‘Welcoming Week’ kicked off in outer East Portland

INCLUDES KICKOFF VIDEO | Take a look at the Opening Celebration held in Ventura Park, as this event continues for its third year …

In the Hazelwood neighborhood Welcoming Week celebration’s 2023 opening is underway in Ventura Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For the third year, the City of Portland participated in the annual Welcoming Week celebration in Ventura Park on September 8 – a movement led by the nonprofit Welcoming America, which promotes building inclusive, safe, and equitable communities for immigrants and refugees.

To read about, and see a video of, that first Portland Welcoming Week celebration, CLICK HERE.

This year, the kick-off for the week-long series of events was held in Ventura Park. All of the other events took place in areas of the city other than outer East Portland.

Happy that Welcoming Week is underway is its organizer, Wafa Almaktari, who is City of Portland Office of Community and Civic Life Immigrant and Refugee Coordinator.

“I planned and organized this dayt for Portland,” proudly acknowledged City of Portland Office of Community and Civic Life Immigrant and Refugee Coordinator Wafa Almaktari. “This week of events can help us all see what makes our communities welcoming places, and showcase how it helps foster ‘belonging; for all people, especially immigrants.”

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D), who graduated from David Douglas High School, talks with Malcolm Hoover of Black Futures Farm.

People learn about the services offered by a wide variety of nonprofit organizations.

Welcoming Week is a series of free events this week that help build stronger community support for immigrant and refugees,” Almaktari told East Portland News. “These include art, performances, information sessions, and community discussions.”

Here’s a quick video tour of the 2023 Portland Welcoming Week kickoff celebration:

The opening day this year included some two dozen exhibitors, mostly representing nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies.

Live music played, and volunteers provided kids’ activities in the Ventura Park. Also, there was food available for purchase.

Classic caricature artist Sam Arneson sketches another couple at the opening.

“This event is important to me because I moved to Portland eight years ago from Yemen, and I didn’t know anything,” divulged Almaktari. “I felt lonely, unrepresented, and just heartbroken.

“But, Welcoming Week means the world to me because I get to bring people together, and help them feel welcome, and that they belong here – people from all over the world,” Almaktari expressed. “It is wonderful helping people feel like they belong.”

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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