Award showcases city’s planning, partnership with immigrant allies

PHILADELPHIA (July 1, 2013) - The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) congratulates Dayton, OH on its “Outstanding Achievement” award recognizing its Welcome Dayton immigrant friendly city initiative. The U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities.

“This is a proud moment that recognizes Dayton as a national model for its approach, which recognizes and supports the keen desire of refugees and immigrants to overcome their many challenges and put their entrepreneurial skills to work for the community,” said Migwe Kimemia, director of AFSC’s economic justice program in Dayton.

AFSC played a key role in developing and implementing the plan, which was adopted in 2011. In fact, AFSC’s innovative soccer tournaments, launched in 2010 to build community among refugees from different countries, provided the model for a city-wide soccer tournament included in Welcome Dayton.

Migwe and other staffers from AFSC’s Dayton Refugee Justice Program campaigned hard for Welcome Dayton, speaking before city officials, sharing examples of hate mails sent to refugees from as far away as Cleveland and Cincinnati, and serving on the task force that drafted the plan.

“Welcome Dayton demonstrates the spirit of Dayton in many ways,” said Mayor Gary Leitzell as he accepted the award on June 23. “Collaboration, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and compassion are all at the heart of Welcome Dayton and the Dayton community. I am honored to receive this recognition of Dayton’s success from my fellow mayors across the nation.”

Since 2007, AFSC’s program has given refugees from different countries, ethnicities, and religions a safe space in which to come together, overcome their fears, and support one another. Recently another AFSC-supported program, a fair-trade coffee roasting co-op supporting African refugees and African coffee growers, took another step forward when the Ohio Secretary of State officially approved the co-op’s registration.