All ACCESS: Why Community Services are More Needed than Ever

In these unprecedented times, COVID-19 has taken a toll on many communities, with vulnerable populations bearing the brunt of the Pandemic. In this webinar, ACCESS representatives from Michigan and California discussed how essential community services are during this time, and the work they are doing to keep so many safe and alive.
ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) has been serving the community for more than 47 years. Founded by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1971 out of a storefront in Dearborn’s impoverished south end, ACCESS was created to assist the Arab immigrant population adapt to life in the United States.Today, ACCESS is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the United States. With 11 locations and more than 120 programs serving metro Detroit, ACCESS offers a wide range of social, economic, health and educational services to a diverse population.

A recipient of the “Champion of Change” award from the White House in 2014, Nahla Kayali is described as an advocate and a leader who inspires, elevates, and empowers underserved individuals and families to ensure they have access to health and human services. Arriving to the United States as a Palestinian refugee from Syria at the age of 16, and married, and only having finished the 9th grade, Nahla founded Access California Services (AccessCal) in 1998, a culturally and linguistically competent health and human services non-profit organization in Anaheim dedicated to empowering under-served populations, with a focus on Arab- American & Muslim- American communities. Under Nahla’s executive leadership, AccessCal has grown from a budget of $2,000 to $1.9 million serving 11,000 unduplicated clients and providing over 65,000 services, annually. Nahla’s work continues to make an impact at the local and national level and has awarded her multiple recognitions from public officials, foundations, corporations and service providers.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of ACCESS, Hassan Jaber has helped grow the organization from a small group of volunteers, to one with over 100 programs at 11 locations today, which includes three national institutions, all serving communities of all backgrounds.

ACCESS is one of the nation’s most impactful and prolific Arab American community nonprofit organization. It has strengthened communities and established institutions with a focus on community empowerment, at both local and national levels. Based in the Detroit area, ACCESS transitions people from being service recipients to fully engaged citizens able to advance justice and equity. The approximately 120 human services programs serve thousands of vulnerable individuals and families every day through health, education, employment and social services. However, ACCESS’ impact also extends far beyond a regional presence in southeast Michigan. Through its national institutions – Arab American National Museum, Center for Arab American Philanthropy and National Network for Arab American Communities – ACCESS leverages the power of Arab Americans in the arts, philanthropy and advocacy to advance social change on a national level. Prior to his appointment as Executive Director in 2007, Hassan was thePresident and Chief Executive Officer at ACCESS for 27 years.


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