designers, entrepreneurs, pattern makers, and seamstresses who create and sell high-quality clothing and accessories.
  • The Feminist Press publishes books that ignite movements and social transformation, lifting up insurgent and marginalized voices from around the world to build a more just future.
  • Friends of WHEELS (Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School)’s goal is to make sure that every student at WHEELS has the information, counseling, and extracurricular experiences they need to get into and succeed in college and beyond.
  • Made in Brownsville is a youth creative agency and innovation hub providing a gateway for young people to learn marketable hard skills in STEAM, access postsecondary education, achieve economic mobility, and engage in placed-based community revitalization.

CRE will partner with AMPHS on a capacity building project that includes strategic planning, board development, and teambuilding. For more information, please visit https://www.crenyc.org/.

Meet Margarita: Immigrant, Mother, and Growing Advocate 

Margarita, 48, lives with her husband and two sons in Bay Ridge. She immigrated to the US from Mexico twenty years ago for financial reasons, and has lived in Brooklyn ever since. When Margarita went searching for a new job in Sunset Park, the Center for Family Life recommended that she focus on improving her English, and referred her to AMPHS. “I said to myself, if that’s the path, then let’s go, let’s get started.”

A few weeks later, she was enrolled in AMPHS’ Advanced English Class with Bonnie Blaha, one of AMPHS ESL instructors. Margarita quickly became one of the most outspoken students in class and often encouraged her classmates to be more active in the classroom. “Bonnie has lots of patience with us. She is wonderful.”

AMPHS English classes provide students with the language skills they need to survive and connect community members to each other through a common goal. They also provide access to holistic health and wellness services, further empowering community members to understand and assert their rights.

Once Margarita also learned about AMPHS health services, she immediately took advantage of AMPHS Saturday health screening services and signed up for weekly counseling with AMPHS’ licensed mental health therapist, Matilde Pedrero. “There are a lot of people here that don’t speak English… there are people who don’t ever receive check-ups. Here they have a chance to see a doctor, to learn English, to understand their situation.”

Though Margarita has graduated from AMPHS Adult Literacy program, she continues to play an important role in the AMPHS community as a volunteer, encouraging others to learn English and spreading the word about the organization. “I bring people in, little by little- my friend, my neighbor.” Margarita often brings her sons Jonathan and Jordan into the office as well. “The kids are happy here, they love to come here. They say, mom, let’s go to the school.”

AMPHS services, she points out, can make an enormous difference in someone’s life: “I am especially worried for my Guatemalan friends, the ones working dangerous jobs, the delivery bikers. Just the other day, a 16-year-old boy was killed delivering food. He probably barely knew how to read the ‘No-turn’ sign… or maybe if he had known some English he wouldn’t have to be dodging cars, maybe he could be waiting tables somewhere instead.”

 

Culture Day: Celebrating Diversity

On June 25th, AMPHS and the Arab American Association of New York, held a celebration of the diverse cultures that make up Brooklyn. Featuring the traditional food, garb, song, and performances from our very own ESOL students, we spoke to importance of diversity, understanding, and community solidarity. It was a beautiful unification of the different ethnic groups and generations among hundreds of students and their family members, to show that it is possible to erase differences and barriers to develop one voice, one community.

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AMPHS Graduates its Inaugural Adult Literacy Class!

In March, with funding from NYC Department of Community and Youth Development, AMPHS began offering six English classes for over 150 immigrant community members from Beginner to Advanced levels. Our adult literacy program furthers our mission to serve and empower NYC’s immigrant community, complementing our health and wellness programs by providing our students with the English skills for self-advocacy in both healthcare settings and in their everyday lives. We also offer babysitting services for parents who otherwise would not be able to take the classes.

Students improved upon their written and verbal communication skills, and connected with other English language learners in the community. They also took part in field trips around NYC (visiting the Brooklyn Public Library, Statue of Liberty, Museum of the City of New York, and even local restaurants!), participated in our first Culture Day, and celebrated all their hard work and progress at the end of June at the AMPHS Graduation Ceremony.  Students further engaged in conversation groups to practice their English with peers and work readiness workshops to help students advance in their career search beyond the classes. Take a look here for a list of graduating students!

