By December 01, 2021
At Verity Credit Union, we put people first and strive to serve ALL individuals, families and small businesses in our communities, especially those often overlooked. This may be helping them establish bank accounts and credit for the first time, securing a loan to start a business or buy a home, or creating a financial plan that leads to generational wealth—maybe even for the first generation.
This is made possible through important partnerships with organizations like African Community Housing & Development (ACHD). Led by visionary women of color Hamdi Abdulle and Bilan Aden, ACHD provides holistic, complete, and culturally-responsive support for the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community in South Seattle and South King County.
ACHD’s essential programs use a whole-person, whole-family approach that aims to eliminate barriers to prosperity for all in the community. This includes infants to elders, welcoming everyone and ensuring their unique needs are met holistically and respectfully.
THE AIM OF OUR ORGANIZATION IS TO LIFT FUTURES
ACHD serves immigrants and refugees from many different African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Oromo, Sudan, Senegal, The Gambia, Congo, and Kenya. Many of them arrived in America within the last 30 years, and have had to start their lives here completely from scratch. Upon arrival in the United States, they face issues of poverty, food and housing insecurity, xenophobia, racism, and significant language barriers. ACHD starts by helping families navigate the unfamiliar and complex institutional landscapes (housing, education, social services, etc). The organization operates through a “Housing First” model; once people are safely and securely housed, they can begin their journey towards prosperity in King County.
ACHD’s robust programming responds to the community’s most common challenges and needs. Its core programs help community members access stable and affordable housing, meet their basic needs, acquire healthy culturally-relevant food, experience high-quality education programs, and participate in economic development.
In June of this year, ACHD launched its Delridge Farmer's Market in Southwest Seattle, which brings delicious culturally-relevant fresh food to immigrant and refugee communities living in the Delridge “food desert”/food apartheid zone. This market provides a space for small businesses to thrive while giving the community a rich gathering place to connect and care for each other.
To ensure the success of the farmers at the market, ACHD also purchases all leftover produce at the end of each market day and delivers the fresh food to elders in the community. This outreach to elders is part of ACHD’s Positive Senior Connections program that also includes exercise and social components.
ACHD also supports families with youth sports programs to promote healthy, active lifestyles, and the Positive Family Connections program that brings parents and teens together to navigate their changing relationships. ACHD also offers after-school tutoring, and a newly launched STEM afterschool program called “The Curiosity Lab” for which they are seeking Scientists of Color to serve as mentors for budding middle-school scientists
WE CAN DO EVERYTHING WHEN WE HAVE THE MEANS
ACHD is currently working towards building an African Diaspora Cultural Anchor Village in Tukwila, which will combine early learning facilities, community gathering space, and affordable family-sized housing that allows large families to live together, rather than be split into multiple homes. These rental units will allow community members to build equity and prepare to purchase a home; ACHD seeks to create a directl pipeline to homeownership through affordable row houses in the SeaTac area.
The organization is also working towards a Community Market in South Seattle, which will include a cooperatively-owned micro-business space, a vibrant community market, and small business technical support with centralized legal and financial services, like accounting.
ACHD’s robust offerings have garnered support from local businesses like Verity Credit Union who provides its community with small business loans, sponsorships for programs and events, tools for improving credit scores, and more. The credit union is also working to provide culturally-relevant solutions, like Shariah-compliant lending.
Learn more about Verity Credit Union at veritycu.com and African Community Housing & Development at achdo.org, and support their work at achdo.org/donate.
If you are a scientist of color who is interested in mentoring a middle school scientist, please email email@example.com with the subject line”STEM Mentor”.