Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Folk and Traditional Arts Coming Up

Folk and Traditional Arts is a pilot program designed to support the artistic traditions and customs practiced within community and/or cultural groups by identifying, documenting, preserving, presenting, and honoring Minnesota’s folk arts and traditions.

The goal of the Folk and Traditional Arts program is that Minnesotans will have multiple opportunities to engage in folk and traditional arts forms and become more aware of the folk and traditional arts offerings available to them.

Apply today at the Minnesota State Arts Board—The FY 2011 deadline is January 7, 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Report from the 1st Meeting of State Parties on the CCM: 12/30

Save the Date  -- Thursday Dec. 30th, 2010!

Join the Lao community and Jack Rossbach for an interesting presentation  that will include the report from LAO about the successful 1st Meeting of States Parties for the Convention on Cluster Munitions Held in Nov. 2010 Laos (1MSP)  along with more general information about the wonderful people of Laos.

1MSP is an international effort to ban cluster munitions (121 Countries formally attended).

Come and celebrate with notable Lao community members, Nobel Peace Prize winning Laureates and other fine individuals.  Artifacts, Photos and video from 1MSP will be present.  Bring friends, family and anyone else that you can convince this is a good time.  Entertainers welcome.  As always we will have a pot luck dinner with hopefully Lao food so bring something even if it is only yourself.

When:   Thursday, December 30th 5:00-9:00PN+.

Where:   The Lao Family building located at 320 University Ave. W., St. Paul  (Near Western and University before Rice).  Contact at Lao Family Yao Lo 651-221- 0069 for additional information.

Who:  Jack Rossbach, Coordinator of the Minnesota Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions in partnership with the Lao community. Contact Jack for additional information.  Home 651-488-0524 or jack2ros@yahoo.com

Lao Assistance Center open this week

The Lao Assistance Center is open this week during regular business hours. If you need help or assistance regarding snow-related issues or other topics, please contact us, and be sure to drive safely.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Observing Memorial Day. Offices closed

 Lao Assistance Center will be closed on November 11th in observance of Veteran's Day. We will have regular hours on Friday.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Closing Reception for Legacies of War

Tuesday, October 26, 2010, “Legacies of War” Exhibit Private Tour, Discussion & Closing Reception

INTERMEDIA ARTS 2822 Lyndale Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

5:30-6 pm Bryan Thao-Worra and Mali Kouanchao will lead a private tour of the exhibit.

6-7 pm Facilitated discussion about the impact of the performance and the exhibit on the local Minnesota community with invited artists, leaders and community members.

7 – 9 pm Following this tour and conversation, guests will attend the Beyond the Performance where Bryan Thao Worra and May-Lee Yang will be featured performers along with other local writers and poets of color.

FREE & OPEN to the public

$5 Suggested Donation to Support Intermedia Arts, Pangea World Theater and Lao Assistance Center, Sponsored by the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans. "This event is funded with money from the arts and cultural heritage fund that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008."

Intermedia Arts, Pangea World Theater, and the Lao Assistance Center collaborated to create Legacies of War, displayed at Intermedia Arts. Curated by Malichansouk Kouanchao, the art exhibit opened on September 30 and runs through October 26. Presented in conjunction with the Refugee Nation touring performance, Legacies of War mission was “to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace.”

The exhibit is an overdue acknowledgment of the tragedy of the U.S. bombings during the Secret War that drove many Laotian refugees to leave their homelands, and haunts them to this day. Legacies of War uses photographs, letters, and drawings created by Laotian refugees as tools to tell the story of the trauma they experienced, and to clear the way for a new future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

City Councilperson Barbara Johnson to visit Lao Assistance Center 10/26.

Minneapolis City Councilperson Barbara Johnson will be visiting the Lao Assistance Center on Tuesday, October 26th at 4:00PM at the Lao Assistance Center to learn more about our community!

Barbara Johnson was first elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 1997 to represent the Fourth Ward in the northwest corner of Minneapolis. She has served as President of the Minneapolis City Council since January of 2006. Council President Johnson serves on the Public Safety and Regulatory Services (PS&RS), Executive and Transportation and Public Works (TPW) committees of the City Council. She also serves on the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board, the Board of Estimate and Taxation, MEET Minneapolis, the City Labor-Management Committee, the Municipal Building Commission (MBC), the Riverfront Development Corporation and Hennepin County’s Task Force on Teen Pregnancy.

Council President Johnson is a registered nurse. Her background in health has spurred her support for health sector growth in Minneapolis. Barb is very interested in establishing partnerships through biotechnology and learning from other local governments about solutions to municipal problems. She has a strong interest in parks due to the 18 years of service on the Metropolitan Parks & Open Space Commission. She also served on the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area Commission, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Barb was a founding member of the Victory Neighborhood Association (VINA) and was the Chair from 1994-1997. She is a former Girl Scout leader and community volunteer.

We think this visit will be very interesting for many members of the community with her wide range of interests and knowledge.

County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin to visit Lao Assistance Center 10/28

County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin will be visiting the Lao Assistance Center on October 28th at 10:30 AM. Come join us and learn more about what he does and what he can do to help our community.

Peter McLaughlin joined the Hennepin County Board in 1991. He is presently chair of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, chair of the Public Works, Energy & Environment Committee and co-chair of the Intergovernmental Committee.

He coordinated the regional effort with the help of labor, business and the community in successfully lobbying for Light Rail Transit (LRT) funding which led to the opening of Minnesota’s first light rail line, the Hiawatha Line, in 2004. In 2008, he was instrumental in establishing a dedicated funding source to expand the region’s transit system of light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit lines. He presently serves as chair of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which invests revenues from the five-county metro sales tax for transitways and advocates for expansion of the transit system.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank you from Refugee Nation!

A big thanks to all of our community members and supporters who joined us throughout the last two weeks for the presentation of Refugee Nation. We had almost 1,000 people in attendance throughout the two weeks of performance, workshops and community gatherings.

There were many amazing and positive comments from so many community members and we're deeply touched. Ova Saopeng, Leilani Chan and Lidet Viravong left on Monday, October 18th with many good memories and gratitude to everyone in Minnesota who made them feel so welcome.

We had visitors from Denmark, Canada, California, Iowa, Wisconsin and Tennessee who came to meet our artists and to explore what it meant to be Lao'd and Proud, and part of America. We couldn't have done it without your help and support in getting the word out! :)

Showing Bombies at Intermedia Arts

We're showing Bombies, a documentary on bombs left in Laos at Intermedia Arts on Tuesday, October 19th at 7PM on the big screen! Come join us for a discussion and tours of the Legacies of War Exhibit. Intermedia Arts is located at 2822 Lyndale Avenue S. in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Legacies of War and Refugee Nation in the news!

The Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Opening: Friday, October 8th at Intermedia Arts is the premiere of the play Refugee Nation, based on many of the stories of the Lao families of Minnesota and across the US. It's located at 2822 Lyndale Avenue South and the play goes until October 17th. 

If you're interested in buying your tickets in advance for Refugee Nation:

You can see some of the great articles that have appeared about the show here: 

Monday, October 4, 2010

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Join the movement at http://www.komen.org to learn more about other people working on this important issue!

Some experts recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Others recommend starting at age 50 and having mammograms every two years. Of course, if you have a breast lump or other abnormality at any age, you need to get it checked out.

Because this is a concern for many who worry about the costs: If you are enrolled in Medicare, it will cover most of the costs of a preventive (screening) mammogram every 12 months. Patients would pay 20% of the Medicare-approved mammography cost.

Medicare will also pay for a diagnostic mammogram, which is done to check out a specific breast problem, at any time, notes the National Cancer Institute. For more information on Medicare coverage of mammograms, call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

If you have private health insurance, check with your health insurance provider to see about your mammography benefits. The National Cancer Institute notes that most states require health insurers to reimburse all or part of the cost of screening mammograms.

If you don’t have Medicare or other health insurance, the National Cancer Institute suggests calling the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) or the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 400-4-CANCER (800-422-6237), or your local hospital, health department, women's center, or other community groups to find out about access to low-cost or free mammograms.

In Minnesota, for example, there is the SAGE program: http://www.mnsage.com a statewide comprehensive breast and cervical cancer screening program whose primary objective is to increase the proportion of age-appropriate women who are screened for breast and cervical cancer. Please be sure to take care of your health!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lao Assistance Center Celebrates 27 years!

On October 9th the Lao Assistance Center will be gathering community members, friends, families and supporters to celebrate 30 years of Lao in America and 27 years of the organization.

"We're so happy to be able to celebrate this moment," said Executive Director Sunny Chanthanouvong. "It is our time to remember where we've been and where we're going."

The evening will feature traditional live music, dance, fine dining, door prizes and other entertainment. Established in 1983, the mission of the Lao Assistance Center is to increase the capacity of the Lao-American population in Minnesota by responding to community identified needs through developing programs and services that will promote the well-being of families and children while retaining their cultural heritage. It is currently housed in the Harrison Community Center in North Minneapolis and focuses on five areas to meet the needs of youth, elders, adults and promote civic engagement, philanthropy and volunteering.

Modern Laos, a nation approximately the size of Great Britain, is home to over 160 ethnicities, each with their own traditions and customs, including Khmu, Tai Dam, Mien, Hmong and ethnic Lao. In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao who have resettled here since the end of the war in 1975. Minnesota has the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US with over 25,000 residents.

With an award-winning staff, the Lao Assistance Center has been busy in 2010 with bringing in the Legacies of War exhibit and the play Refugee Nation, as well as supporting the national Lao American Writers Summit and conducting community listening projects. It most recently completed a three-day training in the Harrison neighborhood on the subject of undoing racism. They also participated in Census 2010 outreach efforts and efforts to support the transition to DTV and issues of media justice. the Lao Assistance Center also has taken on a new role in supporting oral history collection thanks to the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and the Minnesota History Center. They are currently taking on work on issues of unemployment, housing foreclosure and addressing alcohol, tobacco and drug use in the community through their Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free program.

The Crystal Community Center has long been a part of many key events in the Lao Minnesotan community, including weddings and other family celebrations. It is located at 4800 Douglas Drive North in Crystal, Minnesota. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance. For more information, guests and sponsors can contact the Lao Assistance Center at sunny@laocenter.org or call (612) 374-4967. Doors open at 6pm.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Refugee Nation coming to Minneapolis!

REFUGEE NATION: Co-presented with Pangea World Theater
October 8-17, 2010, Based on stories of Laotian Refugees.
Written and Performed by LEILANI CHAN & OVA SAOPENG
Intermedia Arts

A mother lives alone in the darkness. A father struggles to forget a lost war. A son battles in the streets of urban America. A daughter searches for answers in her community. Refugee Nation is about a young generation struggling to understand their history and the silence of an elder generation still healing from the traumas war. What can we learn from the wounds of a war over 30 years ago in the hope to find healing?

Refugee Nation tells the stories of a community created by a U.S. led secret war in Laos. Intricately connected to the Vietnam War, Laotian refugees struggle to create a future as their American descendants struggle to understand their past.

Since 2005, collaborators Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng have been collecting oral histories from family and community members across the country to create an interdisciplinary theater performance that explores a growing part of the Asian American Diaspora that is yet to be included as part of the American experience.

Through theater and movement they re-construct the stories of families trying to rebuild a community that has been spread like ashes across the U.S. and the world.

More than just a telling of Laotian American history, the two-person performance eloquently touches upon issues relating to the refugee experience, assimilation, generation gap, and mental health using drama, film, music, and audience interaction, and personalizes these issues through a genuine Laotian American perspective.

The result is a product that not only brings to light the hidden stories of Laotian Americans around the U.S., but one that is able to unite people from all types of backgrounds, ethnicities, and histories by relaying the ideas of change, loss, struggle, healing, and the unrelenting strength of the human spirit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome Emerge * Americorps!

The Lao Assistance Center in Minnesota recently welcomed David Zander and Linda Homsombath as a host site for Emerge * Americorps members. Both of them bring exceptional skills volunteering in our community. The Lao Assistance Center is one of 17 host sites selected in Minnesota to work to create pathways of success for ex-offenders and immigrants with Emerge * Americorps.

Together, our goal is to assist approximately 3,750 immigrants and ex-offenders to successfully integrate into the workforce with a team of 30 AmeriCorps members like David and Linda. The Lao Assistance Center and the other partners will be working closely with Emerge * Americorps to implement 5 distinct service activities that increase the employability of our participants.

