City of Champaign and University YMCA co-host Welcoming Week


Kenyon Edmond

The University YMCA is located at 1001 S. Wright St. The YMCA and the city of Champaign will co-host a community celebration as part of Welcoming Week 2019.

By Julie Kang, Assistant News Editor

Welcoming Week, a nationwide event held in Champaign for immigrants and U.S.-born residents to meet one another, will take place Sept. 13-22. The City of Champaign and University YMCA are co-hosting the celebration.

Champaign County has the largest immigrant population in Illinois outside of Chicagoland, with 24,000 immigrants from more than 75 countries, according to the Welcoming Week 2019 information on the University YMCA website.

Welcoming Week aims to acknowledge the work and support immigrants provide for the community.

“In the midst of anti-immigrant rhetoric, policies that hurt families and community polarization, Welcoming Week reminds us of the resilient and inclusive spirit of American communities,” the website reads.

The event will kick off in front of the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum on Friday from 4-7 p.m. and will have free food, entertainment, music and giveaways.

The mayors of Champaign and Urbana will be present at the event to deliver a welcome speech. Attendees can also enjoy live music by Jean-René Balekita & Boyomi Ministries and Abraham Mellish. Local artists will be holding pop-up shops. In addition, local organizations, such as the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and the University of Illinois Research Park, will be available to answer questions.

“I am excited for the local artists, the food and also for the chance for the University Y to be off-campus, in the community, celebrating our neighbors,” said Cynthia Markstahler, immigrant programs capacity coordinator VISTA at the University YMCA.

In the same press release, Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen encouraged residents to attend Welcoming Week activities as they demonstrate the friendly and inclusive nature of the community.

“I am pleased that the City of Champaign is a co-host of this year’s Welcoming Week Kick-Off Celebration, which demonstrates our continued commitment to welcoming our valued immigrant community members and neighbors,” Feinen said in the press release.

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