On Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, Kansas Citians young and old, from all different walks of life and backgrounds, came to Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., with one common goal in mind: to show support for immigrants and refugees in the Kansas City community.
The Library’s Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) initiative – administered by Outreach Manager Julie Robinson and currently two AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America), Hannah Johnson and Dan Russo - had begun organizing the #ToImmigrantsWithLove letter-writing event in mid-December. It’s the brainchild of Welcome.us, a non-profit organization that works to celebrate the contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make to the United States.
The Library took the idea and expanded it to a three-hour open house event with two special, themed story times for kids, coloring sheets displaying a heart with the world inside, postcards for people to write positive notes of welcome and support, and a photo booth for everyone to show off their creations.
All were encouraged to get social and use the hashtag #ToImmigrantsWithLove when sharing their experiences on social media. More than 1,100 people participated.
Some kept their notes simple: “Welcome to KC! We love you and hope this becomes your home soon.” Others added personal notes: “Welcome to Kansas City! It’s the city that raised me and I hope it welcomes you with open arms. I’m so thankful that you are bringing new traditions and perspectives and ideas into my hometown. Welcome home.”
The postcards will be included in welcome packages provided by Jewish Vocational Services to refugees and immigrants relocated to the Kansas City area.
“Imagine leaving family, friends, and belongings behind and going to a new country where you know no one,” Robinson said. “The feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disorientation can be overwhelming. These letters of support are a way to smile at someone new to Kansas City, a simple way to welcome them and make them feel wanted by their neighbors.”
Photos from the event:
Read more about RISE and the event:
Kansas City library provides assistance to refugees, immigrants
Kansas City Public Library has team dedicated to helping immigrants become citizens
Kansas City Public Library event to welcome immigrants, refugees
Pen to paper, native to newcomer — Kansas Citians say ‘glad to have you here’
KC InkPorter blog: #ToImmigrantsWithLove