The other organizations are 180 Degrees, AccessAbility, Amicus, the Brian Coyle Community Center, Ceder Riverside Adult Education Collaborative, Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota, EMERGE, Goodwill Easter Seals of MN, Karen Organization of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Urban League, the Minnesota Council of Churches, Neighborhood House, Operation de Novo, Oromo Community of Minnesota, Rebuild Resources and Waite House.

Among activities David and Linda are working on with our staff and other community colleagues are:
* Facilitating soft skills/work readiness training
* Providing individualized job readiness/placemement assistance
* Organizing a quarterly site-based celebratory event
* Recruiting and supporting community volunteers to further enhance our capacity to serve our community and
* Civic engagement activities

Welcome, David and Linda and we look forward to seeing the great programs that emerge out of all of this!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MN Lao Artists Recognized at national Lao Artists Festival

On Saturday, August 21st, nationally acclaimed Lao American artists were recognized during the national Lao Artists Festival in Elgin, Illinois in an an event organized by the Laotian Professionals of Illinois.

The mission of the festival is “To showcase and advocate our talents, preserve our culture, and provide leadership for our future through art education and awareness.” Among the artists recognized include visual artist Mali Kouanchao for her work as a painter and Bryan Thao Worra for his work with literacy. Other Minnesota artists represented include playwright and poet Saymoukda Vongsay. The Lao American rapper Gumby AKA Pryce performed during the festival which nearly filled the entire Hemmens Auditorium. It was an evening to remember for everyone.

Lao American Writers Summit convened in Minnesota

On August 13-15th, over 120 people came for the first national Lao American Writers Summit. The Lao Assistance Center served as the fiscal agent for this project, which was 3 years in the planning. 

Nearly 2 dozen award-winning Lao American artists gathered together to work with Lao and non-Lao including Hmong, European American, African American, Thai and Tongans to discuss the importance of art, community and how to remember our history and traditions.

The project had support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Jerome Foundation, the national Association for Asian American Studies, the national Asian Pacific American Librarian's Association, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, the Center for Lao Studies, Asian American Press, and the Lao Student Association of the University of Minnesota, and many individual contributors and donors.

We energized and inspired our youth, who comprised a majority of the participants, and elders who'd never been to facilities such as the Loft Literary Center.

Many of our elders were excited at the opportunity to come forward and tell our stories and their journey, including one elder who'd lived in Minnesota for years, quietly working on a history of the Lao people and a dictionary. He hadn't realized there were so many writers and artists across the country and he was overjoyed that there was a young generation who wanted to continue the study of art and culture.

We learned many things discovered many ways to improve our work in the community.  We're all looking forward to future activities. The most important consequences of the Summit will bloom over the course of the next several decades within both our elders and the younger generation.  Thanks to everyone who came and we look forward to working with all of you again in the coming years ahead.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Legacies of War Celebrates Convention on Cluster Munitions

Legacies of War joins the thousands of cluster bomb survivors in Laos and around the world to celebrate the Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty in more than a decade; 107 countries have signed the treaty and 37 countries have ratified it. Lao PDR, the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history, and one of the first countries to sign the treaty, will host the convention's First Meeting of State Parties in Vientiane, Lao PDR, in November 2010.

"We are pleased that the First Meeting of States Parties will be held in Laos, which accounts for the most cluster munitions casualties worldwide, as a result of massive U.S. bombings during the Vietnam War-era. We would encourage the U.S., who hasn't signed the treaty, to attend this historic meeting in November," said Brett Dakin, Board Chair of Legacies of War.

On average, the U.S. spends $2.7M per year, compared to the $17M per day (today's dollars) it spent during the 9 years of bombing (1964-1973). "Legacies of War is calling for an increase in U.S. funding to $10M per year over the next 10 years in order to make a significant dent in the current cluster bomb problem in Laos and save thousands of lives in the future," Dakin added.

The meeting will create an action plan to be used by all states to complete the legal obligations of the treaty, including support for clearance, stockpile destruction and victim assistance.

As a lead up to the First Meeting of States Parties, campaigners around the world are holding public events in August to mark the official Entry into Force of the treaty. On August 1, the "Beat the Drum" campaign featured drumming events in 70 countries to welcome the treaty into force and highlight the treaty's significance in communities affected by cluster bombs. Although the United States has not signed the treaty, events are being held around the country to participate in the international campaign. In Portland, OR, drumming circles, student groups and local musicians will join forces for a large drumming event on August 14.

Cluster bombs have a devastating effect on civilian communities as many bombs fail to detonate at the time they are dropped. Laos has been hit particularly hard by cluster munitions, which have killed or maimed as many as 50,000 civilians since 1964 (and 20,000 since 1974, after the war ended). Each year, there are 300 new casualties in Laos; 40 percent are children.

Legacies of War is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Arts opportunities in Minnesota

FY 2011 grant application deadlines
The Minnesota State Arts Board has posted its schedule of grant application deadlines and advisory panel review meetings for the first part of FY 2011. The board expects to have one grant round in the fall/winter and another in the spring; additional dates will be added to the calendar later this fall.

Grant information sessions
Sessions are being offered this month for the upcoming Artist Initiative grant round. Register online if you'd like to attend. www.arts.state.mn.us/calendar/info_sessions.htm

Monday, August 2, 2010

Call for materials for Lao American Writers Summit

On August 13-15th, we will be convening the first national Lao American Writers Summit in Minneapolis, a program over 10 years in the making gathering award-winning writers and artists, including Oscar & Emmy nominees and many others.

The Lao American Writers Summit currently has over 100 guests expected throughout different parts of the event from across the country to participate.

One aspect of the summit is a resource fair where community members will have an opportunity to meet national, regional and local arts, philanthropic and refugee service organizations, publishers and researchers who can answer questions and advise writers and artists on significant opportunities. If you're interested in sending some flyers, postcards or other materials for our participants we'd be happy to have them at our event. Please send them to us by Monday, August 9th, to:

Lao American Writers Summit
503 Irving Ave. No
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Lao and E-Cigarettes?

Have you noticed electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are showing up in our community and across Minnesota. Start Noticing and the Lao Assistance Center are concerned e-cigarettes may appealing to community members because of their availability online, at convenience stores and at malls.

