Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Call For Support From the Sierra Leone YMCA

Greetings Friends,

My name is Christian Kamara, National General Secretary/CEO of the Sierra Leone YMCA.

I would like to thank you for your donations to our cause to combat the Ebola Outbreak that has taken a toll on Sierra Leone and other western African countries. Here in Sierra Leone, we have had over 1200+ confirmed cases of Ebola with 476 deaths. We are serving 23 communities across the country and training peer educators on disease prevention and health promotion in their communities.

Your contributions will additionally assist us in providing humanitarian relief to the hardest hit regions of Sierra Leone. Those humanitarian reliefs include training volunteers on preventative measures, purchasing and distributing basic medical supplies to treat those infected and to protect the volunteers and medical personnel that treat the sick by providing them with gloves, protective clothing and disinfecting supplies. It will also provide food and water to the isolation treatment centers and the communities in the hardest hit areas in Sierra Leone since the outbreak has crippled the local economy.

Your contributions will also assist us in developing an educational and preventative animation tool with the help of Scientific Animations Without Borders. Having said that, your donation will go along way to helping those in need.

Please donate to the Y's campaign by going to and clicking on the Ebola Relief Campaign slide.

Thank you very much for your donation.


Christian Kamara
National General Secretary
& CEO of the Sierra Leone YMCA

Thursday, October 30, 2014

#BeCauseY: The Green Observer Magazine

The Green Observer Magazine
By Olivia Harris
Editor-In-Chief of the Green Observer Magazine 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is teeming with environmental student groups and student- and faculty-lead sustainability projects. Anyone who wants to be connected to environmentalism on this campus should have their pick of the litter of ways to be involved. And yet, when I came in as a freshman, I struggled to find my options for engaging with environmental activism. 

I went to Quad Day, but in the cacophony of hundreds of booths all manned by students calling out to business majors, singers, tightrope enthusiasts, October-lovers, and ethnic musicians, it's not surprising I managed to miss the environmental folks. As I got wrapped up in my studies, I let my hopes of being an activist slide and didn't search any further.

The hopes resurfaced again the fall of my sophomore year during a conversation with one of my environmental professors. He knew I was a writer and that I was interested in environmental issues, so he recommended that I check out the Green Observer Magazine. I found the group on the Illinois student groups page and went to the next meeting at the University YMCA. 

The rest, you might say, is history. 
The Green Observer's mission is simple: deliver green-living tips and campus environmental news to students so that they do not get "lost" like I did trying to find ways to get involved. You cannot join a group until you know it exists, and not all of us have relationships with professors who can point us in right direction. Many groups are doing great work to make our campus and world more sustainable, and the Green Observer provides a front row seat on their progress.
Once a group newsletter of Y Student Program, Students for Environmental Concerns, today the Green Observer Magazine is the only environmental publication at the University of Illinois, and as such it serves a unique (yet popular!) niche of student interest. We are the one-stop-shop for information on green happenings on campus. We report a mix of "hard" news stories about campus events and issues and "soft" news stories advocating ways readers can lead more sustainable lives.

The Green Observer making recycled jewelry
to raise funds for printing the magazine
The Green Observer is an entirely student-run publication: meaning every aspect of the magazine - from story ideas to photography to layout - is completed by students. The magazine publishes four, 12-page issues each academic year (twice each semester).

Since its establishment, the Green Observer has doubled in both staff and readership, and we are not slowing down! Our dedicated student leaders are constantly working to increase our readership, diversify our content and add new value for our readers.

You can become part of the Green Observer's mission. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for our E-Magazine to receive the Green Observer in your email inbox.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[Press Release] Redefining Realness: Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock visits the University YMCA

Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock visits the University YMCA

 Inline image 1
On Friday, October 31 at 12 Noon, the University YMCA will host a conversation with New York Times Best Selling Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock. All are invited for a book signing and breakfast with Janet that morning at 9am at the Author’s Corner in the Illini Union Bookstore (second floor). 

