All around Danville, colorful signs are popping up with the simple phrase, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Arabic, English and Spanish.
“This message of welcome is universal,” Maggie Shapiro Haskett said.
Haskett had heard about the signs through a friend on Facebook. The signs started at Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va. Matthew Bucher, the pastor of the church, erected a large, hand-painted version of the sign at the church in response to rhetoric he’d heard coming out of the presidential election.
Haskett, disheartened by the current political tone, the Muslim ban and the travel ban, loved the signs. Inspired, she took to Facebook seeking out others who might want their own sign. She found a local printer willing to print at least 10 signs at $12 each.
“I posted it on Facebook and had 10 quickly. It spread like wildfire,” Haskett said.
She does orders of 10 at a time; so far, 50 signs have been made and sold. She is currently collecting more orders.
“People like it. … It’s an easy and public way to put kindness out there,” she said.
Kate Snyder, Haskett’s friend and coworker, saw the post, heard the story and ordered a sign.
“I like that the signs are not explicitly political,” Snyder said. “Welcoming people who have resettled here should cross all boundaries.”
“It’s a nice visual statement to say, ‘Everybody’s welcome here.’”
Snyder said she has used it as a conversation starter to talk to her children about the point of the signs, and about other languages and cultures, such as Syria.
Snyder said the credit locally goes to Haskett.
Haskett said she just hopes it makes a difference.
“I’m hopeful this will be a catalyst to find common ground,” she said.
Haskett, who is Jewish, has friends who are Muslim and expressed to her how they appreciate the signs and are excited about them. She said that her own lineage affected her in bringing the signs in.
“My grandparents came here fleeing persecution. That’s why I’m here. It feels important to my part of the community to stand up and extend the hand of welcome,” Haskett said.
“This message of welcome is universal,” Haskett said. “My hope is this is something we can all agree on — to be welcoming.”
The yard signs cost $12 each and can be ordered by emailing welcomeindanville
@gmail.com. Any extra money will be donated to the Kentucky Refugee Ministry and the ACLU.