The local association joins hundreds of YMCAs across the country in hosting events designed to fully embrace new Americans and promote cross-cultural understanding in our communities
DES MOINES, Iowa – (Sept. 13, 2018) – The YMCA of Greater Des Moines and its branch locations are joining in the national celebration of Welcoming Week, a series of events and activities recognizing the many ways immigrants contribute to the economic and social fabric in the U.S.
Welcoming Week is an initiative of Welcoming America, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps communities achieve prosperity by becoming more inclusive. This year’s Welcoming Week celebration starts Friday, Sept. 14 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 23.
“At the Y, we know our communities are stronger when everyone feels welcome, valued and connected,” says Cameron Nicholson, interim CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. “Participating in Welcoming Week is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Y’s mission of building healthier spirit, mind and body for all.”
Each of the 10 branches of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines will be observing Welcoming Week in ways that are relevant to the communities they serve. Some examples:
Waukee Family YMCA is hosting a Welcoming Week Open House on Sunday, Sept. 23 from 2-5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Activities include a Bollywood dance class, cricket demonstration and match, henna tattoos, food and more. In addition, the Waukee Y will be sharing the stories of members who are recent immigrants via Facebook.
The 140 residents at the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus will take part in a Cultural Dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 18, where they will be able to sample foods from 10 different countries. Executive Director Emily Osweiler said seven different nationalities are represented among the current residents at Y-SHC.
On Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22, the Wellmark YMCA is opening its doors to the entire community. Non-members may use the Y facilities free-of-charge on those two days by stopping at the Welcome Center and signing in.
The Indianola YMCA is tying Welcoming Week to National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 25. On that day, the Y will be sponsoring a voter registration drive to help new residents – as well as first-time voters and anyone who has recently changed addresses – fill out the forms needed to become registered to vote.
Members and visitors to the Y during Welcoming Week will be greeted by a large map of the world and invited to place a pin on their country of origin or heritage – underscoring that fact that ours is a nation of immigrants who came together to work for the common good.
“The spirit of inclusion exemplified by Welcoming Week is inherent in the YMCA’s cause of strengthening community,” Nicholson said. “We believe everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, deserves the chance to reach their full potential with dignity. Through activities like Welcoming Week, and the financial assistance we provide to those who otherwise would not be able to afford our services, the Y builds bridges to greater opportunity for all.”