Thursday, February 28, 2013

Press Release/Public Service Announcement: Rev. Dr. Cindi Love of Soulforce on “Fundamentalism, Freedom, and Faith”

What: The University YMCA will host Rev. Dr. Cindi Love from Soulforce on “Fundamentalism, Freedom, and Faith” at noon on March 8th at Friday Forum.  

The talk will focus on the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community and other marginalized communities, who are often subjected to the violence of exclusion, and highlight the non-violent efforts made by Soulforce to resist the oppression arising out of fundamentalism.  Local church and political officials as well as the media are invited to speak with Rev. Dr. Cindi Love before and after the noontime talk.    
 Bio: Successful entrepreneur and corporate executive turned minister, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love is the Executive Director of Soulforce as well as a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.  Love also serves on the United Nations UUO Coalition for LGBT Human Rights and authored the book Would Jesus Discriminate? named for the international campaign of the same name.  

Organization Overview: Soulforce is a national non-profit organization dedicated to bring freedom to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people from religious & political oppression. It also challenges other forms of oppression including sexism, racism and classism. Soulforce accomplishes its mission primarily through community organizing, education and training, advocacy for public and private institutional policy change and street-based nonviolent resistance to overt discrimination. 

"Soulforce, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love" is a part of the Friday Forum Spring 2013 lecture series, Faith in Action. The series will feature speakers from across the spectrum of faith traditions that are compelled by their faith to engage in bold and creative forms of action. All lectures are free and open to the public. Y Eatery is available during the lecture: $6.50/3.00 student. 

Additional Information: The views expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect the views of the University YMCA, co-sponsors, or the Friday Forum committee. A sign language interpreter is available within a 72 hour notice (contact Carol Nunn at 217-337-1500).  All forums are radio broadcast at 6:00pm on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture.  For more information, plus a list of our sponsors, please visit

Where: Latzer Hall, University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois    

More info about Rev. Dr. Cindi Love:

Contact: Ann Rasmus, Program Director

Friday, February 22, 2013

Press Release: Opening Reception of Salam Arastu’s ‘Garden of Verses’ at Art @ the Y

The University YMCA announces the opening reception of Art @ the Y's upcoming exhibit ‘Garden of Verses’ by Salma Arastu. All art viewing is free to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

Bio: Salma Arastu was born in Rajasthan, India and graduated from MS University in Baroda, India with a Masters degree in Fine Arts. Salma has moved past many adversities in her life, one being a birth defect where Ms. Arastu was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Salma was able to move past this obstacle and has done almost 40 solo shows, won several awards including East Bay Community’s fund for artists in 2012, three works in public places and two books published with her poems and paintings. 

She has been invited to Germany twice, first on artist residency in 2000 and In 2011, Westphalia Wilhelm University in Münster, Germany invited to publish her paper “Art Informed by Spirituality” in the publication on the International Symposium: ‘God Loves Beauty: Post Modern Views on Religion and Art.’

When: Thursday February 28th, viewing begins at 6:30pm.

Where: Murphy Gallery at the University YMCA

Details: Salma Arastu’s ‘Garden of Verses’ focuses on spiritual connection and expression of the Universal. Her art includes Arabic calligraphy that symbolizes love, diversity, unity and compassion from the Quran to the people of the world. 

“Garden of Verses” will be on view throughout the Friday Forum Faith in Action lecture series as well as the Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration.  Learn more about these interfaith collaborations at  The exhibit will run weekdays from 9am to 9pm from February 28th through April 7th in Murphy Gallery at the University YMCA.

Background: Some of the most profound insight, critique, and creative thinking around issues which comprise the mission of the Y happen in and around the arts.  Art @ the Y seeks to engage issues of social justice, international understanding, environmental activism, faith and cultural understanding through quality arts programming.

Sponsors: Intercultural Friendship Foundation (RSO), the center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Diversity and Social Justice Education, World Harvest International and Gourmet Foods, and the Niagara Foundation.

Contact: Ann Rasmus, Program Director


Friday, February 15, 2013

"Home Away From Home"

When Aurora Villacorta had her first interaction with the University YMCA, she had no idea the relationship would last decades. Aurora, or Miss V as she is more commonly known, first became involved as an international graduate student. The University YMCA hosted Freshmen Camp, which  took new students and gathered them together for a weeklong leadership and bonding experience at Allerton Park. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Miss V that after attending the camp, she returned as a group leader for new students.

The Y soon became a "home away from home" for Miss V as she attended international dinners and joined Y-sponsored spring break bus trips to learn about different parts of the United States. Fast-forward a few decades when Miss V's teaching career at the Y began. As a kinesiology professor at the University she had long-taught students on campus, but the inception of her classes at the Y began an institution in and of itself.

