eugene ymca press release

Eugene Family YMCA Celebrates Welcoming Week and Reminds Eugene That Belonging Begins With Us   
Welcoming Festival celebration to take place at the Y on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Eugene, Sept. 2, 2022 — In line with the Y’s mission to support and welcome all, the Y is bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, including immigrants, refugees and U.S.-born residents, at the first-ever YMCA Welcoming Festival at the Y on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The Eugene Y strives to be a community hub where everyone feels included,” said Eugene Family YMCA CEO Brian Steffen. “It is particularly important to us that people new to our community feel welcomed, supported and invited to participate fully.”

In February 2022, the Eugene Family YMCA partnered with Catholic Community Services of Lane County’s Refugee and Immigration Service Program (RISP) to serve refugees as well as asylum seekers and asylees from all over the world. The Eugene Family YMCA provides free 12-month memberships for all interested RISP clients. After their first year, the Y automatically offers RISP clients the chance to continue their membership at a reduced rate—covering 70 percent of the membership through the Y’s financial assistance program. The Eugene Family YMCA currently serves 22 households of refugees and asylum seekers.

“The key is to help refugees successfully create a new home in the Eugene-Springfield area by helping them access legal services, government benefits and apply for work,” said Jeff Seldon, RISP Volunteer. “When people first arrive, it’s important to get their basic needs taken care of. I realized, though, that it was also important to provide them with the opportunity to be physically active. The Y has given these refugees the opportunity to drop into the Y to work out or take their kids swimming and do something good for their physical and mental health.”

To further this mission of inclusivity, the Eugene Family YMCA will join Welcoming America, other YMCAs and organizations nationwide to celebrate Welcoming Week (September 9-18). Each year, Welcoming Week elevates the growing movement of communities that fully embrace new Americans and their contributions to the social fabric of the country. The event is an opportunity for neighbors—both immigrants and U.S.-born residents—to get to know one another and celebrate what unites people as a community.

“At the Eugene Family YMCA, we believe Eugene is stronger when everyone in the community feels welcome and we can all work together for the common good,” said Maritza Ruiz, Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Engagement Committee. “We are proud to be a part of Welcoming Week, which is demonstrating that in places large and small, rural and urban, people of all backgrounds are coming together to create stronger communities. It is a time to celebrate the shared values that unite us as neighbors, parents and colleagues, and to make our towns more welcoming to newcomers and to everyone who calls our community home.”

Throughout Welcoming Week, the Eugene Family YMCA will provide activities for our members and community to foster cultural understanding. On Sunday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Y will host a Welcoming Festival to promote cross-cultural understanding and community cohesion by bringing together immigrants and U.S. born-residents in a spirit of unity. The Welcoming Festival will take place at the Y and feature local community-based organizations, food trucks, cultural performances, family-friendly activities and more. Please join us at the festival!

What: Welcoming Festival
Who: Open to the public
Date: Sunday, Sept. 18
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
Note: Expect a festive atmosphere with music and dance performances, family-friendly games and activities, ethnic food trucks, and 10+ local multicultural organizations, including Food for Lane County’s Mobile Pantry, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, CASA Lane County, and Eugene/Springfield NAACP.


About the Y  
The Eugene Family YMCA is one of the region's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Each year across Lane County, the Y engages more than 18,000 people regardless of age, gender, income or background—to nurture the potential of children, teens and seniors; improve health and well-being; and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In 2021, the Eugene Family YMCA awarded $451,599 in financial assistance. The YMCA has been serving the Eugene-area since 1887.

About Welcoming Week
Welcoming Week is an annual campaign and celebration to showcase the movement of communities striving to be more welcoming places for all, including immigrants. Launched in 2012 by Welcoming America and its members, Welcoming Week provides individuals and communities the opportunity to proclaim welcoming values through events and local initiatives that foster mutual understanding between immigrants and non-immigrants, as well as deeper belonging for all.

About Welcoming America
Welcoming America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs. Through the Welcoming Network, we work to change systems and culture by providing communities the roadmap they need to create welcoming policies and share new approaches to inclusion to create an environment where everyone can truly thrive. Learn more at

September 2, 2022