Local Unsung Heroes Celebrated

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2015

CONTACT:
Melissa Morgan, Director of Partnerships, (714) 480-6582, [email protected]

Local Unsung Heroes
Celebrated by OC Human Relations at AWARDS 44 on May 7 for Embodying Justice, Diversity and the Human Spirit

(Orange County, CA)—For Irvine resident Farrah N. Khan, teaching others about compassion and the appreciation of all faiths has been her lifelong passion. Because of her dedication to bring people together, she will be one of eleven local, unsung heroes honored at OC Human Relations’ AWARDS 44 celebration on Thursday, May 7 at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Alongside Farrah, will be an array of diverse community leaders, a police officer who exemplifies the best in community policing, a school and three local businesses that have gone above and beyond to embrace diversity in Orange County. This nonprofit celebration is presented by SoCalGas, with honorary chair, Keith Swayne.

Farrah, the founder of First Drops, a children’s interfaith community service organization, began this initiative by bringing together her young sons, their friends and classmates. Open to children of all faiths, they engage in learning about one another’s religions and work together on community service activities, such as serving hot meals to homeless families in the Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana on the fourth Sunday of every month. The children themselves serve the food, interact with people who are homeless and distribute clothing, blankets and toiletries when possible. Through First Drops, Farrah is teaching children to be compassionate and supportive of all people, including victims and targets of hate crimes, prejudice and bullying.

Another focal point of Farrah’s work revolves around reducing Islamophobia in our community. Since 9/11, she has stood up against anti-Muslim bigotry in Orange County and regularly invites non-Muslims to visit a mosque with her, in order to dispel myths and misconceptions about Muslims. She has recently created a council for local Muslim women, opened her home to foster children, stays involved with the Irvine Global Village Festival and still finds time to take her four boys to soccer practice.

Much like the analogy that her First Drops organization represents, (one drop of water can create a ripple that spreads a distance), Farrah’s community leadership and service, and that of her fellow AWARDS 44 honorees, is an example of the ripple effect that one person can have on the lives of many when doing good in the community.

“44 years ago, our Board of Supervisors created the OC Human Relations Commission to build mutual understanding among our residents. Out of the Commission, our nonprofit was born. To support the work we do in Orange County to create safe and inclusive schools and communities, develop diverse leaders and mediate conflict, we host this special AWARDS celebration and fundraiser to bring together an incredibly diverse collection of people in a beautiful mosaic, to share the stories of unsung heroes who make a difference every day, often one person at a time, and to lift up our vision to create safe and inclusive neighborhoods,” said Leticia Mata, president of the local nonprofit, OC Human Relations.

Honorary AWARDS 44 celebration chair, Keith Swayne, is the retired CEO of Orange County’s Case Swayne Co., philanthropic co-founder of The Keith and Judy Swayne Family Foundation, and a founding member of OC Human Relations Community Partners—a savvy group of key leaders in Orange County whose vision of the future for the county is of a community made strong by its diversity.

The AWARDS 44 celebration will recognize four categories of local heroes:

Diverse Community Leaders – The Diverse Community Leader Awards honor individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights. This year’s honorees are:
• Gloria Banks (Placentia) for advancing youth education through the NAACP and providing services to the homeless population in the tri-city area.
• The Bravo Family (Costa Mesa) for being tireless and courageous advocates for immigration and civic engagement, such as the rights of disenfranchised communities through OCCCO.
• De Colores Organization (Santa Ana) for creating opportunities for civic engagement and advocacy for LGBTQ and immigrant communities.
• Father Michael Mai Khai Hoan (Laguna Woods) for cultivating cultural, social, educational, health and wellness programs for underserved communities of Vietnamese Americans and Latinos.
• Farrah N. Khan (Irvine) for leading youth interfaith groups and providing services to the homeless.
• Nicholas Academic Centers (Santa Ana) for supporting higher education for low-income students through mentoring and scholarships, started by Judge Jack Mandel.

Community-Policing – The Community-Policing Award recognizes a department that has tailored creative strategies to provide outstanding service to and build positive relationships with their communities. This year’s honoree is:
• Officer Jenny Lindsey (Irvine Police Department) for providing support services to mentally ill residents and the homeless.

Distinguished School – The Distinguished School Award recognizes exceptional contributions to promoting, nurturing, protecting and/or cultivating a school campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable. This year’s honoree is:
• Savanna High School (Anaheim) for having an outstanding OC Human Relations BRIDGES Safe & Respectful Schools Program. Savannah High School’s faculty and students have shown unwavering commitment to creating an equitable, inclusive and safe campus.

Distinguished Business Awards – Three local businesses will be recognized with the 2015 Distinguished Business Awards at AWARDS 44 for going above and beyond to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
MUFG Union Bank, N.A. for its core organizational values, which include: Integrity, Respect, Service, Collaboration, Inclusion and Stewardship. Currently, 84 bank officers serve on 143 nonprofit board positions that support housing initiatives, education, community economic development, health and human services, culture and arts, and the environment.
PIMCO for its focus on cultivating an inclusive culture which draws from a diverse spectrum of talent and for its belief that, through corporate philanthropy and corporate citizenship, business can enable positive change and help provide leadership on social issues. In 2014, more than 1,200 PIMCO employee volunteers contributed 27,559 hours of service to 138 organizations around the globe.
U.S. Bank for their vision of inclusion and diversity in their hiring policies and practices, as well as how they carry out broader, enterprise-wide initiatives, including inclusive recruitment, internship programs, business resource groups, sponsorship, mentor programs and education. In 2014, U.S. Bank and the U.S. Bank Foundation provided $881,000 in grant and sponsorship funding to 91 Orange County organizations.

For More Information
For more information about AWARDS 44 regarding honoree bios, to schedule interviews or to learn more, please contact Melissa Morgan at 714-480-6582 or [email protected]

AWARDS 44 Sponsors Currently Include:
• SoCalGas (Title Sponsor), Related California, Banc of California, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Southern California Edison and Wells Fargo
• Additional supporters include: Ralph Bauer, California Sikh Council, Chevron, City of Anaheim, Donnie Crevier, Orange County’s Credit Union, Kia Motors America, MUFG Union Bank, Orange County Department of Education, PIMCO Foundation, Schools First Federal Credit Union, Southern California Edison, Keith Swayne, UPS, U.S. Bank

About OC Human Relations
OC Human Relations is a local nonprofit with the mission to foster mutual understanding among residents and eliminate prejudice, intolerance and discrimination in order to make Orange County a better place for ALL people to live, work and do business. OC Human Relations operates with the belief that ALL people should live free of violence and discrimination. The organization brings people together to create safe and inclusive schools and communities, develop diverse leaders and mediate conflict. For 44 years, OC Human Relations has been honoring individuals, law enforcement, schools and community organizations for their contributions to human relations.

www.ochumanrelationsawards.org | www.facebook.com/ochumanrelations | www.twitter.com/weareoneoc

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Click here to watch inspiring videos of our honorees.