ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Ready to have some fun and learn? The City of Roanoke is celebrating Welcoming Week from Sept. 9 through Sept. 18, featuring plenty of events allowing you to learn more about the community while also letting loose.

Organizers say this annual celebration fosters belonging in the community, removes barriers for individuals, and builds inclusion for all Roanoke residents.

“In the five years that Roanoke has celebrated Welcoming Week, we have seen really positive changes in the culture of our city,” said Katie Hedrick, the community inclusion coordinator and the city’s lead for Welcoming Week. “Friendships have been built across lines that were previously divided, conversations have started around topics that previously deterred people, and belonging and inclusion have brought together residents, organizations, and businesses of all different backgrounds.”

According to officials, this celebratory event will function under the theme of “Where We Belong,” with the city and its partner organizations hosting the following events over the course of Welcoming Week:

  • Friday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m.: Kick-off event and second annual Roanoke Run for Refugees
    5K and Kids’ 1K at Wasena Park
  • Saturday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.: International Soccer Cup at Preston Park
  • Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.: Carvins Cove hike
  • Monday, Sept. 12 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Job Expo at the Main Library
  • Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Education Fair at the Gainsboro Library
  • Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Coffee with Council on the first floor EOC in the
    Municipal Building
  • Thursday, Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m.: Municipal Building tour and open house
  • Friday, Sept. 16 at 10:30 a.m.: Naturalization celebration in City Council Chambers
  • Saturday, Sept. 17 from noon to 4 p.m.: Open house at Fire Station 5
  • Sunday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m.: Points of Diversity Community Meal at the Melrose Library

Organizers say that Welcoming Week has worked in the past decade to bring neighbors together by elevating the work happening every day in communities and ensuring that everyone feels like they belong and thrive, no matter where their backgrounds.

“Welcoming Week is an amazing celebration of belonging, but the City of Roanoke is more proud of how the week has built a culture of welcoming that is felt year-round,” said Hedrick.

The Star City tells WFXR News that Welcoming Week is an annual campaign that was launched in 2012 by Welcoming America, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities to become more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs.

The event was reportedly created to give individuals and communities the opportunity to proclaim welcoming values through events and local initiatives that foster mutual understanding between immigrants and non-immigrants.

To learn more about Welcoming America and its resources, follow this link.