Mai Weu Brings Support To The Hmong Community

By Jetta Wiedemeier Bower



Mai Weu is a wife, mother, grandmother, gardener, bible study leader, Trellis volunteer ambassador and trusted member of the Hmong community. Her commitment to alerting Hmong people to resources and services is apparent when she talks about sharing information while doing the things she loves. “I teach bible study four days a week and I bring people together to work in community gardens. When we’re doing these things, I talk about Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits,” says Mai. “The older people in my community know and trust me. They don’t know anything about Medicare, and they don’t speak much English. I tell them that the Senior LinkAge Line® and Trellis can translate and walk them through everything. I tell them this support will help them live independently.”

When Mai finds someone who needs help, she gives them a Senior LinkAge Line card, and encourages them to ask their son or daughter to call and ask for someone who can speak to their parent in Hmong. She has also helped people make the call. Mai says, “People are going without Medicare services because they don’t know anything about it. “I tell them Senior LinkAge Line staff will listen to their personal situation and find a good plan for them. They are surprised to hear that there are people who speak Hmong who can help them.”

Mai’s most rewarding experience was with a woman who lived in public housing. “I told her about the Senior LinkAge Line, and they helped her a lot. She is on a life-long medication, and they helped her figure out how to shrink her bill. This improved her life because she had money for other things. She was quite happy for that, and I felt good to help her.”

After 17 years working at a medical device company, Mai retired, making time to be able to do more volunteer work, along with caring for her grandchildren while her son and daughter-in-law are at work. She says, “I read a lot about Trellis, and I realized I should volunteer because I reach out to people naturally. I ask people to pull from their heart and their head and ask me questions, so I can help them.” Love and kindness appear to come naturally for Mai, and it’s apparent when she talks about her grandchildren. “I want to raise my grandchildren the way our family does it. They’re around teachers and other kids at school and church. I can teach them the Hmong language and culture. This is very important.”

Mai’s ambassadorship spans beyond the Hmong community and into three community gardens in Coon Rapids, Northeast Minneapolis and South Minneapolis. Through working in the soil, she connects with people from multiple cultures, including Laotian, Filipino and African. They come together to plant flowers and vegetables to make their native dishes. Mai says she likes bringing cultures together in the community gardens. “I bring in master gardeners to teach us about what’s good for the soil and how to avoid using pesticides or other chemicals. We also visit gardens in other areas and communicate with lots of people.”

“I think I have a wonderful connection with Trellis and I’m glad I can help my community to know about them and help people in my community to get services,” says Mai. And, when asked how she does it all, replied, “I’m a person who enjoys where I am and what I’m doing. My husband tells me I should get paid for all I do, and I say, I will be rich in heaven.”

The Senior LinkAge Line is a free statewide service of the Minnesota Board on Aging in partnership with Trellis and the other area agencies on aging.