WORTHINGTON — The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and Pioneer PBS are collaborating to host Welcoming Week in Worthington with a “Creating Home Together Through Art” event from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 in Centennial Park.

The free event will showcase multiple resources in the community, providing information on ISD 518 schools, the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Worthington Area YMCA, along with their related programming. Unidos MN volunteers will also be on hand to provide voter registration and engagement information and encourage participation in the 2020 census.

Antojitos Mexicanos Socorro will have its food cart onsite, and the ArtMobile will encourage children and families to create art using sidewalk chalk or paper and markers.

Andrea Duarte-Alonso, event organizer and Lead for America Fellow with the Southwest Initiative Foundation, said she's excited to see community members and partners come together to support the event.

Welcoming Week is a nationwide event started in 2009 by Welcoming America. The Southwest Initiative Foundation became a member of Welcoming America earlier this year, so this is its first time leading Welcoming Week activities in southwest Minnesota.

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“Due to COVID, we have decided to do one bigger event,” Duarte-Alonso said. Worthington, which is her hometown, was chosen for the event because of its diversity. She said the event offers an opportunity for people to come together, learn from one another, understand what resources are available and to discuss where growth is needed.

Planned activities for Welcoming Week align with SWIF’s values, which are to help communities grow, Duarte-Alonso said.

While Worthington is having its own event, she said both Granite Falls and Willmar — two other cities in SWIF’s service area — have planned events today and next Friday, respectively.

“We’re just hoping that whatever we see coming from these events, they will only get bigger,” Duarte-Alonso said, adding that she’d like to see it become an annual event in Worthington.

With the Welcoming Week event planned on what would have been Worthington’s King Turkey Day, Duarte-Alonso said pairing the two events in the future would be “a more awesome way to celebrate the differences we have and also the similarities.”

“We hope that we have continuous things going where our community really learns from each other,” she added.

Gail Holinka will have the ArtMobile on site as she continues to lead a community engagement project through art. The ultimate project is to create a mural for the 10th Street Plaza area using mosaics created by community members.

“We’re really encouraging diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Holinka said.

The art project in the park will focus on local people creating art that helps tell the story of what home means to them and how they feel connected to their community.

“We will be taking pictures of some of the designs with hopes to incorporate into some of our future community projects,” Holinka said.

Due to the pandemic, Welcoming Week attendees are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.