Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Amnesty's Write for Rights Campaign at Friday Forum

Andy Swinkunas, Priya Vaikuntapathi, and Ashley Williams (left to right), who are members of Amnesty International UIUC,  ask Y staff, Emily Cross and Kasey Umland, to add their voice to the #Write4Rights Campaign.

Featured Y Student Program News:
Amnesty International UIUC Chapter Writes For Rights

Last semester, Amnesty International UIUC, a student program of the Y, asked the campus community to turn their pens into weapons as part of the Amnesty International USA's Write For Rights Campaign.

The way this process works is by sending letters to officials with the ability to free wrongfully imprisoned people. They receive letters from concerned citizens from all over the country requesting that cases be reopened or demanding that people be released. With enough letters for a duration of time, this puts the pressure of our attention upon them. The campaign has been very successful.

Amnesty International USA's Write for Rights campaign is an example of grassroots efforts creating tangible change in the lives of people who have been wrongfully imprisoned. If you're looking for a way to use your voice, consider dropping by their website at:

In light of the recent executive order on the refugee ban, Amnesty International UIUC is hosting a Write for Rights campaign this Friday, February 3 between 11:15am-1:15pm at the University YMCA.  If you are coming to this week's Friday Forum, which is about the state of incarceration in Illinois, be sure to visit Amnesty's table and add your voice to a letter or write your own.

Learn more about Amnesty International UIUC and other University YMCA student programs at

Monday, January 9, 2017

Art @ the Y presents "Bed Shoe Home: Poverty and Homelessness in Champaign-Urbana"

Press Release

For Immediate Release
January 9, 2017

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

Art @ the Y presents
“Bed Shoe Home: Poverty and Homelessness In Champaign-Urbana"

On view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA
from January 26, 2017 through March 17, 2017

Champaign-Urbana is facing a crisis in housing for low-income families and the under-sheltered. To bring this issue into sharper focus, the University YMCA’s Art @ the Y program, in collaboration with the School of Art + Design and the School of Social Work, initiated “Bed Shoe Home,” a community-based art action organized by artist Jane Gilmor. Gilmor was in residence in Champaign-Urbana for a month this past fall working in community organizations serving the homeless: the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Courage Connection, and the Phoenix Center. BED SHOE HOME culminates in a large installation at the University Y from January 26 through March 17, 2017, including a walk-in book covered with notes and images on metal foil created by those in area shelters, residencies programs, soup kitchens and drop-in sites. The “Bed Shoe Home” exhibition series is dedicated to all those in Champaign-Urbana without affordable housing.

The University YMCA invites community and campus members to attend Jane Gilmor’s talk as the George A. Miller Visiting Artist at the University of Illinois on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 4:00p at the Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 South Gregory, Urbana, Illinois. The Y encourages people to attend the exhibition opening of “Bed Shoe Home” the following day on Thursday, January 26, 2017 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. Viewing will begin at 5:00pm follow by Jane Gilmor’s gallery talk at 5:30pm. All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public.

“It’s important to go see this work and understand it as a weaving together of artmaking and personal stories that work to uplift the voices of the homeless and the under sheltered. When you see the work in person, you are in touch with the lines of the work and have a connection with the ferocious intensity of the artist’s hand,” said Julia Kellman, member of the Art @ the Y committee.

Special Thanks To: Center for Advanced Study, UIUC; George A Miller Endowment; School of Art + Design; School of Social Work; Daily Bread Soup Kitchen; Courage Connection; The Phoenix Center

About Jane Gilmor: As a visual artist Jane Gilmor has maintained a socially involved art practice working with the disenfranchised in the US and abroad since the late 80s. Her cooperative projects involve working in shelters, along side local experts, students, and volunteers, to create large installations with walk-in structures covered in metal notes and images. Workshops in metal embossing, journaling, handmade books, as well as video and audio interviewing and transcription are part of a number of activities involved in these dialog-oriented processes. Learn more about Jane Gilmor's work at:

About Art @ the Y: “Bed Shoe Home” is part of the Art @ the Y program, a cause-driven, public arts initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign. Art @ the Y seeks to engage issues of social justice, international understanding, environmental activism, faith and cultural understanding through quality arts programming. Art @ the Y includes a revolving exhibition space in Murphy Gallery on the first floor of the University YMCA. Murphy Gallery Hours at the University YMCA are from Mondays-Fridays from 9am-9pm. Website:


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.


The University YMCA Board of Governors