My name is Allison. I am a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. I am also proof of the American dream. I know the obstacles and struggle to create a life in a new country and to sustain the livelihood in America.

The American Asian Center of Frederick (AACF) addresses this need with services to learn English, assistance with the naturalization process, and ways to acquire relevant experience and meaningful skills to gain employment and become self-sufficient.

AACF was founded in 2005, with the mission to help and equip the local Frederick community and surrounding area members to achieve their American dream. I am honored to serve our beloved Frederick community by joining AACF in April 2019. AACF has many programs designed to serve the young and old, citizens and non-citizens.

To help put into perspective how the AACF helps the community, I would like to share stories beyond that of my own. These are two stories of strong women, who, with determination and help from the AACF, were able to sore beyond the odds for a better life.

Mildred Villatoro is married with four children, has a home and lives in Frederick. At a very young age, Mildred’s grandfather was killed, and her cousin was forced to join the guerrillas in Guatemala. The guerrillas threatened both her cousin’s life and the lives of his relatives. Fortunately, Mildred was able to escape and flee to the United States in 1993 to join her lawful permanent resident uncle in California. Mildred approached the AACF for naturalization. As a result of her experience with Dr. Matthew Nimpson at the AACF, Mildred was successfully naturalized in 2018.

Katherine Corpio went through the AACF citizenship program in 2017. She attended all the free classes and passed the test. Shortly after, she received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, denying her application because of a failure to comply. She was confused and frightened. However, Dr. Nimpson diligently worked with Katherine to ensure her documents were in order. After three weeks, Katherine came to the AACF office with jubilation, she was naturalized and received her certificate. Furthermore, through the additional services AACF offers, she has since become a Community Health Worker and is now able to give back to the community by volunteering her time to the dedicated maternal and child health program. This program supports pregnant women for healthy babies.

AACF also serves the society through constant engagement with community leaders and residents. A shining example is the upcoming 12th Annual Community Health Fair on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. This one-day event helps Frederick residents gain access to free education, exams, and health services provided by community members and medical providers. We will serve many of the low-income and elderly residents who do not have accessible medical care throughout the year due to many barriers.

The agency is the go-to place for programs and services addressing individuals and families in need such as Across Ages program where retired seniors are mentors to youths connecting two generation. Volunteers gain experience, insight, and develop skills personally or professionally. AACF helps all new and aspiring Americans to achieve their goals to be successful citizens and residents. According to the 2018 American Community Survey, 32 percent entered the US after 2010 and 34 percent were naturalized 2010 or later. For Frederick County, 8 percent are citizens by naturalization and 11 percent are not a citizen.

AACF is currently looking to raise $36,000 to continue supporting the many programs and services designed to enhance, empower, and enrich the lives of all the locally based Americans. AACF needs your assistance to help raise funds so that the agency may continue serving all community residents, regardless of citizenship and age, to achieve their dreams and a better quality of life. So, consider supporting the Unity Campaign, to help the AACF meet its fundraising goals.

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