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New Center Opens for Minnesota's West African Immigrants

The new West African Family and Community Services will be housed at a church on the border of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. Credit: GMCC.
The new West African Family and Community Services will be housed at a church on the border of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. Credit: GMCC.
July 1, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota has one of the nation's largest populations of immigrants from West Africa and a new facility opening today seeks to better connect it with the services and resources the immigrants need.

After being housed in north Minneapolis for many years, West African Family and Community Services has moved to a church in Brooklyn Park. Noya Woodrich, president with the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, which operates the program, says that's because much of the community resides in that area.

"When providing programming to a particular community it's always best to be housed within that community," she says. "So we've developed a partnership with Brooklyn United Methodist Church and we'll be renting some space for them and getting some new programming going to serve the West African community."

Woodrich says the offerings, which the Council will now provide directly instead of just referring to other agencies, will include immigrant legal services and employment and job search assistance.

The executive director of West African Family and Community Services Edmund Ocansey says it will also have a culturally specific food shelf.

"So the goal is to have things that West Africans are used to eat. When they come there we'll be able to provide them with those things," he says.

It's estimated as many as 45,000 West Africans now live in Minnesota, immigrating here in recent years from counties such as Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN