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Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) is a double-site, community-based social services agency. CMAA's mission is to serve the needs, promote the interests, and enhance the well-being of Chinese and other immigrants and refugees in Chicagoland, and to foster their participation in American society.
In the late 1970s a group of ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam founded CMAA to assist other newly arrived Southeast Asian refugees in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Through a number of grassroots efforts, the volunteer community leaders guided their peers in overcoming the many challenges of relocation. Community members who had adapted to American life counseled individuals struggling with culture shock, helped families find housing, referred job seekers to employment opportunities, and translated for those who had not yet acquired new language skills. These community-minded individuals joined together to start a social service agency. In 1981, CMAA formalized its activities with government funding and was established as a non-profit organization. Since then, CMAA has evolved into a multi-faceted social service agency supported by the state and local government, foundations and corporations, and private individuals. CMAA's current multilingual staff continues to address the most immediate survival needs of immigrant and refugee Chinese. However, the agency has broadened the vision of its initial founders by expanding the scope of its services and the diversity of the people it assists. Each year, CMAA serves over 13,000 people in the Chicago metropolitan area.
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