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Decades ago, when active refugee resettlement began in the borough of Whitehall, the Whitehall Public Library was quick to respond. The library now has a long and proud history of services and resources tailored to resettled community members, many of whom are now actively buying homes and starting businesses.

In response to ongoing rumors and disinformation around special favors and privileges offered to immigrants and refugees in the community, the library created the ‘Welcoming Neighbor Alliance’. The Welcoming Neighbor Alliance is a curated digital collection of factual information about the local immigrant and refugee population.

This effort was initiated in direct response to a long-term resident that visited the library because she was very concerned about negative rumors around immigrant homeowners. She knew that her public library was the best source for trusted factual information.

“I was aware that false rumors about refugees getting free mortgage loans and other government subsidies existed,” says Library Director Paula Kelly, “but I didn’t know that they were still prevalent after so many years. The library wanted to act fast to set the record straight.”

Kelly met with community partners at South Hills Faith Movement, Literacy Pittsburgh and the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh to brainstorm and talk about next steps. It was then that the Welcoming Neighbor Alliance concept evolved from the simple premise of sharing responsive factual information, one neighbor at a time, with hope that that information would then be shared with others, creating a network of allies that welcome and support community diversity.

You can access the Welcoming Neighbor Alliance presentation from the library website at:

https://www.whitehallpubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Welcoming-Neighbor-Alliance.pdf

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