The FDA warns e-cigarettes could be the newest gateway leading youth to try tobacco products; they come in many colors and candy flavors like apple, cherry and chocolate. The danger is e-cigaretes make smoking look normal and appealing—influencing children's perceptions of smoking. Already the Lao Assistance Center and Start Noticing have seen students asking multiple questions about e-cigarettes in recent presentations.

Electronic cigarettes are advertised as a cheaper smoking alternative. The e-cigarette does not contain tobacco, is not ignited or lit, and does not produce smoke from burning substances, but e-cigarette "vapor"  still pollutes indoor air. These devices contain addictive nicotine and other toxic chemicals not evaluated by the FDA. They are already banned in Canada and Australia, and the Lao Assistance Center recommends all community memers avoid them. They are not safer alternatives to smoking. If you need assistance qutting, contact the Lao Assistance Center, where we have numerous resources to help you and others you care about.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into effect on August 1st!

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into effect on August 1st!

For Laotians around the world and others affected by these deadly weapons, it's a meaningful step towards creating a safer world for our children, families and neighbors.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions. Separate articles in the Convention concern assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles, although Laos requires an exemption from the target date for UXO clearance of 2020. During the war for Laos, the US dropped more bombs on Laos than on all of Europe in World War 2.

Over the past 14 years more than 25,000 hectares, just 0.28 percent of the total 87,000 square kilometres contaminated by UXO, has been cleared. Cluster Munitions are the leading cause of unexploded ordnance in Laos, where 33% of all UXO fatalities are children. Many of their parents today weren't even alive during the war for Laos that ended in 1975.

For more information on UXO the non-profit organization Legacies of War www.legaciesofwar.org has done tremendous advocacy work on this issue. You can help by writing your representatives and encouraging them to support increased funds to clear UXO in Laos and Southeast Asia!

MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants!

Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative Grants!
The next application deadline for the Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative grant program will be Friday, August 27, 2010.

Artist Initiative grants support and assist artists at various stages in their careers. The program encourages artistic development, nurtures artistic creativity, and recognizes the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota.

Several things about the program are different this year:
— Artists, working in any discipline, are eligible to apply
— The grant range has expanded; artists may request from $2,000 to $10,000
— Projects will need to include a community component
— Applicants will need to apply online, using the Arts Board's Web based forms

Many things about the program are the same as they have been in previous years:
— Artists, at any stages in their careers, may apply
— Grants must be used to fund a specific project that will enhance the applicant's artistic or career development
— Artists will have a one-year period to expend the grant funds.

Visit the Arts Board's Web site for more information about the program and how to apply:

A series of grant information sessions will be held in communities throughout the state, the schedule will be posted during the last week of July.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MA/AHC Health Data Survey needs participants

MA/AHC has been invited to participate on a panel for a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) summit on data. As a result MA/AHC wants to hear from you what data needs our community has.

They developed a simple survey of 20 questions that should take only 15 minutes. There are no right or wrong answers. Questions include how you do you use data? What type of data is important to your community, etc.

MA/AHC is seeking your input so we can bring your voice and ideas to the panel which will influence how MDH adjusts its health data collection and reporting practices to better meet community needs. Please be sure to read the directions at the top of each page. The survey will close on Friday, August 6, 2010. We appreciate your time and input. SURVEY LINK: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8BRPPT3

Lao American Writer in Asian American Press

Lao American writer Saymoukda Vongsay was featured in Asian American Press: http://aapress.com/arts/operation-gynocracy to discuss her upcoming show this week at Black Dog Cafe at 7pm on Wednesday, July 28th.

Curated with Hmong American writer May Lee-Yang and featuring DJ Kool Akiem, featured talents will include many well-known Twin Cities artists including: Mysnikol Miller, Kelly Fallows, Linda Chanda, Alison Morse, Andrea Jenkins, Lori Young-Williams, Tene Morgan, Rachel Austin Bernstein, Pachee Moua, Heidi Berg, Carrie Stark, and Eva Song Margolis.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lao Youth Celebrate 1 Year together and Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free!

On Sunday, July 18th, 32 Lao youth and their friends and family from Northwest Hennepin County gathered together to celebrate one year of participation in their youth leadership program, part of the Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free initiative with the Lao Assistance Center and the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council.

The day began with a small pizza party at the Lao Assistance Center offices at 503 Irving Avenue North in Minneapolis, followed by youth carpooling together with their chaperones to Valley Fair in Shakopee Minnesota, where they spent the day celebrating together.
Everyone enjoyed the day and thought it was a good way to demonstrate how much fun life can be without the presence of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs in their lives.

The Lao Assistance Center staff also had certificates for all of the program participants thanking them for their participation. Each year, the youth are organized to convene two community forums for their peers to discuss the importance of living chemically free. Their activities are designed to combine leadership exercises, opportunities for peer support, and education and awareness of how they are often targeted at a young age to be lifelong consumers of hazardous products.

If you're interested in having your youth participate and you live in Northwest Hennepin County, e-mail Kinnaryp@laocenter.org or call 612.374.4967

Monday, July 19, 2010

Assistance Needed for Lao Pictorial History!

The Lao Assistance Center and community supporters are working together to construct a visual history of the Lao American community in Minnesota over the last 30 years.

If you have pictures of life in Minnesota or from your family's history in Laos, we'd love to see them and make them part of our project. We will present highlights of this history during the October 9th celebration at the Crystal Community Center as we pay tribute to 30 years in America. For more information e-mail Bryan Thao Worra at bryant@laocenter.org

Asian Media Access @ FLOW Northside Arts Crawl

The fifth annual FLOW Northside Arts Crawl occurs once a year showcasing various art for the public to see. There will be art booths and exhibitions, musicians, and many exciting activities to participate in. Asian Media Access will have an exhibition booth at this event from 3pm to 8pm on July 24th.

FLOW takes place along W. Broadway. Asian Media Access will be in the New 5 Points Building (KMOJ Building) on W. Broadway and Penn. Ave. N.

The AMA booth will have a media exhibition, origami,calligraphy, and other fun activities. Moreover, this is a good chance for you to learn more about Asian Media Access and Northside arts organizations and make connections or reconnect with the local community. There will also be food, drink, concerts and performances at FLOW!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lao Americans gather @ Origami

On July 9th, Lao American professionals gathered together at the Origami restaurant in Minneapolis to network and connect.

