Amani Family Services – Breaking Down Language Barriers

Amani Staff and supporters gathered on June 5th to celebrate their growth into a new building
with a symbolic Swinging of the Hammer

Grantee Spotlight: Amani Family Services Breaking Down Language Barriers

Within refugee and immigrant populations, alcohol use and psychological stress are prevalent. Feelings of lost identity, anxiety, and depression often lead to alcohol use. Exposure to stressors like economic hardship, occupational problems, adjusting to a new culture, and social isolation also contribute to increased alcohol use as a coping strategy.

While Fort Wayne has many substance use programs to assist English-speaking people, only Amani Family Services offers services in non-English languages and to address diverse cultural factors. Ten years ago, the St. Joe Foundation provided the funding to design and pilot a substance support group for non-English, non-Spanish speaking community members, and St. Joe has continued their support of Amani ever since.

In 2018, Amani Family Services’ Community Support Service Area reports they served 1,200 area refugees and immigrants from 29 different countries. They focus on mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse impact, and adolescents who are navigating adjustment to the United States. Amani’s staff is well trained in providing culturally sensitive services, with many of the 20+ staff members being immigrants themselves. As one indicator of their ability to successfully improve the health of their clients (mind and spirit), they report that because of increased hope, 92% of their clients in 2018 showed decreased stress levels upon completion of the program. Other indicators reveal overall improvement in the health and wellbeing of their clients.

In 2019, Amani plans to offer over 800 groups/sessions. On June 5th, they launched their renovation of new offices by “swinging the hammer”. The new offices will enable them to better serve clients through new visitation rooms, play and cooking space for families, a training room, and expanded meeting space for groups and sessions. Their goal is that the new building will be the central location in Allen County for all immigrants and refugees to connect, find resources, and be part of a secure, vibrant, and cohesive society.