Tuesday, June 13, 2017



Sierra Leone YMCA Partnership develops clean waterproject and proposes a cause-driven, business leadership development model

As we jump into summer and get ready for fall, we are excited about the progress we’ve made on our partnership with the Sierra Leone YMCA in the past year. The University YMCA delegation of student and Y alumni leaders recently traveled to Kemena, Sierra Leone for a partnership "working session" on The Furniture Project and to dig a well for clean water with the Sierra Leone YMCA.

Employment & Entrepreneurship
The Furniture Project will work with instructors and participants in the established Sierra Leone YMCA job training program to create employment opportunities through the creation of a YMCA-operated furniture business. The plan calls for a job training program that will make basic, rugged tables, chairs, desks, benches, and shelves to sell to local schools, churches and other non-profits. Local African wood and imported new and used hand tools will be used to build this furniture.

Clean Water: Kenema Well Project
One of the most pressing needs in Sierra Leone is access to clean drinking water. On their visit to Sierra Leone in May, our delegation visited a YMCA-operated school in Kenema, the country’s 3rd largest city. The Sierra Leone YMCA has achieved a critical goal for the Sierra Leone YMCA is to dig a well in close proximity to provide clean water for students and staff. 

Although the Sierra Leone YMCA has done preliminary work, a major hurdle was the need to raise $7,000 for the project. When Christian Kamara, CEO of the Sierra Leone YMCA, visited campus last summer, University Y Board member Sam Smith helped set up a meeting with the Urbana Rotary to discuss providing a large portion of the funding needed for the project. After reviewing the proposal, the Urbana Rotary’s International Committee voted to support the project; we are happy to report that the well has been dug thanks to that support. 

For more information about the Sierra Leone YMCA partnership, visit: universityymca.org/global/slymca

Monday, June 12, 2017

Press Release/PSA: Community Resource Center Launched the Y

Press Release
For Immediate Release
June 12, 2017

The Three Spinners share about their first week at the
YMCA New American Welcome Center and call for volunteers and donations
[Champaign County, Illinois] Last week, the University YMCA welcomed the Three Spinners as they launched the Community Resource Center as part of the YMCA New American Welcome Center. The Three Spinners are currently seeking donations and volunteer support as the Community Resource Center becomes established.

The Community Resource Center provides clothes, furniture, and household items free of charge to refugees and immigrants struggling in the community.  It also offers one-on-one and small group language conversation hours, computer and software training, interview coaching, and résumé preparation.

The Three Spinners are currently seeking volunteers to provide consistent service during the summer of 2017 on either Mondays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 11am-2pm. If you’d like to donate any furniture, clothes or household items, drop-off sites for donations include the 2nd floor of the School of Social work during the hours of 8:30am-5pm and  from 11am-2pm at the Community Resource Center, which is located downstairs of the University YMCA. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, please visit: threespinners.org/community-resource-center
Since last week’s launching, the Community Resource Center has received several large donations, received volunteer interest, and provided services to three new clients, including one client who called back wanting to volunteer in his free time.
“Champaign is so rich in resources and generosity, we wanted to have a neutral, open space for refugees and newcomers to be able to more easily navigate resources and find needed household items to thrive in our area” said Alexandra van Doren, Director of the Three Spinners. “When we learned that the Y selected our community to be a New American Welcome Center, we were excited to join the work because it aligns closely with our mission.”
In support of our shared cause to strengthen communities, all direct service, referral, and community bridge-building efforts under the YMCA New American Welcome Center are designed to connect new immigrants and the receiving communities and foster an environment that encourages newcomer integration and community cohesion.
“The launching of the Community Resource Center at the Y illustrates another instance of the Champaign-Urbana community stepping up to address local needs and connect with each other in service of others,” said Gloria Yen, New American Program Coordinator for the University YMCA. “Since its opening, the Community Resource Center at the Y has received a lot of positive responses. It really shows that our community values convening and supporting community partners to better serve all in Champaign County.”
For more information about the YMCA New American Welcome Center, visit: universityymca.org/welcome

Monday, May 22, 2017

Welcoming Gloria and Tyler to the YMCA staff!

The University YMCA is pleased to announce two new additions to their staff: Tyler Rotche and Gloria Yen. For contact information and to view the YMCA staff page, visit: universityymca.org/staff

Tyler Rotche is the Student Engagement Program Coordinator, providing consultation and assistance for student groups housed at the YMCA. He most recently worked as Water Policy Specialist at Prairie Rivers Network, focused on coal pollution issues. Tyler received his B.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Gloria Yen is the New American Program Coordinator, working with local leadership from newcomer and receiving communities to curate local resources and coordinating referrals for immigrant and newcomer integration. Gloria received her undergraduate degree in Music History from the University of Illinois before earning a Masters of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Gloria’s commitment to social justice and immigrant services is largely influenced by her experiences as a second generation Taiwanese American.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Spinners joins our New American Welcome Center on campus!

Three Spinners joins our New American Welcome Center on campus!

Opening in early June, the Three Spinners Community Resource Center will provide refugees, immigrants, and newcomers to the community with support and advocacy services when they are faced with the difficult task of starting their lives over in a new country and culture. 

As part of the YMCA’s New American Welcome Centers effort to build a more inclusive and welcoming communities, we welcome all people without regard to nationality, religion, or legal status. Some of the services that will be offered include material aid, language practice, job preparation, and acculturation. 

To learn more or volunteer, visit 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ready to be the change? Learn more at the AmeriCorps VISTA virtual info session.

Are you ready for the next step in your career? 
Are you passionate about making a difference and working alongside communities to fight poverty? 
Want to learn valuable non-profit management and sustainable community development skills? 
Consider joining AmeriCorps VISTA! To learn more about the program, and hear from some currently serving members, tune in to our Virtual Information Session on Wednesday, May 24, 2017  3pm ET (12pm PT).
We have year-long and short summer service opportunities available and are looking to hire now! From Alaska to Puerto Rico and everywhere in between, AmeriCorps VISTA members work alongside community leaders to find sustainable solutions to poverty including: developing job opportunities, increasing access to education and housing, promote healthy living, and much more. During this session, learn about the AmeriCorps VISTA program, hear from currently serving members, and have all your questions answered!

Learn more about the University YMCA's AmeriCorps VISTA postings

The University YMCA seeks two full-time VISTA Members who will build infrastructure of our immigrant and student programs, develop partnerships within our community, and investigate and develop new possible resources to support these programs. VISTAs will develop leadership skills in fundraising, program development, volunteer coordination, nonprofit management and more.

One VISTA will focus on our New American Welcome Center work and help build capacity for our immigrant outreach services. The other VISTA will focus on our YMCA student programs. Applicants are welcome to apply to one or both.

VISTAs serve for one full year and have access to fantastic benefits through the AmeriCorps program (click here for more information), including a living allowance (approximately $1000 a month in Champaign County), relocation allowance if you move 50+ miles, an end-of-service award of either $5,815 for education expenses or a cash stipend of $1,500, healthcare benefits, professional development trainings and more. 

The YMCA hopes to start VISTAs in June or July, but actual start date depends on the training schedule of the Americorps program. For best chance at consideration, please apply by Friday, May 19 at 11:59pm

The Immigrant Outreach Capacity VISTA posting can be found here: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=73353&fromSearch=true 

The Youth-at-Risk Capacity VISTA posting can be found here: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=73355&fromSearch=true 

Apply now at my.americorps.gov

For questions, e-mail Emily Cross at emily@universityymca.org or Megan Flowers at megan@universityymca.org

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Make one of the biggest recycling events in CU happen. Join us for Dump & Run!

PSA/Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 3, 2017

For media inquires, contact: 
Megan Flowers, University YMCA Communications Director

Dump & Run, A Community Recycling Event
YMCA of the University of Illinois

Be a part of reducing litter and consumer waste, saving space in landfills, & providing inexpensive items for folks to purchase in the fall. The University YMCA is seeking volunteers to help with collecting, sorting, and packing donations during May collection days for their annual Dump & Run recycling sale in August. The Y's Dump & Run program has been a completely volunteer-run program since its inception 15 years ago as a small garage sale at the University YMCA. Each year, the Y relies on volunteers in the community and on campus to make one of the biggest recycling events in Champaign-Urbana happen. 

To sign up to volunteer, please visit: universityymca.org/dump_and_run/volunteer/ 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!  Dump & Run volunteer opportunities during May Collection Days start May 8 and run trough May 24, 2017.  The Y especially relies on the help of volunteers during peak collections activities on the dates of Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13. Volunteer drivers are also greatly needed! If you are interested in driving to pick up and drop-off donations, please indicate that you are willing to drive in the "comment" section of the volunteer sign-up form. 

