Giving Back: University YMCA Immigrant Programs

The Morning Show

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in the community. Find out how you can get involved with the University YMCA in today’s Giving Back.

ORGANIZATION NAME: University YMCA New American Welcome Center

ON AIR GUESTS AND TITLES:  Jes DeVries, Immigrant Programs Fund Development VISTA

Cynthia Markstahler, Immigrant Programs Capacity Coordinator VISTA


  • Based on a report released by the New American Welcome Center in partnership with New American Economy, 1 in 9 people in Champaign County were foreign born in 2016.


Q: How do the University Y and the New American Welcome Center work to engage foreign-born community members?

A: At the University Y, we develop campus and community leaders committed to social justice, environmental protection, interfaith cooperation, and global engagement through dialogue, reflection and action.

We both work at the Y’s New American Welcome Center where we believe our community is stronger when everyone feels welcome and when we work together for the common good. So we focus on engaging community institutions and resources to make Champaign County a place where newcomers and immigrants can thrive and flourish.

We also offer direct and referral services to help immigrants navigate the community, such as our bilingual community helpline, citizenship classes in partnership with the Urbana Adult Education Center, and legal assistance.  And we host bridge building activities to bring foreign-born and native-born community members together. One example of a bridge-building activity we coordinate is Welcoming Week, which is happening September 13-22 this year. It is a week-long series of events meant to celebrate diversity and the benefits of welcoming everyone.

Q: Do you have any bridge building events coming up in the community?

A: Yes! Every year YMCA of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign partners with the International Student and Scholar Services Office to host the International Dinner every. The dinner brings students and members of the community together to share dishes from up to 30 different cultures. Participants prepare dishes from their home country, allowing attendees to experience the flavors of their culture. This bridge-building evening has been a tradition for over 30 years, so join us this March!

We’re looking for volunteers to cook food from their home country. This can be either dessert or a main dish, and the Y is able to reimburse for ingredients purchased. This year’s 36th International Dinner on Sunday, March 10, from 6-8pm!

[If you’d like to attend, you can purchase tickets on the website or at the front desk of the University Y (1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign). Tickets: $12 General Admission; $10 Students.]


When: Sunday, March 10 from 6-8 PM

Where: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St Champaign, IL 61801

How can we learn more about this event?  Visit

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