By Ramona du Houx
Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci has invited his community to an Interfaith Dinner starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9, at the Bangor High School cafeteria. It’s an opportunity for community members of all cultures and faiths to break bread and learn more about the Maine Multicultural Center, a network of educational, business, cultural services in Bangor region that are enriching the community with economic growth through diversity.
The FREE dinner’s theme is, “Many Faiths, Many Cultures, One Community,” and requires tickets that are available at the houses of worship listed below or by contacting Mayor Baldacci at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When Mayor Baldacci first came up with the idea of the dinner numerous community groups and faith-based organizations immediately embraced the concept and work began planning the event.
Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci getting the word out about the Interfaith Dinner on Maine's morning news
“In today’s world, when people of different faiths, different ancestries, different viewpoints can come together and celebrate as one community—that is itself both revolutionary and purely American,” said Mayor Baldacci. “This dinner is but one event that shows our city’s belief in the dignity and value of all people and our deep desire to be a welcoming community for all.”
Baldacci’s grandparents were immigrants who created an iconic Bangor restaurant that was also known as a community-gathering place, employing many people from the area.
“I am the grandson of Italian and Lebanese immigrants who came to America to escape the poverty and persecution of the Old World. My father’s parents started a restaurant that ran for 75 years. My mother’s family started a small grocery store on Hancock Street when Hancock Street in Bangor was a melting pot of immigrants and tenement houses. Over the years I’ve seen the kindness and support of so many. I hope our family has returned some positive contributions to our community,” said Mayor Baldacci. “Immigrants strengthen and enrich our country.”
According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants. And immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and generating more than $776 billion annually.
Immigrants are also more likely to create their own jobs. According the U.S. Department of Labor, 7.5 percent are self-employed compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born.
“Our city is strong and proud, prosperous and progressive. We welcome people of all Nations, all faiths, of all different backgrounds who all share a common love for America and for working and living together in peace and love with each other.
Immigrants are our engineers, scientists, and innovators of cutting-edge technologies and companies. According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. Additionally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited with contributing to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities.
The University of Maine in Orono has numerous professors that have enriched the school’s curriculum.
“Love Thy Neighbor is a daily reality, here. We come together from all different walks of life and viewpoints and find it in our hearts to work together to build a stronger community for all. We embrace our immigrants. It’s everyone’s home, and it’s the Bangor way to welcome everyone,” said the Mayor.
Together, the Multicultural Center network participants believe that a successful economic future for the Bangor area is dependent upon the creation of a more culturally rich and ethnically diverse community environment which fosters the growth of new immigrant communities and works to retain and support our existing foreign-national residents.
Sponsoring faith organizations include: Faith Linking in Acton, All Souls Congregational Church, Congregation Beth El, Hammond Street Congregational Church, Crosspoint Church of Bangor, Islamic Center of Maine, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. John’s Episcopal, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Temple of the Feminine Divine, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor.
Restaurants supporting the dinner include: Panda Garden, Happy China Buffet, Ichiban, and Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant.
Due to space constraints, this dinner is limited to 250 guests.