For over forty years, Miss V's dance classes have been a part of the Y's weekly routine. Several nights a week, Latzer Hall is filled with classical, Latin and other genres of dance music as she instructs students on not just the form, but also the etiquette of ballroom dancing. So beloved has she become, that her students honored her with a ballroom dancing sculpture in Urbana's Meadowbrook Park. There is no substitute for her discipline, focus and good will. She still considers the Y a "second home" on campus, and there is no doubt others feel the same way because of her warmth and kindness.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

[Y STORIES] Diane Marlin: "The Battle to Save the Park"

Diane Marlin, a Students for Environmental Concerns (SECs) alumnae, shares her Y Story, "The Battle to Save the Park." Diane's story is one of the earliest stories of how SECs got the ball rolling here at the Y as well as how the Y has shaped her life in meaningful ways.  

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.  

As part of this celebration, we would like to acknowledge stories of University YMCA alumni and friends in order to commemorate our lasting legacy. We would love to hear your Y story, because we believe that the power of storytelling is when people say "me too."  

Watch other videos from our friends and Y alumni:

Monday, February 11, 2013

PRESS RELEASE/ PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The University YMCA hosts the 30th Annual International Dinner and Performance Night

For Immediate Release
Please publicize until March 10th, 2013

What: The University YMCA, Cosmopolitan Club and the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) announce their 30th Annual International Dinner and Performance Night. Families, international students, and faculty come together for an evening of great food and live music. Tickets are only $8 for a sampling of food and music from all over the world. All are welcome to attend.

When: Sunday, March 10th, 2013, 6-8pm

Where: University YMCA-UIUC, Latzer Hall, 1001 S Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Details: Tickets are on sale now for $8 and can be purchased at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign (checks should be made to Cosmopolitan Club). Seats are limited, so plan to purchase tickets early).  Past menus have included food from Vietnam, Hawaii, Korea, Brazil, Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Ghana, Peru, Russia, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Israel and several other countries as well as cultural performances.  Performances TBA. 

For more information and updates on the menu and performance schedule, visit:

Background: The University YMCA, Cosmopolitan Club and ISSS have been co-sponsoring this event for the campus and community for 30 years. "Champaign-Urbana is a community that is rich with cultural diversity,” says Program Director Kasey Umland, “and International Dinner and Performance Night is an opportunity for all to come together around delicious food and celebrate that.”

Since 1918, the University YMCA has hosted and sponsored programs to foster international understanding and cultural awareness and provide service to international students, faculty, and staff. We have continued this legacy of international programming on campus that embraces diversity, encourages progress through democracy, and promotes peace through sympathy and understanding, and service to humanity.

Media Kit: 29th Annual International Dinner and Performance Night: Video Footage, Link:, Four photos, courtesy of Laura Rezha

Contact: Kasey Umland, Program Director

Friday, February 8, 2013

Press Release/Public Service Announcement: University YMCA Seeks Global Partnerships

For Immediate Release, February 8th, 2013

Who: University YMCA of the University of Illinois, engaging people in service, reflection, and action since 1873.

What: The University YMCA announces that the International Program Committee will hold an informational meeting on the application process for the University Y’s request for global partnerships.

When: Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 4pm.

Where: University YMCA, Wahl Room, (Second Floor), 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Details: The informational meeting, coordinated by the University Y’s International Committee, will concern the initial application that describes the project, its impact, and potential.  That initial application is due March 1, 2013.  A small number of finalists will be selected and asked to submit a full proposal for consideration. Organizations and individuals, including students, faculty, staff, departments and units at the University of Illinois, including Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), are invited to submit proposal suggestions now through the online application. The University Y also encourages proposal suggestions from community groups, other YMCAs, and NGOs. 

Background:  For nearly 100 years, the University YMCA has played an active role on the University of Illinois campus welcoming international students and promoting cultural exchange. With a recent gift of $300,000 from the Cosmopolitan Club, the University YMCA is seeking to expand and strengthen its programs on Global Engagement.  Specifically, the University Y is seeking to develop new partnerships that are innovative, sustainable, and promote growth and cross-community cooperation, including groups beyond Urbana-Champaign.  

Proposals are being sought that contain new, bold and creative ideas for global engagement and can come from a broad cross section of student, university, and community constituencies, which share the Y’s values and mission. The aim of this partnership program is to combine Y resources with those of partner groups to develop new global initiatives that will maximize the converging goals of both organizations in ways that would not be possible if each were acting alone. 

For more information, contact: Mike Doyle, Executive Director
[217-352-6533 or]