Have you been to Zeezenia International Market yet?

NO? Then it’s about time you check it out!

Zeezenia has a vast selection of Indian, Pakistani, Turkish, Iranian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It also features fresh halal meats and an amazing little restaurant!

If you still need a reason to visit Zeezenia, our fundraiser will do the trick! Get 10% off at Zeezenia during the entire month of November! All you need to do is print the coupon below and show it at check-out. The proceeds will be used to support Welcoming Gainesville’s community events and programs!



Supporting Welcoming Gainesville just became a lot easier!

Do you believe that Gainesville’s diversity is something to take pride in and celebrate?

Do you believe that racism, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other such irrational fears that divide our communities should have no place in Gainesville?

And do you agree that Gainesville can, and should, become a leader in the integration of newcomers?


Then you should support Welcoming Gainesville and our efforts to make Gainesville a truly inclusive town!

All you have to do is DONATE ONLINE. It takes 1 minute but will help us make a lifelong impact!

Thank you for a successful donation drive!

Last week we were able to deliver a truckload full of donations for refugee families in Jacksonville. We want to say thank you on behalf of Welcoming Gainesville and on behalf of Catholic Charities Jacksonville, the resettlement agency we support.


The donations were provided by over a dozen faith communities in Gainesville and our supporters came with their arms piled high with boxes full of daily necessities such as paper towels, toiletries, kitchen supplies and bedding.



What started out as an empty room quickly became filled to the brim with so many donations that another room was needed to hold all items. Welcoming Gainesville feels honored to be able to support newcomers in Jacksonville and we are very appreciative of the generosity of our community!


Read below what some of our supporters had to say about the donation drive:


Nancy and Rachel Parks, Temple Shir Shalom


“We try to do as much social justice as we can and we just love to do interfaith work. The whole experience of immigrants resonates with us because a lot of our Grandparents were immigrants. We just love to help.”


The Rev. Richard and Lucas Pelkey, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church


“We all just want to support Welcoming Gaineville and to help new refugees coming into Florida. It just really feels good to help.”


Nicole Alemanne and Tony Canty, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville

“We were all in for helping when we heard there was people in need. It is an amazing cause to support and everyone was very willing to donate.”


Christina Bugos,  Trinity United Methodist Church

“We are here to help communities in need. Our own community rallied and got together to bring a lot of stuff for people who really need it. We are just excited to help and be a part of it.”


Tate Quiñones, Baha’is of Gainesville

“I volunteer for Welcoming Gainesville, so any chance I can support them, I try, that’s why I am here. And my community rallies behind me because they know this is an important cause to me. It is so important to do work with refugees and they have a special place in my heart. There was a huge social network that came out to help and everyone was just really happy to do it, to come together and support this cause.”


Welcoming Week Proclamation on CBS!

On September 22nd Mayor Poe proclaimed September 16 – 25 Welcoming Week in Gainesville, FL. Mayor Poe emphasized that Gainesville’s diversity is a source of strength for our community and that welcoming immigrants, international students, refugees and foreign-born residents will help us make Gainesville even greater!

County Commissioner Hutchinson told the media that Gainesville wants to be a community of neighbors and that we need to recognize our shared humanity and look beyond the physical, superficial differences and celebrate the human spirit that connects us all – regardless of faith, race, ethnicity, culture or language.

Mr. Daniel Valdez from Welcoming America was visiting Gainesville for the first time and praised the welcoming atmosphere and kind people he was able to meet. He expressed surprise and joy at the diversity he noticed in the town of Gainesville and encouraged citizens to keep working on creating a truly inclusive and welcoming community.


CBS4 covered the proclamation and you can watch the video here! 

After Orlando: Managing Fear and Welcoming Diversity

Welcoming Gainesville was honored to attend a panel discussion on the shooting in Orlando hosted by the UF Center for Global Islamic Studies and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

The panel included Rasha Mubarak from the Council for American Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR Florida), Terry Fleming from the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida and Zoharah Simmons, UF Professor in the Department of Religion. The panelists discussed how issues of homophobia, Islamophobia and racism play a role in incidents like the tragedy that happened in Orlando and that addressing such issues is an important step in preventing violence and discrimination and building stronger communities.

The event was filmed and you can watch it online!


Photos Courtesy of Bob Graham Center for Public Service 


Join us for a Playback Theater Workshop!

ignite-logoWelcoming Gainesville is excited to partner with Ignite Applied Theatre to offer a unique opportunity to have fun and to express yourself in a new way through improvisational theater with a social impact. The aim of this one-time workshop is to give you a taste of how theater and the arts can help create more inclusive communities and foster understanding and collaboration within diverse groups of people.


