Welcome mat still at city’s door

The city of Chula Vista began its celebration of Welcoming Week, Sept. 12-20, joining the more than 200 cities in the Welcoming Network internationally. Chula Vista is still the first and only certified Welcoming America city in California, beginning in 2019.

Welcoming America is a national non-profit organization and Welcoming Week across the nation celebrates a movement to renew commitment to core American values and take action in the spirit of welcoming immigrants.

On Sept. 12, the city issued a proclamation declaring its resolve to bring organizations and communities together with immigrants, refugees and longtime residents to build strong connections and emphasize the importance of welcoming, inclusive places, creating a collective prosperity.

Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said this is a result of hard work with the city’s Human Relations Commission, but more than that it was the “goodness of our community in valuing a diverse community.”

“Congratulations to the city of Chula Vista because we were named the number one city to welcoming immigrants this year,” she said.

Casillas Salas said while the current pandemic limits the ability of the city to host gatherings, it does not limit its commitment to immigrants and refugees. “We recognize and thank them for contributing to our community,” she said.

Kicking off Welcoming Week nationwide, Welcoming America hosted a livestream event on Sept. 12, “Creating Home Together: A Welcoming Week Experience,” which included greetings from welcoming cities across the nation, live performances and stories of diverse immigrant experiences.

Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning musical actor André De Shields, best known for his Broadway performances in “The Wiz” and “Hadestown,” attended the virtual event as he introduced Jade Litaker who performed the closing song, “Home” from “The Wiz.”

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Welcoming Week 2020 kickoff event,” said De Shields in a press release.

“The work that Welcoming America is doing means a great deal to me, especially in this year when we have had to fight so hard to combat racism and hatred. Their work educates and uplifts with the goal of ensuring everyone feels welcome and included and feels like they can create a home together.”

To see the virtual experience of Welcoming Week 2020 visit www.welcomingamerica.org. There will also be a virtual closing event on Sept. 20.