The success of the classes would not have been possible without the hard work of our Spring 2018 Adult Literacy team: a big thanks to Somia El-Rowmeim, Adult Education Specialist and Adviser, and ESOL Instructors Jarod Yong, Bonnie Blaha, Weam Al-Rubaye, Patrizia Barroero and Ekhlas Sedhom. 

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Registration for our Fall Cycle is now open. To register, please call our offices at (212) 256-9036 to make an appointment for registration and testing! Registration ends August 31st, 2018.

AMPHS is Hiring!

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AMPHS is expanding its programs and seeking new members like you to join its team! Become a part of a dedicated team of volunteers and staff working towards expanding healthcare access among our most vulnerable communities.

Full-Time Positions:

Coordinator of Literacy, Education and Training

Coordinator of Health Programs

Part-Time Positions:

ESOL Instructor

Community Health Worker

Volunteer Positions: 

ESOL Tutor

 

For more information or to apply, please contact personnel.resources@amphsonline.org.

Making Your #Right2Health a Reality

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AMPHS wants to hear from you this holiday season!

Between now and the end of the year, take a few minutes to write about the health and wellness needs of your community. What barriers are you or someone you know currently experiencing in the pursuit of a healthy life? Are you having any trouble accessing quality care? What kinds of health and wellness services do you feel would improve the lives of the people in your community, your family?

Share your story or idea by emailing us at nicholas.maistros@amphsonline.org or by tagging us and posting your message to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #Right2Health. Please, protect the privacy of your subjects by removing any identifying information.

At the beginning of the new year, we will aggregate your messages and use them to tailor our services, making your #Right2Health a reality!

AMPHS’ Action Plan: Bridging the Healthcare Gap in Uncertain Times

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In anticipation of the incoming administration, we at AMPHS are maximizing our efforts to protect the rights of our immigrant community members and to make health and wellness accessible to those in need.

This is our plan:

  1. Provide free health and disease prevention services to the New Yorkers who might lose health insurance or be excluded from the healthcare system in 2017.
  2. Educate immigrant communities about their immigration and healthcare rights through Know Your Rights Workshops and street canvasses.
  3. Coordinate care plans for individuals who are left out of the healthcare system and connect them to resources to help them navigate their options.
  4. Assemble pro bono legal service providers to assist immigrants in conducting immigration screenings, securing health insurance, and being represented in immigration proceedings.
  5. Conduct active street outreach to identify community needs and sentiments.
  6. Convene community leaders and members to discuss action roadmaps to protect our community.
  7. Support New York City’s efforts to fight back against threats and coercion against immigrant communities.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We are here for our immigrant communities.

We Are Here for Our Immigrant Communities

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As with so many other grassroots organizations devoted to human rights and social justice, we at AMPHS are trying to anticipate the consequences of this presidential election. These are uncertain and frightening times—especially for the community members we serve, who are particularly vulnerable to a number of proposed policy changes, both in terms of their healthcare and their immigration status.

In recent years, we’ve seen a great deal of progress on these fronts. Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists across the country and the bravery of those who risked deportation by coming out of the shadows, President Obama unveiled his executive actions on immigration, providing deportation relief and authorization to work for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. With the passage of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), barriers to healthcare were beginning to fall, and many who could not previously afford insurance were finally able to realize what we at AMPHS have always deemed a human right—access to quality care.

These successes were not easily won, and their opponents were quick to dismantle them. In June, the Supreme Court, locked in a 4-4 ruling, effectively deemed President Obama’s immigration action unconstitutional. And earlier this month, we saw the election of not only a president but a Congress (and with them the likely appointment of numerous right-leaning federal judges) poised to repeal the ACA and staunch the rights and security of undocumented immigrants and their families.

With these developments, how can we help but feel defeated? All of this progress just to be thrown swiftly back to zero?

But we have to remind ourselves that the political landscape, as turbulent as it seems, is not all that different now than it was when we began our fight. In fact, in many ways, it was worse. We didn’t begin by defending rights already afforded to the marginalized; we began without rights to defend. We began without visibility, without a network of support. We began without a movement.

