Hmong American Center, Inc. Executive Summary

The Organization: The Hmong American Center (HAC) was organized in 1983 to assist in community integration as well as economic and social advancement of Southeast Asian (SEA) refugees, primarily Hmong, in the Wausau-Marathon County area. Today, the greater Wausau area has more than 8,000 Hmong residents, making it the city with the highest Hmong population per capita in the United States. The HAC works collaboratively with local, state, and national partners in addressing refugee and SEA issues.

The Project and The Need: Expansion of the Feem Ua Neej (F.U.N.) Elder Support Program

Many Hmong elderly individuals face cultural and linguistic barriers to accessing traditional healthcare and community services. For example, in 2020 we discovered that many members of the SEA community did not use the numerous food services and food banks in our area because these organizations do not typically provide food that fits the diets of the SEA community. 

The F.U.N Elder Support Program aims to address the unique needs of the Hmong elderly in our community. When a participant joins the program, an individual needs assessment is done. The staff plan weekly activities, guest speakers, mental health workshops, social engagement events, and community meals to ensure the identified needs of the participants are met. Services are provided within familiar and accessible locations by staff that speak the language of the participants. The program strives to improve the overall well-being of its participants and strengthen community connections and support systems for the Hmong elderly population.

The program is currently serving approximately 30 participants each week. The expansion would allow them to serve up to 100 participants. It would allow them to provide a larger variety of activities. The total cost of the expansion is $167,000; the HAC has secured $34,000, with additional funding pending. 

The Use of Impact100 Grant Funds: Our grant will contribute to the salary of program staff, program supplies, operational expenses, and travel expenses for participants. The grant would likely be paid in multiple installments within 12 months.

Future Expectations/Sustainability: HAC is committed to the long-term success of this program. They will seek additional funding through corporate sponsorships, in-kind donations, additional grants, and fundraising events. In addition, they plan on implementing a membership program where community members can contribute financially to support our programs, creating not only a steady revenue stream but a sense of ownership and pride within the community.

From the Grant Committee: The F.U.N Elder Support Program is not just about a night where the Hmong elderly community gather each week. It is about building a community of trust and support. Many of the current participants did not know each other when they first started attending the program; they now have meaningful relationships within a community they trust and rely on for support and assistance.