The University YMCA also asks community and campus members to donate any gently used, accepted items at the University YMCA (corner of Wright & Chalmers) during May 2017 collection days of the Y's Dump & Run recycling program. The Y is also hosting free pick up days for unwanted furniture and bikes in the community from May 10 & 11 from 9am to 4pm only. Please visit our website at universityymca.org/dump_and_run to schedule an appointment for us to come pick up your donated furniture or bikes for free. Please note that do NOT take sofa beds or TVs.

For more information about the University YMCA's Dump & Run program, please visit: universityymca.org/dump_and_run/

May 2017 Collection Days

Donation Drop-Off Location: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, IL 61820 (Corner of Wright and Chalmers on the U of I campus)

Collection Dates & Times:
Monday-Friday, May 8-12 from 9am to 4:00pm
Saturday, May 13 from 9:00am-12:00pm 
& May 15-19 from 9:00am to 4:00pm

OPEN LATE until 7:00pm on Thursday, May 11!

Free pick-up days for donated furniture and bikes
Tuesday, May 9 & Wednesday, May 10
By appointment only. Please schedule an appointment for us to come pick up your unwanted furniture or bikes for free at univeristyymca.org/dump_and_run/

We collect furniture, dishes, glassware, pots & pans, small household appliances, computers, electronics, bicycles, office & school supplies, nearly-new clothing, books, toiletries, lawn & garden, artwork, vinyl & cds, musical instruments, sporting equipment & other household goods.

We do not collect televisions, paint, child/infant car seats, stoves, washers, dryers, non-working electronics & computer parts, sleeper sofas, mattresses, televisions, or large exercise equipment.
The University YMCA reserves the right to refuse any donation offered, based on but not limited to, its size, weight, and condition.

Questions? Contact the University YMCA at 217-337-1500 or email us at dumpandrun@universityymca.org 

Visuals: During May Collection Days, the University YMCA's Latzer Hall becomes a fine-tuned collections hub; volunteers collecting, sorting, and packing items donated from campus and community members alike.

Photo Opportunities: Friday, May 12 from 9pm to 4pm and Saturday, May 13, from 9am to 12pm will be peak collection activity times, in which we are loading and unloading donations from dormitories and sorority and fraternity houses, sorting and packing donations at the University YMCA in preparation for the Sale in August.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Seeking Two Full-Time VISTA Members at the Y

The University YMCA seeks two full-time VISTA Members who will build infrastructure of our immigrant and student programs, develop partnerships within our community, and investigate and develop new possible resources to support these programs. VISTAs will develop leadership skills in fundraising, program development, volunteer coordination, nonprofit management and more.

One VISTA will focus on our New American Welcome Center work and help build capacity for our immigrant outreach services. The other VISTA will focus on our YMCA student programs. Applicants are welcome to apply to one or both.

VISTAs serve for one full year and have access to fantastic benefits through the Americorps program (click here for more information), including a living allowance (approximately $1000 a month in Champaign County), relocation allowance if you move 50+ miles, an end-of-service award of either $5,815 for education expenses or a cash stipend of $1,500, healthcare benefits, professional development trainings and more. 

The YMCA hopes to start VISTAs as soon as possible this summer, but actual start date depends on the training schedule of the AmeriCorps program. DEADLINE EXTENDED. For full consideration, please apply by June 2, 2017. 

The Immigrant Outreach Capacity VISTA posting can be found here: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=73353&fromSearch=true 

The Youth-at-Risk Capacity VISTA posting can be found here: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=73355&fromSearch=true 

Apply now at my.americorps.gov

For questions, e-mail Emily Cross at emily@universityymca.org or Megan Flowers at megan@universityymca.org

Monday, May 1, 2017

Immigration Project and University YMCA host Citizenship Application Workshop in Champaign County

PSA/Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2017

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

Immigration Project and University YMCA host
Citizenship Application Workshop in Champaign County

U.S. Citizenship Workshop
May 13, 2017 from 9am-1pm
at St. Patrick Catholic Church 
708 W. Main, Urbana, IL

Attention eligible permanent residents of Illinois. The University YMCA and the Immigration Project would like to share with you an upcoming opportunity to get help in becoming U.S. Citizen. U.S. citizenship is the path to full participation in our country. As a U.S. citizen, you will be able to vote, travel freely, petition to unite with other family members, have access to a wider range of job opportunities, and have access to all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of a full member of the United States of America. Under the New Americans Initiative, the University YMCA is collaborating with the Immigration Project to host a Citizenship (N400) workshop in Champaign County on Saturday, May 13th, 2017 from 9am-1pm at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Urbana, IL. The New Americans Initiative is a not-for-profit partnership with The State of Illinois and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which helps permanent residents in Illinois through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. 

