YMCA of Central Ohio

YMCA of Central Ohio to open New American Welcome Center

Giving newcomers from across the city access to a safe, supportive environment

In our current political climate, immigrant and refugee issues have become hot-button topics that spur heated debate on in congress, fiery commentary on late-night shows, and passionate Facebook comment threads. However, in the midst of our current tangled political moment, the YMCA has chosen to take a step back from all of the controversy and heed our mission: to be here for all.

With more than 42 million foreign-born individuals living in the United States, it is more important than ever to foster an environment that encourages immigrant integration and community cohesion. At the Y, our belief that we are here “for all” means loving and welcoming all people in our community as fellow human beings, regardless of where they come from, and doing everything we can to foster success as refugees and immigrants adapt to life in their new home.

To take a step closer to making these ideals a reality, the the YMCA of Central Ohio has been selected by the YMCA of the ­USA to open a New American Welcome Center. This space, where newcomers will have access to necessary resources and to people who care about their success, will be at the North YMCA, in the diverse and growing Northland neighborhood. On June 20th, the center will open to the community for the first time and invite visitors to learn why the Y has chosen to be a supportive place for our newest neighbors.

The YMCA’s New American Welcome Centers (NAWC) are designed to help immigrants—also referred to as newcomers or new Americans—fully integrate into our society, in addition to preparing their receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive. NAWCs accomplish these goals through a combination of integration services, collaborations with community leaders and businesses, and strategies to connect and build cross-cultural understanding between immigrants and US-born residents.

Areas of service offered to newcomers will include language and education, economic integration and employment, health and well being, citizenship and civic engagement, and community development. This breadth of attention seeks to encourage social, physical, and economic well-being for newcomers, ultimately creating a social and cultural environment in which all groups are accepted as equal members of society with the opportunity—and responsibility— to engage and contribute to the common good.

“We are honored to be a part of the movement to help these New Americans reach their fullest potential,” said Malik Moore, Executive Director of Social Responsibility for the YMCA of Central Ohio. “This space will open with the hopes of giving immigrants and refugees access to supportive services that can kick-start their life in Columbus.”