Statement from Rachel Peric in R

Statement on the COVID-19 Situation

Rachel Peric | March 13, 2020

Dear Community Members,

As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the nation and world, I want to inform you about the steps Welcoming America is taking to respond and monitor the situation. 

Welcoming communities can and will play an important role, modeling how our values drive the decisions we make going forward, and we applaud the leadership already being demonstrated by so many on the local level in this moment.

The health and safety of all our neighbors is our top priority. Caring for one another in this moment will take urgent and deliberate action. Health and safety are rooted in working together, ensuring all of us are seen part of the solution, rather than stigmatized as the source of the problem.    

We recognize that our members and community partners are facing disruptions in conducting programs and outreach. Please ensure that you and your organizations are following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on individual and organizational responses to the virus.  

At the moment, I have asked Welcoming America staff based in the Decatur, GA office to work remotely. All staff members are to avoid travel in the near term and remain available by phone and virtual methods.

In regards to the Welcoming Interactive conference this June, we are following the recommendations of the WHO and CDC for large events and consulting our local partners in Charlotte, NC. As of now, the event is still planned to proceed. Any major updates will be communicated on the event website and in email to registrants and event partners.

When certain groups are prevented from fully participating in the solution, communities risk the health and safety of all people. The uncertainties of COVID-19, our susceptibility to bias, and the impact of isolation will make it all the more important that we use our voice and power to maintain norms of cohesion and cooperation, especially across lines of difference. 

All of us have the power to make choices now that will not only reduce the impact of this virus, but make ourselves more resilient to deliberate efforts to spread disinformation and fear of each other. 

We urge colleagues everywhere to: 

  • Engage with local partners on a whole-of-community response to stem the spread of the virus.
  • Focus on education and on elevating positive, values-based messages.
  • Call out discrimination where you see it.
  • As we practice social distancing, double down on virtual interaction and solidarity.

Welcoming America is committed to supporting our members with resources, connection, and timely information to minimize disruptions to events, programs, and other important work. Together, we can ensure that we act with resilience and strength.

Sincerely,

Rachel Peric
Executive Director, Welcoming America

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