ATLANTIC CITY — In an effort to provide the resort’s Asian community — which represents one of every six residents — with access to a variety of services, the city hosted an Asian Consulate and Resource Day at the Convention Center on Wednesday.
Through the event, the first of its kind in Atlantic City, residents were able to access passport and citizenship resources from the consulates of India and Bangladesh as well as health care, education and housing services from different local organizations.
“The purpose of this event is to build a strong, positive and productive relationship between the consulates, local government and agencies to better meet the needs of our beautiful Asian community,” said Mimi Nambo, a community social worker for O.C.E.A.N. Inc. and the main organizer of Wednesday’s event. “This will allow us to provide services, resources and the necessary tools to improve the quality of life.”
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O.C.E.A.N. Inc., a community action agency based in Toms River, partnered with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Mayor’s Office to make the event possible.
“My administration is a huge supporter of the Asian community,” Mayor Marty Small Sr. said.
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About 16.5% of Atlantic City’s population identifies as Asian, according to a 2019 U.S. Census estimate. Statewide, the Asian population falls to 10%.
By 9:30 a.m., about 30 residents from the local Asian community were set up at tables around the room, filling out paperwork and consulting with officials. Many younger residents attended the event with their parents or older family members.
Also in attendance were several local organizations including Atlantic Cape Community College, Griswold Home Care, Southern Jersey Medical Centers, WellCare, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Kumon, Jevs Human Services and GreenLife Energy Solutions.
“The main event really is for the passports through the consulates, we have attorneys here to provide the information on what they need to be eligible for a passport so they can travel,” said Sharonda Sheppard, director of direct services for O.C.E.A.N. “But then we have all of these agencies that help with education, housing assistance, language services, any area of need that would eliminate their barriers, we’re providing it today.”
Representatives from the South Jersey Indian Association, Bangladesh Association of Atlantic County and the Hoy Sun Ning Young Benevolent Association of Atlantic City also attended.
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Sheppard said O.C.E.A.N. plans to hold similar events for other ethnic communities in the resort.
“We look forward to engaging in such ventures again and again,” Consulate General of Bangladesh Sadia Faizunnesa said.
Besides providing resources, the event symbolized the resort’s unity with its Asian residents during a time when hate crimes against the community have been on the rise nationally.
“It is a day to show solidarity to stop the Asian hate as Atlantic City has no place for hate,” Nambo said.
From March 2020 to February of this year, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents have been reported nationwide, according to research by nonprofit reporting center Stop AAPI Hate.
“There is no space for hate in our hearts, and we want to make sure that each and every one of you here understands that,” Nambo said.
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