New American Task Force seeks to help newcomers in Aberdeen

Published: Jul. 22, 2016 at 9:26 PM CDT
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Aberdeen's New American Task Force was created earlier this year as a way to welcome refugees and immigrants to the Hub City.

Dr. Naomi Ludeman-Smith says one question many refugees and immigrants ask when they first come to Aberdeen is, how does the city work?

The New American Task Force has been working to answer that question.

"Are we a community that's hospitable and welcoming to new Americans of all status and ethnic backgrounds to come into Aberdeen and figure us out?"

During the first meetings pictured here, the group established their goals and purpose. Now they're beginning to learn what foreigners need from their new home.

"Transportation is a significant stumbling block for new Americans. although many of them come here with their own vehicles," says Ludeman-Smith. "For many of them, it's their children getting to school when they go to work."

Landlords, food distributors, church members and more have made it to meetings to seek out ways they can help.

As the needs of refugees and immigrants in Aberdeen become clear, the group has broken down into subcommittees to focus on specific improvements in town.

"This is not going to be a flip over night, we're going to look totally different, this going to happen over time and it already has happened over time," says Ludeman-Smith.

There have been some people who have voiced concerns over immigrants and refugees moving into town, but Mayor Mike Levsen says getting comfortable with new cultures will only make Aberdeen better.

"It's like anything else people need to be educated about what they don't need to be afraid of," says Levsen. This group is looking for ways to ease those fears and to tell people how they can be helpful.

The group meets every other Thursday at presentation college.

The task force encourages everyone to attend one of these meetings and see what they're about and possibly help out any way they can.