May 5, 2011, City National Grove of Anaheim
OC Human Relations recognized the most outstanding schools, community members and community-policing projects from across Orange County at the Human Relations Awards 40 Gala Celebration attended by over 500 people on Thursday, May 5 at the City National Grove of Anaheim. And take a look at the great photos that our Awards 40 official photographer, Darcy Fehringer, has posted on her site – Miss Darcy Photography.
“On our 40th anniversary, OC Human Relations takes great pride in honoring these extraordinary people,” says C. William Wood, chair of the OC Human Relations Commission. “These are Orange County’s unsung heroes, the people who dedicate tremendous amounts of their own time with no expectation of reward or recognition to make the county a better place for all people to live, work and do business. At a time in our nation’s history when so many communities are polarized it’s a privilege to highlight the efforts of these bridge builders.”
Announcing the Awards 40 Recipients:
The Sisters of St. Joseph have been a constant presence and a voice of compassion in Orange County for almost 100 years. Throughout their history they have focused on unity and reconciliation and have brought people together to meet the needs of the community. In 1922, when the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Orange County, they experienced anti-Catholic sentiment and became targets of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite this initial intolerance, the first St. Joseph Hospital was opened in Orange in 1929 and now there are a total of eight hospitals throughout California Since 1929, the St. Joseph Health System (SJHS) continuing goal was to improve the health and quality of life in the communities it serves. Among their many accomplishments, the Sisters of St. Joseph ran a nursing school during World War II; helped establish the Children’s Hospital of Orange County; began a women’s prison ministry; opened countless schools throughout California to serve the most vulnerable in the community; established Taller San Jose, an innovative program that provides undereducated and unskilled young people with job training and rehabilitation; opened Bethany, a program to assist women in transition from a shelter program to independent living and provided seed money for organizations that meet the needs of the poor. Although the numbers of the Sisters of St. Joseph have diminished and the congregation is aging, they continue to be advocates for the common good. To this end, they have partnered with countless lay people to ensure their legacy will live on and that the needs of the most vulnerable in our community will always be heard and met.
Community Leader Awards
The Community Leader Awards honor individuals or groups who make extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights
Sandra Robbie is being recognized for her work educating the public about the landmark 1947 Mendez vs. Westminster school desegregation case. When Robbie, a Westminster resident, became aware of this case – which preceded Brown vs. Board of Education by seven years – she became passionate about increasing the community’s awareness of this important piece of Orange County history. She began by writing and producing an Emmy award-winning documentary that aired on PBS and in classrooms across California and worked with the Museum of Tolerance to develop a special exhibit. Robbie’s relentless efforts on behalf of the Mendez story helped lead the way for the US Postal Service to issue a commemorative Mendez stamp in 2007 and President Obama to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Sylvia Mendez, now 74, who was a plaintiff in the case when she was just 9 years old. And, recently California added the case to the framework for 4th and 11th grade curriculum. But Robbie is not finished by any means, she is now working with Chapman University’s College of Education to house the historical collection of the Mendez vs. Westminster case and is developing a “Peace of Orange” walking tour of local sites that played an important role in segregation and desegregation — a tour she describes as an Orange County version of Boston’s Freedom Trail. Robbie’s dedication, community outreach and passion for publicizing this important case make her a deserving recipient of a ‘Civil Rights in History’ Award.
Ralph Bauer’s lifetime commitment to creating a community where all individuals are valued and treated with respect have led him to be called “The Father of Human Relations in Huntington Beach.” Bauer is the co-author of the “Declaration of Policy about Human Dignity”, written in response to hate crimes and incidents and adopted by the Huntington Beach City Council in 1996. In 1997, he helped create the Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force with the express mission of “promoting and celebrating diversity in Huntington Beach through education and understanding.” As a result of these efforts, non-English speaking members in the community participate in leadership trainings and are encouraged to become engaged in community issues. Bauer has always advocated for the rights of all students, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, to receive a quality education and to have the opportunity to go to college. He continues his efforts in the educational arena through his involvement in the predominantly Hispanic “Oak View” neighborhood where he lends his many skills to assist the youth at the Oak View Community Center. Bauer also spends a great deal of time advocating for the rights of seniors and serves on the Huntington Beach Council on Aging where he’s currently involved in an effort to replace the city’s undersized senior center.
Dr. Siddiqi has served 30 years as the Imam of the first and largest Mosque in Orange County. Despite the hate and vandalism the mosque has too often faced, Dr. Siddiqi has always reacted with compassion. He brings a moderate, forgiving, open and embracing approach to his efforts. Dr. Siddiqi co-found the Academy for Judeo, Christian and Islamic Studies in the late 1970’s to build understanding between these three Abrahamic faiths and to emphasize their commonalities, despite the political conflict that at times drives wedges between them. He has led and organized many interfaith dialogues, spoken at the World Assembly of Churches and participated in many seminars organized by the National Council of Churches and the National Council of Christians and Jews. In September 2001, President Bush invited him to lead a Muslim Prayer at the Interfaith Prayer Service at Washington’s National Cathedral. The Los Angeles Times, in recognizing Dr. Siddiqi as one of the 100 most influential people in California, described him as “…the religious leader of thousands of Southern California Muslims at a time when xenophobia is running high, he has been a leader in driving home the point that Muslims in the U.S. are peace loving.”
Felipe Heras is a remarkable citizen, parent, Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center (OCCTAC) board member and advocate for families with limited resources who have children with disabilities. Heras came to OCCTAC in search of educational programs for his son who has Downs Syndrome where he soon became involved as a member of the OCCTAC Parent Committee. Heras worked endless hours with the Parent Committee to help the agency advocate for the rights of parents and children with disabilities. Because of his exceptional leadership, Heras was elected President of the Parent Committee and two years later was elected to be the Parent Representative on the OCCTAC Board. After serving two years, he took on a greater challenge and became Board President. Since taking office, he has made a point of recruiting volunteers and interns who are able to assist with grant writing, marketing and accounting. In addition to being generous with his time, Heras has consistently given both money and in-kind donations that have had a significant impact on the success of the organization. Heras’ leadership, service and dedication to the empowerment of Orange County’s children with disabilities and at-risk youth are entirely voluntary. He consistently displays generosity, kindness, compassion and humility and is a role model for parents and community members.
Sundaram Rama came to the United States as a child after his family had suffered years of hardship under the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Once here, he struggled to learn the language and adapt to American culture. Eventually his hard work paid off and he earned a degree from the University of California, Riverside. For the last 16 years, Rama has worked at the Cambodian Family agency as a Community Mobilizer, a Youth Program Director and currently as the Executive Director. As the E.D., Rama has pushed The Cambodian Family to new heights in the areas of advocacy, policy change, collaboration with other non-profits, and developing sustainable programs to help set a course for the future. In both his paid and volunteer roles he has helped many low-income, refugee and minority families find assistance from the variety of available services. His abiding passion is his work with young people. He endeavors to help them develop the skills that will enable them to turn their visions for the future into a reality. As a result of his contributions, many of his students have gone on to college and are now working as teachers, doctors, engineers and business owners. Rama still volunteers his time with the Cambodian Family youth program which includes serving as a chaperone for the annual summer camping trip that he originally started.
For the past quarter century Dr. Parham has been an active member of the Orange County community; contributing his talents in the areas of social advocacy, community uplift and youth empowerment. In the 1980’s, as Chair of the City of Irvine’s Human Relations Committee, Dr. Parham helped draft the city’s first Human Rights Ordinance. In the 1990’s, he helped charter the first Orange County chapter of the 100 Black Men and was instrumental in developing their “Passport to the Future” program as well as the organization’s “Rites of Passage” component. In 2002, Dr. Parham was elected as the fifth President of the 100 Black Men of Orange County and in that capacity spearheaded a number of important initiatives including developing Business, Health and Wellness Summits. He also initiated an “Institutional Report Card” to evaluate the quality of the educational experiences of African American youth in Orange County schools and has served as the national chair of education for the 100 Black Men of America. In addition to being a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Community Coalition, Dr. Parham recently served as the Vice-Chair of the Oden Commission, which hosted the first Orange County racial profiling conference focusing on police practices.
