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PROJECT NADA (history)
Meeting of Mental Health Workers from Former Yugoslavia, May 7, 2004 Nada means HOPE in all Slavic languages. In order to address specific community needs associated with the past (the war in the Balkans), the present (and the emigration experience), and the future (empowerment and a better life in a safe society), RACCOON has established a forum for psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who in their work deal with immigrants from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. This Forum is a space for experts to share their experiences and the challenges they face in addressing the specific needs of immigrants and to better cooperate in helping our constituents. We have collaborated with community-based organizations to conduct and evaluate short-term psycho-educational groups that address the effects of traumatic events on individuals, families and communities.

In times of crisis the loss of jobs puts a lot of constraints on family relations. According to statistics, women have been hit as hard as men, but white-collar men experience unemployment differently. For most women who are our clients, survival trumps ego; they simply adapt and find some job. For men, grappling with joblessness inevitably entails surrendering an idea of who they are - and what they are doing for their family. RACCOON is proud to point out that many people have found relief or made significant life changing decisions - some of our clients have found work after months of trying to get employment, others started working at jobs they liked better; some clients have used our services to sort out legal problems, others dealt with personal and family issues. RACCOON strives to mobilize a community of care to heal, strengthen, and prepare for the future thorough an integration of educational and group processes that fully respect the diverse cultural and educational needs of each individual, organization and community. Contact Indira@balkansnet.org or call 718.784.9121.

2009

Raccoon's new office is in the Family Justice Center in Kew Garden, Queens, side bi side with Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence.
Raccoon, Inc. is one of the co-signers of the Health Rights Organizing Project letters to senator Max Baucus and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi demanding that the health reform in the Fall includes removing the five year waiting period for legal immigrants to be eligible for Medicaid.



2008

NYC Child Health Clinics Partnership

In the following months, RACCOON will work closely with CHC in Astoria (Queens), Washington Heights (Manhattan) and Ida G. Israel (Brooklyn) in increasing community awareness of these clinics and in recruitment of new patients.
Every second week RACCOON’s bilingual outreach officer will be in clinics in Astoria and Ida G. Israel assisting patients in several Eastern European languages including Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Albanian. In addition, patients’ assistance will also be available via telephone.
In every clinic RACCOON will organize three promotional events and will participate in different community events, street fairs and public social gatherings in order to increase visibility of the CHC facilities. In order to have comprehensive outreach approach, RACCOON will partner with different local organizations such as SOLACE, NYANA’s Center for Women and Children, American Albanian Women’s Organization, HANAC, Queens Women’s Network, Women’s Commission for Refuge Women and others.
If you wish to become a partner or to learn more about the activities, please call RACCOON on the telephones listed above or check our website. The program will last until the end of September 2008.

Dates and places:

2007

Health Care for Uninsured Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Many immigrants are allowed to use public (government) health insurance programs to pay for the cost of their medical care, but a lot of newcomers have concerns when it comes to their use of provided health care services. Common concerns for uninsured illegal immigrants are that they will be reported to INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) if they use a health care. Legal immigrants are afraid that using medical facilities would be treated as a public charge and will disable them or their sponsors to obtain their "green card" or citizenship.
People from our community are among these numerous immigrants who do not take advantage of an excising health care insurance or programs. For that reason Raccoon had started with the new project on legal access to health care for uninsured and illegal immigrants. The goal of this project is to educate immigrants from former Yugoslavia how they could get the health care in the language they understand and by the price they can afford.
This project consists of presentations that are taking place in the different places in our community or in the Raccoon's Space on monthly bases.

RedCross Immigrants can learn that all uninsured New Yorkers, including people who are undocumented, can receive health care from federally funded community health centers, and from the public hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, long-term care facilities, and clinics maintained by New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). The project is supported by The New York Immigration Coalition. Also, the project is supported by a September 11 recovery grant from the American Red Cross Libert Disaster Relief Fund.

Participants also get fundamental information on different types of insurance plans and how to get interpreter for different languages. Please review the b/c/s translation of The Immigrant and Refugee Guide to Affordable Health Care in New York State. To get more information you can also contact Marija Sajkas, health educator every Tuesday at (718) 784-9121. Click here for the summary (bosnian/croatian/serbian) on how to use your Medicaid health plan. The following information is also provided in 'our' language (MS Office documents):

Where can your children obtain health care in New York 5 borroughs? - Zdravstveni domovi i bolnice za njegu djece u gradu New Yorku:


