Each week my column in the Harlem News will feature a local organizations and people doing great things to help people in our communities. Many of these resources go unnoticed or are underutilized so this is a great way to introduce our readers to the organizations and the people who make them work. The Harlem News is a free community newspaper available in Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn and the South Bronx. www.harlemnewsgroup.com
African Services Committee — A critical resource for immigrants in the harlem Community.
Kim Nichols, Co-Executive Director of African Services Committee (ASC) is a hard worker. When I sat down to interview her last week she said her drive was rooted in the work. She said, “There is always more work to do” and after 28 years with the organization “It is the work of helping people that keeps her going, I just like the work.” That work has her traveling between the headquarters in Harlem to the continent of Africa where the organization has built four health clinics in Ethiopia and also supports local programming. Ms. Nichols began her career working in Ethiopia during the unrest and ultimate coup of the Emperor Haile Salassie in 1974. Her roots in public health and experience working in Africa ultimately drew her to ASC and has kept her there.
Founded in 1981, the organization originally focused on the needs of Ethiopian refugees. The early eighties saw a wave of immigrants from Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Today, West African countries are seeing waves of immigration. New York’s African population has steadily grown and Harlem and the Bronx have vibrant communities of people from Senegal, Guinea, Mali, South Africa, and many, many other countries. Over the years he organization has expanded its services to respond to the changing needs of people and to different immigrant groups that have migrated to the United States. The organization offers services to over 10,000 people each year from the five boroughs and does not limit services to strictly to individuals of African origin.
The services offered by the organization are available to anyone in need regardless of ethnic origin or immigration status and are provided confidentially. The services offered include health services such as HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and education, chronic disease screening, testing and counseling for TB, hepatitis and pregnancy, legal services such as immigration advocacy and applications for political asylum, housing assistance and tenant advocacy and many other support services. Languages spoken on staff include English, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Wolof, Bambara and many other African languages. The operation is very impressive and deserves more attention from our community.
The modern facilities located on 127th Street in West Harlem include a clinic, counseling rooms, kitchen, meeting spaces and administrative offices. The facility is alive with activity and the wonderful sounds of different voices and dialects from across the Diaspora. The offices are open to walk-ins or by appointment.
Volunteers with experience and skills at every level are always needed. There is a great need for lawyers, doctors, nurses, language teachers and other professionals who can donate time to make a difference in the lives of the people served. You can also make financial contributions to support the work of ASC here in New York or in Africa.
For more on the various programs offered by African Services Committee, stop by the office located at 429 West 127th Street call them at (212) 222-3882 or visit them on the web at www.africanservices.org.
Please get to know this wonderful Harlem organization. They are doing great work for our African neighbors and so many others in Harlem and around New York City.
Vince Morgan is a concerned resident, activist, community development banker and aspiring public servant. He resides in Harlem with his wife and two small children. If you have a non-profit organization or manage a government agency that is a resource for the Harlem Community and want to be featured in this column, email him directly at email@example.com.