LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 12, 2018) — Spending a holiday alone can be soul crushing. It feels as though every single person in the world has a place to go, people to visit, things to do … everyone, except you.
It doesn’t have to be that way for University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff — not with the Welcome Home UK program entering its second successful year. Currently enrolled UK students with nowhere to go during an academic break, like the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks, can apply to visit a UK employee during the holiday. In turn, UK faculty and staff volunteer to open their homes to the students and include them in their family’s holiday experience.
Welcome Home UK was designed by the UK Office for Institutional Diversity’s Office of LGBTQ* Resources to provide currently enrolled students an option for positive, safe and respectful housing and community support options during academic breaks — when most on-campus facilities are closed. By design, the program matches UK employees who volunteer to share their homes and holiday traditions with students who need a safe place to stay.
"Family and a sense of community and togetherness during the holidays has always been important in our home,” said Mark Mains, assistant director of 4-H Youth Development at UK. “When we realized that some students at UK were not able to be part of a family over breaks and holidays we were honored to work with the Office of LGBTQ* Resources to help out.” Last year, Mains and his family chose to welcome a UK student into their home for the holidays.
“Our student was a joy to have around. He shared our meals with us, met our extended family and had a great experience. We benefited as much as he did,” Mains said. “Being able to open our home to others during the holidays provides a sense of family, love and support to others at a time when it is really needed.
“No UK student or community member should be alone during the holidays. I'm thrilled to be part of a university and program that works to ensure that they aren't," Mains said.
The Welcome Home UK program is flexible, designed to meet each student’s unique needs and desires. Some students may need only housing for a couple days over the Thanksgiving holiday. Others may require housing for multiple weeks in December and early January. Some students only wish to share in a holiday tradition or meal.
For any UK student who will be alone during an upcoming university break and for any UK employee with room in their home and heart to welcome a student during the upcoming holidays, the process to apply is the same.
Currently enrolled UK students interested in having a host family for one or more parts of Thanksgiving or winter break, complete the initial online student application. Students who applied last year, reapply here.
Once the application is received, a staff member in LGBTQ* Resources will reach out with additional information regarding specific student or employee questions, requests and needs. A standing committee of faculty and staff will then pair students and hosts based on shared interests, type of stay/connection desired, and any other information shared during the application process
"The Welcome Home UK program is an important service offered through LGBTQ* Resources and Institutional Diversity,” said Lance Poston, UK director of institutional inclusion and community engagement. “By connecting students who either need a place to stay or someone to share a meal with over the winter breaks, we help further a sense of community and belonging at UK. We are proud to make this service available to our entire campus community and proud of the strong statement it makes about our values as an institution."
For more information about Welcome Home UK, call LGBTQ* Resources at 859-218-4816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue