Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life After DACA: Armando Orozco

For the past seven years, life has been a struggle for Armando Mata Orozco, who immigrated to the United States when he was just fifteen years old.

 It was hard for Armando to get on his feet without a Social Security number; he could not find a decent job and lived in fear of being arrested for driving without a license. Fortunately, that all changed when he discovered and applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

With assistance from his friend Mauricio, a community member involved in the C-U Immigration Forum,  Armando hired a lawyer to help him obtain a social security number, work permit, and driver's license. Being the first undocumented immigrant in Champaign, Illinois to get his social security number, Armando feels great relief in his daily life. As the seventh of 13 brothers and sisters (seven of which live in Champaign also), Armando desires the same peace for his family. "I wish one day they also have the same luck I had. I wish one day they can also be unafraid to drive to work or to be deported," he writes in an email.

The DACA program allows Armando to go after his dreams. Currently, Armando works as a cook at a local restaurant, but his aspirations are to get a culinary degree and become a professional chef. He also looks forward to taking English classes at Parkland College to improve his writing. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Application Process For 
Childhood Immigrant Arrivals to the United States. The University Y and 
the CU Immigration Forum currently assist people with DACA application process.

With your support of the Y's work with immigrant communities, more success stories like Armando's will be told.  Please, help us replace the $60,000 grant that the Catholic Church revoked because we refused to break ties with a state-wide coalition that endorsed same-sex marriage equality. You can make inclusive communities happen! Please, donate now.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Press Release: Catholic Church Withdraws Funding for Immigration Work, Bishops Cite Gay Marriage Controversy

Press Release
For Immediate Release
November 7, 2013

For Media Inquires: 
Megan Flowers, Communication Director
office: 217-337-1500

Bishops Cite Gay Marriage Controversy
Catholic Church Withdraws Funding for Immigration Work

(Champaign-Urbana, IL, November 7) For the past three years, the University YMCA has played a prominent role in mobilizing the community around issues affecting immigrants in Champaign County.  But those efforts received a significant setback when the Catholic Church withdrew its financial support because of the controversy surrounding marriage equality. Committed to continuing its work on immigration, the University Y will be seeking support from the community to replace the lost funds.

Why: The University YMCA was one of eleven organizations in Illinois that received support from the Catholic Church to work on immigration and were members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).  All were told they had to revoke their ICIRR membership before they could receive further funding.  The Catholic Bishops added this condition to the funding when ICIRR endorsed marriage equality in Illinois. 

“We were initially notified by the Church that our funding would be increasing from $37,500 last year to $60,000 this year – a reflection of what we have been able to accomplish and the impact we have in our community,” explained Y Executive Director Mike Doyle. “Unfortunately, this year’s grant had an additional caveat.  Before we could receive funding, we had to revoke our membership in the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).  The news was devastating and threatens to undermine the work we have been doing.”
C-U Immigration Forum volunteers assist young undocumented 
immigrants apply for protection from deportation under the federal DACA
 (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program 
 that allows them to work without the fear of being deported.
How: At its September Board meeting, the University YMCA Board stood its ground and voted to notify the church that the Y would continue to work with the Coalition.  The Y’s Board also vowed to begin an aggressive community outreach effort to help replace the funds locally. 

“Our Board thought the request was inappropriate from a funder but more importantly counter productive to our efforts to address the problems facing one of the most vulnerable populations in our community,“ commented Doyle. “ICIRR does incredible work and plays a critical role in helping us be more effective advocates in our community - their support is essential to what we do.  We were surprised the Bishops felt compelled to cut off funding for a worthy project just because one of the groups we work with disagrees with the church.  It is unfortunate but we are determined to move forward. This work is too important.”   

On October 9, community members packed Urbana Middle School 
for a C-U Immigration Forum meeting about the new state law
 that allows immigrants to obtain a drivers license and auto insurance.

Additional Information: On October 19, Chicago Tribune published an article, “Who stayed, who left the coalition.” The article lists each group’s reaction and the grant amount.  
More coverage on CCHD funding:

The University Y is a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging people in service, reflection, and action.  We develop cause-driven student leaders, partner with community members and bring them together to get down with issues we care about: working for social justice, protecting our environment, encouraging faith in action, and promoting global engagement.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[Y Stories] Suhail Barot: "Challenging Ideas, Changing Practices"

In this edition of Y Stories, Y alumni, Suhail Barot discusses how as a student leader he came to know the Y as a place where people come together, challenge ideas as well as practices, and take action.  Even though Suhail now lives in Canada, he is still making a difference in environmental sustainability issues with the University Y.

