First-Ever National Welcoming Week Shows the Power of Unity

We share the belief that our communities are strongest when everyone who lives in them feels welcome.
Our communities work best when we all do our part –  and it takes all of us working together to make that happen.Last month, our affiliates, partners, and supporters across the country united during National Welcoming Week – and showed the power of what we can achieve together.Across the country, thousands of immigrant and U.S. born individuals came together in a spirit of unity to learn from each other and to create stronger communities.

Thank you for joining with us to build stronger, more welcoming communities.  The Welcoming movement’s momentum continues to grow, with affiliates now in 20 states and partners across the country.  Here’s what we achieved in just one week, thanks to your support:

–       From fields to food pantries, from arts venues to the dining table, more than 50 events across the country brought together more than 3,000 newcomer and long-time residents  to foster dialogue and positive relationships, and to give back to the community. More than 3,000 additional people were reached through broader community events.

–       In Michigan, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, Governors Snyder (R), Patrick (D), and Chafee (I) each signed a proclamation recognizing the week in their states.

–      In Suffolk County, Long Island, County Executive Steve Bellone also signed a proclamation, noting that Suffolk County is a “community that embraces immigrants.” The County has been home to a contentious debate about immigration, and many see this  move – along with ongoing efforts by Welcoming Long Island – as signaling a major reset for Suffolk County.

–       From the Salt Lake Tribune to the Lansing State Journal, from the East Contra Costa Times to the Boston Globe, local news media covered positive stories of immigrants and welcoming events from coast to coast.

–   From parents at local schools in Northern California, to law enforcement officials on Long Island and Colorado,  community members came together in safe spaces to build trust and create a positive community climate where everyone feels welcome.

It’s no surprise that so many people are joining the movement to create welcoming communities.  Why? Because it works. Recent polling in Michigan offers evidence of this impact: thanks to the efforts of our affiliate,Welcoming Michigan, residents polled in the Bangor/Hartford area showed measurable improvements in their attitudes toward immigrants after just one year of activities in the region.<

Our first-ever National Welcoming Week was just the beginning, and just a fraction of what we are achieving.  In fact, did you know our network brought together more than 12,000 immigrants and U.S. born individuals in 2012 alone?   

Would you like to be part of National Welcoming Week next year? Please email us your ideas, we’d love to hear from you!

Welcoming Week Highlights

Bringing Together New Neighbors  – and Putting Food on the Table for North Carolinians

As a Welcoming Week project, Welcoming America affiliate Uniting NC hosted a joint service project, involving both recentimmigrants and longtime North Carolinians, to both build bridges among the volunteers and show immigrants’ desire to  provide assistance to the community at large. The project was to ‘glean a field’  for fresh produce for the region’s largest food bank, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.   All the volunteers said they felt like it was a worthwhile experience, and would love to do it again.  New relationships were forged, and delicious sweet potatoes can now reach North Carolinians living in hunger.Diverse volunteers pick sweet potatoes as part of the Uniting NC Welcoming Week gleaning project

Rhode Island Bus Ads Tell the Story of Immigrants Giving Back

In Rhode Island, affiliate Welcoming Rhode Island launched a new campaign around National Welcoming Week that features ads with nine immigrants’ stories on 24 buses that travel the state, reaching about 75 percent of the population.  The ads, which show the positive contributions made by local immigrants, are part of the initiative’s broader efforts to foster more positive relationships between natives and newcomers, and to highlight that “all Rhode Islander’s have a story to tell.”

Celebrating New Americans and A Spirit of Unity Through Citizenship Ceremonies

In his proclamation commemorating the coinciding national citizenship day, the President stated, “Across our country, Americans are working side-by-side with our Nation’s newest citizens to build strong, welcoming communities that embrace the talents and contributions of all their members.”

In Redwood City, California, Welcoming America’s affiliate, Redwood City 2020, was one of many groups across the country that did just that.  During the Naturalization Oath ceremony, people were able to share with each other their stories of immigration, giving U.S. born and long-time residents the chance to understand why people continue to migrate to the US and the contributions aspiring citizens make.   Through conversations, people understood that immigrants come to the US with the same hopes and dreams as US born residents have.

Below:  Alabama volunteers show their spirit in a event hosted by Welcoming Alabama, which brought together immigrant and U.S. born volunteers to collect donations for a local food pantry.