Hello Neighbor program to launch

The program greets immigrants and refugees new to Minneapolis.

by Chelsey Knutson

New Minneapolis residents will see warmer welcomes starting this month with the introduction of a city program aimed at assimilating immigrants and refugees to the city.
Volunteers with the Hello Neighbor program will visit recent immigrantsâÄô homes with gift baskets, said Ahmed Muhumud, of the cityâÄôs Neighborhood and Community Relations department.
The program is an âÄúeffort to build a community,âÄù Muhumud said.
Volunteers will make personal visits to hand out gift bags with a refillable water bottle, coupons, pre-paid calling cards and information about the cityâÄôs services, Muhumud said.
The program will be focusing on areas in the city that have a large East African population, he said. The program was partly in response to the large number of immigrants coming to Minneapolis from countries like Somalia, City Councilman Cam Gordon said.
The program, announced last month, hopes to reach 500 new residents in the first year, NCR member Mohamed Hajin said.
There has been a strong response from community members interested in becoming volunteers, Muhumud said. At the kickoff ceremony last month, he said he eventually hopes to expand the program to all new city residents, âÄúbe it from Seattle or Somalia.âÄù
Volunteers have also talked about starting an âÄúadopting a family for a dayâÄù program, Muhumud said. Through Hello Neighbor, existing Twin Cities families would welcome immigrants with city tours for the day.
The program was developed through a $100,000 grant from The Bush Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation that serves Minnesota and the Dakotas, Muhumud said.
The money from the grant went toward the gift bags. Muhumud said the program is being âÄúas frugal as possible.âÄù
Volunteers will work with local resettlement agencies for the program, Hajin said.
âÄúWe have [had] really positive feedback from the community,âÄù Hajin said. âÄúThe list is growing and people are very interested.âÄù