Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Get Involved. Take A Stand.


Members of the Champaign-Urbana Community,

This year our nation has experienced one of the most divisive elections in modern history. Like many of you, we are trying to understand what the results will mean for our work and how to move forward. At our Board of Governors meeting just two days after the election, we set aside our regular agenda to discuss this in more depth. Here are our thoughts.

We believe that our ability to engage in open debate and discourse about differences in policy, ideology, and methodology is one of the great strengths of our democracy. Sadly, this election has been marked by dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric that has consumed the conversation and produced a damaging environment of fear and distrust. We condemn any language or actions that target and attack specific populations — such attacks are an affront to us all.

The University Y remains committed to leaders of student programs who work tirelessly to address the issues of social justice, environmental protection, global engagement and interfaith dialogue. Those challenges will likely be even greater, based on the positions being expressed by the next administration. It is critical that we stand by students at the Y and provide them with the resources and support that they need for their voices to be heard. We encourage you to read their letter drafted in the aftermath of the election. Now, more than ever, their work is key to preserving the promise of a better tomorrow.

We recognize the legitimate concerns of students and community members regarding their safety and well-being. We renew and reaffirm our commitment at the University Y to serve as a safe, open space for all members of our community free from persecution and hate. We support your right to be who you are and respect your beliefs as part of the rich diversity of our community. Discrimination has no place in our community. We will defend the right of every person to live, work, play, cry, celebrate, mourn, and worship in safety.

We have much work to do. Many students and supporters of the Y are telling us that the election has shaken their view of who we are as a nation. But history has taught that each crisis also provides an opportunity. In the coming weeks and months, there will be a myriad of opportunities to lend your voice to issues and policies that will define who we are as a nation. We hope you will stay engaged and active. 

Thank you for your support and commitment to the values we hold dear. We can make a difference if we unite around our shared values, so we invite you to join with us and stand for the principles of inclusivity, mutual respect, and compassion.


Sincerely, 

The University YMCA Board of Governors

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Press Release/PSA: Art @ the Y presents HOODED TRUTHS by Candace Hunter

Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 17, 2016

For media inquiries, contact:
Megan Flowers, University YMCA Communications Director

Art at the Y presents
"HOODED TRUTHS" by Candace Hunter
HOODED TRUTHS is on view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA
from 9:00am to 9:00pm on Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Fridays from August 25, 2016 through October 7, 2016
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The University YMCA is pleased to present, HOODED TRUTHS by Candace Hunter as part of the Art @ the Y public arts initiative. HOODED TRUTHS will open with a public reception on August 25, 2016 at the University YMCA’s Murphy Gallery at 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois, 61820. A viewing will begin at 5:00pm followed by a gallery talk with the artist herself, Candace Hunter at 5:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. The reception will close at 7:00pm. HOODED TRUTHS is on view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA from 9:00am to 9:00pm on Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Fridays from August 25, 2016 through October 7, 2016. More information is available at universityymca.org/art.

HOODED TRUTHS is a cornucopia of images, ideas and personas all swathed in the costume of 21st Century America - the hoodie. In the exhibit Hunter explores the history of Blackness in this country. A history that Candace Hunter describes as ‘"a painful and complicated affair, brightened by the indomitable spirit of countless fathers, mothers, teachers, clergy and artists who continue to shed light on this country’s 'Hooded Truths.'"


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ARTIST'S STATEMENT: “Much of my work is concerned with social inequality along both national and global fronts. My imagery explores historical moments. Moments that celebrate the beauty of a people or the necessary light upon violence against humanity, in its many forms, with special attention to the plight of women and children. Through research, I engage with the past and use my art to give a public and present voice to those whose voices have been silenced or just plainly, ignored. Although I am well known for my collage-based work, I implement a wide variety of media to manifest my work. My work is rarely conceived as a single piece, but is instead imagined as an entire body of work around a central theme, such as the 32 pieces in Hooded Truths (2014), which also includes installation and performance. In addition, I make use of text and performance in my work to strengthen the voice. My practice is socially engaged, personally, in my interaction and collaboration with other artists, and politically, in my activism through my work.” Candace Hunter, a native of Chicago, studied the plastic arts and performance arts at Barat and Mundelein Colleges in the Chicago area. For more information about the work of Candace Hunter, please visit:  http://www.chleeart.com/

Praise for HOODED TRUTHS:
"Her work is beautiful, evocative and oftentimes controversial such as her recent series, Hooded Truths. The collection of paintings force you to look at the murders of young Black men represented by the “hoodie” associated with Trayon Martin. ‘Hooded’ means covered, therefore hidden and so as we look at the many senseless murder of unarmed Black men by policemen where the truth has been hidden. The Hooded Truths Collection is soul stirring and evokes sadness, anger, empathy and compassion. It inspires us to do something to change the way Black men are seen and mistreated in the world." -from The Chicago Defender http:// chicagodefender.com/2015/ 05/15/ artist-candace-hunter-opens -her-doors-to-you/

Art @ the Y is a public arts initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign. All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public. For more information about Art @ the Y, visit: universityymca.org/art
____________________
Murphy Gallery Hours
Mondays-Thursdays from 9am to 9pm
Fridays from 9am to 5pm
Closed on weekends, except in the case of special events. If you would like to schedule a group tour during the weekend, contact Ann Rasmus at ann@universityymca.org or at 217-337-1500

Murphy Gallery Summer Hours
(From May 23, 2016-August 19, 2016)
Mondays-Fridays from 9am to 4pm

Parking Nearby:
Parking lot on 6th between Daniel & Chalmers - Free after 5pm.
Parking garage on 6th & John - Free after 5pm.
Street parking on Wright, Chalmers, & 6th Streets for 75¢ per hour.
Municipal lot on Green & 5th Streets for $1 per hour.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Y Stories: For A Better Us

Looking back on this year, it is clear that our campus, community and country are facing unprecedented challenges. Yet here at the Y, we are fortunate to witness the optimism and energy of outstanding student leaders. In fact, some of our most significant initiatives are a result of the work of our student leaders. From Alternative Seasonal Breaks to VIS-A-VIS, we had a chance to sit down with YMCA student program leaders and ask them what the University YMCA means to them. 