[Y Stories] is a part of the YMCA's celebration of 140 years of engaging people in service, reflection, and action.  Since 1873, the University YMCA has sponsored programs, organizations, and activities dedicated to building a better world, better human relations, and better care for the Earth.  

Meet more difference makers of the Y:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

[Press Release] Black Friday...CyberMonday...#GivingTuesday

Press Release:
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2013

For Media Inquiries: Megan Flowers, Communications Director

Black Friday...CyberMonday...#GivingTuesday
  University Y encourages social media friends to give back on #GivingTuesday

What: The University YMCA encourages the community to donate to the University Y on #GivingTuesday, which falls on December 3rd, 2013.  Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday has become a national movement to encourage people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world. 

How: On December 3rd, the University Y will reach out to followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook about how their work impacts campus and communities, and will encourage people to make a direct donation through Twitter and Facebook. The University Y will create a special opportunity for friends of the Y to give through social media and their website at

When: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why: "The University YMCA has joined the #GivingTuesday movement to highlight the impact of our campus and community programs”, says Alicia Beck, Development Director of the University YMCA.  "The University Y has made in impact on hundreds of lives locally and globally. Through our local tutoring program in Champaign-Urbana Public Schools; student service learning initiatives with local and national organizations; student led environmental programs; and our global engagement around health and community immigration issues; the University of Y continues to develop tomorrow’s global leaders today. We need your help to continue and to grow our world-class programs, now more than ever." 

All online contributions will go to fund the Y's programs that work toward bridging campus to community around issues of social justice, environmental protection, global engagement, and interfaith collaboration. 

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 student leaders, partner with community members and bring them together to address issues that impact us all.

Editor's Note: Alicia Beck, spokesperson for the University Y's #GivingTuesday campaign, is available for in-person and over-the-phone interviews. An additional source is provided by the national #GivingTuesday campaign (see below).

About #GivingTuesday:

#GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. It will culminate with a global day of giving on December 3, 2013. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners- charities, families, businesses and individuals-to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

A team of recognized experts and influencers, initially convened by leaders of 92nd Street Y and supported by a core group of founding partners, originally spearheaded this effort. Founding partners in 2012 included United Nations Foundation,, Mashable, Blackbaud, charity: water, GlobalGiving, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Kiva, Darden Restaurant Group, Groupon, Unilever and VentureThree Capital. Leaders in philanthropy, social media, innovative giving, grassroots organizing, marketing and communications are providing
counsel and resources to help build this movement.

"#GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism," said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. "The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world."



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ANNOUNCEMENT: Artwork to Support Local Efforts for Clean Water Resources

(Champaign-Urbana, IL–October 29, 2013) Murphy Gallery of the University Y will open a unique exhibition featuring local Urbana artist Kim Curtis on November 14, on view until January 19, 2014. This exhibition is a unique collaboration between the artist, the University Y, and Prairie Rivers Network to benefit efforts to keep water resources clean, healthy, and diverse for the people and wildlife of Illinois.

Original paintings by Kim Curtis will be available for purchase throughout the life of the showing at the Y. A portion of any proceeds will benefit Prairie Rivers Network’s advocacy for clean, healthy rivers lakes and safe drinking water on behalf of the people and wildlife of Illinois. As a hub for environmental initiatives on campus and in our communities, the University Y sees this collaboration as a creative way to connect more people to local efforts for clean water sources in Illinois. To learn more about how to get involved, the Y encourages people to come to the exhibit opening reception on Thursday, November 14 at 7pm at the University YMCA. At 7:30pm, there will be a discussion between the artist and Glynnis Collins, Executive Director of Prairie Rivers Network. 

When: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7pm.  Discussion at 7:30pm.
Where: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign

The show features nearly 20 works from the artist’s series, Thirtyseven, which documents the fascinating wetland area along the San Francisco Bay area’s highway 37. This rambling, two-lane thoroughfare winds at water level through a maze of wetland waterways, tall grasses, scrubby bushes and all sorts of human-made constructions that reflect its various uses over time. In Thirtyseven, the artist suggests elements of landscape--abstract forms, when viewed at different angles ,suggest something familiar to us: waterways, tall grasses, a fisher’s dock. In the words of the artist, captures a “sense of immediacy,” something that is both “familiar and unintelligible” to us. Courtesy of Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery.