At the May 13th workshop, permanent residents (green card holders) will start an initial screening to verify if they are prepared enough to continue through the workshop, followed by the legal screening conducted by qualified immigration attorneys of the Immigration Project and DOJ accredited representatives, and then through other help stations such as the fee waiver eligibility station all the way to the final checklist station to complete the application packet. For prepared applicants who pass through each station, the average time to complete the workshop is 2.5 hours. 

We want to make sure permanent residents living in Illinois have all their documents together for them to bring to the workshop on May 13th so that they can leave the workshop with the application completed and ready to mail. Our goal is to help 30 permanent residents (green card holders) who are ready to apply for U.S. citizenship make it all the way through the workshop with an N400 application ready to mail. Permanent residents across the State of Illinois will be traveling to attend this workshop. Multilingual assistance in Spanish and French will be available at the workshop. Other language assistance may be available upon advance request. 

If permanent residents show up without the documents they need (list of documents are on page 2 of the attached flyers in English, Spanish, and French) they will receive more information about the naturalization process and will be asked to come back to another workshop at a later date with the documents. The University YMCA is also helping permanent residents prepare for the workshop and to get more information about the process of applying for U.S. citizenship by scheduling one-on-one appointments at any time. 

Even if you do not plan to apply at the workshop but want more information about the process of naturalization, do not hesitate to call the New Americans Welcome Center team at the University YMCA.  Contact Megan at megan@universityymca.org or by calling 217-337-1500. For assistance in Spanish and French, contact the Y's La Linea Community Helpline at 217-417-5897

Assistance with document preparation and informational appointments through the University YMCA are always free, confidential and open to the public. The service fee for the Immigration Project to process your N400 (naturalization) application at the May 13th workshop is $50 (check or money order). See the attached flyers for more information about what you need to bring to the workshop. 

View the Flyers in English, Spanish, and French  for more information including the documents you will need to bring to the workshop. If you also feel that you are not ready to apply but want more information, feel free to come to the workshop to learn more. 


Monday, April 10, 2017

Congrats to the 2017-18 recipients of the Bailey Fellowship!

Congratulations to the 2017-18 recipients of the Bailey Graduate and Professional Fellowship for Community Service, Leadership, and Activism

As a Peer Mentor for First Followers, Bethany Britton counsels and advises individuals, facilitates groups, participates in focus groups, collects participatory research project data, and creates video media. Bethany’s passion is to continue to use her personal life experiences to educate and motivate communities, organizations, institutions, and victims through public speaking and programs. Bethany has given testimonies in community churches, on the Justice Reform Community Fines & Fee Panel, and at Treatment centers. Bethany is pursuing a Master’s of Social Work Degree with an emphasis on mental health and substance abuse and is working to establish W.I.N. at C-U (Women in Need at Champaign Urbana) to offer services to homeless women, particularly those who struggle with substance abuse issues.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, as well as a former employee of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Saturnino Rodriguez has utilized his knowledge, skills, and experience to aide in the development and implementation of many campus-wide initiatives created to serve first-generation, underrepresented students - current and future. Thus, allowing him to empower students to overcome structural and personal barriers impeding upon their success on campus and beyond. Nino established a collaboration with Don Moyer Boys Girls Club was to conduct a Youth Participatory Action Research project to expose participants to an alternative to the master narrative about them and their social groups and to empower the participants to use the newly acquired knowledge to strengthen their voices and influence to achieve change in their communities. Nino is pursuing a PhD in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership.

Learn more about the University YMCA's Fred S. Bailey Scholarship and Fellowship Award program at universityymca.org/bailey.

Thanks for making the 16th Annual Dinner & Auction a huge success!

We had such a wonderful time with all of you who came out to support the Y and to recognize all those involved this past weekend! Thanks to you, we sold out with 215 people in attendance, raised over $40,000 in support of Y programs and received over $10,000 in individual donations during the Live Auction Paddle Raise for the YMCA New American Welcome Center.

