Pop singer Taylor Swift is on “The Eras Tour,” but local nonprofit Centro Hispano and the City of Columbus are gearing up for “The Welcoming Tour.”
In collaboration with Welcoming America, a nonprofit dedicated to creating inclusivity in communities throughout the United States, Centro Hispano is hoping to focus its efforts over the next seven days working to unite the community.
“We’re so excited,” Centro Hispano Executive Director Karina Perez said. “I think there are so many communities across the United States that are really thinking and talking about welcoming and belonging … I can’t imagine someone being against the thought of making sure everyone feels like Columbus is theirs just as much as they want it to be theirs.”
The festivities will commence with a happy hour celebration from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the Columbus Innovation Center, 2311 14th St. in Columbus. New and longtime residents of all backgrounds and ages are encouraged to stop by to mingle with one another, as well as City and Centro Hispano officials, over drinks and appetizers.
“Anyone in the community is invited,” Centro Welcoming and Belonging Director Liz Rodriguez said. “We are super excited to team up with the City on this and all of Welcoming Week.”
Of course, Friday is just the beginning. Activities are planned each day through Friday, Sept. 15, in hopes of encouraging networking among residents of all backgrounds. Among the highlights are a speak-and-mingle gathering at Axe in the Box on Sunday afternoon; a cooking class at Hy-Vee and a Friday art class at Artzy Haven. Many of these events are open to the public.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, a naturalization ceremony will take place at Central Community College-Columbus. It will celebrate 34-35 individuals who have gone through the process of becoming American citizens.
Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley, the entire City Council and City Administrator Tara Vasicek have signed a letter that will be presented to the new Americans to congratulate them on their recent accomplishment. Mayor Bulkley is also expected to speak at the ceremony.
For more information on Welcoming Week or any of the planned activities, please contact Centro Hispano at 402-564-2110.
“We’re just excited to see it all come together,” Perez said. “And Liz (Rodriguez) has put a lot into this to make it a great success.”
Centro has been promoting Welcoming Week through social media in hopes of encouraging as many people as possible to participate throughout the next week. Some may have noticed the nod to Taylor Swift’s worldwide concert tour, which was by design.
“It was a fun twist,” said Centro Communications Director Katherine Lopez, who also serves on the Columbus City Council. “Hopefully everyone who enjoys her music noticed it. And we are in our ‘Welcoming and Belonging Era.’”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley, left, with Centro Hispano's Liz Rodriguez, Katherine Lopez (middle) and Karina Perez in the Columbus Community Building.)
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