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Flushing-based nonprofit celebrates graduates of program aiding immigrant women

Oct. 4, 2023 By Rachel Butler

The Flushing-based South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) hosted a graduation ceremony for the 10 participants of its “Stitch with SACSS” program on last month.

The “Stitch with SACSS” program was designed to teach immigrant women the skill of sewing while gaining financial independence. SACSS Executive Director Sudha Acharya was joined by City Council Member Sandra Ung and Rep. Grace Meng’s Community Liaison Kyle Salcido to present certificates to each woman in recognition of their accomplishment.

In her remarks, Ung congratulated the class and thanked SACSS for establishing a program that gives women economic empowerment and the confidence to start their own small business.

“Meeting all of you and seeing how you’re going to open your own business, I am really inspired by that, and I want to wish everyone the best of luck,” Ung said.

Upon completion of the program, SACSS gifted each student a sewing machine in support of starting their own home-based sewing business.

The students’ colorful garments – shirts, blouses, pants, handbags, aprons and baby clothes – were displayed in the SACSS Senior Center, where the ceremony took place.

Students Parvin Akter and Nagina Rehimi thanked SACSS for supporting them.

“Learning how to sew scared me so bad, but now I feel so confident,” Akter said. “I understand the fabrics, the difference between threads and learned how to work a sewing machine. I’m so happy and will start my own business.”

Rehimi  echoed her fellow participants comments.

“I’m very happy and very fortunate that I got to participate in Stitch With SACSS, make loving friends and learn from the kindest teachers, Manjulaben and Rema. I’m also excited to start my new business,” Rehimi said.

Launched in July 2023, the SACSS Women’s Economic Independence Program, Stitch With SACSS, is a four-day, 10-week program teaching immigrant women, including those from South Asian and AAPI communities, the necessary skills of sewing, pattern making, fabric cutting, garment construction and alterations.

The program is coordinated by Rema Venu and is taught by Manjulaben Darji.

“They started with cotton and doing simple stitches, such as how to make a straight line and thread a needle in the sewing machine. They made drawstring bags, a handbag, aprons, and learned how to sew on a pocket, and the culmination of it was to stitch a blouse with lining — that was the finale. It was a long journey and there were several layers to it,” Venu said. “I’m very proud of them. This is our first program and we had to see how to teach effectively, and how all of the students were doing so we don’t leave anyone behind.”

The next cohort of students in the “Stitch with SACSS” program began Monday, Oct. 2. For more information, visit the South Asian Council for Social Services website.

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