Many thanks to the Y's Dinner & Auction committee and to everyone who made the 16th Annual Dinner and Auction such a great event!

We'd also like to take this opportunity to especially thank Julia Carter, YMCA Development Intern, for all of her hard work in co-coordinating such a successful event in support of Y programs and in strengthening our fundraising efforts at the Y for the past two years. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Congratulations to the recipients of the Y Leadership Awards

Congratulations to all of the recipients of the Y's 2017 Cause-Driven Leadership Awards. We look forward to recognizing these amazing individuals and all those involved in the Y at the 16th Annual Dinner & Auction. Learn more about the Y's work for foster ethical and principled leadership for meaningful change on our website at: universityymca.org. You can also learn more about the Y's scholarships and leadership recognition awards at: universityymca.org/awards.

Edward Nestingen Alumni Award: Julia Kellman
Associate Professor Emerita Julia Kellman retired from the University of Illinois in 2009 after  nearly 20 years of professional teaching at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Northern Kentucky, and finally at the School of Art + Design and College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at the School of Art + Design, Julia took particular pleasure in developing and teaching graduate seminars that focused on auto-ethnography, feminist anthropology as a research model and creative non-fiction.
In 2009, Julia edited and published the acclaimed "Reaching and Teaching the Child with Autism through Art," with Beverly Gerber. She has published numerous articles, which serve as resource and inspiration for practitioners in the field of art education as well as many others interested in the role of art for wellness and social change.
In 2013, Julia was chosen by the National Art Education Association’s board of directors to receive the Council for Exceptional Children and Very Special Arts Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award for her career of “outstanding achievement and service” for special needs children.
Julia founded and taught the Expressive Arts program at Carle Hospital and Clinics for people with HIV/AIDS for many years, and currently serves as the chair of the Art @ the Y committee at the University YMCA. Julia is a diligent, thoughtful leader who tirelessly champions the role of art for change, and its exemplification of and contribution to the mission of the University Y.
Julia is largely responsible for bringing the Spring 2017 BED SHOE HOME project to the Y. Julia organized internationally-renowned artist Jane Gilmor’s monthlong visit, where Jane worked one-on-one with homeless members of the CU community to create authentic, heart-felt work culminating in a major installation at the Y. Julia also partnered closely with Professor Tyler Denmead to secure the prestigious Miller Comm award from the campus Center for Advanced Study, bringing both high visibility and significant funding to the project.
Both Julia's life's work and her current significant contribution to the University YMCA exemplify the values and mission of the Y. Julia Kellman is truly an alumna and volunteer who we should be immeasurably proud of and uplift and thank in any way possible.

Distinguished Service Award (non-student): Ricardo Diaz
For the past 6 years, Ricardo Diaz has been one of the most active non-student members of the University Y programs. Initially connected through students leaders in La Colectiva, Ricardo served as a mentor to YMCA students as they began exploring ways to engage in the issue of immigration on campus and in our community.

Soon after his initial involvement at the Y, Ricardo joined the Board of Governors, served as an officer of the Board and eventually became Board President. One of his most important services to this community has been the creation and development of the C-U Immigration Forum, where he currently serves as a Board member. Over the years, Ricardo has been a leader in our community around the issue of immigration, mobilizing the community around ending Secure Communities, pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, and encouraging our community to be more welcoming of immigrants.

Beyond his activities around immigration, Ricardo helped take the lead in supporting efforts at the Y to address issues of diversity and race.  As Board President he led a year-long effort to keep the topic of race and how it impacts our interactions and relationships as an ongoing conversation. He willingly volunteers to help with various programs such as Dump & Run and La Linea.

But most importantly, Ricardo has demonstrated how to build a community at the Y that respects everyone’s contributions, lifts up the work of the students and challenges us all to make that extra effort to make our community a better place to live.

Distinguished Service Award (Student): Lorenzo Grego

Lorenzo Grego, a Senior in Psychology, first became a part of the Y as a volunteer with BikeFace. A passionate leader in his fraternity, Lorenzo challenged the group to see the Greek system as a potential place for outreach and developed a bike library system at his fraternity. He also actively pushed the organization to expand its events to appeal to a broader group of cyclists or those who might just be interested in cycling. Lorenzo is one of the most consistent volunteers at Sunday shop hours at the Urbana Bike Project and he has planned and initiated events like Bicycle Registration on the Quad and midnight rides.
Last academic year, Lorenzo volunteered to serve as the Student Board representative for BikeFace and was one of the most reliable and consistently thoughtful members. That year, his leadership and action on Student Board resulted in his election by his peers as President for the following year.