Who: As a writer and activist, Janet Mock describes her lived experiences as a trans woman of color and contextualises those experiences to draw connections between her life, her work and her overall mission to broaden society’s portrait of womanhood. She speaks about the power of storytelling, the history of trans women-led movements, and the personal-political dynamics of visibility. 

A native of Honolulu, Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, earned her MA in journalism from New York University, worked as a Staff Editor for (People magazine’s website) for five years and currently is a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine. 

Janet Mock is the New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood and Identity, Love & So Much More. Janet Mock was also named Woman of the Year in 2013 by the feminist site Vitamin W, the Center for American Progress’s 13 Women of Color to Watch, the Huffington Post’s 23 Inspiring Women Blazing Trails for the LGBT Community and The Grio’s 100 most influential African-Americans. Her work has been nominated for a Women’s Media Center Award and a GLAAD Media Award For more information about Janet Mock,

When: Friday, October 31 at 12Noon

Where: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign

This visit by Janet Mock coincides with the Fall 2014 Friday Forum lecture series that examined polarized value systems and how to encourage conversation and dialogue. Friday Forum is a program of the University YMCA. All Friday Forums are free and open to the public.

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 with a 72 hours notice (contact Carol Nunn at 217-337-1500). All forums are radio broadcasted at 6:00 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture, unless otherwise noted. For this Friday Forum on October 31, no audio or video recordings will take place per the request of Janet Mock.

The Fall 2014 Friday Forum lecture series Polarization to Conversation: What to do when values collide is sponsored by: LGBT Resource Center, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Campus Honors Program, Office of The Provost, Department of African American Studies, Chapel of St. John the Divine, La Casa Cultural Latina, Channing-Murray Foundation, Wesley Foundation, Wesley United Methodist Church, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, Asian American Cultural Center, Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting Peace Meeting Committee, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, First Mennonite Church, School of Art and Design, Office of Public Engagement, Counseling Center, Educational Psychology. Paid for by SORF and The Student Cultural Programming Fee.

For media inquiries, contact: Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director []

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 in Room 1092 in Lincoln Hall from 4pm to 5:30pm.

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.”


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


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, 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

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,]


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Betty Earle retires after 24 years of service as the Y's Operation Director

The University YMCA announces the retirement of Betty Earle who has served as the Y's Operations Director for 24 years.

As of August 1st, Betty Earle has begun transitioning her work associated with the Y's building to Associate Director, Ann Rasmus. Additionally, Associate Director Kasey Umland is taking over Betty's job responsibilities related to internet and phone maintenance at the Y. Betty will continue her financial services with the University YMCA until October 2014. 

Since 1990, Betty has above all diligently kept the Y as a steward of resources and has helped maintain the beauty and integrity of the Y's building, facilitating strong relationships with local vendors. Betty is also a constant reminder that the Y as a people place. For 24 years, she has been a devoted friend and counselor to countless student residents and student program leaders as well as Y staff. Betty is also known by Y friends as the Y's unofficial carver of turkeys, baker of amazing pies, and, generally, a celebrator of life at the Y.

The University YMCA will greatly miss long-time friend and committed co-worker, Betty Earle. The Y wishes her all the best in her retirement.

If you are a vendor or just have questions about the Y's building, you will be directed to Associate Director, Ann Rasmus. You can contact Ann Rasmus at 217-337-1500 or at For more information about the University YMCA, visit:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Art @ the Y presents: RECLAIM, works by Nathan Westerman

Art @ the Y is pleased to present RECLAIM, works by Nathan Westerman. The University YMCA will host Nathan’s art show opening from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday, August 28 in the Y’s Murphy Gallery, 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. The opening reception is a good opportunity for the Champaign-Urbana community to learn more about Nathan's circular works as ways to explore perceived histories in his exhibition, RECLAIM.

Artist's statement: I am interested in the past life of objects and the histories they carry, the stories they tell. Like a songmay bring you back to a specific time or memory in one’s life, I am interested in the subtle way color may evoke a perceived history. As one remodels a home, discoveries of past layers of life are revealed. As one removes a medicine cabinet, previous paints and wallpapers conjure projected histories. Unexpected holes and found oddities in the wall encapsulate the time of the homeowners before. Mixing these found histories with the minimalist aesthetic allows for quiet contemplation, allowing the materials to reveal themselves. The paintings, objects and installations I make from these materials are often geometric and simple, implying a higher complexity.

About the artist: Nathan Westerman received his MFA at the University of Illinois in 2004. For the past decade, Nathan’s work has included designing and building exhibitions at the Houston Contemporary Art Museum and at Krannert Art Museum. Westerman has exhibited over 10 solo shows plus some group shows. Nathan currently lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Art @ the Y is delighted to showcase the work of Nathan Westerman. Nathan's show, RECLAIM, will be on view in the Y's Murphy Gallery from 9am-9pm Mondays-Thursdays and 9am-5pm Fridays from August 28 through October 19, 2014. Art @ the Y is an initiative of the University YMCA. All Art at the Y events are free and open to the public.


About Art @ the Y: 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. 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, featuring artists whose work speaks to the mission of the Y and performing arts events throughout the year.

For media inquiries, contact Megan Flowers
[; 217-337-1500]


Monday, July 28, 2014

Goodbye and good luck, Francisco!

Do you know Francisco Baires?

Today, we say goodbye and good luck to a wonderful friend, great mentor, and committed organizer. We wish Francisco all the best as he continues his work as an advocate in Connecticut. 

As Community Programs Director, Francisco has facilitated and organized many Y programs and partnerships including La La LĂ­nea, Friday Forum-Fall 2013 and C-U Immigration Forum. Francisco has also served as advisor for Y student programs, La Colectiva and Amnesty International UIUC.

During Francisco's three-year stay, the Y has experienced so much positive growth and change. We thank Francisco for helping the Y develop cause-driven leaders and strengthen our advocacy for immigrant families and communities in C-U.

We will not forget what Francisco has taught us and his legacy he has left at the Y.

Goodbye and good luck, Francisco! We will miss you!

Monday, July 14, 2014

[Press Release] Asian American Cultural Center Presents “#WeAreIllinois” Art Exhibit

Contact information: 
Chelsea Lee, 
Kenneth Importante, AACC Assistant Director,; 217-333-9300 
Asian American Cultural Center Presents “#WeAreIllinois” Art Exhibit 
July 14 - October 17, 2014 
URBANA, IL – The Asian American Cultural Center is proud to feature #WeAreIllinois art exhibition – a powerful collection of photographs and quotes from the Intercultural Horizons Internship program’s social media initiative, #WeAreIllinois. #WeAreIllinois, inspired by the ‘Humans Of New York’ website, was launched in April, 2014. The exhibit seeks to tell unique and personalized stories of students at U of I through the medium of photography and journalism. It aims to celebrate what U of I stands for, diversity, and at the same time find common grounds and experiences that binds students at U of I together. This initiative hopes to promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation across various ethnic, racial groups on campus. Many voices, single story. We are Illinois. 
For more information, visit: 
Share your stories, photos and more at: 
Intercultural Horizons Internship is sponsored by the Asian American Cultural Center, Diversity & Social Justice Education, International Student and Scholar Services, and University YMCA. It seeks to promote a cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of domestic and international students on campus. The Intercultural Horizons interns of Spring 2014 responsible for this initiative consist of Bryanna Charles, Ruby Chen, Lauren Colby, Mayank Kabra and Chelsea Lee. 

Information and Locations: 
This exhibition will run from July 14 – October 17, 2014 
Exhibit hours are Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm 
Art Reception is at 6:00 -7:30pm on Monday, September 8, 2014 
Asian American Cultural Center – 1210 W. Nevada St, Urbana 
The Asian American Cultural Center, a unit of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, was established in 2005 and now is one of the largest of its kind. It hosts over one thousand events and meetings a year (including four art exhibits) and has over 50 culturally-affiliated student and community organizations. The AACC’s mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding of Asian American and Asian international experiences, and provides educational and cultural support for Asians and Asian Americans in our university community. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Press Release: Art @ the Y presents "I Have Something To Say," The Work of Marilynn Dean Cleveland

Self-taught Urbana artist Marilynn Dean Cleveland has a lot to say, and a lot to share with the world. From May 29 through August 24, 2014, the University YMCA presents, “I Have Something To Say,” the work of Marilynn Dean Cleveland curated by Art @ the Y, an initiative of the University YMCA. The paintings selected for this exhibition share her vision and experiences as a Black woman, with narratives centering on Black history, her own personal story, and her faith. 