The evening included a guest appearance by Channapha Khamvongsa, executive director for Legacies of War, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization raising awareness about unexploded ordnance left over in Laos and the importance of supporting efforts to clear these deadly devices so the next generation of Lao can rebuild. Over 20 people were in attendance throughout the gathering.

Other topics included the Lao American Mid-Year Review: What’s been, where we’re going as a community and discussions on Twin Cities World Refugee Day, the Minnesota Dragon Festival, Senator Franken in Laos, Refugee Nation and the Lao American Writers Summit and other upcoming events.

We were happy to see the presence of the Lao Student Association from the University of Minnesota as well as acclaimed visual artist Mali Kouanchao and we look forward to many other gatherings in the future!

Get informed about Hepatitis B!

The Lao Assistance Center has been advocating for several years for Lao to inform themselves about Hepatitis B. This is a very serious cause for our community, but one for which we have little data related to Lao and other Southeast Asians in Minnesota.

National data from the 1980s to the early 1990s indicates about 1 in 10 new immigrants from Southeast Asia had chronic hepatitis B infection, with some communities having rates nearly as high as 20%. Hepatitis B has remained a serous problem in adult immigrants from Southeast Asia due to the lack of awareness, education, testing, and prevention.

Census 2000 data shows that a large fraction of Lao Minnesotans will soon be entering their 30s-40s-50s in the next few years. In these age groups, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment for Hepatitis B will be important to prevent deaths and liver disease from chronic Hepatitis B.

Many healthcare providers and policy makers seem to incorrectly assume there are active and effective hepatitis surveillance programs in place; unfortunately, in reality, it is clear many adult immigrants from high risk countries are not following the recommendations for hepatitis B prevention, screening, diagnosis, or treatment. Please take the time to understand more about this disease!

Lao Youth Leadership Group marks 1 year!

This July marks one year since the Lao Youth Leadership group was assembled to address Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free. It's been a year of positive accomplishments as the youth got to know one another and reach out to their peers and adults in Minnesota. In 2010-2011, they will be changing their name to United Youth to reflect their interests and goals.

The Lao Assistance Center thanks them for their involvement and commitment to our community and looks forward to their upcoming projects!

Lao Community Computer Lab off to great start!

Following a review and report with Project for Pride in Living on July 8th, statistics show that in the first 6 months of operation, the new Lao Assistance Center computer lab helped 80% of Lao visitors successfully find jobs and improve their basic computer skills. We thank UROC for donating these computers, Project for Pride in Living, the Workforce Center and as our many volunteers and friends who made this success possible!

We have five internet-connected computers with a printer available for community members during regular Lao Assistance Center hours, 9-5, Mondays through Friday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lao youth stay tobacco free!

Lao youth participating in the Tobacco Free Youth program had a busy Spring in Minnesota!

For starters, they held a video shoot at Brooklyn Center High School on April 1st to educate the community about the dangers of tobacco. They also met several times to visit stores in Northwest Hennepin County to promote positive health messages and create store partnerships to reduce tobacco advertising that occurs at eye-level for youth.

You may have seen some of the youth at the Lao New year in St. Paul at the Minnesota National Guard where they had a booth set up on April 17th.

The Lao Assistance Center hopes more families will support youth who want to reduce tobacco use in our community.

During a fundraising event at Wat Lao Monticello celebrating Boun Visaka Bouxa, a festival in memory of Buddha’s Birth, four Lao youth in our program did outreach here and at another Lao community fundraising for the Lao temple held at Harrison Neighborhood Association. The youth also participated in the Harrison Neighborhood Association annual dinner.

Eight of the youth gave a presentation at the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Retreat at Bay Lake Camp Youth Presentation on June 11th-16th, and attended the Tobacco Free Yoth-Start Noticing’s trip to the Twins game.
The season wound down with the Lao youth doing outreach at the Boun Phra Vet celebration at the Wat Lao Farmington, where they handed out Tobacco Free Youth materials to all of the vendors in the event and to guests arriving at entrance the Wat.

As you see, it's been very busy!

The Lao Assistance Center thanks everyone who's involved including: Linda, Connie, Amanda, Melina, Alexis, Nina, Kinoy, Anna, Amy, Chanthala, Michael, Jeffrey, Aaron Reak, Annette, Katherine, Siren, Katty, Sandy, Dokeo, and Daisy!

You're all wonderful youth and you're making a difference!

If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved, let us know! Call 612-374-4967 or email chongchith@laocenter.org

Americorps positons available at Lao Assistance Center!

For more information e-mail: bryant@laocenter.org

With a goal of assisting 3,750 Twin City ex-offenders and first generation immigrants successfully integrate into the workforce, Emerge * AmeriCorps offers a unique service for AmeriCorps members to make a difference in the lives of people who encounter multiple barriers in securing gainful employment. Emerge * AmeriCorps members will work closely with their host site and site-supervisors to implement five core services that increase participant employability and enhance partner site capacity to effectively serve their constituents.

The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of Minnesota Lao families. The agency operates a continuum of programs to address basic needs, increase self reliance, reduce social isolation and promote cultural equity. Each year the agency serves 750+ Lao community members.

Full-time Emerge * AmeriCorps members serve a minimum of 1700 hours from 8/23/10 to 8/22/11 and receive a modest living allowance ($983/month pre-tax); basic health insurance; and $5,350 Education Award upon successful completion of service.

Part-time Emerge * AmeriCorps members serve a minimum of 900 hours of service and receive a modest living allowance ($491/month pre-tax); and a$2,675 Education Award upon successful completion of service.

All Emerge * AmeriCorps members may qualify for student loan deferral and receive ongoing support and training.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Boun Pravet!

Although there are many ways to spell it, the Lao Assistance Center is happy to wish you all a very happy Boun Pravet and a safe holiday season!

Lao Youth Forum: June 20th!

Join us for an afternoon of activities, entertainment, and interaction with other youths at the Crystal Community Center on Sunday, June 20th from 2:30 to 6:30.

The Crystal Community Center is at 4800 Douglas Dr. N. Crystal, MN and this forum is for Lao youths in Northwest Hennepin County. FREE FOOD, drawing for prizes, sport activity and more!

Remember to please wear tennis shoes: We will be in the gym for some of our activities as we discuss drugs in the media and successful living chemically free!

For more information e-mail Kinnaryp@laocenter.org, or call (612) 374.4967. You can also visit us at www.laocenter.org

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Congratulations to MN Lao American Artists!

