A celebration of community

Comunidad Integrada looks to unite during event in Steamboat

Steamboat Springs High School will be filled with the sounds of traditional Mexican folk music tonight as immigrants, newcomers and locals are invited to attend a "community voices" celebration.

"We are working to bring immigrants and the existing community together," said Summer Laws, executive director of Comunidad Integrada. "Some of the same topics affect both communities, and we hope we can bring people together and show what they have to offer."

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The catalyst for the celebration is a recently-announced grant from the Colorado Trust's Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative. Laws said the grant will be used to develop a four-year community integration plan.

Today "is the final meeting on how we spend that funding," she said. "We hope everyone in the community votes on ideas and gives us some more to act on."

The celebration will be followed by a similar meeting June 18 at the Boys and Girls Club in Craig.

"What we saw a lot in Craig was that people were looking for English classes," Laws said. "Some people also asked, in both Steamboat and Craig, for more cultural events, soccer games and dances for kids."

She said requests have been made for a music hall, language and culture classes, along with interpreters.

"What we are going to do (today) is that we are going to narrow it down into the activities we'll actually offer," Laws said. "This isn't just for immigrants. Locals have asked us to hold community dinners prepared by immigrants of food from the homeland."

She said locals have asked for lectures on foreign cultures.

"We really like to have everyone involved," Laws said. "We look at ourselves as serving both immigrants and the community members."

In addition to the Mexican folk music performance, she said an African dance troupe will perform.

"It's going to be a fun and purpose-filled night," she said. "Input is critical to create programs and activities that fit our community's needs.

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