The story behind Dearborn’s multilingual welcome signs

You may have seen the signs dotted across Dearborn yards, welcoming residents.

“No matter where you are from, we are glad you are our neighbor,” the signs read in English, Spanish and Arabic.


It’s the work of 31-year-old Jessica Woolley, who wants everyone to feel welcome.


“It feels amazing to see the signs in the community,” says Woolley. “It feels like I’m not alone in how I feel about my community and neighborhood. It feels good to know this sentiment is shared with so many other people my community. Each one of those people is welcoming their neighbors, and it spreads love everywhere.”


She sees them in front of homes, businesses, even churches. The resident of the South Outer Drive Association and mother of twowith a third on the wayfirst saw the signs being printed by a Virginia church on Facebook. She wanted to order one for herself and decided to ask if anyone else wanted one, too.


That request exploded into a group of 600-plus people wanting signs, so Woolley took to Facebook to organize the orders. She’s done three pre-orders and started by printing 200 signs to distribute around Dearborn and the metro Detroit area.


Woolley uses a printing service from a Dearborn High School connection, where she graduated in 2004. The signs cost $11, and her goal is to make sure anyone who wants one can have one. She doesn’t make any money from the effort, only the satisfaction of spreading a positive message through her community.


“What I love about Dearborn is that small-town feel where everyone knows each other,” Woolley says. “These signs tell my neighbors I appreciate them, I love them, and they are welcome here.”


Woolley grew up in Dearborn Heights, but she and her husband chose Dearborn to settle in eight years ago. The diversity in the community is one of her favorite parts of living in the city.


“The great thing about Dearborn is that people come from all over the place. They have different backgrounds and ethnicities and come from different countries,” Woolley added. “It’s wonderful.”


One of the most heart-warming welcomes that the Woolley’s have received themselves is the Christmas card they get each year from their Muslim neighbors.


“Each year they write a passage about Jesus from the Qu’ran. I wanted a way to express that loud and proud that we are grateful,” she says. “We send them goodies for Eid, too. I just love, love this city.”


Woolley says it’s an especially important time to stand up for inclusion and acceptance.


“With the political climate now, we could understand people moving here and feeling worried or unsure, but we need them to know how we feel,” she says. “We want people to know in our house, in our home, in our community, neighbors are welcome no matter what. We appreciate them just the way they are.”

For more information or to order a sign, find the group on Facebook.

Read more articles by Jessica Strachan.

Jessica Strachan is an award-winning journalist and Metromode's project editor for On The Ground Dearborn. Follow her on Twitter @JStrachanNews.
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