This is what Vick, Irfan, Joe, and Catherine shared with us:


Y Stories: Vicki Prince

Click Here To Watch Vicki's Y Story

Community service has always been a big part of Vicki’s life; developing her leadership with the Y’s VIS-A-VIS Volunteer Tutoring student program gives her insight into how community service shapes her future as a civically engaged leader. Vicki’s dream is to become ambassador to China as she continues to study Mandarin and study abroad in China. 

Vicki sees the Y helping her develop her relationship-building skills and keeping her community-minded and attentive in addressing growing issues of today. 

“When you’re on campus, you get so involved with campus that you forget that Champaign and Urbana are cities and not just college towns. So I think the Y has been great at getting involved in the community,” says Vicki. Vicki is also a part of initiatives that are working to create meaningful change on campus too. This past year, Vicki served as an intern with Intercultural Horizons, a global engagement initiative of the University YMCA that promotes better relationships between domestic and international students on campus. 

During the Spring semester, the Intercultural Horizons interns created the Conversation Hour Program, which was open to everyone to learn about other cultures through group art projects that help encourage dialogue between domestic and international students. Vicki sees this program as a great start to break down the barriers between international and domestic students and support more inclusive relationships on campus. She looks forward to continuing this work with the Y.

With your support, more stories like Vicki's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at: universityymca.org/support_us/


Y Stories: Irfan Ali

Click Here To Watch Irfan's Y Story

Irfan Ali is studying to be a doctor; and it may come to the surprise of some that practicing medicine well hinges on understanding people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds. “How to interact, it sounds simple,” says Irfan, “but interaction comes with being able to be empathetic in a conversation. That’s really important, especially in my medical career where I’ll be working on a team and listening to other’s opinions.” Irfan says a lot of what he has learned about encouraging greater understanding of each other is through his leadership with Interfaith In Action, a student program of the University YMCA.

Through Irfan’s involvement with Interfaith In Action as a second-year student, Irfan started hearing more about what other YMCA organizations were doing and the common goal of social justice work that the YMCA promotes. “Promoting the understanding of equality and diversity is a really big part of the YMCA and that’s my main connection with the Y,” says Irfan.
With Interfaith In Action, promoting better understanding on campus is exactly what Irfan is working towards. 

This past year, every monthly dialogue that Interfaith has hosted at the Y is about working towards a bigger goal of getting discussion started and encouraging others to think about the concept of interfaith cooperation for the advancement of social justice. Next year, as president of Interfaith In Action, Irfan is also looking forward to talking with the University of Illinois about creating a prayer or mediation space. Irfan is excited for the possibilities of public prayer space on campus to encourage inclusivity and greater understanding. 

With your support, more stories like Irfan's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at: universityymca.org/support_us


Y Stories: Joe Edwards

Click Here To Watch Joe's Y Story

Joe Edwards has always been a nature guy. When Joe was little, he liked to go in the woods and play outside. He still does, and he wants his daughter to be able to experience his same love of nature throughout her lifetime. “I have this creature that’s going to live in times that I’m not going to live in. I want to make sure that those times aren’t completely terrible.”

Joe’s passion for environmental activism was first sparked when he saw documentary called Coal Country, which is about how awful mountaintop removal is in West Virginia and how ingrained coal extraction is in their communities. After watching Coal Country, Joe started going with his roommate, Harry, to Beyond Coal meetings, a campaign of Students For Environmental Concerns (SECs).   This year, Joe became co-president of Beyond Coal with Jackie Genova; and, under their leadership, the group experienced one of their biggest accomplishments in its 6-year campaign history: They got the Academic Senate to vote in favor of coal divestment. 

This vote represents a very strong statement from the entire campus community that divesting from coal companies and investing in socially responsible companies should happen. As Joe moves forward with plans to become an ecologist, he excited to hear about next steps in having the University of Illinois commit to a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) plan. Joe is says he’s proud to be a part of the Y, for not only helping students drive lasting change, but also in being a positive space where he feels his ideas and passions are supported.

With your support, more stories like Joe's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at universityymca.org/support_us


Y Stories: Catherine Schmid 

Click Here To Watch Catherine's Y Story
What you might see in politics and religion out in the world today is that people are so focused on differences, dividing and putting people in harmful categories. For Catherine Schmid, the Y is all about combating that ever-pervasive problem of divisive behavior through drawing on people’s strengths in leadership development and building lasting relationships. Catherine Schmid is a third-year student at the U. of I. and has been serving this year as a trip-coordinator with Alternative Seasonal Breaks, a student program of the University YMCA.

For Catherine, being involved with Alternative Seasonal Breaks is about the process of learning about an issue, experiencing it first-hand, and taking that knowledge that you have learned on your trip and sharing that with other people. She says that’s when you grow, because you’re not just learning in the classroom - you’re experiencing. 

At the Y, Catherine has learned that her leadership is not only about being responsible for the task she’s committed to completing, but that she’s responsible for the people involved as well.  “Leadership isn’t about being in charge of something, but about helping people be their best self,” says Catherine.

Finding community at the Y was really important to Catherine. Having somewhere where you can go and be yourself and be with people who are passionate about what they do–that has made all the difference for Catherine this year.

With your support, more stories like Catherine's can be told. Make your gift today at universityymca.org/support_us/