Chealdean foundation predicts expansion in 2020

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By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Work continues on an expansion of the Chaldean Community Foundation’s campus, located near the intersection of 15 Mile and Ryan roads in Sterling Heights.Photo by Deb Jacques

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Chaldean Community Foundation prides itself on its outreach, and it sees the boundaries of its services expanding and moving outward this year.

Chaldean Community Foundation President Martin Manna said 2019 was a record year for his group, in providing services to individuals in need.

Among the CCF’s 2020 goals, the nonprofit hopes to finalize the renovations to its Sterling Heights campus, namely an estimated 20,000-square-foot expansion, Manna explained.

“That office will continue to serve more than 35,000 people and assist them with access to health care, transportation, career services, immigration services and programs for those with (developmental) and intellectual disabilities,” he said.

In addition, Manna anticipates a groundbreaking and progress on the group’s Van Dyke housing project, between Utica Road and M-59, that would become a base for “our growing number of new Americans” whom the Community Foundation would assist. Manna said the foundation hopes that the groundbreaking on the Van Dyke housing development will take place “this year, hopefully, before the summer.”

In addition, Manna said his other group, the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, is planning to establish an office in Washington., D.C., later this year to bolster its advocacy reach. And he hopes to establish a satellite office for both the community foundation and the chamber in northern Iraq sometime in the future, he said.

Getting the CCF’s clientele to fill out the census is another top priority in 2020. Manna believes that the census has undercounted Chaldeans in the past due to a lack of follow-through on submitting the forms.

“The 2010 census estimated (Chaldeans statewide) at about 45,000, but a separate study through the University of Michigan Dearborn estimated the population at 160,000,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to educate the community on the importance of filling out the census so we can have an accurate count.”

During the Jan. 7 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, several residents spoke about local social media opposition to Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel’s recent letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stating willingness to have refugees resettle in the county.

Sterling Heights City Council member Deanna Koski praised the work that Manna and the CCF have been doing with refugee resettlement. She mentioned the foundation’s goal of providing new housing space for refugees.

“Our last conversation, he indicated that he doesn’t expect that many, that there was not going to be what there used to be,” Koski said. “But at least they’re taking care of their own. And they’re taking care of others that choose to come to Sterling Heights, giving them guidance as far as health care, education, English as a second language, and helping them find an occupation or maybe start a business, purchase a car.

“So in Sterling Heights, I have to say we take care of our own. We make sure that (those who) choose to come and live here in Sterling Heights, raise their families, build their homes — that they have some support, some guidance. And I don’t think we will ever change because we are a welcoming city.”

Manna commented on the refugee resettlement debate, as well as the City Council’s defense of his organization.

“I think, frankly, there tends to be a refugee and immigration phobia that we are trying to address in the county,” he said. “I’m really thankful for the leadership that is serving at the Sterling Heights city level and at the county level with Executive Hackel.

“I’m focused on trying to roll out an educational campaign so people are aware of the contributions that refugees and immigrants have made to this region, and also that they’re not a burden to taxpayers as some people think they are.”

Find out more about the Chaldean Community Foundation by visiting or by calling (586) 722-7253.