About Kim Curtis: Kim Curtis moved to Illinois following from a career in costume design, a second degree in painting, and a landscape of ocean and mountains. A transplant from California, Kim now paints full-time in her studio in rural Urbana, where her work reflects the effect of this very different place on a Painter exploring the switch from figure to landscape, vertical to horizontal and urban to agricultural.

About Prairie Rivers Network: Prairie Rivers Network is the independent, Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. Drawing upon sound science and working cooperatively with others, they advocate public policies and cultural values that sustain the ecological health and biological diversity of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. 

About Murphy Gallery: Some of the most profound insight, critique, and creative thinking around the issues which comprise the mission of the Y happen in and around the arts. Murphy Gallery of the University Y is a space that engages students and community members to reflect and act together in issues of social justice, international understanding, environmental activism, faith and cultural understanding through quality arts programming. Murphy Gallery, located at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL.

This exhibit is sponsored by Prairie Rivers Network, and University Y student groups Students for Environmental Concerns and Red Bison Prairie Restoration.  Art @ the Y is an initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820. All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October is Immigrant Justice Month. Join us!

In an effort to foster greater dialogue about immigration within our congregations, the Allies of Faith of the CU Immigration Forum have launched the second annual Immigrant Justice Month for this October. Events are planned throughout the community, in congregations and public forums, to raise awareness of issues surrounding immigration and the immigrant experience. The calendar below offers the community opportunity to join in conversations approaching the immigration debate from a perspective of faith and justice.

Join us all month long as we bear witness to the strength, power, and conviction of the immigrant community.

5:00 pm Sunday, October 6 at UniPlace Christian Church, 403 S. Wright St., Champaign.
Beginning of 8-week seminar on Understanding Strife in the Congo. This class will meet weekly on Sundays and will increase understanding of Congolese immigration to our community. Open to the public. Go to for more information.

6:30 pm Monday, October 7 Harvest of Empire:  film screening/discussion at Channing Murray Foundation, 1209 W. Oregon, U.  This new feature-length documentary, "Harvest of Empire," examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Monday, October 14 Fast Day Called: The Allies of Faith of the Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum have called for religious leaders and others in the community to join in a day of fasting as we pray for successful Comprehensive Immigration Reform for the sake of justice in our community.

7:00 pm Monday, October 14   abUSed: The Postville Raid:  film screening/discussion at Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, 309 W. Birch, Urbana. This film weaves together the personal stories of those directly affected by the largest, most brutal and expensive Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in the history of the United States.  This event took place in Postville, Iowa, in 2008. The documentary presents the human face of immigration, the socioeconomic forces that fuel it, and serves as a cautionary tale against government abuses.

Saturday, October 19 at First Mennonite Church, 902 W. Springfield, Urbana 61801. Food Security Forum:  Food for Today, Food for Tomorrow, Food for All. Program is free and includes an evening meal.  Interactive shopping and cooking on a Food Stamp Budget begins at 10 am.  Information and discussion sessions run from 1:00 – 7:30 pm.   Details and meal registration at    

7:00 pm Monday, October 21 at Channing Murray Foundation, 1209 W. Oregon, U.
Justice in Motion:  Responding to Changing Needs with Nicaragua’s Poor Presentation and Craft Display.  Craft items will be available for sale.

12:30 pm Sunday, October 27 Food will be served from 12:30-2:00 pm at our Immigration Justice Fair held at University Place Christian Church, 403 S. Wright, Champaign. Faith groups and civic organizations will highlight ways they welcome the stranger and show hospitality to immigrants in Champaign-Urbana. A great networking event.

2:00 pm Sunday, October 27 Interfaith Worship Service at University Place Christian Church, 403 S. Wright, Champaign led by faith leaders from many distinct congregations. It will be a moving conclusion to a month-long effort to lift up the needs of our immigrant neighbors today even as we celebrate the immigrant history of our past.

6:00 pm Wednesday, October 30  University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright, Champaign. Dia de los Muertos celebration with live music and light refreshments. A festive celebratory event lifting up immigrant contributions to our community.

7:00 pm Thursday, October 31 “Our View From the Border,” an interactive presentation at
Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, 309 W. Birch, Urbana. Desert aid workers Kate Morgan-Olsen and Ricky Cheney from No More Deaths will offer firsthand accounts of trends in migration; human rights abuse documentation in Nogales, Sonora; migrant support in the Sonoran desert; and allied movement building in communities throughout Arizona with emphasis on a model for organizing that can be replicated in Champaign-Urbana.  No More Deaths is a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson.