The ministry educates the non-immigrant community about the importance of immigrant newcomers settling here, said Melissa Rinehart, the nonprofit’s lead organizer. Welcoming Fort Wayne also works to create the infrastructure to help new immigrants acclimate to life here and become contributors to the community.
The ministry, which was founded about two years ago, is part of the Welcoming America movement, which promotes similar work in cities around the country, Rinehart said.
Immigrants are important to the future of Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana, she said.
“The only reason we’ve had population growth in northeast Indiana is because of immigration,” said Rinehart, a cultural anthropologist.
Newcomers to America also help fill the many open jobs in area industries, she said.
“If they were not here, our area economy would not be as good.”
She and the Rev. Roger Reece, executive pastor of Associated Churches, said they will gain a better understanding of newcomers’ contributions to the local economy and community through a Gateway for Growth grant.
Read the full story from the News-Sentinel: “Welcoming Fort Wayne working to build stronger community”