A message from David Lubell ’98, Executive Director of Welcoming America

Here at Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, we follow and support the work of students and alumni invested and investing in social change. One of those people is David Lubell ’98, Executive Director of the non-profit Welcoming America, “a national, grassroots-driven collaborative that promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.” You can read Welcoming America’s latest newsletter (below), and learn more at http://www.welcomingamerica.org/.

 

Welcoming America newsletter header

Welcoming America is Supporting the Growing Number of Communities that are Welcoming Unaccompanied Children

Dear Colleagues,

We stand at a historic moment for our country.  Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America are being re-settled across the U.S., and regardless of what happens in Washington, it is local communities who must act as the moral compass of our nation.

Now, more than ever, it is important to remember what our local partners witness daily:welcoming communities are more prosperous, dynamic, and united than those that aren’t intentionally inclusive. We are deeply inspired by the growing number of leaders and everyday Americans uniting to make their communities welcoming ones for unaccompanied children. For some inspiring examples of communities stepping up, click here.

From changing the tenor of the conversation, to engaging residents with fears and misperceptions about local impact, to offering support to unaccompanied children, there is much that communities can and should do to step up and help.

In the coming weeks, Welcoming America will do our part to support our rapidly growing national network of local organizations and municipal governments, as well as any community wanting to become more welcoming during this important time.

Our goals are two-fold:

1) To lift up the voices of local leaders across the country who are taking a stand to welcome and humanely care for the children.

Much of the media coverage has been primarily negative and portrays local communities as overwhelmingly against humane and welcoming treatment of the children. This depiction runs counter to public opinion polling and the experience of our local partners.

Over the coming weeks, we will spotlight the welcoming responses taking place around the country. Although details are still being finalized, actions will include:

  • Supporting and publicizing a welcoming sign-on letter for local leaders to demonstrate the depth and breadth of support for the children.
  • Changing the narrative by lifting up the numerous stories of local communities welcoming unaccompanied children and providing messaging and communications support to communities that are seeking to change the local narrative.
  • Creating space for immigrants and receiving community members to come together in service for the children during National Welcoming Week, taking place September 13-21.
  • Working with national partners like the National Partnership for New Americans to connect those ready to welcome children and to share their stories as widely as possible.  If you or your organization would like to partner in lifting up local voices of welcoming, please contact us.

2) To ensure local governments and community organizations have the tools required to marshal welcoming efforts in their communities.  Over the coming weeks, we will:

  • Launch a webinar series with our partners to provide you with facts and background on unaccompanied children and local communities, as well as messaging and actions you can take to promote welcoming the children.
  • Collect and share strategies and narratives that are working for community leaders and organizations across the country.  Please share with us what you are doing or send us your ideas so we can help others learn from them too.
  • Offering our many years of expertise in engaging receiving communities to groups and local governments wanting to promote greater dialogue and communication among local residents to ensure positive community outcomes.

There is an alternative to the divisive rhetoric we have all been hearing. In communities from Tampa to Denver to Syracuse, local leaders are expressing their support for unaccompanied children and emphasizing that the values of those they represent require children be cared for and welcomed.  These statements, some of which are captured here, are a reminder that everyday Americans can change the course of history.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas and to let us know how we can support you in your efforts to create more welcoming communities for all.

David Lubell
Executive Director
Welcoming America

Copyright © 2014 Welcoming America, All rights reserved. 

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