Congratulations to Mali Kouanchao for receiving the prestigious Archibald Bush Fellowship for Visual Art, and to Bounxou Chanthraphone for the Bush Foundation's Enduring Vision award: $100,000 in recognition of her life's work as a Lao weaver to preserve our heritage. They both received their awards on Monday, June 15th at the Minneapolis Public Library.

The Star Tribune ran an article on Bounxou Chanthraphone:

Minnesota Public Radio also had an article about her:

Some additional pictures up at flickr:

Since 1976, the Bush Artist Fellowship has supported more than 400 different artists to enable them to further their work and their contributions to their communities. Each year, up to 15 artists receive unrestricted grants of $48,000 to deepen and advance their work, to foster their artistic careers and to contribute to community dialogue through their work.

The goal of the Enduring Vision Awards is to support artists at a time in their careers when they're often neglected by funders. The money is intended to carry them through what could be the most productive part of their lives, when they're in their 50's, 60's and beyond.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lao Assistance Center staff featured in MN Womens Press

The Minnesota Women's Press recently featured an op-ed from Lao Assistance Center staff member Chongchith Saengsudham: 'Hear All Our Voices.' If you like the article be sure to leave a comment there.

Ambassador Huso on Laos

On June 1st the US Ambassador to the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Ravic Huso spoke to the community regarding US policy and current trends and issues in Laos.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Celebrating 30 Years in America! October 9th

On October 9th, please join the Lao Assistance Center, our friends, families and supporters as we celebrate 30 years of Lao in America!

We will remember where we've been and where we're going. The evening will feature traditional live music, dance, fine dining, door prizes and other fun opportunities to meet our community and celebrate together.

Lao culture traces its cultural roots to the 14th century. Modern Laos, a nation approximately the size of Great Britain, is home to over 60 ethnicities, each with their own linguistic traditions and customs. In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao who have resettled here since the wars of the 20th century. Minnesota has the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US with 25,000 residents.

Learn more about our community's journey this October!

Crystal Community Center
4800 Douglas Drive North
Minneapolis, MN 55429-3553

Lao Writers to Present at World Refugee Day!

Lao American writers Saymoukda Vongsay and Bryan Thao Worra will be among the performers at this year's Twin Cities World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 5th, from 1:00pm-6:00pm in downtown Minneapolis between 7th and 8th streets!

The event will feature music, dance, food and vendors from around the world, as well as a community resource fair. For even more fun, stick around for Minneapolis MOSAIC from 6-10pm –Minneapolis’ annual festival celebrating diversity through the arts.

What is World Refugee Day?
In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly established June 20th as World Refugee Day. Since 2001, people around the world have celebrated the day with events that honor the world’s more than 16 million refugees and raise awareness around refugee issues. Twin Cities World Refugee Day is our local event that aims to:

* Recognize the more than 100,000 refugees living in every corner of our state and celebrate the diversity of culture and experiences that they bring to our community.

* Raise awareness around refugee issues, including: international conflicts and violence that create refugee crises, the refugee resettlement process both here and abroad, and the challenges and opportunities faced by refugees after resettling in Minnesota.

* Build a cultural bridge between longtime Minnesota residents and our newest community members.

See you there!

Lao Youth receive support from Aronson & Associates!

A thanks goes out this week to the generous Aronson & Associates for their outstanding support of the Lao Youth Advancement Program at the Lao Assistance Center! Their foundation just donated $1,000 to support ongoing efforts in our community to help youth achieve!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thanks everyone for your support!

The “Pan Asian Dance Festival” was held on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center with over 300 people in attendance, including many from the Lao community who were able to attend for the very first time. It was an exciting event with great energy. It was enjoyable to see so much talent gathered together, and we hope that there will be many more events like these in the future!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lao Assistance Center thanks UROC!

The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota has received 8 computers from the Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center to support our Youth Advancement Program and general operations to address significant educational disparities between Lao Youth and other Twin City area populations.  

On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff, and the Lao Youth and Community, we would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks tothe Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center for supporting this  project! 

You can visit UROC at http://www.uroc.umn.edu UROC is currently home to 12 university programs that are committed to pursuing research and outreach in an authentic and fully-engaged partnership with individuals and organizations in the Northside communities!

“Pan Asian Dance Festival” on Sunday, May 23rd

Asian Media Access (AMA), the Twin Cities nonprofit organization dedicated to cultural enhancement through media arts and education, in collaboration with MN Sunshine Dance Group and Pan Asian Artists Alliance, is proud to present “Pan Asian Dance Festival” on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010, from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, 12600 Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville, MN 55337, a state-of-the art $20 million venue which opened in January 2009.

From 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM, families can take part in Asian craft making, street art, face painting, and other family fun activities. The cultural dance performances, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, will feature a diverse display from the Asian community including Indian, Chinese, Hmong, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Laotian, and Vietnamese dancers. Locally known dance groups such as CAAM Chinese Dance Theater, Ragamala Dance Group, and Changmi Korean Dance will perform fascinating dance performances.

Pan Asian Dance Festival, a part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month activities, will promote a greater understanding of Asian countries and culture. The festival aims to celebrate and unify the diverse Asian communities in MN, educate and share the arts and traditions of Asians, and build intergenerational and intercultural bridges across all barriers.

612-376-7715 or david.kang@amamedia.org.

Friday, May 14, 2010

U.S.Embassy provides counter-narcotics assistance to Laos

United States Ambassador to Laos, Ravic R. Huso, signed an Amendment to the Letter of Agreement last week on behalf of the U.S. Government for bilateral cooperation with the Government of Laos in support of counter narcotics and law enforcement.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

A message from Lao Assistance Center Executive Director, Sunny Chanthanouvong

This year is a very special Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the 30th anniversary of arrival in America for Lao, Hmong, Vietnamese, Cambodians. We are just a few of many who resettled here, uncertain what our future would be.

In Minnesota we have amazing success thanks to our desire to work together and the generosity of our new friends. There were ups and downs, but that is any journey. There is still work to be done. Today we can be proud seeing so many taking the road to good education and jobs, building families and participating in civic engagement. Always remember the good we have done together.

