Welcoming America and its partner, Civity, announced that the University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center (NAWC) was one of four communities nationwide selected for their Seeding Civity training opportunity. Through the partnership between Civity and Welcoming America, the NAWC will receive training and coaching assistance to foster connections across difference within the Champaign-Urbana community. The NAWC will receive tailored trainings and follow-up support from Civity to improve intentional relationship-building skills. They will create and grow opportunities for connection and relationship-building between both immigrant and U.S.-born community members.
As part of this opportunity, the New American Welcome Center plans to open up Civity’s training to partners involved in the Welcoming Champaign County Collaborative as well as others in the community interested in improving intentional relationship-building skills. Since February, the Welcoming Collaborative, a group of local community members and representatives from local organizations, faith communities and businesses, has been planning Welcoming Week 2019, a series of events from September 13-22 that celebrates immigrants and all that they bring to our community. This year the NAWC is co-hosting a Welcoming Week Kick-Off event with the City of Champaign in front of the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum on Friday, September 13 (so save the date!). In addition, there are over 30 other Welcoming Week events planned throughout the week.
While the Welcoming Collaborative has been hard at work planning Welcoming Week 2019, the group wants to do more. “Since May, the Welcoming Collaborative has been brainstorming ways to continue welcoming work throughout the year,” said Jes DeVries, University Y Immigrant Programs Fund Development VISTA. “While it is wonderful to have a fun week dedicated to celebrating inclusion and diversity, the group wants to continue to make our community a space where immigrants can thrive and flourish throughout the year. Seeding Civity comes at the perfect time to continue toward that goal.”
As Civity’s website states, “Civity is a culture of deliberately engaging in relationships of respect and empathy with others who are different.” The organization “helps community leaders strategically transform their communities to understand and celebrate differences.” Currently Civity has Seeding Civity programs in three communities. The Seeding Civity training opportunity was open to Welcoming Network members across the United States with recipients selected through a competitive process.
Welcoming America works to support communities and organizations that are leading the cause toward more inclusiveness for immigrants, such as the University Y’s New American Welcome Center. Some of the NAWC’s initiatives that work toward a more welcoming community for newcomers are bridge-building activities, such as Welcoming Week; a bilingual community helpline that connects immigrants to local resources; legal services that provide immigration legal representation for low-income and indigent residents in our community; and a community-wide integration planning process that seeks to close gaps in resources, service distribution and accessibility for immigrants and other marginalized communities in Champaign County.