The Winona Family YMCA will be joining communities, organizations and YMCAs across the nation in participating in the national Welcoming Week initiative from Sept. 13 through Sept. 22.

With the goal of building bridges between immigrants, refugees and native-born residents and raising awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone, Welcoming Week is a national initiative by Welcome America that has impacted hundreds of communities — including Winona. Last year, more than 2,000 events happened nationally and more than 80,000 people participated. Locally, Project FINE has been instrumental in leading events and rallying the Winona community with enthusiasm to participate.

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The Winona Family YMCA will be participating in a number of ways. On Friday, Sept. 20, the YMCA will open its doors to welcome in every member of the Winona community free of charge. The public can participate in any one of nearly 20 fitness classes, adult sports and open swim times throughout the day as well as have full access to the weight room, cardio center, gym, saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools. The public can even use our Kids Corner childwatch, where parents can drop off their little ones in a safe environment while they work out — pre-registration is required by 6 p.m. the previous day.

Internally, the YMCA plans to have a cultural potluck, a staff training by Project FINE on how to work effectively with immigrants and refugees, a heritage map where participants can place a sticker to mark the roots of their heritage, and a member appreciation day to thank members for helping create a welcoming community.

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