The University YMCA will host an opening reception to the public on Thursday, May 29 at 5pm in the Y’s Murphy Gallery, 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. The opening reception is a good opportunity for the Champaign-Urbana community to learn more about the artist’s work and about making art with the public in mind.

Marilynn started making art as a young woman, using found materials such as house paint, cardboard and ashes to fulfill her profound need to create. Her prolific work includes paintings, multimedia collage, and an array of miniatures formed from and painted on sometimes surprising materials.  Her art illuminates the importance of overcoming differences through understanding, of the value of reflection in that process, and the significance of learning through stories. Her art is an undeniable expression of her personal determination and life-long hope for change.

Art at the Y is delighted to showcase the work of Marilynn Dean Cleveland as our 2014 summer exhibition, on view at the University YMCA through August 24. Art @ the Y is an initiative of the University YMCA. All Art at the Y events are free and open to the public.

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.

Press Release: For Immediate Release
May 13, 2014

For media inquiries, contact: Ann Rasmus, Program Director


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

[Press Release] More Than A Shop: Campus Bike Center Fights for Sustainability

BikeFace, a program of the University YMCA, announces that if the Campus Bike Center does not raise $50,000 by June 30, 2014, the Center will have to cease programming and shut down operations. BikeFace, who serves the Center as an advocacy liaison, is seeking both private and public donors to build a solidarity fund to support the Center’s operations as they fight for a sustainable transportation culture on campus. On C-U Bike to Work Day, May 15th, BikeFace will be out at the U of I Engineering Plaza from 7am to 10am asking campus and community members to pledge their support of the Campus Bike Center.

C-U Bike to Work Day is not only a great way to promote biking as a viable commuting option; it’s also an opportunity for residents to show their support for improved bicycle facilities, says Florence Lin of BikeFace. Pledging to support the Campus Bike Center in any way possible, through service, advocacy or donations, means taking that critical step towards impacting overall public safety, reducing injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes.

Since opening in 2010 through a grant from the Student Sustainability Committee, the Campus Bike Center continues to build upon its mission of advocating for well-being of Champaign-Urbana through bike safety and affordable access.  However, the three-year seed funding ran out this year. Although capital expenditures are paid in full, the Center is not left with enough in the budget to pay a full time staff person as required by the University of Illinois to keep the doors open.

“The Campus Bike Center as a hands-on, educational space is the most visible component of this campus and community partnership,” says Matthew Malec, spokesperson of the Campus Bike Center Solidarity Fund. “However, the Center is also coordinating the implementation of necessary biking infrastructure to assure the safety and health of our communities.”

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was one of the first campuses in the nation to adopt a bikeway network when the first bike paths were constructed here in the 1950s. Since that time, while enrollment and staffing has doubled, funding cutbacks have led to degraded and disconnected pathways, outdated and insufficient bicycle parking, and limited support for bicycle services and programs. Despite these setbacks, bicycle ridership has grown at the University of Illinois in the last decade, and is expected to continue to grow in the future.

Press Release: For Immediate Release, May 13, 2014

For media inquiries, contact: Matthew Malec, Spokesperson


Monday, April 28, 2014

The University YMCA accepts the Familia y Comunidad Award

On Saturday, April 26, the University YMCA was awarded the 2013-2014 Familia y Comunidad Award at La Casa Cultural Latina's 2014 Fiesta: El Movimento Latino. 

This award is given by La Casa Cultural Latina to a student organization or campus unit that has worked to maintain and nurture a broad network of stakeholders including alumni and community leaders to respond to the demographic changes in Latina/o communities at the local, regional, state, and national levels. The mission of La Casa is to retain, advance, and empower Latina/o students through dynamic educational, socio-political, cultural and social programing. 
The University YMCA is honored to accept this award.  In doing so, we would like to recognize Y student program, La Colectiva, for driving and shaping the University YMCA's commitments for social justice. The University YMCA engages current and future leaders through mentorship, civic engagement and the promotion of social advocacy. 

The University YMCA works with local Latina/o and immigrant communities in a number of capacities, including: 

The New Americans Initiative- helping legal permanent residents take the next step towards U.S. citizenship and undocumented youth and their families apply for relief under Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

La Linea- a helpline that connects Immigrant families to the resources they need.

Advising and mentoring La Colectiva- a student organization at the University of Illinois that exists to address the challenges faced by the immigrant community within Champaign-Urbana. Their mission is to advocate social justice and change on behalf of all immigrants while simultaneously serving the community by fostering leadership and providing resources through grassroots initiatives.

Collaborating with the C-U Immigration Forum, a group of immigrants, students, clergy service providers, labor union representatives, residents and community organizations concerned about the progress and plight of immigrants in the Champaign County community (Central Illinois). 

To learn more about the University YMCA, visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Telling Stories: Angelica Haennicke

     It was an extra-credit project for her LAS 101 class that brought first-year student Angelica Haennicke to the University YMCA for the Friday Forum. Moved by the 80 year-old lecture series, she has earned more than extra credit. Angelica was inspired by what she found in the Fall 2013 lecture series entitled “Rethinking Security: Beyond Mass Incarceration”. Enrolled in the LAW 199 course Actual Innocence: Issues In American Criminal Justice, Angelica watched her course work come alive during the lecture series- which she continued to attend even after she earned her extra-credit. 

     “Friday Forum puts a perspective on classroom discussion, giving it a face and showing the social effects. It connects the classroom to the real world.” 

    Inspired by her experience at Friday Forum, Angelica applied for and received an internship with the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. During the Summer of 2014, she’ll join a group of 12 students for education, experience, and networking. And what’s more, she’ll bring her experience back the University of Illinois campus as she continues her studies in Psychology and Global Studies. She’ll also add to future conversations at the Y by participating in the Friday Forum Committee, the group that shapes the direction of each semester’s topic and speakers. Looking forward, Angelica can’t wait to put her knowledge to work in an International NGO. And we can’t wait to help her make it happen. 

     Dozens of student stories like this exist at the University YMCA. We want to provide the opportunity for even more to be written. 

     To learn more about programming that you can find only at the University YMCA or to donate, visit

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Press Release: Volunteers Needed for Dump & Run May Collection Days

April 22, 2014

For media inquiries, contact: Megan Flowers, Communications Director
217.337.1500 |

Volunteers Needed for Dump & Run: May Collection Days in Champaign-Urbana

CHAMPAIGN, IL– April 22, 2014 – The University YMCA is seeking Dump & Run volunteers in Champaign-Urbana to help collect, sort and pack up reusable items from move out and spring cleaning. Volunteers are needed during Dump & Run’s collection days from May 12-17 and from May 19-23.

For each volunteer, volunteer orientation will take place at the University YMCA at the beginning of each volunteer shift. No heavy lifting is required. Volunteer groups are also encouraged to sign-up. 
If you would like to join the University YMCA’s Dump & Run program as a volunteer, call the University YMCA at 217-337-1500, or visit

"When you volunteer, you get first dibs on the things collected (after only 6 hours of volunteering) - and we get an unbelievable amount of great things donated! So come out and volunteer for this great cause," said Alicia Beck, Development Director for the University YMCA.

Because of Dump & Run volunteers, six semi-trailers worth of used, but quality goods are kept out of Champaign-Urbana's dumpsters and landfills each year. This project reduces litter and consumer waste, saves space in landfills, lowers dumping costs for certified housing and apartments, provides inexpensive items for folks to purchase in the fall - and acts as a major fundraiser for the University YMCA.

The University YMCA is the oldest non-profit in Champaign County, connecting campus to community since 1873. The University YMCA combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century and a half of experience in developing cause-driven leaders.