Important Legal Notices to Immigrants in the U.S.:
  • Recently passed legislation (PATRIOT Act in House of Representatives and USA Act in Senate), as well as the controversial presidential decision about setting up special military tribunals, may have strong and adverse impact on all immigrants, not only those related and/or responsible for the September 11 tragedy. Various new aspects in treatment of immigrants in the U.S. in consequence of those recent changes are of utmost interest to Raccoon's, prevailingly immigrant, constituency. Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants produced a resource sheet for immigrants in NYC area, which we translated to Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and made the copies available to people who visit us at our space.
  • In 2002 Raccoon tried to help a Croatian in deportation proceedings detained at Passaic County Jail, arrested falsely under the Patriot Act (FBI dropped the charges, but INS found his papers not in order, and he was deported on January 7, 2003).
  • On November 21, 2002, New York Civil Liberties Union sent an Open Letter to the Muslim Community about how to cooperate with the FBI without sacrificing their constitutional rights. This is an important advice, because one of the crucial questions the FBI asks under the Patriot Act is: "Are you a Muslim?". Raccoon translated this document as well in bosnian/serbian/croatian and in albanian to make it accessible to our Muslim constituency. We suggest you carry a print-out of this letter on you.
  • On December 22, 2003, NYC mayor Bloomberg signed language access legislation, Introductory Number 38-A: "Intro. 38-A seeks to increase the access of individuals who have limited English-speaking abilities to these critical services. The bill's provisions require the Human Resources Administration (HRA), Administration for Children's Services (ACS), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to inform individuals of available language services. HRA will also provide oral and written translation services, including translating certain documents into six languages (like it used to be done in former Yugoslav autonomous province of Vojvodina) -- Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian and Spanish. The legislation, while imposing some additional responsibilities on the City agencies, allows for a level of flexibility in how the provisions are carried out in that either agency staff or contracted service providers, such as community-based organizations, may be utilized to assist the agencies in providing language assistance services. Furthermore, it allows for individuals seeking services from the agencies to use volunteers, such as family or friends, to assist in providing language assistance services."
  • On April 16, 2003, ACLU sent out a memorandum to immigration and humanitarian organizations outlining how the Section 215 of the Patriot Act works. It is ACLU's view that Section 215 is unconstitutional. Section 215 allows FBI to demand the production of "any tangible things" about your clients or about a class of your clients from you or any other business, organization or person. Under Section 215 FBI needs only to certify that their investigation is related to foreign intelligence, clandestine intelligence, or international terrorism. Anybody served with a Section 215 order is prohibitted from disclosing to any person that the FBI demanded information. ACLU encourages you to consult legal counsel as soon as possible if FBI demands any information from you. For further advice call ACLU at 1-888-874-7557.
New York Immigrant Facts:
  • According to the The Newest New Yorkers, 2000 census, nearly one-half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home.
  • Immigrants pay $18.2 billion in taxes in New York State, or 15.5% of the state's tax income. (Urban Institute)
  • In New York City two thirds of the population are either immigrants or their children. 60% of NY residents are foreign born.
  • New York City police officers were born in 55 countries.
  • New York City is now home to 1,361,007 immigrants of voting age who are not yet citizens. That means one 1of 5 New Yorkers of voting age can't vote.
  • 25% of families are mixed-status where at least 1 child is a citizen and 1 parent a non-citizen.
  • Borough of Queens is the most ethnically diverse locality in the United States
  • Over 1 million people have been deported since the 1996 immigration overhaul.
  • Pending legislation would allow immigration authorities to deport immigrants without a hearing.
  • After the Sept. 11 disaster, New York city finds 18% of its residents living in poverty.
  • New York city Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs prepared pieces of legislation that Bloomberg recently signed into law (articles 34 and 41), limiting the abuse of immigrants under the Patriot Act, by the city's authorities, agencies and services. Considering that New York 5 boroughs are home to 7 million people, and that in more than a half of all New York city households English is not spoken as a native language, that office caters to the constituency the size of population of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
  • On September 29, 2003, Victor Kuznetsoff, Director of Constituent Services of the same Office, told us about not-so widely advertised initiative of that Office to intercede in immigration matters, writing letters to the BCIS (former INS) on behalf of long-standing green card petitioners. They would do so for asylees who did not receive their green card after 5 years, and for other applicants after 24 months of waiting (employment authorization, adjustment of status application). They would also do so for green card holders that applied for citizenship and haven’t been called for an interview after 14 months. Call our office at 718-784-9121 for more info.
  • The NYC's Bill of Rights Resolution: The NY City Council Government Operations Committee, chaired by Bill Perkins held hearings on October 20, 2003 on Resolution 909 to Defend the Bill of Rights. The hearing room was packed as Bill of Rights Defense Campaign Director Udi Ofer and I gave the lead off testimony, which included a pointed back and forth with Pete Vallone that was carried on NY1. BORDC Nancy Young also testified, along with NYCLU Board member Margaret Fung ( for AALDEF) and several other civil rightsand civil liberties leaders. 29 council members -- more than an majority-- have already signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution. A vote was to be scheudled as early as mid-November. However, as late as December 15, the NYC Council postponed its vote on Resolution 909 until January 21, 2004. The reason given for the postponement was the breaking news regarding the capture of Saddam Hussein. Several strong supporters of the resolution expressed concerned that a vote for the resolution would be misunderstood or misrepresented, or both... Finally, on February 4, 2004 the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed the Bill of Rights Defense resolution. This made New York the 250th locality to join the grassroots camp to protect Civil Liberties against attacks by the Bush Administration.



History of Project NADA:
Project NADA originally started as an outreach program to the victims of September 11 in our communities. The tragic events of September 11th have caused great distress in those communities that have already experienced violence. Raccoon's Project Nada is reaching to all individuals coming from the territories of Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia, who came to the U.S., escaping the tragedy of war and
ethnic cleansing, only to suffer a loss in their newly found safe haven, due to the tragedy of September 11th terrorist attacks.

If you lost your job, if you lost property or a family member due to the September 11th tragedy, or if you or your kids experience sleeplessness and nightmares as a result of that double trauma, Raccoon will help. We have translated the September 11th resource packet compiled by the New York Immigration Coalition and made it available to our community in our office and on our web page. We will guide you through it, making sure you get help that you deserve. We, also, have a psychologist on staff who will help counseling you and your children. Check here on the progress on the re-building of Twin Towers in Raccoon space.

Raccoon's Project Nada is included in September 11th Assistance Guide. As the unemployment in the wake of the September 11 tragedy, remains the largest problem, particularly in the shrinking job market, New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs launched Career Counseling program for persons that lost their jobs in the year after September 11, 2001, and are still unemployed or underemployed. As this situation impacts immigrants more than native-born, and as it particularly affects our consitutency, Raccoon will closely co-operate on this program. Here you can download:

Project Nada Resource Guides:

(MS Word documents) [Slovenian and Macedonian translation coming soon]

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Mailing address: RACCOON, Inc., PO Box 20554, New York, NY 10021
Subway directions - take or to Kew Gardens