The ACCESS of WNY, Inc. Story

Posing with the professor who coined the term “high road economic development!”
July 14, 2016
Andrew Grais

Imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning and realize that everything you know is not there anymore. Your friends disappeared, your comfortable society has vanished, and you are just dangling in a new world where your family is just as helpless as yourself.

This is a familiar reality for many Yemeni families who decide to immigrate to the United States. Some of these families leave their home countries due to political turmoil or religious persecution, while others leave in search of better opportunities overseas. Similarly to many Yemeni immigrants, my family and I emigrated from Egypt to the United States. My parents, who both held accounting professions, sacrificed their comfortable lifestyle in exchange for better futures for their children. Regardless of the reason, all families dream about their future in The Land of Free.

When Yemeni families land in the United States, many of their dreams are hit with the cold wind of reality. Families are confronted with language barriers, racism, employment difficulties, broken familial relationships, and poverty. “When a family loses stability, they become increasingly vulnerable to the many ills of society.”

After numerous years of witnessing families struggle and fail to find their footing in the United State, a group of concerned Arab Americans sparked community interest and founded ACCESS of WNY, Inc. in 2005. The missions of ACCESS of WNY, Inc. is to promote understanding and strengthen the bonds of faith and friendship between members of the Arab American community and people of other nationalities and cultures living within the United States; to help newly arrived immigrants adapt to life in the U.S.; to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of Arab culture within the American public; and to promote the common good and general welfare of the Arab American community. Since its creation, ACCESS has assisted hundreds of low income families, at-risk youth, immigrants, and unemployed workers in the Greater Buffalo community with education needs, youth development, immigration services, and support services.

Throughout my short time at ACCESS, I have witnessed their great impact on individual families and the larger Arab American community in Lackawanna. Under Executive Director Gamileh Jamil, ACCESS’s voice and impact is growing in the Greater Buffalo area.