Partnering for a More Cohesive Community

Sokthea Phay, Community Operations Director, YMCA of Greater Long Beach, Community Development Branch

Partnering for a More Cohesive Community

Partnering for a More Cohesive Community

Posting Date: Sept. 24, 2018

On September 22, seven branches from the YMCA of Greater Long Beach jointly organized and hosted our third annual Welcoming Week event to celebrate the resilience, diversity and culture that immigrants and refugees bring to our country. More than 500 immigrants, refugees and U.S-born residents from many immigrant and refugee communities—as well as U.S-born neighbors—participated and accessed services and resources from the YMCA and other community organizations. Participants experienced diverse cultures and perspectives through cultural performances, foods, keynote addresses and dialogue. Immigrant and first-generation youths from our YMCA Youth Institute, as well as newcomers and long-standing community members served by our New American Welcome Center and Community Schools, all demonstrated their civic engagement commitment by partnering with our staff in the planning process and taking the lead in carrying out the event activities.

Forty newcomer-serving non-profit and governmental agencies from across Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County participated and tabled at our resource fair during Welcoming Week and shared information, services and resources from providers of immigration, medical and mental health care, employment, education and social services. We were also able to mobilize many local sponsors and donors to support our efforts. Our Welcoming Week event has helped our YMCA members and community partners to deepen their understanding of how to serve people across different dimensions of diversity, strengthen cross-cultural understanding and bring people together for more cohesive communities.

This event has impacted our YMCA family and the community as a whole by embracing and promoting the strength of diversity and facilitating successful newcomer integration efforts. Our Y gained great trust and developed stronger relationships with undocumented immigrants, refugees and other communities who often feel marginalized. Through our event, immigrants and U.S.-born residents have been able to work more closely together to strengthen our community, and in so doing have demonstrated the power of inclusion and bridge-building and inspired our receiving communities to be more inclusive and welcoming to all.