NTAS believes that “if we are part of the problem, we should be part of the solution.” We believe that before others step in to assist us, we need to step up, take responsibility, be present, be engage, be at the table, be a voice, and “be the change” as we partner with others to focus on solutions.
As the oldest Tongan nonprofit organization of its type in the USA, the National Tongan American Society (NTAS) was created in 1994 as the need for translation and assistance in filing citizenship documents and testing increased. It received its 501 (c)(3) in 1996.
Twenty eight years later, the NTAS' immigration and translation services have processed and helped hundreds of Pacific Islander immigrants obtain their green card and citizenship. NTAS has also helped with countless translated services in immigration, legal, healthcare, technical, and other settings. In addition, NTAS staff educates and help to processes working Pacific Islanders with their Medicare/Medicaid, CHIPS, Disability and Food Stamps applications.
There are over 40,000 Pacific Islanders residing in Utah. About 70% live in Salt Lake County. According to available US Census documents, West Valley City and Salt Lake City have the top two highest rates of Tongan residents and fourth highest rate of Samoan residents in the USA. The Pacific Islander population has more than doubled in the last 10 years.
NTAS have on-going wellness programs that include diabetes classes, chronic disease classes, cancer screening, increase of fitness and healthy eating projects, monthly youth abstinence classes, community wellness coaching with focus on women, data collection efforts, mobile clinic for COVID-19 screening and vaccination, health fairs and partnerships with healthcare clinics.
In the last five years, NTAS has engaged in voter registration to encourage Pacific Islanders who are US citizens to register and get out and vote. NTAS will continue to encourage civic engagement and good citizenship among the Pacific Islander population of Utah.
In the last 10 years, NTAS have provided scholarships annually to Tongan high-school seniors moving on to college. In addition, NTAS have partnered with the Miss America Scholarship Pageant during past years and awarded several young women scholarships to different colleges and universities nationwide.
NTAS’s small staff of 7 work under the 10-member Board of Directors. Though NTAS works hard to help the community, it’s not enough. Pacific Islanders continue to have one of the highest rate of obesity, infant mortality, drop-out from high-school, and incarceration in Utah. Pacific Islanders along with other ethnic groups have the highest rates of diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. We have one of the largest uninsured populations, though since the Affordable Care Act, NTAS have been able to enroll hundreds of Pacific Islanders in Medicare/Medicaid and in Utah’s marketplace.
Implementing cultural programs and activities builds cultural-appreciation, unity, self-acceptance and is a factor in helping Pacific Islanders to increase self-reliance, healthy families and good citizenship.
NTAS believes that together we can make Salt Lake County, the State of Utah, and this great country we live in the best place to live, work, and play regardless of race, religion, sexual preference and culture.