International Programs


INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS at the YMCA at VT

The YMCA has been an active member of our community since 1873. We recognize that our town hosts a unique community that includes many internationals from around the globe. We strive to serve all its valued members. One of our long running programs is the International Women’s Group where newcomers and longtime residents meet weekly on Tuesdays to foster friendships while engaging in different interesting activities.

Bringing together Internationals and Americans to welcome and integrate Internationals into the community while providing a comfortable venue for cross cultural friendship, information, education, support, and service.

 

A YEAR IN REVIEW

The International Program continues to grow and build on last year's achievements. Here are some highlights of what the program accomplished in 2023 and what will be offered this year: 

Rural Welcoming Initiative 2024: The YMCA at VT has been selected to be a member of the Local-to-Local Community Partnership an initiative of Welcoming America to make our community a welcoming place for all. This opportunity provides the Y with technical assistance and guidance in achieving its Welcoming Initiative goals of: creating a welcoming infrastructure, a welcoming economy and deepening community connections.

International Women's Group: The group offers newcomer and immigrant women the space for creating community through cultural exchange, introduction to life in the US and engagement with the broader community.

International Women's Day: In March of last year the Y recognized for the second year four women from the community to highlight their leadership and service and also celebrated Women's History Month by recognizing the tremendous work of Barbara Michelson who was the Executive Director of the YMCA at VT for many years.  

Welcoming Refugees: The Y partnered with the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership to sponsor an Iftar event for the refugee families. The event drew 120 people including the American friends and helpers of the refugee families. The Y also sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner event for the same group.

In addition, the Y hosted a 2 month long full-day summer program for youth to provide enrichment and academic activities for elementary age children.

Welcoming Week in September: The Y participated for the third year in Welcoming Week and added more events, such as Y Welcoming Tour for newcomers, a youth art exhibit and contest in partnership with MFRL Blacksburg Library and the Blacksburg Regional Art Association. 

COMING IN 2024

Welcoming Resource Center:

In mid-2023 Lowe’s announced that YMCA AT Virginia Tech’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Community Resource Center is one of 100 community projects to be completed as part of Lowe’s Hometowns, the company’s largest-ever community impact program. Launched in 2022, Lowe’s Hometowns is a five-year, $100 million commitment from Lowe’s to rebuild and revitalize community spaces nationwide.

The Y at VT's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Community Resource Center will provide space for various activities, programs, and initiatives, such as workforce skills training, mediated classrooms for learning and certification exams, English language acquisition classes, display space for community DEI art projects, reception space for community gatherings and social interactions, and more.

The work is in full progress and the space should be complete by the end of this month. We can’t wait to share our reveal with you.

This year’s Lowe’s Hometowns projects were selected from 94 communities across 41 states and Washington, D.C., and will address needs specific to each community, from housing and community centers to outdoor spaces and facilities for first responders and veterans. Each project will receive a grant from Lowe’s to make physical improvements that help local organizations continue to make meaningful impact in their communities. At the core of this commitment are Lowe’s red vest associates, who share a passion for giving back to their communities and provide support to every Lowe’s Hometowns project.

Now in the second year of the initiative, Lowe’s Hometowns invites nonprofits and community members to share stories of projects in need. Lowe’s is partnering with the YMCA AT Virginia Tech, local Lowe’s associates, construction pros, and impact partner Points of Light to complete this project.

English Conversation Class: In partnership with the Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley, the Y started offering English conversation for beginners. It will continue to offer the class in 2024 and add a conversation partners program for the intermediate and advanced English learners.

Health Literacy: In partnership with the Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley the Y will be offering in 2024 for non-asp health literacy class for on-native speakers to learn how to navigate the health system. 

Job Readiness Workshops: The Y is planning on delivering a culturally relevant series of workshops to help newcomers and immigrants seeking employment to be ready for working in the US. Participants will receive individualized assistance in resume writing, job searching and interviewing skills. 

Natural Helpers: The Y will be participating in the program in 2024. This initiative will build its capacity in organizing and training immigrant members of our community to become community navigators helping newcomers. 

We owe our success to the dedication of volunteers and community to help us continue to build on this past year, and grow the impactful programming described above as we celebrate our 150th year.

Thank you for your continued support for the Y!