Promoting Respect: YWCA Hosts Second Annual Festival Of PRIDE

Food, fellowship and fun abounded at the Jamestown YWCA Friday evening.

More than a dozen area residents gathered at the YWCA to celebrate the second annual Festival of PRIDE (Promoting Respect for Individual Differences for Everyone).

The event featured a potluck, information about various awareness building organizations such as PFLAG, a speech by Eastside YMCA branch manager Max Martin and a round table discussion about community issues.

According to Beth Oakes, executive director for the YWCA, in addition to serving as a means to bring the community together, the festival was also held to commemorate the annual YWCA Stand Against Racism.

“We decided to host the event here at the YWCA this year because we have the facility to do it, and it seemed a natural place to do it. It was also a nice way to showcase the building, and get people into the YWCA,” Oakes said. “We’re excited to do it here even though it’s a little different than last year. Food, fun and friends on a rainy Friday night – what’s not to like?”

The evening was opened with Paul Leone reciting Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty.” The reading was followed by a prayer led by Martin and a potluck dinner complete with authentic ethnic dishes. Following dinner, Martin took to the podium to share a story about his history, and how he came to become an advocate for the diverse Jamestown community. He also discussed the issues he has witnessed in the area, and fostered a round table discussion amongst the audience upon how to find resolution.

According to Martin, the idea behind the festival is to hold a conversation with the community about diversity, culture, racism and justice. But, it’s also to celebrate the differences which make each portion of the community unique and beautiful.

“The community has a lot to offer, and a diverse community is a rich community,” Martin said. “The more we learn about each other, the more rich the community gets. If the city is going to grow, the internal community and culture needs to grow too, otherwise you’ll only see pieces of it. That’s what this committee is about: how we can enrich a city through diversity. If you do that, everything else is easy.”

The Festival of PRIDE was sponsored by the YWCA Racial Justice committee. For more information, call Martin at the Eastside Family YMCA, 484-3729, Oakes at the Jamestown YWCA, 488-2237, or visit www.ywcaofjamestown.com.