Starting on the WEBSITE

I’ve been designing the layout of the website I am creating to promote my book which will include a tab for the book, the process, and a bio. I’m still in the process of making the book so the website is pretty blank right now. I planning to take stills and videos of the book, and flipping through it.

I also thought of making a tab for other works I had done.

a big brother for refugees

Midtown Utica Community Center (MUCC)

MUCC is an inclusive multicultural and refugee-friendly space that serves all.

Chris Sunderlin, founder and executive director of MUCC, taught ESL classes to adult refugees for seven years until he decided to start the MUCC with his own paycheck. It was apparent to him that the refugee population lack opportunities to cultivate, express, and preserve their culture. The MUCC is not like any other community center, it’s like a family, a big brother. It connects services and people together to make everybody’s life a little easier and better.

“ It’s a family, a place to belong, to feel
  welcome, wanted and useful. ” 

I visited the MUCC for the first time during freshmen year for a photography project and was amazed by how involved the youths are at this community center. It is hard for anyone who had to move and adjust to their home. The MUCC serves as a communal space that is open to all providing them a place that’s their so they feel included in the community. 

Part of MUCC’s purpose is to help change the conversations and thought processes of people who is not affected by refugees or immigrants; they don’t know refugees, they don’t know immigrants, they don’t know any other culture other than their own. Through a partnership with Anna Tobin D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of Munson-Williams-Proctor Museum, the MUCC community has been incorporate with several exhibitions. It is incredibly powerful to include immigrants, refugees and people of color in every aspect of the community.

The MUCC does a lot of programming with the youths. They support a summer youth program through the Oneida County Workforce Development Agency where kids get paid while learning job skills.  Their focus may be towards the youth, but anyone who wants to come are welcomed.

“We really are awesome, we kill it. Wherever we go we take over. We invade, which isn’t a really good word because we’re refugees.”

Chris Sunderlin wishes to see one of the kids from within MUCC growing up and taking the lead in the future. With the current housing situations for refugees, he envisions an expansion of the center to allocate new refugees in one central location where they could stay for a year and adapt to the American lifestyle before finding their own apartment elsewhere. Other possibilities would be adding a gym, having a storefront and owning a campsite where the MUCC could set up language camps, cooking camps, yoga retreats, and wellness retreats. Chris sees many different futures for the MUCC. Without any affiliation to any larger organization, Chris create the MUCC from scratch and relies on donations from the people to thrive. For our community and our children, your contribution and support will make a huge impact today, tomorrow, and towards our future.