This past weekend kicked off National Welcoming Week, a "reminder of the resilient and inclusive spirit of American communities." Locally, this week is coordinated and promoted by the University YMCA, but involves numerous other local organizations. You can see who they are and check out the full schedule of events here.

The week culminates with the Immigrant Welcome Awards on Saturday, September 22nd at 3:30 p.m., sponsored by C-U Immigration Forum, the Cities of Champaign and Urbana, The Urbana Free Library, CU FAIR, University YMCA New American Welcome Center, and the Channing Murray Foundation. Each year there are six awards given to businesses, organizations, and individuals who are "enriching the diverse lives of everyone who calls Champaign-Urbana home." Here are this year's winners:

Business Leadership Award - Diva Nails

A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services and/or a locally owned immigrant owned business that has contributed to the local economic development of CU. 

Community Impact Award - Carle Community Care

A community-based organization, non-profit, public sector institution, or
local government which demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving and advocating for local immigrants in our community. The nominee may also be considered for adopting specific policies or initiatives in response to the growing immigrant population.

Distinguished Leadership Service Awards - Roaa Al-Heeti, Mike Doyle

An individual who made a significant contribution to making our community more welcoming to immigrants and refugees.

Leadership Awards - Luis Cuza, Luzolo Jean Cesar Ntedika

An individual who has been a strong leader of the immigrant community.

Student Leadership Award - Carmen Hernandez

A student who has shown promise as a leader or demonstrated
commitment to serving or working with immigrants or refugees, locally or abroad.

The awards ceremony and celebration will be held in the Lewis Auditorium at Urbana Free Library, and is free and open to the public. Ballet Folklorico Mitotiani will perform, and there will be a reception at Stango Cuisine following the ceremony. 

For a more in-depth look into Welcoming Week, check out our coverage of last year's event.