Rabbi Krause recently retired as the senior rabbi of Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo. In our polarized cities where interfaith reconciliation is sorely needed, Rabbi Krause was a trailblazer before this work was readily accepted. In 1994, realizing there was a need to open lines of communication between Orange County’s diverse faith traditions, he founded the annual Religious Diversity Faire. This event continued for fifteen years, connecting thousands of people of all different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Immediately following 9/11, Rabbi Krause helped organize the South County Living Room Dialogues Series, which brought together members of St. Mary’s Church, the Mission Viejo Mosque and his synagogue in an effort to provide a safe place for open dialogue. As a result of these meetings, Common Ground, an ongoing dialogue group, was created. As a result, members of the church, the mosque and the synagogue went together to Mexico to build a home for low-income residents. On that trip an award winning documentary, entitled “On Common Ground”, was produced. This film has received critical acclaim all over the country. The women’s interfaith group, S.A.R.A.H., also grew out of the friendships created by the Living Room dialogues. Rabbi Krause has always been an outspoken champion of social justice and a practitioner of compassion. For example, out of the simple act of requesting congregants to bring bags of groceries on the Day of Atonement (a significant Jewish holiday), a tradition has developed that results in the donation of tons of food annually to a local food bank.
Distinguished School Awards
The Distinguished School Awards recognize exceptional contributions to promoting, nurturing, protecting and/or cultivating a campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable.
Over the last year, Los Amigos Human Relations has launched its 3-year campaign; “Educate to Empower.” This campaign promotes the idea that education should be empowering, that students are teachers and can educate others, and that learning our cultural history is empowering. The premise being that empowered students will achieve more than disempowered students. Students have focused their projects on issues that are important to youth including healthy teen relationships, Cesar Chavez day and college access for undocumented students. In order to create a safe, inclusive and equitable campus they have collaborated with different clubs and community groups on campus to educate teachers, students and parents on college access for all students, including the undocumented. As a result of an incident last year, Human Relations and administration have also worked together to create a new Halloween policy that ensures that Halloween is a fun day on campus, free from offensive and disrespectful costumes.
Last year Newport Harbor BRIDGES students felt that it was time to end the toxic language that so frequently is heard on many high school campuses. They took on this task and developed the campaign, “That’s W.H.A.C.K.” , which stands for Words Hurt And Can Kill. This campaign was created in honor of the all the students around the nation who have committed suicide as a result of being bullied. The 3-year long campaign aims to create a culture amongst staff and students that does not tolerate hateful and hurtful words on campus. BRIDGES students have created a pledge for students to sign promising to end the use of toxic language. They have also created a PSA that was posted on Facebook, have hosted a Day of Silence to highlight the campaign and are working with teachers to help spread the message.
The Community-Policing Awards recognize departments that have tailored creative strategies to provide service and build positive relationships with their communities.
Tustin’s Alliance Avenue area is a densely populated, low-income rental neighborhood. Because of this street’s long history of high crime rates, gang activity, poor street lighting and rundown appearance, it became the focus of the Tustin Police Department. In July 2010, the Department teamed up with Code Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Tustin Community Redevelopment Agency and Field Services to form a plan involving property owners and community members to rejuvenate the area. As a result of these collaborative efforts, the community has enjoyed the transformation of Alliance Avenue. Property owners fixed up rundown properties by painting buildings, replacing dilapidated garage doors, filling in neglected planter areas with decorative tile and evicting problem tenants. Unsightly tarps were taken down, front yards and alleys were cleaned up, trees were planted, brighter street lights installed and graffiti removed. These community outreach efforts have resulted in a greater sense of community pride in the neighborhood and improved relationships between the Tustin Police and the community. Community members are now speaking more freely to the police and four new Neighborhood Watch Groups have been started. As a result of the combined task force efforts, crime in the area was reduced in the categories of Residential Burglary (10%), Commercial Burglary (50%), Grand Theft (80%) and Robbery (25%). The residents who live on Alliance Avenue can now comfortably walk down their street and enjoy a safer and more aesthetically pleasing environment.
A Big Thank You to Our Sponsors!
Related; Disneyland Resort; St. Joseph Health Care System
Chevron; Crevier BMW; Susan and John Reese; Keith and Judy Swayne
City National Bank, Jeffrey and Kimberly Goh, Southern California Gas Company, Edison International, Schools First Credit Union, Wells Fargo
California State University, Fullerton; Kay Carpenter; Chapman University; Christ Our Redeemer AME Church; Chun Ha Insurance; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; NOC Community College District; Islamic Society of Orange County; Orange County’s Credit Union; Temple Beth El; University of California, Irvine
100 Black Men of Orange County; Elegant by Design; Goodwill Industries of Orange County; City National Grove of Anaheim; Islamic Institute of Orange County; Relámpago de Cielo Inc.,