Thanks to St. Colmans staff and volunteers who came together for this meal. The NEOCH staff did a great job organizing the dinner that was planned as an alternative to to the inauguration activities. We did not want to do a protest or demonstration because we are exhausted from the difficult election season. We did want to mark the radical shift taking place in our country and call attention to those harmed by this hostile rhetoric we heard throughout the debates and even during the inauguration speech we heard earlier in the day.
We wanted to show that we will welcome immigrants, visitors and refugees from around the world. Cleveland is committed to being a safe place for people from around the world. The sign which was made by staff and volunteers said "Welcome All" which was the spirit of what we were trying to accomplish. There are so many frightened people in our neighborhoods and we wanted them to know that there are institutions in our community who can help. This may be advocacy organizations like NEOCH or church groups like St. Colmans Catholic Church. We are a compassionate community built on the hard labor of Irish, Hungarian, Russian, Dominicans, Italians, Syrians and thousands of other nationalities who make this city strong.
We wanted fragile or communities under threat to know that there are many who are willing to help. We wanted to tell documented and undocumented immigrants that Cleveland will support them. Our city is losing populations to Florida, Arizona and California. We need the hard work and innovative ideas from around the world to keep Cleveland moving forward. After all, most of us have family or ancestors from other places. We are a young country built by immigrants.
We came together because we see immigrants as perhaps under the greatest threat. There was such anger and vitriol in 2016 toward immigrants that we are all going to need to stand up to these threats. It was a really nice dinner with donations from Giant Eagle and volunteers from both NEOCH and St. Colmans. Thanks especially Eileen Kelly from St. Colmans for all the work she did to make this a success. The volunteers and staff are great at doing an efficient and assembly line of food. They really take care of their hungry neighbors over around Lorain Ave and West 65th St. We also must thank Denise Toth who spent most of last week preparing for the dinner. She did everything she could to make this dinner welcoming. We had games, icebreakers, and music for those who gathered. We had nice conversations between those who showed up for the food and those who wanted to volunteer. There were students, social service staff, older folks and elected officials. It was a good alternative for the tone and tenor of the inauguration speech earlier in the morning. Thanks.
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