As Student President, Lorenzo has proved to be reliable and resilient, making it a priority to engage the rest of the Board on issues and events our student programs are organizing around. The staff frequently remark on his follow through on everything from writing the donation thank you letter to his detailed presentations on the work of StuBO at board meetings.
Lorenzo is a consistently positive voice with a strong vision for collaborative community, and the Student Board’s quick response to the rhetoric leading up to the election of Donald Trump was the result of the groundwork he had laid all semester.

Gerry Brighton Young Alumni Award: MJ Altman (nee Molly Stephey)

M.J. Altman received degrees in News-Editorial Journalism and Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As an undergraduate student, M.J. (who went by Molly Stephey) was elected to run the SECS newsletter, Environmental Resources. Molly had the idea to turn the newsletter into an environmental magazine. The Green Observer has been a Y student group ever since.

Today, M.J. oversees the World Food Programme USA's multimedia projects, reports, op-eds and communications outreach. In addition to writing articles and editing videos, M.J. hosts #HackingHunger, a podcast that explores latest news and innovations on global hunger and food security through interviews with humanitarians, journalists and experts from the field.

Prior to joining WFP USA, M.J. worked as a writer-reporter for TIME magazine in New York, where she covered a wide variety of issues, including social justice, politics and the environment. She has also worked at the Smithsonian Institution, where she researched, wrote and pitched stories about indigenous history, art and culture as a public affairs producer. In addition to TIME and the Smithsonian, her work has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, The Huffington Post, the Associated Press and National Geographic.

Since graduating, Molly has served as an application reader for the Y’s Fred S. Bailey Scholarship program. M.J. has always been passionate about using media to raise consciousness and support action around the environment and social justice. Throughout her career, she has sought out opportunities that have allowed her to apply her skill as a journalist while also building awareness and inspiring action.

J. Fredrick Miller Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service: Ann-Perry Witmer
Ann-Perry Witmer, a faculty member in Engineering, has served as the faculty advisor of the University YMCA’s Engineers Without Borders Chapter (EWB) for several years. In 2002, Ann went back to school two decades after she earned her first two bachelor's degrees to get a degree in civil engineering. In 2013, Ann left her industry position as a consulting engineer to join the University of Illinois staff as an instructor with the IEFX (Illinois Engineering First-Year Experience) program. Ann also established the Honduras Water Project Course, a year-long, multi-disciplinary engineering design course in international service project development and implementation with a community in Honduras.

This past year, Ann spearheaded a course in Quito, Ecuador that studies the effectiveness of the EWB model of development and is working to identify a community-driven project in Quito. Developing and teaching these courses is in of itself impressive, but Ann was also on the List of Instructors Ranked as Excellent in Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Spring 2015, and Fall 2014. Currently, Ann is pursuing a Ph.D, focusing her research on developing a stronger understanding of conditions and characteristics that lead to long-term success and sustainability of engineering projects that serve the developing world.
Ann has been one of the fiercest faculty ambassadors of the Bailey Scholarship program, recruiting countless qualified applicants for the undergraduate, travel and internship scholarships. As the EWB project advisor, Ann is insightful, patient and proactive. Students admire her and consider her a “constant source of wisdom,” and she regularly gives workshops and other trainings for the program.

Ann has also shown exceptional leadership on the YMCA’s Global Engagement Committee, which she chairs. She is a source of careful consideration, engineering expertise, and project management all while working for a meaningful and fair partnership between two culturally and geographically distinct partners, the University YMCA and the YMCA of Sierra Leone.

Harold W. Colvin Award for Undergraduate Leadership: Monica Saavedra
Monica Saavedra wants to be an immigration attorney who advocates for just and humane immigration policy while helping others through direct service. Monica, a third-year student studying Global Studies and Spanish, started volunteering with the Y’s La Línea Community Helpline Program over two years ago through Professor Ann Abbott’s Spanish for Business course. Beyond the Y, Monica serves as the President of Mi Pueblo, a campus group that focuses cultivating conversations in Spanish. Monica is currently studying abroad in Costa Rica this Spring 2017 semester and plans to return to her love of volunteering at the Y during her senior year at the University of Illinois.

At the Y, Monica’s team leadership skills have flourished as she led the La Línea student volunteer team week to week as a YMCA Bailey Internship Scholarship recipient. Under this internship, she sought out other opportunities to learn about capacity-building through fundraising, communications, community outreach, and collaborated in the grant writing process for the program.

Beyond her internship, she continues to work with the La Línea program through providing resource referrals to clients as a phone operator. She has also taken advantage of leadership development opportunities that the Y has provided through key trainings provided by the YMCA of the USA and the Immigration Project on immigration policy and newcomer integration strategies.

Currently, Monica is helping YMCA staff apply for Department of Justice accreditation for the organization, which will allow the YMCA to provide limited but critical legal immigration services. Monica is a truly dedicated leader working for a world that is welcoming to all people, receiving communities and newcomer communities alike.

John W. Price Award for Volunteer Service to International Understanding: Hannah Jarman
Hannah Jarman, a Senior in Global Studies, has demonstrated her passion for international understanding since her first week at the University of Illinois when she joined the YMCA program Invisible Conflicts (IC). Invisible Conflicts, a small organization, supported the education of 12 children in Uganda orphaned by the civil war. The group did not have the membership to continue into the next year, so Hannah spearheaded an effort to integrate its social justice work and fundraising into the Y’s Amnesty International Chapter.
Now President of Amnesty, Hannah is incredibly dedicated to building coalitions, leading Amnesty to work with other campus groups to raise funds for and awareness of immigration issues, Haiti relief, and safe water issues in Detroit and around the world. This year, Amnesty plans to raise $2,000 for the White Helmets, the Syrian civilians providing vital medical care.
Beyond fundraising, Hannah keeps education and grassroots organizing at the heart of the Amnesty mission. She has lent her leadership to Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign for prisoners of conscience, which has resulted over 560 letters written and collected for their cause.
In addition to her work at the Y, Hannah participated in an individual research project on humanitarian intervention, worked as an Intercultural Horizons intern, established a Chamber of Commerce in Masatepe, Nicaragua as part of the student group Enactus, and spent a semester studying and volunteering in Quito, Ecuador. This semester she has been working with Enactus on the Oasis project, a website that aims to connect immigrants to social services. She also volunteered to visiting the Sierra Leone YMCA this May to help start a self-sustaining business for youth in Sierra Leone.
Hannah is a unique, thoughtful and inclusive leader who combines modesty with persistence and drive and will undoubtedly become a significant change agent in the global social justice movement.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Press Release/PSA: New American Welcome Center coming to C-U

Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 28, 2017

For media inquiries, contact: Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director
[251-209-2615; megan@universityymca.org]

New American Welcome Center coming to C-U
Community Leaders Join University YMCA Initiative

[Champaign County, Illinois] The University YMCA was recently selected to be one of six YMCAs in the United States to develop a New American Welcome Center (NAWC) in 2017. Launched in 2016 by YMCA of the USA, the New American Welcome Centers are designed to help immigrants fully integrate into American society and prepare receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive. The University YMCA invites the public to a first opportunity to support this work. Celebrate and support the elevation of this community initiative in Champaign County by joining the University YMCA for their 16th Annual Dinner & Auction: WELCOME HOME on April 8, 2017. Please RSVP by March 31st at universityymca.org/auction. Questions about the event? Contact Jennifer Romine at jennifer@universityymca.org.

Pictured left to right include some members of the University YMCA NAWC Advisory Committee: Koeli Goel, Board of Trustees, Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Central Illinois; Deb Feinen, Mayor of Champaign; Amanda Harris, Urbana Adult Education Center; Julie Pryde, Health Administrator, CU Public Health District, Megan Flowers, Communications Director, University YMCA; Rebekah Niblock, Attorney, The Immigration Project; Mike Doyle, Executive Director, University YMCA; Ricardo Diaz, Chair, University YMCA Advisory Committee; Lucia Maldonado, Board Member, CU Immigration Forum; Laurel Prussing, Mayor of Urbana; Carol Ammons, Illinois State Representative for the 103rd District; Joe Omo-Osagie, Board Member, Champaign County Mental Health Board.
In support of the Y’s cause to strengthen communities, NAWCs foster an environment that encourages newcomer integration and community cohesion. NAWCs accomplish this by scaling sustainable newcomer inclusion programs through a blend of direct and referral services, engaging community partners and leading community bridge-building efforts that connect new immigrants and the receiving communities. Champaign-Urbana will join the success of the national Y’s NAWCs that already serve communities in Boston (MA), Charlotte (NC), Columbus (OH), Houston (TX), Long Beach (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN), New York (NY), Portland (ME), Seattle (WA), and Snohomish County (WA).

