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Arab American Family Services Hosts a Community Dialogue Event!

Featured left to right: Executive Director of AAFS, Itedal Shalabi, Senator Bill Cunningham, AAFS Director Nareman Taha.

Arab American Family Services (AAFS) in partnership with Amos Alonzo Stagg High School hosted a much needed Community Dialogue event on Tuesday, April 12, 2017. After learning of the growing concerns and issues within our communities and the struggles of our families related to accessing resources and navigating the system, we took the initiative to invite local stakeholders from respective organization

Featured left to right: Eric Olsen, Nareman Taha, Sylvia Villa, Dr. Layla Suleiman, Itedal Shalabi, Jennifer Tyrrell

Through the AAFS’ Illinois Welcoming Center (AAFS-IWC), we engaged in a conversation with community leaders and elected officials throughout the southwest suburbs to better understand the needs and priorities of our community members. The Illinois Welcoming Center is a project administered by the Department of Human Services to provide immigrant and refugee individuals and families with an array of services, information, programs, therefore, creating self-sustaining and thriving communities. This event began with breakfast and an introduction from Dr. Layla Suleiman, Aunt Martha’s Senior Advisor, followed by a welcoming from Eric Olsen, Principal of Amos Alonzo Stagg High School.

“Growing a healthy community is a lifelong process one that requires constant nurturing and persistence. Everyone has a role to play in building healthier and more vibrant communities.” Said Executive Director Itedal Shalabi in her opening speech.

The Community Dialogue event allowed attendees provide solutions and implement action plans by learning about the resources each organization is able to offer.

Attendees were split up and free to choose one of the five categories to participate in; employment and economic development, housing, immigration, education and youth, and health and human services. Amongst those that were leading the workshops was Abdi Maya from the IL Department of Human Rights, Silvia Villa, Rebecca Ortiz, Denise Martinez founder and Principal at Vira law, Abir Othman, Vice Principal of Andrew High School and AAFS board president and Laura Meizel.

These workshops led to conversations that will lead to possible solutions and action plans that could be implemented through the services and resources each attendee is able to offer. Our intention is to host meetings throughout the year to discuss the concerns and lack of resources within our communities to have a better understanding of the difficulties they are facing in order to come up with solutions.

Our next meeting will take place on June 12th, 2017. If you would like to participate in this upcoming event, please contact us via email at nzein@aafsil.org to register.


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