The grand opening for the latest in a series of New American Welcome Centers at YMCAs across the country is set for June 20 at the North YMCA.

That coincides with World Refugee Day 2017, according to Malik Wayne Moore, executive director of social responsibility for the YMCA of Central Ohio.

The grand opening will run from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

"As we know, in Columbus there are a growing number of new people from all over the world who are making Northland their homes." Moore said. "We want to be able to do what we do already as a people-serving organization, and that's meet the needs of our neighbors."

A dozen YMCA associations are part of the New American Welcome Center network, said Kevin Dietz, senior public relations manager for YMCA of the USA, which selected the North Y, 1640 Sandalwood Place in the Northland area, for an expansion of the program.

The centers will focus on:

* Language and education

* Health and well-being

* Citizenship and civic engagement

* Economic integration and employment

* Community development

"We want them to come to the Y," Moore said of immigrants and refugees. "We're here to strengthen the foundations of the community. We want to give them a leg up to make sure they have a strong foundation.

"As the demographics of the community changes, the way we serve it and meet its needs has to evolve. As our city grows and booms, we have seen that by welcoming this community, it helps our community."

More than 40 agencies that help immigrant and refugee populations in central Ohio are part of the New American Advisory Committee formed as a coalition of city and county officials.

The personnel at these agencies will help inform newcomers to Columbus of the existence of the New American Welcome Center, he said.

"The NAWCs are focused on helping immigrants integrate well into American society and preparing receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive," Dietz wrote in an email. "NAWCs accomplish this through a combination of direct and referral services, community partnerships and bridge-building strategies to promote cross-cultural understanding between immigrants and U.S.-born residents.

"The programs and services offered by NAWC YMCAs vary based on community need but generally focus on key areas that help immigrants integrate well and contribute back to their community ..."

New American Welcome Centers locations are based on a variety of factors, Dietz said.

"YMCA Associations are selected based on community need and the Y Association's capacity and expertise in serving immigrants and receiving communities," he wrote. "The YMCA of Central Ohio is committed to helping all individuals access the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential.

"Their well-established immigrant integration programs and community partnerships enable them to effectively serve the growing newcomer population and the receiving communities. Their participation in the Y's New American Welcome Center network will help them to strengthen their reach."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1