WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) — It was a joyous day for the Southeast Asian community in central Wisconsin on Sunday as the Hmong American Center held a grand opening for its new location in Wisconsin Rapids.
The need for a location in Wood County first arose in the fall of 2021, when members of the Hmong community came to the Hmong American Center, requesting services in the area. After research, it was determined that there was a strong need for help in the area. Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance Association (WUCMAA), a physical location was found for the new center, a milestone according to Hmong American Center executive director Yee Leng Xiong.
“Having a physical location in Wood County gives members of the Southeast Asian community a place to call home, a place where they can receive services, and a place where they also feel comfortable,” Xiong said.
One of the biggest needs for a new center was transportation. The nearest service area is Wausau. The centers are essential to the community for translation services, health assistance, educational programs and more.
“Going one mile, two miles is hard enough, so if we didn’t have an office in Wood County, a lot of the Southeast Asian community would have to come to Wausau because that’s where find all our staff,” Xiong said.
The facility had its grand opening on Sunday, which included a ribbon cutting, service and guest speakers. Guests included Hmong community leaders, Representative Scott Krug and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
“We want all of our leaders to understand the cultural contributions of the Hmong community to the entire state of Wisconsin,” Barnes said in his speech. “I’m thrilled to be here today with you, but even more excited to continue this journey with all of you.”
The crowd filled the entire new space, spilling even outside the building. After the remarks, refreshments were served as people continued to visit.
“We, members of the South Asian community, are so thrilled that it’s time to serve them here in Wood County,” Xiong said. “It’s not just for the Hmong community, not just for the Laotian or South Asian community, but for the community at large, providing educational opportunities, financial support systems, and enabling individuals to be truly self-reliant. “
The new facility is located at 2831 South 8th street in Wisconsin Rapids. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. For more information on Hmong American Center services, visit here.
Copyright 2022 WSAW. All rights reserved.