Wokrshop dates: 

October 1 from 10 am to 12.30 pm at the Downtown Library in Meeting Room B

October 8 from 1 pm to 3.30 pm at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church


Our future work with Ignite Applied Theatre will bring stories of newcomers such as immigrants, international students and refugees to life through regular Playback Theatre performances and other community events and programs.


At this first workshop you will be invited to:

  • Participate in a fun and gentle warm up of your voice, self-expression, imagination, senses, and ability to listen to others,
  • Experience community in a simple yet very real way
  • Learn and practice one basic Playback Theater (improv) form.
  • Feel deeply seen and heard after someone plays back your story (sharing is always optional).



The answer is very likely YES, if you are…

  • A total beginner who has never even seen Playback Theater but you are intrigued by the idea and wish to dip your toes in by trying out some basics
  • Looking for FUN and CREATIVE ways to meet and connect more truly and deeply with people
  • Looking for a different and more active way to share your story and to actively tell your neighbor’s story
  • Interested in possibly becoming part of a new and on-going playback troupe focused on community outreach and engagement within our community


If you are interested, sign up here

Three Things To Do This Week

Many of us read the news about the war in Syria, and some of us try very hard to understand its causes, its political complexity and its consequences for Syrians and people around the world. It is impossible for us to truly empathize with a Syrian family living in Aleppo or with a Syrian refugee stranded in a refugee camp in Turkey – but that does not mean that we shouldn’t try.
Here are three things that Welcoming Gainesville asks you to do this week to take a small step towards better understanding the war in Syria, the living conditions of refugees around the world, and ultimately war as a whole as it is happening in different places across the world right now.   
1) Watch the exclusive documentary “The White Helmets” on Netflix. The White Helmets are a group of civilians in Syria who rescue those injured by barrel bombs and air strikes every day. They are said to have “the most dangerous job in the world” and have saved over 60,000 lives in Syria so far. Netflix will launch a short documentary on the White Helmets on September 16. 
Watch the trailer here!  
2) After watching “The White Helmets”, visit this website!
The White Helmets have been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their heroic work and dedication to saving human lives. On the website you can add your signature in support of this nomination.
3) Visit the Harn Museum of Art to see their current exhibition “Aftermath: The Fallout of War—America and the Middle East”. 
This exhibition brings together the work of twelve contemporary photographers, both American and from the Middle East, who explore the effects of war on civilians and the environment. This exhibition is absolutely essential if you are wanting to learn more about the conditions and voices of people and environments caught in war’s wake, from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Israel and America. The exhibition will be at the Harn Museum of Art until December 31, 2016 but you should most definitely take the time to visit it sooner as you will probably want to return a few more times to really absorb the entirety of this outstanding exhibition.
Please invite your friends and families to join you in these activities and spread the word in your social media networks! 

Come join us for the first Welcoming Week celebration in the City of Gainesville!


September 22.jpg

Welcoming Week is an event celebrated by all Welcoming Cities and Counties in the nation and is meant to highlight the contributions of immigrants to our communities and to offer an opportunity to learn more about migration and what it is like for refugees and immigrants who try to make a new life in the United States.

On September 22 at 5 PM we will gather in front of Gainesville’s City Hall and hear Mayor Lauren Poe proclaim that September 16 – 25 is officially Welcoming Week in Gainesville, FL. County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson and Daniel Valdez from Welcoming America will share why it is important to be a Welcoming  City and County and what we hope to achieve going forward!

There will be an opportunity to learn more about Welcoming Gainesville, the Gainesville United Nations Association, the Gainesville Sister City Program and a movement called “Books not Bombs” that aims to increase the amounts of scholarships given to Syrian college students. There will also be a photo booth for community members to share their personal story of migration and a special treat – food from Falafel King Sandwiches!

Become a sponsor for Welcoming Gainesville!

Are you looking to support Welcoming Gainesville but you don’t have the time to physically volunteer with us?

We are currently looking for sponsors to help fund our projects!

As a sponsor you have the chance to sustain one specific part of our operation and to help us make a difference through providing tangible support. We are excited to have you on board!


At this moment we are looking for sponsors to fund:

  • printing of business cards, banners and other promotional materials
  • printer ink and paper
  • craft supplies for community projects
  • venues for rehearsals for our Playback Theater Tour
  • food and beverages for upcoming events
  • materials to provide at naturalization ceremonies
  • ongoing refugee relief with Catholic Charities in Jacksonville


If you would like to become a sponsor for Welcoming Gainesville, please contact us