I came to the Lao Assistance Center in 1992 to working with youth, and eventually became executive director in 2001. As a group we try to give those who want to help our community a chance to help by civic engagement. Everyone involved comes with an amazing spirit of generosity and talent to help, young and old alike. They believe we are interconnected and we can make a difference. We can never take this positive vision for granted. I’m so proud to see many of the youth I worked with 18 years ago now going on to great futures. Some stay in Minnesota, some move to other states, but I and my colleagues are always happy to see the good results of all of our combined efforts continuing to shape our community today.

In our offices we see so many issues connected. For example, we see the importance of the Census 2010 and raising awareness about Hepatitis B and seeking good health. We discovered that addressing teen pregnancies, fighting alcoholism and problem gambling matter to create stable households as much as helping elders and helping those looking for work. We see the importance of creating financial literacy and helping others gain citizenship. Remember our stories and our long journey. Not everyone starts out with the same advantages, and we continue to work with our friends to help those who might otherwise fall between the cracks. Don’t build the future by forgetting others.

The freedom to make our voices heard matters. Whether it’s sharing a story from our old homelands or a vision of what our future can be, they are all valuable. In our journey to America, we lost much and we gained much. As we stand here together, looking at what the next thirty years, even thirty centuries might bring, let’s remember: Every moment is an opportunity.
On behalf of the Lao Assistance Center, our friends and colleagues, thank you for being a part of that journey. Don’t stop. We can build an amazing country together. Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

SEARAC Denounces Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) denounces the Arizona state legislature's recent passage of a bill that bans ethnic studies in the state. The bill is targeted at a K-12 ethnic studies curriculum in Arizona and was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer yesterday. Proponents of H.B. 2281 claim that the purpose of the law is to ban classes that "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government and promote resentment toward a race or class of people."

As an organization that works to ensure that all students receive an equitable and inclusive education, SEARAC believes that ethnic studies programs enhance student learning and promote civic engagement and academic achievement. SEARAC works in coalition with other civil rights organizations to ensure that all students, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, and immigration or socio-economic status are able to attain a high-quality education. This law is a disservice to all students in the state of Arizona who are deprived of the opportunity to learn about the diversity that makes this country great.

Doua Thor, Executive Director of SEARAC, states: "As an organization that supports inclusivity and works to empower communities, SEARAC stands against this law for its shortsightedness and racism. Ethnic studies programs make America stronger; they are not about promoting resentment as the law claims, but rather, they promote inclusion-teaching students about how ethnic groups in America have participated in and contributed to American history and society."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Outcomes from April's Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free Program

The key topics for this month's discussions were around drugs in the Lao community.

During the first support group session on April 10th, clients were given an introduction about drugs. They had a chance to learn what we mean when we discuss drug abuse, especially regarding prescription drugs, the difference between illicit and over-the-counter drugs, and similar issues.

Lao Assistance Center staff also provided  information on the cost of drugs, especially the legal differences and penalties for possession, usage and sales of illicit drugs. This session took place at the Lao Assistance Center in Minneapolis with a total of 10 clients in attendance.

During the second session of the month we had a total of 10 people attending, again at the Lao Assistance Center. On April 26, staff presented information on the various causes of drug usage and how it can vary in different people. The clients were also given information on the short-term and long-term impact and effects of drug usage. Our goal is to provide awareness about the types of drugs that are out there and the dangerous involved.

We also wanted client to differentiate between illicit and over-the-counter or prescription drugs, so staff provided a PowerPoint slides with notes and visuals to show pictures of drugs/forums as well as presented in Laotian.

People in the group were surprise to learn that there were people that take and abuse prescriptions medication aside beyond their medicinal purpose. Many had previously believed only illegal drugs could be an issue.

The Lao Assistance Center Staff also held a family session the same day. With the family and client there was a total of 13 people. During the family session, everyone was provided a fuller introduction to drugs, drug abuse, the different types of drugs, prescription vs. illicit, cause and effects of drug use.

On April 25, staff coordinated a youth leadership meeting with a total of 8 youths in attendance at the Lao Assistance Center. For this month, the topic was about preparing for the upcoming youth forum.

There was a group discussion about how we would incorporate the movie night concept with the drug media theme, youth considered what topics or pieces to present (audio/radio, television and movies, printed materials, digital and social media, etc.)  The group then started their discussion about who they would present and on what format plus they started to research more into their topic. The primary objective of this month's youth leadership meeting was to prepare the youth for the youth forum.

During this time, the youth brainstormed what topic to discuss, the theme for the event, how to coordinate and present their information and plan among their group of 2 to 3 people about types of information to present.

Key meetings of the month include April 17th, 2010 when Phouninh Vixayvong met the community leaders in the Lao community; the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship with the community leaders and work with them to address the chemical health issues in the Lao Community as well as get input/insight into the community and its association with substances.

The meeting with the community leaders took place at the Lao New Year celebration event in Monticello. The all-day event brought in thousands of the Lao people in the state of Minnesota. At the event staff introduced themselves and the chemical health program as well as discussion about the community, etc.

The staff had contacted the community leaders two days before the event to set up a meeting and verify where they would like to meet. Phouninh Vixayvong introduced herself, the Southeast Asian Living Chemically program, the community leaders also introduced themselves and what they do. There were discussions about chemical issues, if they or someone they know have issues regarding ATOD they can contact us, the effects of drugs on the body and mind. Some questions that the community leaders have asked were things like; how can we, as the Lao Assistance Center or as the staff in the Southeast Asian Living Chemically Free program help them or the Lao people in the community. What are the process and resource we offer?

The meeting when well, the community leaders display interest in the services we offered and commented that the program would be good for the Lao community. They also commented that they would mention the program to the people in the community and refer anyone if they're interested in learning more about ATOD.

Staff meets every Monday of the week (April 5,12,19,26) with the Executive Director of the agency to discuss about progress of the chemical health program, give updates on group sessions, upcoming events, planning and other topic (training, conference, community outreach, etc.). It helps the E.D. become aware of the program, how staff are doing and get ideas about where staff are at and where we should be or what goals we have to achieve whether it is for the coming weeks, months or quarter. Program progress, outreach (community and youth), group sessions (support, family, youth, etc.) and what topics we'll be discussing with the groups for the months, planning and upcoming events including training, conferences, outreach, community leaders, etc. We also discuss issues that we may be encountering regarding the program as well as budget and other things. Staff and E.D. have a better understanding what to do or what to prepare for, issues are resolved or heard so ideas and ideas of how to resolve issues are brought up.

