Gainesville celebrates first "Welcoming Week"
Dozens of residents came out Thursday evening to take part in Gainesville's first ever "Welcoming Week." It's a week long event designed to take in all people from different religious and cultural backgrounds.
Welcoming Week is part of Welcoming America, a national organization created to bring together U.S. born citizens and immigrants, and now Gainesville has become part of the welcoming family.
"Find out what are their needs, how can we serve them, how can we raise awareness about their situation," says Paula Roetscher, the Executive Director of Welcoming Gainesville.
Gainesville is already a diverse community, which is another reason why Mayor Lauren Poe says it's only natural that it become a welcoming city.
"It fit so much with who we are and our values and so I think it was such an easy transition to institutionalize and make legitimate what we already feel and believe in Gainesville," says Mayor Poe.
But not all residents were here to show their support.
"It is Obama's back door, unconstitutional amnesty for illegals and this is bringing in refugees that will get full benefits, Americans are not informed, but yet they will be fully funding this program," says one woman who wanted to remain anonymous.
Welcoming Gainesville aims to change that by tearing down some of the barriers and misconceptions about immigration.
"People will say things like immigrants just live off of welfare, the state has to give them money, it's tax payer's money and that is not the case at all, immigrants really contribute in the workforce, they make a life here and there's so dedicated and so diligent about that," says Roetscher.
And Welcoming Week is a national event that's celebrated by over 100 cities across the country.