Gateway Family YMCA celebrates ‘Welcoming Week’ Sept. 9-18

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UNION COUNTY, NJ — The Gateway Family YMCA will join Welcoming America, other YMCAs and other organizations nationwide for ‘Welcoming Week,’ Sept. 9-18, to celebrate immigrants’ contributions to communities and bring together all residents in a spirit of unity. The Gateway Family YMCA invites the community to join in these inclusive events; details at Welcoming Week is an annual, nonpartisan celebration of diversity and the community benefits of welcoming everyone and their contributions to the social fabric of the country. The event is an opportunity for neighbors — both immigrants and U.S.-born residents — to get to know one another and celebrate what unites them as a community.

“At the Gateway Family YMCA, we believe our community is stronger when everyone feels welcome and we can all work together for the common good,” said Krystal R. Canady, chief executive officer. “We are proud to be a part of Welcoming Week, which is demonstrating that in places large and small, rural and urban, people of all backgrounds are coming together to create stronger communities, which is something we do every day at the YMCA.”

“Welcoming Week is a time to celebrate the shared values that unite us as neighbors, parents and colleagues, and to make our towns more welcoming to newcomers and to everyone who calls our community, and our YMCA home,” said Melynda A. Mileski, executive vice president/chief operating officer of the Gateway Family YMCA. “We’ve all experienced moments where we felt like we didn’t belong, but there’s more that unites us than divides us. During this year’s Welcoming Week, we are reminded that belonging begins with us.”

Welcoming Week 2022 includes a YMCA open house, social events, fundraising events, blood pressure self-monitoring, WISE community services, an in-person and digital health fair and a membership special. The Gateway Family YMCA will be highlighting its community membership launched earlier this year, which is an opportunity for everyone to be a member of the YMCA, through a complimentary membership.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has increased the need for community cohesion and the healing that can begin at the YMCA,” said Rodger D. Koerber, vice president of operations. “Social isolation, mental health challenges and the trauma of the past few years are felt by many. At the Y, we seek to build bridges and heal communities, and we invite our neighbors … to use Welcoming Week as an opportunity to come together to connect and find common ground.”

“At the YMCA, we have always focused on health equity for the most vulnerable in our community. Individuals may have missed critical doctor’s visits, focused less on chronic disease and general self-management or became sedentary and gained weight over the past two years,” said Colleen A. Clayton, chief membership and development officer. “One of our goals this Welcoming Week is to ensure that everyone is aware of the local community resources that are available.”

During Welcoming Week, the Gateway Family YMCA, along with community partners in Shaping Elizabeth and Shaping Eastern Union County, will host free chronic disease self-management programs. In addition, the Y will be celebrating with themed events for program participants in child care, YMCA residential housing, aquatics, group exercise and wellness programs.

For individuals who aren’t able to visit the Y in person, there will be a digital health fair and community conversation prompts throughout the week on Facebook at

For more information, contact the Elizabeth branch at 908-355-9622, the Five Points branch at 908-688-9622, the Rahway branch at 732-388-0057 or the Wellness Center branch at 908-349-9622.

Photos Courtesy of Colleen Clayton