On April14th, Kinnary Pimpadubsee attended the Energy Drink: The Other 6 pack training, the purpose of attending the event was to gain more information on energy drinks. To find out the dangerous and the effects of energy drinks, gain insight on experts from the field and how it can apply it to the Lao community. The presenter shared information about the effects of energy drinks on metabolism and the body, the short and long term effects of caffeine intake, the effects of mixing energy drinks (with alcohol, dextromethorphan, nicoderm patches, nicorette gum, energy drinks that contain alcohol and other information.

There were a lot of valuable and helpful information that was presented at the training; it makes you think about the serious of caffeine intake and what people are doing with the energy drinks. Consider the information that were given and see how it incorporate or fit into the Lao community. Share information about the dangerous and effects of caffeine and energy drinks to the community (the effects on the body, metabolism, short and long terms and other effects associated with usage).

This month Kinnary Pimpadubsee attended the Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training on April 21,22,23,29, and 30 was to learn about the methods and approach to take when doing substance abuse prevention. This course offers up-to-date and evidence-based information in the prevention field such as looking at the logic models, cultural competency, planning, evaluation, assessment, sustainability, and other information. It was also a good opportunity to meet and network with the 20 or so health care professional that was present at the training which range from the principle of a school, school chemical health counselor, regional chemical health resource provider, etc. It was great to connect with those individual and get their input and comment in prevention for the 5 day training. A lot of information applies to what the Southeast Asian Living Chemically program, staff got to learn about the approach need to implement and run the program which runs from assessment of the targeted community, capacity, planning, implementation, evaluation and sustanability and cultural competency.

There were also evidence based program that has worked and can be use as models, logical models and other resources to make the program more effective.

On April 23, Pany Siharath and Phouninh Vixayvong attended the Population Specific Grantee's quarterly meeting at the MIWRC. During their time there they got to learn about the Minnesota Recovery Connection program which included TC AARMS( level I, II, and III Mentors), the Guia Project through PACT 4 and how its using recovery coaches or mentors with 1:1 contact at home and school. Staff were given information about the history of MRC and than later on about the historical trauma and issues that the American Indians faced. It a great opportunity to catch up with other grantees and get progress, updates and learn more about the history of the Native American.

Through the month of April, Phouninh Vixayvong has been meeting with individuals for a one-on-one individual sessions, those meeting took place at the Lao Assistance Center of MN every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (one individual per day). There are a total of 6 individuals, during the meeting staff would do the chemical assessment and ROLE 25 with the client. 5 of the clients are learning and focusing on alcohol and related issues since there were referenced due to DUI and one on chemical use.

On April 27, all three chemical health staff meet with the program coordinator for our quarterly meeting at the Lao Assistance Center. During this meeting there were updates on progress and updates about the grantee quarterly meeting with the population specific (discussion about the American Indian trauma). Staff and coordinator also talked about the program, why it is important for staff to do community outreach in the NW Hennepin areas, and other topic relating to group sessions.

Lao Assistance Center thanks the Beim Foundation

The Beim Foundation recently gave an award of $5,000 to the Lao Assistance Center Youth Advancement Program!

The Beim Foundation is a multi-generational family foundation who honors the past while embracing the future.

They demonstrate leadership by investing in innovation, providing opportunities for those in need, creating healthy and sustainable communities through compassionate action and fostering personal and spiritual growth through giving.

The Beim Foundation expresses its values by making grants in the community in the areas of arts, environment, human services and education. The Lao Assistance Center is honored to have their support.

This grant will provide specific support for our Youth Advancement Program, which will provide leadership development, health, art and academic support activities to Lao youth. We believe academic achievement is essential to long-term community success and the Lao Assistance Center works with youth to ensure good grades and comprehension of the subject matter, with a focus on college-prep skills to ensure a greater percentage of Lao youth can attend college. We will also help youth identify and apply for college scholarships and financial aid.

LACM staff are inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and accomplishments of our future Lao leaders, but are also troubled many high potential youth leaders either drop out of high school or do not pursue post-secondary educational opportunities after graduating from high school. Much more needs to be done to support Lao youth, who struggle with Lao/American identity systems, limited resources and growing educational disparities.

Research conducted by the Asian American Justice Center in 2006 shows that educationally the Lao community lags behind seven other Twin City Asian American groups (i.e. Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Asian Indian, Filipino, Japanese, etc) and in comparison to all Twin City adults, are significantly behind, and the gap continues to grow. Just 17% of Lao adults have a 2-year college degree or better compared to 43% of all Twin City adults. Further, 42% of Lao adults have less than a high school education as compared to just 9% of all Twin City adults.

Our significant educational attainment disparities- high school dropouts and lack of college creates long-term and immediate strains on key services and impacts community growth.

The Lao Assistance Center would like to expand upon our existing leadership-focused activities and we believes this type of investment is greatly needed to narrow academic achievement disparities and ensure Lao youth have opportunities to realize their full potential as adults and contribute to our community development.

LACM staff have clearly heard from the community that youth educational advancement and adult employment are the highest priorities to address, and we are working together with you find solutions and build a future for our youth.

To that end, we will be working with at least 90 Lao Youth this year to provide them access to academic support, ACT prep class,6 college Tours, college application assistance, and developing Transition mentors to help our youth reach college. Stay tuned for more details, or contact our offices to find out how to get involved.

Again, we thank the Beim Foundation for their generous support and we look forward to working with you and all of our colleagues in the community.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Asian Pacific Leadership Awards Announced!

Congratulations to the 2010 Asian Pacific Leadership Awards recipients, including Lao American visual artist  Mali Kouanchao, for Excellence in the Arts.  

If you can, please attend the dinner this year so we can show our support for our fellow Lao who are helping to raise our local and national profile in positive ways!

The other winners include Mao Heu Thao and Kaimay Yuen Terry for Leadership and Dixie Lee Riley (posthumously) for Lifetime Achievement. The results were recently announced by the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans.

The awards will be presented at the annual dinner this month. For this year, the Council has put together a program that will explore the roots of the Asian American & Pacific Islanders community. 

The Annual Dinner is Saturday, May 15, 2010 from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront, 11 East Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN. Dinner is $40.00 per person. 

For inquiries or to RSVP contact the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans at 651-757-1740 or kao.ly.her@state. mn.us