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COMSA resource center aims to unite the Green Bay community
October 4, 2017 @ 12:00 am - April 14, 2018 @ 11:59 pm
GREEN BAY – A new organization aims to help Somali refugees find services and build a more integrated community in the Green Bay area.
Community Services Agency Inc., or COMSA, officially launched July 2 with an open house at Trinity Lutheran Church, 330 Broadway, where it has an office. The group offers a host of services including employment application assistance, translation and interpretation, education programs, community integration, legal and advocacy, and health education and outreach.
The idea for COMSA began after Mahamed Rage Mahamed, COMSA’s vice president, and his family relocated from Charlotte, N.C., to the Green Bay area.
“So when we moved here, us even speaking English and knowing a bit of the system and how to get around things, we struggled a lot. We had a lot of problems finding resources,” Mahamed said.
With no local Somali group to help him, Mahamed struggled with finding suitable housing for his family and employment.
“When I came here … we were hoping to get a place to stay. The place we moved into happened to be still under renovation. For the whole first week we were in limbo. We didn’t know where to stay. We were cooking food … at the neighbor’s house. It almost seemed like we were in a camp,” he said.
The family eventually found a new place to live. Now he sees others struggling to find and keep housing.
Mahamed’s job search was not only stymied by his education level but also by not knowing the area.
“I had to do … online research and attend employment fairs. It was a harder way,” he said.
He and Said Hassan, COMSA co-founder and president, began taking a hard look at the situation.
“If we are … experiencing this level of difficulty, what about other people who come here who never have experience of living in a city? People coming from refugee camps,” Mahamed said.
To the group’s knowledge there is not another group that deals exclusively with the Somali population in Green Bay.
“What COMSA is hoping to do is kind of fill that gap. Kind of work with all the other agencies in the area and connect all the services,” said Katherine Stockman, group secretary.
The four board members, all volunteers, handle many of COMSA’s services.
The group applied for nonprofit status in February, Stockman said.
COMSA’s grand opening was a mix of American and Somali patriotism. It included singing, a reading from the Quran and speakers from local organizations.
“The No. 1 motivation is to create a resource center for the community,” Mahamed said.
COMSA can be contacted via www.facebook.com/comsausa or 920-662-4939
Source: Green Bay Gazette, 2017