Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for a great year! 

The Lao Assistance Center offices will be closed on January 1st, 2009 but will reopen on January 2nd during regular business hours. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lao Assistance Center and Lao Elders

The Lao Elders and Families Program can help elders with: Housing, Economic Assistance, Energy Assistance, SSI/SSA/Retirement, Medical and Doctor, Medicare and low cost prescription drug benefits, Medical Assistance, Property Tax, Interpreting/Translating and other services!

A bilingual, bicultural Lao Special Access Worker can meet you at our offices or your home. If you need help, please call:

Bounleuth Gowing, Special Access Worker, (612) 374-4967 or e-mail 

This program made possible by a grant from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging

Monday, November 24, 2008

National Smoke-Out Day, November 20

On November 20th, over 200 elders, youth and community organizations from the Lao, Hmong, Khmer and Vietnamese communities of Minnesota gathered at the U Garden Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a luncheon to discuss the importance of discouraging smoking and the use of tobacco products.

Representatives from many agencies including the Lao Assistance Center’s Chongchith Saengsuham spoke about the devastating impact cigarettes had on the health and well-being not only of individuals but their families and community.

Each year, over 15,000 to 20,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders die from tobacco-related illnesses, a figure higher than AIDS, car crashes, murders and suicides combined. Participants at the luncheon were able to see how tobacco products are made with some of the deadliest poisons imaginable, including those found in common household products like window cleaners, butane, and cleaning solutions.

A key part of the celebration was stressing the importance and impact the elders voices can have on the direction of the community and their ability to make a difference. Several veterans from the war in Laos came forward to discuss the historical relationship of tobacco to their community, noting that they were often given free packages of cigarettes during the war and encouraged to smoke. Today, we see and recognize the deadly effects this has and the economic drain it causes in families.

This is an issue that affects men and women of all ages.This year’s theme was: Honor Yourself, Honor Others-Please Don’t Smoke!, and it was an important message that resonated with those in attendance.

The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota has developed many materials in Lao to help people who want to quit, particularly through the QUITPLAN program. For more information, you can call Chongchith Saengsuham at (612) 374-4967 or e-mail her at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Did you know?

The Lao Assistance Center:

+          Engineered the development and legislative funding of the Southeast Asian Problem Gambling Consortium (Now the Asian Problem Gambling Consortium)

+          Successful partnership with the Harrison Neighborhood Association engaging Lao neighborhood residents within the Harrison neighborhood of Minneapolis.

+          Is one of the founding members of the Center for Southeast Asian Research and Evaluation at the University of Minnesota.

+          Is one of the founding members of DREGAN aimed at tobacco information and cessation in diverse communities.

Meet our staff!

Who works for the Lao Assistance Center?

Sunny Chanthanouvong, BA, Executive Director, With LACM since 1992.

Phouninh Vixayvong, BA, Director, Lao Women Association, With LACM since 1983

Bounleuth Gowing, Community Health Worker, With LACM since 2001

Chongchith Saengsudham, BA, Family Support Specialist, With LACM since 2003

Pany Siharath, Chemical Health Coordinator, With LACM since 2008.

Welcome to the Lao Assistance Center!


The Lao Assistance Center was formed by ethnic Lao refugees in 1981 and attained its nonprofit charitable status in 1983. It was founded to respond to the emerging needs of newly arrived Lao refugees who were not Hmong and provided services in employment, housing, citizenship, and English as a Second Language. 

As our needs lessened and significant parts of the community began to successfully adapt to our new home, newer issues and lessons were learned. 

This necessitated a shift in program development to continue to meet the needs of the Lao community as it exists today. While previous needs such as employment and citizenship continue to exist, new needs were expressed.

These included health, elders, problem gambling and, increasingly mental health. 

The end result is a community with a spectrum of needs requiring a range of resources, more often than not requiring linguistic and cultural accessibility. Over 15,000 Lao persons have been served by LACM since its inception. Our offices are located in North Minneapolis in the Harrison neighborhood. The organization delivers services primarily in Hennepin County. Most of the persons served live in or near North, South, or Southeast Minneapolis; the southern suburbs of Richfield and Bloomington; and, the northern suburbs of Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Brooklyn Park and Champlin. 

Programs and services are also offered in other counties of the Seven County Metropolitan Area and statewide as requested.

This blog is an ongoing journal of stories, success and opportunities affecting our community! We look forward to having you join us in the years ahead! Khop jai!