A group of people taking a selfie
Sep 10, 2021

At the Y, belonging begins with us

From September 10-19, YMCAs throughout the nation are mobilizing around Welcoming Week, a call to action for us all to create safe, inclusive spaces for immigrants and U.S.-born neighbors.

As Welcoming Week kicks off, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago would like to reaffirm our commitment to fostering a true sense of belonging in people of all identities and backgrounds. The Y’s mission to strengthen youth, families, and communities requires that we do our part to make healthy, active lifestyles accessible to everyone who walks through our doors—no matter where they’re from.

At our centers and satellite sites throughout Chicagoland, as well as our overnight camp locations throughout the Midwest, we do not ask members or program participants about their immigration status at any point during our registration or check-in processes. Furthermore, we have staff members at both the center and Association levels dedicated to implementing policies, creating educational resources, adapting our programming, filling resource gaps, and advocating for our community’s families to have reliable, culturally sound support systems.

This year, the YMCA of Metro Chicago is celebrating Welcoming Week by lending our support to the YMCA of Greater Houston and YMCA International Services, who are currently providing resettlement services and assistance to Afghan SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) families.

Throughout Welcoming Week, many of our centers will set up collection jars for funds that’ll go directly toward needed items for Afghan refugees. We encourage those who are able to make a change with their spare change the next time they visit their local Y! You can also purchase one or more of these essential items (including mattresses, children’s clothing, bilingual books, and kitchenware) via the YMCA of Greater Houston’s and YMCA International Services’ Amazon Wishlist.

Additionally, the South Side YMCA will host a Cafe Conversation on Saturday, September 19 from 1-3pm. Free and open to the public, community members of all backgrounds and cultures are invited to participate in an open-ended discussion on what belonging means to them and the role the Y plays in fostering those connections.

At the YMCA of Metro Chicago, #BelongingBeginsWithUs. This week and every day, let’s come together in support of our immigrant neighbors.