For Gil Moreno of Yarmouth, the choice of what to write on a poster where people were asked to comment on the concept of community was simple.

“Community to me,” he wrote at World Refugee Day at Deering Oaks in Portland on Saturday, “means people, people and more people.”

Moreno, whose parents came to the U.S. from Mexico, said the lives of immigrants and refugees are much more difficult than they used to be, and that’s what drew him to join in a celebration of refugees at the park.

Other events to mark the impact of refugees on Portland, and vice versa, this week include “The Power to Tell a Story” at East End School on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.; an open house at Maine College of Art on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.; and a conversation about diversity, unity and community hosted by OPEN Project Youth from the Opportunity Alliance on Saturday at the Portland YMCA conference center.

Since 2000, more than 2,600 refugees from 24 countries have been resettled in Maine. But Moreno, a retired human resources executive, said he thinks that refugees have been greeted with something other than open arms, both in Maine and in other parts of the country.

“It’s not welcoming,” he said, “That’s the problem, a big problem.”

That wasn’t the case Saturday, however, when about 400 people gathered on a warm, sunny day to listen to music and celebrate diverse cultures. There were booths offering information about services for refugees and, for children, places where they could get their faces painted. A Portland firetruck was also on hand and children were given a chance to sit behind the wheel of the big truck.

Sharon Chaikuta, 17, who was supervising the poster event and is a member of the OPEN Project, said she has felt the presence of a community since she arrived here at age 8 with her parents. Chaikuta was born in the Congo and lived in Zambia before her family arrived in Maine.

The poster, she said, is designed to elicit from people what makes them feel comfortable in the community.

A companion piece invited those at the event to stick a pin in a world map indicating where they were born and then another in Maine, where they have settled. Strings connected the two pins, and the map showed scores of strings from around the world converging on Portland.

“Coming to Maine was kind of tough,” Chaikuta said, “but now we are home.”

For artist Jo Israelson, Saturday was a chance to gather more strands for her “Abraham’s Tent,” a weaving that will be set up in the Maine Jewish Museum this September.

“In the Quran, the Bible and the Torah, we are commanded to welcome the stranger,” said Israelson, and the tent will reflect that directive. Visitors to the park Saturday were invited to weave more stands of fabric that will eventually be used to make the tent.

Israelson said her interest in immigration and refugee experiences was heightened when she worked to help prevent development of House Island in Casco Bay. The island was considered the “Ellis Island of the North,” where thousands of immigrants entered the U.S. She noted that the National Council of Jewish Women took food to the immigrants and helped them settle in Maine in the 1920s, but it was also a time that the Ku Klux Klan operated in Maine, she said, and worked to keep the U.S. from accepting immigrants.

Moreno said Saturday’s events made him feel a little more positive about what immigrants and refugees will experience, but his overall sense is negative.

“I’d like to be idealistic,” he said, “but I’m pessimistic.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]