Do you have a favorite locally owned ethnic restaurant you can’t wait to tell others about? How about adding a book to your reading list that chronicles a refugee’s experiences as a new American? Do you have your own ancestral immigration story to tell?
All of these activities are encouraged as “Welcoming Salt Lake Week” continues through September 25. Embracing the cultural, social, and economic contributions of immigrants and refugees to the community is the focus of a public awareness campaign supported by Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, and the Salt Lake Chamber.
On social media platforms using #welcomingsaltlake, the week highlighted with a challenge for residents of the greater Salt Lake community – “7 Days, 7 Ways” – suggestions on ways to welcome new Americans through conversations, engaging in volunteer work, attending an ethnic cultural event, or reading one of many works of literature that document the immigrant experience over the decades.
Details about “7 Days, 7 Ways” and other projects are available at the new website http://www.welcomingsaltlake.org
“The 7 Days, 7 Ways challenge is one way to recognize the values and contributions of our newest residents, and there are many more,” said Fatima Dire, Refugee Community Liaison with the Salt Lake City Office of Diversity and Human Rights (ODHR). “Our community is well-known for its welcoming spirit and for embracing diversity. It’s a source of community strength.”
Among other efforts, ODHR supports a free smart-phone app, “Serve Refugees,” which provides information on ways to get involved in refugee assistance. “This has been a helpful resource for many people who have been urged by faith-based leaders to reach out to refugees and immigrants in their neighborhoods and greater communities,” Fatima said.
Salt Lake City also connects people through the “Know Your Neighbor” volunteer program. The program links a refugee family with a strong contact in the community, picking up where case management by resettlement agencies leaves off. Volunteers assist in integrating refugees who have lived in Utah for more than two years. More than 47 volunteers have been matched with refugee families. The next volunteer orientation for “Know Your Neighbor” will be held on Thursday, October 6 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Salt Lake City and Country Building, 451 South State Street, Room 306. RSVP is required.
According to Census and resettlement organization data, more than 60,000 refugees now live in Utah. The state takes in more than 1,100 new refugees each year. The state’s largest concentration of immigrants and refugees reside in Salt Lake County.
For information on Salt Lake City ODHR programs, please visit:
To RSVP or to learn more about the “Know Your Neighbor” program orientation, please contact Fatima Dirie at: