The Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County is settling into its new location. Located on Feather River Boulevard in Oroville, the Center houses programs for both youth and, as previously reported, elders.
The new location features a study area complete with four computer stations. A large number of Hmong families cannot afford computers, Center director Seng Yang explained. His goal is to provide a safe place for Hmong students ranging from middle school to junior college to get help with their school work. Even though the program is only three weeks old, Yang says 10-15 students have already made use of the after-school program. He hopes those numbers will grow.
The Center also houses the Hmong Talk Line, a mental health call-in line for the entire Hmong community. The line is staffed five hours a day by staffer Jze Yang (He is not related to Seng Yang). Anyone in the Hmong community can call and talk about mental health problems or other issues requiring assistance. People may leave a message if calling outside of staffed hours. Jze Yang's goal is to return calls within 24 hours. Yang also refers callers to other resources when necessary and then follows-up with them to ensure that they have received the services they need.
The Hmong are farmers by tradition, and Seng Yang feels that having some land to farm would go a long way toward helping the elders to adjust to their life in America. One of Yang's long-term goals is to launch a community garden. He envisions donated land, enough for both the community garden and for individual families to have their own space to grow what they want. In his mind's eye, he sees a place where Hmong youth and elders can come together to share information about the world they came from and the place they are now. Plus, says Yang with a smile, it will give the children some hard work to do which will keep them out of trouble.
The Center hopes to submit a grant proposal to the District Attorney for program funding to keep Hmong youth from joining gangs. There are a number of young people currently on probation. Yang sees a role for Center staff to turn that around with the help of elders.