Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Press Release: University YMCA partners with Sierra Leone YMCA to address Ebola Outbreak

University YMCA Partners with Sierra Leone YMCA To Address Ebola Outbreak
Campaign to support humanitarian relief and
partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders

The current Ebola outbreak is one of the largest outbreaks in history, impacting 3,707 individuals as of August 31 in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak could eventually infect more than 20,000 people, according to a new estimate from the World Health Organization. Also according to WHO, Sierra Leone has recorded a total of 1,216 confirmed cases, ranking the second highest number of cases out of all affected countries. In addition to providing food, medical supplies, and protective clothing, one of the biggest challenges facing individuals in Sierra Leone is the dispelling of misconceptions about the virus itself, what the symptoms look like and how to prevent spreading the disease further.

In response, the University YMCA launched a local Ebola Relief Campaign today, aimed at raising $10,000 to support the humanitarian relief work being undertaken by the Sierra Leone YMCA and an additional $10,000 to fund the development of an education and prevention tool using cell phone technology.

The University Y is raising half the funds needed to create an education and prevention tool in partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), which is producing the animation and providing the other half of the funds. SAWBO is a program of the University of Illinois that originally combined animation with cell phone technology to educate farmers in remote parts of the world about post crop production techniques using voice over narration in local dialects. SAWBO is fast tracking the development of an Ebola animation that can be deployed by the Sierra Leone YMCA using their network of 23 branches throughout the country. Volunteers with the Sierra Leone Y are currently recording the voice over narration developed by SAWBO.

To support the Y’s efforts, President Robert Easter of the University of Illinois has offered to make the first donation to the Y and encouraged support of the campaign.

“The University Y has a long history of working with our students in addressing real issues facing our world” explained President Easter. “I am proud to be the first donor to this collaboration and I want to encourage others on campus and in our community to help make this effort a success.”

The Ebola Relief Campaign is collaboration between the University YMCA, the Sierra Leone YMCA, and Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), a program at the University of Illinois. For people interested in joining the collaborative effort, the University YMCA will be convening a meeting of theSierra Leone Working Group on Tuesday, September 23 at 4pm at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. To help raise local awareness, the University Y will be co-sponsoring a teach-in with SAWBO and the U of I Center for Global Studies on Thursday, September 18 at Lincoln Hall from 4pm to 8pm.

Before news of the Ebola outbreak broke, the University Y and the Sierra Leone Y had been exploring possible collaborations as part of the University’s Global Health Initiative, “When news of the Ebola outbreak spread, suddenly everything we had talked about seemed irrelevant. We shifted gears and develop a plan of action based on the priorities identified by the Sierra Leone YMCA,” explained Y Program Coordinator Enrique Rebolledo. “With branches in 23 communities, the Sierra Leone Y is on the front lines in combating the impact of this disease. Unfortunately it has also placed their volunteers in greater risk. At least two of their volunteers have already died from the disease.”

Because of the urgent need for humanitarian relief, the University Y will be forwarding money for the donation even before the funds are raised. “The need is so urgent that we didn’t want to wait until we had the money in hand several weeks from now,” explained Y Executive Director Mike Doyle “It is a risky proposition, but we believe that they community will step forward and help us reach this goal.”


Website: http://www.universityymca.org

Media: 1. About SAWBO [VIDEO]


2. Teach-In Flyer (png)

3. Image (Sierra Leone YMCA visit.jpg)
Christian Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone YMCA visits the University YMCA on June 27 and 28, 2014. Pictured in bottom row, left to right: Walt McMahon, Mabinty Tarawallie (and daughter), and Christian Kamara. Pictured in top row, left to right: Kasey Umland, Mike Doyle, Enrique Rebolledo, and Vaneitta Goines.


For media inquires, contact
Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Friday Forum: Conscience, Justice & Equality

September 19th: Conscience, Justice & Equality

Father Roy Bourgeois is scheduled to speak at the Friday Forum, Latzer Hall, University YMCA on September 19, at 12:00 noon. His topic is "Conscience, Justice, and Equality".

 Fr. Roy Bourgeois is a former Catholic priest who was removed from his position by the church for attending the ordination of a woman and speaking in favor of women's ordination. He will talk about his experience leading him to follow his conscience, from his call to priesthood, to battling the injustices of the School of Americas, to the support for ordination of women to the Catholic Priesthood.

About the speaker: After serving in Viet Nam, he joined the Maryknoll Missionaries and served among the poor in South and Central America, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972. Based on his experience with "death squads" in his mission service, he was impelled to take an activist leadership role in opposing the training of armies in counter-insurgency at the Fort Benning Georgia School of the Americas. Six Latin American countries have withdrawn their contracts with the school. In 2008 he decided he must also address an injustice closer to home that affects women throughout the world-- the exclusion of women from the Roman Catholic priesthood. His refusal to recant and deny the dictates of conscience eventually led to his canonical dismissal as a priest. 

 To quote Father Roy, "When there is injustice, silence is complicity". This philosophy extends to all areas of human justice. He is also scheduled to speak on this topic at Allen Hall/ Unit One on campus at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 18.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Press Release: Becoming A Citizen: increased access to naturalization aid in CU

[Champaign-Urbana, IL] As of August 1st, permanent residents or “green card” holders on campus and in the greater CU community can now receive free one-on-one assistance in becoming U.S. citizens.  The University YMCA is offering assistance and legal consultation hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 12pm. Additionally, the University YMCA also hosts and sponsors citizenship clinics for permanent residents at least once a month. The next citizenship clinic is on Thursday, September 11, 2014 from 9am to 4pm at the Oscar Romero Parish Center, 207 N. Wright Street, Champaign, IL (West of the Presence Covenant Medical Center; on the corner of East Park Street).

How: To schedule a time to meet during office hours, please contact the New Americans Initiative Team at nai@universityymca.org, call us at 217-337-1500 and ask for Megan, or just stop by the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign and we’ll be happy to talk to you. Please, no walk-ins for legal consultation seekers. Assistance in multiple languages are available, including Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, and English.

Through the New Americans Initiative, the services the Y offers are free and include:

  • presenting information on the naturalization process
  • providing a checklist of the documents needed
  • assisting with the completion of your application
  • helping you file for an “application fee” waiver, if you are eligible
  • having an attorney review your application and provide legal assistance
  • providing advice and assistance until your oath ceremony

Why: If you are considering becoming a U.S. citizen, we strongly urge you to do it now. The cost of citizenship is increasing every year, and there are many efforts in Washington to make the test much more difficult and the process even more bureaucratic. We also encourage you to volunteer with the New Americans Initiative, assisting others to become U.S. citizens and participate in our Democracy. So...for yourself, for your family, and for your community, take the step to become a U.S. citizen. Continue your American Dream. The Opportunity is Now! Participate. Become A Citizen. Vote.

Additional Information: The New Americans Initiative is sponsored by the University YMCA, the Immigration Project, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Illinois Department of Human Services. For more information about the University Y, please visit www.universityymca.org.

Who: The University Y is the oldest non-profit organization in Champaign and is dedicated to engaging people in service, reflection, and action. We develop cause-driven leaders, partner with community members and bring them together to address issues that impact us all.

Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 20, 2014

Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Flowers, Communications Director [217-337-1500, megan@universityymca.org]

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