Sara Chute, a staff member with the Minnesota Department of Health and community volunteer, was the chosen recipient of an award of appreciation from members of the Disabled Immigrant Association (DIA). Sara received this first-time award at a special dinner because of her dedicated support and her year-long volunteer activity with DIA.
The Disabled Immigrant Association’s office is strategically located to provide the most efficient support to disabled immigrants who live within the inner city of Minneapolis. Most of the clients served are immigrants from Somalia who live with physical or mental disabilities, or both. Language is a major barrier to immigrants with disabilities along with prejudice based on race, religion, eth-nicity, culture, and disability. About 80,000 Somali residents live in Minnesota; most live in the Twin Cities. Approximately 14 to 20 percent of this population consists of people with either one type or a combination of physical and mental disabilities. Some of the disabilities were the result of war and ethnic cleansing in Somalia.
DIA has an important mission, one which it has taken on with enthusiasm, courage and determination. Volunteers devote many hours a week to make life better for fellow immigrants with disabilities.
Most of the people served by DIA get help with finding employment, instruction of English as a second language, support to fill out complicated application forms, assistance with food and nutrition and assistance with transportation. It is the transportation program that carries these other DIA activities. An average of 10 rides per day is given to clients at a fee of $20 per ride. Much more needs to be done as this population is sometimes isolated and ignored.
According to Chute, “For me, everyone at DIA is deserving of this award. From its incredible co-founders Sharif and Abdul to its outstanding executive director Mahad, and to its dedicated staff, that works hard every day to help serve this often forgotten and vulnerable population. It is an honor to be a part of such a unique organization that is truly out there making a difference every day for those who most need assistance.”
Mahad Abdi, DIA’s executive director, introduced Chute as the DIA Board of Directors choice and best candidate to receive this award for outstanding contributions to the organization.
The dinner and volunteer award will be an ongoing activity. Like Chute, future award candidates will be selected and recognized for providing DIA staff or clients with help and guidance for even greater community interaction and support.
To know how you can support DIA and to learn more, access the DIA website at www.dialink.org. Or e-mail Mahad and other DIA volunteers at [email protected]. To visit or contact by phone the DIA office, go to or call 3033 2nd Ave S. Mpls, (612) 824-7075.