City of Champaign and the University YMCA Co-Hosting Welcoming Week 2019 Kick-Off Celebration

Welcoming Week 2019 will start with a community celebration in front of the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum (346 N. Neil Street, Champaign) on Friday, September 13, 2019, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to this free event full of food, music, entertainment, and giveaways.

Event highlights include a welcome address by the mayors of Champaign and Urbana, live music performed by Abraham Mellish and Jean-René Balekita & Boyomi Ministries, and pop-up shops from local artists. Several Welcoming Week event hosts will also be present to share information about their Welcoming Week events and organizations including the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Champaign Police and Fire, the Refugee Center, the University of Illinois Research Park, The Urbana Free Library, the Urbana Park District, and more!

“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.

“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,” said Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen.  “I invite all residents to participate in Welcoming Week activities, which highlight for our newest residents our friendly, welcoming, and inclusive community.”

Welcoming Week is a nationwide celebration that brings together immigrants and U.S.-born community members to get to know one another and build community. Events will take place September 13-22, 2019.

Welcoming Week is one of several initiatives of the University YMCA New American Welcome Center that works toward fostering a more welcoming community for newcomers, such as 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.

For more information about other events taking place during Welcoming Week, visit the University YMCA’s webpage:

Volunteers are needed for the Kick-Off and other Welcoming Week events.  Visit and search for “Welcoming Week” to find out how you can help, or contact Jessica Devries at [email protected].

Media Contacts:
Jessica Devries | University YMCA Immigrant Programs Capacity Coordinator VISTA | 217-337-1500
Rachel Joy | Community Relations Manager/Compliance Officer |217-403-8830