CONTACT:
March 6, 2012
Don Han
(714) 796-8361
[email protected]

OC Human Relations Selects Twelve Who Have Helped Combat
Prejudice, Intolerance and Discrimination Countywide
*Unsung heroes to be honored at AWARDS 41 Gala on May 10*

 

(Orange County) – Most people would be surprised to find a judge directly involved in helping the homeless overcome mental health issues or providing veterans with assistance dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Honorable Judge Wendy S. Lindley of the Superior Court in Orange County does not follow the status quo. Her passion to help community members has earned Lindley a place among one of twelve honorees at OC Human Relations‟ AWARDS 41 Gala Celebration on Thursday, May 10 at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

Judge Lindley is an 18-year judicial expert presiding over six different courts addressing the mental health, homelessness and substance abuse issues apparent in Orange County. According to Judge Lindley, many people do not get the treatment or support they need to overcome their issues because mental illness is looked upon as a stigma. People end up going through a “revolving door of incarceration.”- Thus, the court will first determine why people engage in crimes and help individuals struggling with mental health issues, homelessness and substance abuse.

Whatever it Takes Court (WIT) was established by Judge Lindley to help those who dually suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. The WIT court teams up a participant with a Personal Service Coordinator (PSC) who puts the individual in contact with psychiatric services to best address that person‟s needs. In addition, the court immediately assists individuals to find housing and assigns them community service to “restore their dignity, self-respect and meaning in life,” says Lindley.

Combat Veterans Court, another one of the six courts Lindley is part of, addresses the mental health problems veterans suffer from, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Lindley believes it is impossible to expect veterans returning from war to resume their previous lives. She says that normally people returning from war will experience PTSD and need help dealing with the mental disorder.

“We, as a community, have an absolute moral and ethical obligation to restore these human beings to who they were before they went so bravely to fight for the rights that you and I enjoy every single day,” says Lindley.

Another one of the judge‟s endeavors is the Homeless Court that was established to not only resolve the minor offenses made by some of the 35,000 homeless individuals and families in Orange County, but to also help address other issues the homeless deal with such as housing, jobs, family law matters, and government benefit payments.

Judge Lindley believes working directly with participants is the key to helping them change their lives for the better. Her role as a judge she says is, “to be intensely involved in the process of helping people be restored to who they can be…My responsibility is to encourage my clients, to believe in these court participants and to celebrate their successes when they graduate the program.”

Judging by the numbers, Lindley‟s efforts seem to be working. Eighty percent of participants in all of the court programs graduate and eighty-two percent of graduates from WIT have never committed another crime. “It works,” says Lindley.

Judge Lindley is always asked why she is so dedicated to helping the plight of the homeless and mentally ill. She passionately says, “If not me than whom? In the U.S., we have more people in jails and prisons than any other „civilized‟ nation does.” She believes the criminal court system in general is not doing enough to address the challenges of those suffering from mental health issues. Lindley believes it is best to look at peoples‟ circumstances and then proceed to address their individual needs. “I feel it‟s a blessing to be able to come into work every day and see people restored to the lives that they dreamt of and that all of us as human beings want, “says Lindley.

Lindley is one of twelve recipients selected to receive recognition at the Human Relations Awards 41 Gala on Thursday, May 10 at the City National Grove of Anaheim. The AWARDS 41 Gala is presented by the ING Foundation with honorary chair, Southern California Edison‟s Gaddi Vasquez, who is also the former head of the Peace Corps and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

The awards categories include:

Diverse Community Leaders Awards

Community Leader Awards honor individuals or groups who made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights. This year‟s honorees are:

