Upcoming Event: After Orlando- Managing Fears and Welcoming Diversity

Tuesday, September, 13 2016, 6:00pm at UF Pugh Hall Ocora

The tragic incident at Pulse nightclub in Orlando has intensified the fear of terror hitting close to home. This fear has been translated into xenophobic sentiments particularly targeting our Muslim community.

The UF Center for Global Islamic Studies and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service will host a panel discussion which brings together those of diverse backgrounds who have been touched by the tragic events in Orlando and who continue to experience discrimination based on faith, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or race. The program is free and open to the public and will be streamed live on the Bob Graham Center website. This poignant panel discussion aims to tackle how we move forward in unity – taking the fear out of diversity and focusing on the many benefits of our globally diverse population.

Students, faculty, and members of the community are encouraged to raise questions, share comments and engage in the discussion about these pressing issues.

Opening Remarks:
Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida

Hassan Shibly, Executive Director – Council for American Islamic Relations
Terry Fleming, Pride Community Center of North Central Florida
Zoharah Simmons, UF Professor in Religion

Closing Remarks:
Paula Roetscher, Welcoming Gainesville

Join our Donation Drive for Refugees!

Welcoming Gainesville is partnering with Catholic Charities in Jacksonville, one of the main refugee resettlement agencies in Florida, to collect items that are desperately needed by new arrivals but cannot be purchased with food stamps. These items will go to refugees from a multitude of countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Cuba and Sudan who have arrived in the United States and will be resettled in Florida.

Items needed range from kitchen supplies to baby food and diapers, paper products, toiletries, cleaning products, bedding and towels.

We are hoping to bring together different faith communities in Gainesville and want as many groups as possible to be involved! The collection of donations can start immediately and all items will be pooled on the weekend of September 23rd.

If you are part of a faith community in town and would like to participate, contact us at welcominggainesville@gmail.com or use our contact form.  We look forward to having you and your group involved!


Welcoming Gainesville in the News!

On Sunday, August 7, 2016, Welcoming Gainesville hosted an Open House where community members had a chance to mingle and learn more about who we are and what we do. The event featured short speeches by Mayor Lauren Poe and County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson about what it means to be a Welcoming City and a Welcoming County. Paula Roetscher, Executive Director of Welcoming Gainesville, then shared with attendees all upcoming events and programs.

The Open House was a fantastic start to the next year of work and confirmed once more that Welcoming Gainesville is wanted and needed by the people of our town. We thank everyone who attended the Open House, and extend a special Thank You to those who donated to the cause at yesterday’s event! We hope to see you all at our upcoming events!


Check out this article published in The Gainesville Sun about the Open House and this short piece by TV-20!


“After Orlando – Managing Fears and Welcoming Diversity”

The Center for Global Islamic Studies and the Bob Graham Center are organizing an event called “After Orlando: Managing Fears and Welcoming Diversity” – on September 13. The event will be held at the Pugh Hall Ocora on the University of Florida campus at 6:00PM. It will address not only the Orlando incident, but also the growing polarization we are seeing within our society – related to faith, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity.

The event will feature speakers from the Muslim community (CAIR Florida), the LBTQ community (Gainesville Pride Community), and someone to talk about race in this context. There will be short panel presentations and most of the event will be dedicated to giving attendees a chance to ask questions, share comments and suggestions and discuss the incident in Orlando and what it means moving forward.

The event is open to the public. If you have any questions contact us at welcominggainesville@gmail.com

Welcoming Week 2016!

It’s that time of the year – all the Welcoming Cities and Counties in the United States celebrate Welcoming Week from September 16 – 25.

Welcoming Week logo

Photo courtesy of Welcoming America

Welcoming Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that immigrants, refugees, new Americans and foreign-born residents are making each and every day to our community. It gives us a chance to celebrate our wonderfully diverse community, to raise awareness of the challenges that foreign-born residents face, and to cultivate greater compassion and understanding for those who need our support.

Join us at one of the Gainesville Welcoming Week events:


Interfaith Donation Drive for Refugees in Florida

September 23 – 25

Several agencies around Florida work tirelessly to support refugees who are trying to make a new life in Florida. Besides the challenge of assimilating to a new language, a new culture and new customs, refugees who come to Florida are in need of basic items that cannot be purchased with food stamps. Welcoming Gainesville is organizing a donation drive that will bring together different faith communities around Gainesville who will each be collecting donations from their members. We will pool all the donations on September 25 and bring them to Catholic Charities in Jacksonville, one of the main refugee resettlement agencies in Florida.

If you would like your faith community to participate, please send us an email to welcominggainesville@gmail.com and we’ll send you more details. We would love to have your group on board!

Traveling Exhibit “People on the Move”  

September 14 – October 10

This exhibit will be shown at different venues around Gainesville (times and places TBA) and will give insight into worldwide migration. We are currently witnessing an unprecedented wave of migration across the globe – come learn why people choose to leave their home and make a new life elsewhere or why some people are forced to flee their home and face the challenge of finding refuge.

Do you want to be one of the facilitators of the exhibit? We are looking for people who would donate an hour or two to show visitors around the exhibition and explain the different sections to them. If you are interested in being a facilitator please contact us at welcominggainesville@gmail.com

More events are to come, so check back regularly!