"At the Y, we believe communities are strongest when everyone feels valued, has support to reach their potential and can fully participate in society. The University YMCA in Urbana-Champaign is a champion of newcomer inclusion and building bridges between communities and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Y's national New American Welcome Center network," said Tom Valentine, Vice President, International Group, YMCA of the USA.

In an effort to engage key community stakeholders, the University YMCA has recruited a broad cross section of community leaders including elected officials, public and private sector institutions, immigrant and religious leaders as well as non-profits working with local immigrant communities to serve on the NAWC’s Advisory Board (see attached list).

“The University YMCA is excited with the positive response we have received from community leaders who have expressed a real desire to work together to lift up and build out our collective welcoming efforts. There is a recognition that our community is more vibrant and prosperous when everyone feels welcomed and can fully participate,” said Mike Doyle, Executive Director of the University YMCA.

American communities are changing rapidly. By 2050, the Asian population in the US will grow by 300% and Latinos will make up 30% of the US population. Right now, 24% of children in the U.S. live in an immigrant family. Effective engagement of newcomer and immigrant communities is a crucial part of local municipalities’ abilities to attract and retain newcomers, remain relevant, and make a positive difference in the lives of community members.

Ricardo Diaz, Chair of the University YMCA NAWC Advisory Committee speaks about the importance of this work
at the NAWC launch press conference on Monday, March 27, 2017 at the University YMCA. Pictured left to right:
 Deb Feinen, Mayor of Champaign, Assata Zerai, Associate Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Mike Doyle, Executive Director of the University YMCA, Carol Ammons, Illinois State Representative of the 103rd District,
Laurel Prussing, Mayor of Urbana, and Bob Rasmus, Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran Church. 

“We are in a pivotal point in time to advance our shared mission to serve everyone, including newcomers, and local leadership understands that To cooperatively and proactively welcome and support immigrant communities is an investment in the thriving future of our towns, our university, our economy, and our neighborhoods. That’s why it’s so important to reach out, build understanding and trust, and tailor programs, practices, and policies to meet the needs of all community members,” said Ricardo Diaz, Chair of the University YMCA NAWC Advisory Committee.

New American Welcome Center
Advisory Committee Members
Partial List - 3/20/17

* Scott Bennett, State Senator
* Carol Ammons, State Representative
* Pius Weibel, Board Chair, Champaign County
* Deb Feinen, Mayor, City of Champaign
* Laurel Prussing, Mayor, City of Urbana
* Assata Zerai, Associate Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
* Don Owen, Superintendent, Urbana School District
* Julie Pryde, Health Administrator, C-U Public Health District
* Joe Omo-Osagie, Board Member, Champaign County Mental Health Board
* Jen White, President, Champaign Federation of Teachers, Local 1925
* Craig Rost, Executive Director, Champaign County Economic Development Corp.
* Laura Bliell, Associate Director, UI research Park
* Mauricio Salinas, Owner, El Oasis
* Luis Cuza, St. Patrick Catholic Church, C-U FAIR
* Ousmane Sawadogo, Imam, Central Illinois Mosque & Islamic Center
* Bob Rasmus, Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran
* Alan Cook, Sinai Temple Rabbi, Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County
* Koeli Goel, Board of Trustees, Hindu Temple & Cultural Society of Central Illinois
* Ricardo Diaz, Board Member, University Y
* Bob Kirby, ESL Program, First Presbyterian Church
* Rebekah Niblock, Attorney, The Immigration Project
* Thomas Mbongo, Community Leader, Congolese Community
* Amanda Harris, ELA Coordinator, Urbana Adult Education
* Lucia Maldonado, Board Member, C-U Immigration Forum
* Ha Ho, Co-Director, East Central Illinois Refugee & Mutual Assistance Center
* Antonio Juarez, Community Leader, Mayan/Guatemalan Community

* Confirmed as NAWC Advisory Committee Member

Please note: Meetings with other community stakeholders are scheduled and additional invitations are expected to be extended in the coming weeks.

For more information, read the University YMCA's NAWC Frequently Asked Questions sheet (pdf) and