  • Dr. Silas H. Abrego (Fullerton) for fostering an environment at California State University, Fullerton, in which all students have felt secure, comfortable, and prepared to meet the rigors of their academic endeavors. Under his leadership thousands of dollars of scholarships have been raised to enable low-income and DREAM Act students to attend college.
  • Reverend Dr. Sarah Halverson (Costa Mesa) for being a tireless and courageous advocate for civic and religious organizations and justice movements, such as the rights of the working poor, ethnic and religious minorities, women, the LGBT community, the homeless, immigrants, and other disenfranchised groups across Southern California.
  • Las Palmas’ Leadership Team (LPLT) (San Clemente) for helping residents discover how to make positive changes through the power of community. The LPLT consists of San Clemente residents from the Las Palmas neighborhood and two volunteers, Isobel Pelham and Joan Thompson. Prior to the formation of the LPLT, the mostly low-income, Spanish-speaking residents of Las Palmas felt disconnected and isolated from the larger community.
  • The Honorable Judge Wendy S. Lindley (Santa Ana), an Orange County Superior Court judge, for changing the face of the criminal justice system in Orange County. Through her work that includes Drug Court, DUI Court, Recovery/Opportunity Court, Whatever It Takes (WIT) Court, Homeless Court, and Veteran’s Court, she has used the court to encourage real and positive change among the lives of diverse Orange County residents.
  • Michael Penn (Santa Ana) for founding the Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County “..to come together to promote respect, understanding and appreciation for the integrity of each other‟s beliefs, cultures and traditions through interfaith dialogue, education and activities.”
  • Vicki Tamoush (Tustin) for promoting interfaith understanding and acceptance. Since 1978, Vicki has been active in more than 25 pacifist organizations and boards dedicated to peace and social justice. She has been instrumental in documenting hate crimes against the Arab American community and has presented over 500 workshops on hate crimes and cultural diversity issues. Vicki is also one of the founders of the Interfaith Witnesses group.
  • Venerable Dr. Thich Vien Ly (Westminster) for advocating for religious freedom, human rights, and democracy. Under his guidance at Dieu Ngu Buddhist Temple in Westminster, there are ceremonies to teach people about how live in peace, promote the good and eliminate the bad, and respect differences but to avoid differentiation, division and disputes.

Community-Policing Awards

Community-policing awards recognize departments that have tailored creative strategies to provide service and build positive relationships with their communities. This year‟s awardees are:

  • Orange County Sheriff’s Department Neighborhood Enhancement Team – NET (Anaheim & El Modena) which was created by the OC Sherriff‟s and District Attorney‟s offices to address gangs, crimes, and blight. Through the Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP), which the Orange County Grand Jury recognized as one of the most effective gang prevention programs in the state, NET utilized a multi-disciplined approach which consisted of directed enforcement, gang reduction, community policing, and outreach. By working with 4th to 8th grade children, who are at risk for gang recruitment, GRIP has been able to educate children, parents and teachers and significantly decrease the likelihood of crime activity in the area in the past year.
  • Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department (Santa Ana) As the third largest school police agency in California, the Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department strives to provide a safe and secure learning and working environment through a clearly demonstrated community-oriented policing philosophy. Since working with the GRIP, the department has been able to see a significant increase in student attendance, as well as test scores.

Distinguished School Awards

Distinguished School Awards recognize exceptional contributions to promoting, nurturing, protecting and/or cultivating a campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable. This year‟s awardees are:

  • Centralia Elementary School (Anaheim) is a thriving school that cultivates a safe, welcoming, and equitable environment for its diverse student body. The school culture emphasizes “One School, One Community” by providing opportunities for parents‟ involvement and engagement. Centralia‟s teachers formed an Invisible Mentor program allowing teachers to connect informally with select students to show that they care and to nurture a positive school culture through inter-group relations and cross-cultural activities.
  • Valadez Middle School Academy (Placentia) Valadez Middle School Academy‟s staff, faculty, parents, and students have invested time, energy, and commitment to three essential areas: equity, inclusion, and safety. Their efforts to decrease obstacles related to educational success were solidified during the 2010-2011 academic year as they partnered with OC Human Relations to implement the “Stand Up, Speak Out, Reach Out” campaign focusing on inclusion, equity, and safety. They have employed techniques to decrease bullying and increase self-advocacy and peer advocacy, to increase peer-to -peer mentorship between 8th grade and 6th grade students, and brought global human relations issues into the classroom.
  • Magnolia High School (Anaheim) has an extensive activities program which supports and honors the students and their cultures. Students and staff work hard in multi-pronged efforts to support the model of kindness. Magnolia‟s Sents of Pride student organization, which is affiliated with OC Human Relations, is actively working to make Magnolia a safe, kind and inclusive school. This year‟s campaign about hurtful language, “That‟s W.H.A.C.K.” (Words Hurt and Can Kill) is having a highly visible impact on the campus.

For more information about AWARDS 41 and any of the award recipients or to schedule interviews with the honorees, please contact Don Han at (714) 796-8361 or [email protected]

About OC Human Relations

Since 1971, OC Human Relations has worked to build bridges of understanding to promote a vision of our community where all people are valued and included and our diversity is realized as a source of strength. The Orange County Human Relations Council is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of developing and implementing proactive human relations programs in partnership with schools, corporations, cities, foundations and individuals. For more information, visit www.ochumanrelations.org or call 714-567-7470. Connect with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WeAreOneOC.

About the AWARDS 41 Title Sponsor ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 107,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workplace diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer.

For more information, visit ing.us.

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on sustainable programs in the areas of financial literacy, children’s education and diversity. For more information, visit www.ing-usafoundation.com, connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/act2impact or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/INGact2impact.

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