The following is a republished press release from Ithaca Welcomes Refugees and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact reporter Michael Smith at msmith@ithacavoice.com.

ITHACA, NY — Approximately 150 people gathered on June 26 to enjoy a community dinner and silent auction celebrating and showing support for refugee resettlement in Ithaca.

The Ithaca Welcomes Refugees (IWR) Mediterranean Dinner was held shortly after Ithaca’s Common Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution on behalf of the city to officially welcome refugees. Those in attendance included Ithaca residents, leaders and members of local organizations, faith communities, and government, including 2nd Ward Alderperson and Common Council member Duscon Nguyen. The dinner featured performances by the Cornell Middle Eastern Ensemble, speeches from local leaders, and an open buffet packed with delicious recipes from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region, all of which were prepared by IWR volunteers, Agava’s Liz Diaz, Ithaca Bakery’s Lucy Jacons and Jason Earls, and Chef Jason Windsor.

The event was completely volunteer run and truly a celebration of the Ithacan community as a whole. Local businesses including Ithaca Bakery, CSA Plowbreak Farm, and Agava donated ingredients, kitchen space, and serving materials, and other resources. Items for the silent auction were provided by donations from residents and local businesses including restaurants, theatres, stores, and more! (A complete list of sponsors can be found on IWR’s website: www.ithacawelcomesrefugees.org.)

Attendees commented on how much fun it was to meet new people in a relaxed setting: “It was wonderful to sit at a table with strangers, because they stay a stranger for about 11 seconds.” “We quickly found something in common and suddenly we connected with people we never would have met before!” Chef Jason Windsor and his volunteers also received buckets of praise for their delicious food.

This event was just one of a number of fundraising events IWR has planned in support of refugees coming to Ithaca. IWR works in conjunction with local organizations to help newly resettled refugees and offers continuing support for refugees who have already settled into our community. IWR and its partners help new neighbors build long-lasting connections with our community and seamlessly blend where “refugee” ends and “Ithacan” begins.

For more information, please visit IWR’s website or email us at ithacawelcomesrefugees@gmail.com.

Jennifer Wholey

Jennifer Wholey is a feature writer and Head of Dining Partnerships for the Ithaca Voice. Contact her at jwholey@ithacavoice.com.