In order to establish a more welcoming and inclusive community, Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates and the Immigrant Allies are spearheading the Holland Welcomes initiative. This initiative involves becoming part of the Welcoming America organization. Welcoming America was founded in 2009 in efforts to promote and encourage social and economic inclusion for all members of communities all across America. Welcoming America offers a network of support, tools, ideas, and opportunities for cities, townships, and organizations that become part of the Welcoming America movement. Currently over 200 cities, counties, and nonprofits are part of the movement.
A Welcoming City is NOT the same as a Sanctuary City. A Sanctuary City is explicitly and exclusively committed to local policy and law enforcement issues. A Welcoming City can include such elements, but is adaptable to the needs of the individual community and therefore involves far more community-based initiatives to create a welcoming environment for all.
We hope to have the city of Holland become an official Welcoming City in order to welcome, include, and celebrate Holland’s diverse community. Because Welcoming America does not have specific actions or projects that Welcoming Cities must do, each city may design its own action plans that best suit its community. Should this movement progress, this is our plan for Holland Welcomes:
- Welcome Signs: any local businesses, schools, organizations, and schools can display a multilingual “Welcome” sign as a small but tangible gesture of a welcoming attitude toward diversity.
- Training Sessions: groups like the Allies Working for Social Justice & Environmental Progress will host training sessions to help businesses, organizations, and individuals navigate issues of race, gender, immigration, the LGBTQ community, school bullying, religious tolerance, and so on.
- Welcoming Week Festival: for one day local food and goods vendors can gather with the community to experience music, food, dance, speakers, and activities all as a public celebration of Holland’s diverse community.
- Translations Campaign: one month each year volunteers and Hope language students will translate commonly used forms. (ex. Holland police forms, menus, library card applications)
- Welcome Packets: annually updated packets will be distributed to new community members. These packets will include information about the city of Holland, Holland’s environmental efforts, available resources and services, and special recognition of any businesses and organizations that have completed the training sessions. These packets will be offered in multiple languages.
- Welcoming Committee: a committee of community members who represent and truly understand the needs of various peoples in the city of Holland will gather monthly to review newly-proposed city policies. The committee will analyze these policies from the perspectives of Holland as a diverse community. This committee’s seal of approval, rejection, or suggested amendments would act as a check on local policy’s adherence to the commitment to the adopted resolution of being a welcoming and inclusive place for all community members.
If you are interested in supporting this movement, consider adding your signature of support and downloading this poster to display in your window.
This proposal is under Creative Commons protection as the original ideas of the Allies groups, under the specific direction of Community Coordinator Taylor Mills.