From the start, AMPHS’ mission was to empower “individuals and communities to create their own local and culturally-sensitive health and wellness paradigms.” And it still is. We were founded on the principles of advancing healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. It’s what we’ve always done, and we’re learning how to do it better and better every day.

Yes, we may be disappointed, and we may be scared, but this is not a reset. We are not starting from scratch, because from the beginning, we’ve taken nothing for granted. All these years, and what do we have to show for them? We have a stalwart—and a visible—network of support that persists not because of the ACA, not because of DACA or DAPA, not because of any elected official. We have it because we built it ourselves. So we persist, so we continue to build on what we have, and we already have so much. We have each other.

We at AMPHS are closely monitoring these new developments, and we promise to keep our communities informed of their rights and resources. Please go to this link for a list of key updates on AMPHS’ programs and the president-elect’s policies, and do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. Call us at (212) 256-9036 or email info@amphsonline.org.

We are here for you.


Hewett Chiu

President & CEO, AMPHS

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Healthcare, Immigration, and a Turbulent Political Environment

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Community members rally in Brooklyn, NY, to protect the rights of immigrants.

There are many uncertainties regarding President-elect Trump’s shifting policies on healthcare and immigration. AMPHS is closely monitoring these new developments and will provide updates as we receive them.

Here’s what we know so far.

  • AMPHS will continue to conduct health screenings in Sunset Park. Please contact us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org to make an appointment. All of our health services remain free and open to the public regardless of insurance or immigration status.
  • AMPHS is putting a hold on our DACA Ed outreach until further notice. Individuals already enrolled in Fall DACA Ed courses can continue the program for educational advancement purposes. However, they will be discouraged from applying for DACA until we have more information about the President-elect’s plans.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that information shared via DACA applications is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, though USCIS reserves the right to issue a Notice To Appear or referral to ICE should criteria be met. USCIS also states that this policy may change. We do not know whether there will be a move by the new administration to use USCIS information to remove groups that were never targeted for deportation in the past. Past groups targeted for deportation were generally individuals who had been convicted of a crime. Moreover, President-elect Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants seems unfeasible in light of his joint proposal to enforce federal cutbacks. Despite this, circumstances are unpredictable at this time.
  • For those who are not currently DACAmented (that is, receiving benefits under the DACA program) we are no longer citing DACA as a pathway to health insurance. Individuals currently DACAmented will still be able to apply for health insurance under PRUCOL, but we are uncertain of future implications.
  • We do not suggest submitting DACA applications or renewals at this time. Applications submitted now can take several months to be processed and will likely not protect the applicant should DACA be eliminated.
  • While the ACA will be difficult to dismantle entirely, the President-elect can immediately target subsidies, the individual mandate, and the employer mandate. Instead of the ACA, President-elect Trump has proposed tax deductions for healthcare premiums, authorization to purchase health insurance across state lines, and block grants for state Medicaid programs. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, President-elect Trump’s healthcare plans could cost up to $550 billion and result in the loss of coverage for over 20 million people. The President-elect has suggested he would keep some components of the ACA, such as pre-existing condition protections and the option for children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan up to age 26.
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AMPHS marches with NYC Council Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca.

 

  • The Obama administration has proposed a new rule that would prevent states from withholding Title X federal family planning money from certain recipients for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” Under this rule, states will no longer be able to defund Planned Parenthood. The rule will go into effect after a 30-day public comment period.
  • According to Donald Trump’s website, his administration plans to remove thousands of so-called “criminal aliens” in “joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement.” However, many local law enforcement agencies have already claimed that they will not aid President-elect Trump’s deportation efforts, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Police departments across the country have shared similar sentiments, as have the mayors of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Newark, Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Donald Trump’s website also states that his administration will “end sanctuary cities,” terminate DACA, and triple the number of ICE agents. And in a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Trump vowed to deport up to 3 million immigrants. Many have argued that these plans are unrealistic and prohibitively expensive, and as already mentioned, many cities have publicly promised to defend against such policies. However, an expansion of ICE and/or more frequent raids is certainly possible. Click here to learn more about how to protect yourself if the police or ICE come to your house.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities and will work as always to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org. We are here for you.