Somali Family Service of San Diego
Mission Statement: Somali Family Service, guided by its community champions, helps Somali and other African families in becoming responsible, independent, and contributing members of San Diego through its programs that promote health, educational and economic success, and leadership efforts.
Advancing Health and Wellness: The Health and Wellness Program was created in 2008 based on the outcomes of the Health Needs Assessment of 150 Somali community members, conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Public Health at San Diego State University. This community-designed program is centered on bridging the gap between the unique community, healthcare providers, and professionals, on improving the community’s access to quality health care, and on educating the community on healthy living. The goal of the program is to promote knowledge on healthcare navigation, services, and preventative care to promote a healthier immigrant and refugee community. The Health and Wellness Program is composed of several program foci:
- San Diego Somali Autism Awareness Initiative (SDSAA) – This program offers free health education and navigation services to families affected by autism and other developmental delays. Services include monthly community forums, a parent support group, case management, resource referrals, healthcare navigation, transportation assistance, translation and interpretation services, Individualized Education Program (IEP) consultations, and Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.
- Elder Multicultural Access and Social Services (EMASS) – The senior population (age 60+) is outreached to—and provided with—culturally appropriate education, advocacy, peer mentoring support, and transportation services to promote their physical and mental health.
- Women’s Wellness Workshops & Men’s Health Dialogues – This program provides monthly workshops focused on health education to men and women separately, covering various topics, such as nutrition, gardening and growing one’s own food, access to healthcare, preventative care, and mental health.
- Cultural Sensitivity Training – The cultural sensitivity curriculum has been developed to assist healthcare providers in becoming familiarized with the cultural and religious backgrounds of Somali patients in order to provide improved patient-informed and centered healthcare.
- Youth Health Promotion – In this program, workshops on topics related to physical, mental, and emotional health, healthy relationships, and nutrition are offered. Youth participants have the opportunity to reflect upon their own physical health and well-being as well as to engage in discussion on such topics.
- Mental Health Community Forums – These forums address the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health to provide information on mental health issues and how to access services from local mental health agencies.
Somali Family Service hosts annual health fairs that bring together health and social service agencies with community members. Attendees are able to access free health screenings, social services, wellness presentations, fun activities for children, and giveaways for families.
Enrollment and Education on the Affordable Care Act – As a Certified Application Entity (CAE), Somali Family Service’s Certified Application Counselors (CAC) educate and enroll community members into healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Community education and outreach events are held to make the East African community more familiar with accessing health care services.
2015 in Review:
The Fourth Annual Youth Summit was held on March 29, 2015 at the Jacobs Center. The Youth Summit provided Somali youth and their parents a safe space to get informed and empowered on the realities and challenges of today’s world, shedding light on the importance of education and family. Approximately 200 parents and youth attended.
Second Annual Health Summit: Cultural Sensitivity Training for Healthcare Providers – “Providing Patient-Centered Health Care to Somali Patients: A Cultural Sensitivity Training” was held on May 21, 2015. The training aimed to educate healthcare providers and professionals on health beliefs and experiences of their Somali patients in order to address cultural and linguistic barriers to improve delivery of care.
The Second Annual Day of Dignity® was held on November 14, 2014 at the Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park in City Heights. It is a day of service hosted by organizations in cities nationwide to bring awareness to food insecurity and the increasing inaccessibility to basic healthcare and social needs. This event brought together over 400 community members from low-income families and the homeless population residing in City Heights. SFS distributed clothes, blankets, hygiene kits, backpacks, school supplies, and food to the community.
The Third OceanLeaf Awards Celebration took place on February 25, 2015 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Kearny Mesa. OceanLeaf is the only event that recognizes unsung heroes serving the East African community. Over 200 community members attended. Bob Montgomery, the former Executive Director of International Rescue Committee, served as the keynote speaker, highlighting his work and the IRC’s role in assisting refugees and immigrants in their new homeland. The event honored eight individuals for their contribution to the East African refugee and immigrant community in San Diego.
SFS as a lead agency
- The expansion of the organization in the programmatic, staff, and budget areas has led to SFS taking a larger leadership role within the community—and among other East African organizations. SFS was selected to lead and serve as a fiscal sponsor to the East African Collaborative, a collaborative of six community-based organizations serving the East African community in San Diego. Currently, the East African Collaborative goal is focused upon informing the community about the healthcare reform and services available to individuals and families, assisting them with healthcare navigation, health insurance enrollment, and appointments.
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