Saturday, June 05, 2010

Award ceremony fetes six overcoming poverty

Allegra Henderson, employment advocate, hugs Velvet Robinson, winner of the Community Action Duluth Empowerment Award for making big personal strides. Over 260 people attended the dinner and award ceremony.

Community Action Duluth honored individuals who have made great strides in overcoming poverty at a celebration dinner and award ceremony early in May at the Clyde Iron Restaurant in Lincoln Park. Those honored included community partners, volunteers, the board and program participants. Northern Communities Credit Union and Lutheran Social Services both received Community Partner awards for their investment in the Jump Start Car loan program and the free tax site respectively. Through the JumpStart program some 29 low-income people have purchased an affordable reliable energy efficient car in the last 12 months. The tax site served over 1500 households this tax season. Larry Champeaux, NCCU president, said the leap of faith with the low-income people, some with poor credit ratings, has been worth it. There have been no delinquencies in payments. CAD staff member, Tom Fitzpatrick, who led the tax site, which was visited by the IRS was “As cool as a cucumber and gets compliments from the IRS every time,” according to Angie Miller, executive director.

The dinner and ceremony were held on May 5. Some 260 people attended the dinner. Childcare for 69 was provided at the Boys and Girls Club next door.

Outgoing board members Marsha Hystead and Laura Condon were honored for their six-years of service and new board members Jeff Anderson, Carl Crawford and Judy Seliga-Punyko were recognized.

Jeanette Benusa was given the Tax Site Volunteer of the Year Award for her six years of volunteer work as a tax preparer and Sharon Lohman was given the Circles of Support Volunteer of the Year Award for her year of being an ally in a matched circle with a low-income family. The highlight of the evening was the awards given to six Community Action Duluth program participants:
Tanya Danner - Masterpiece Award for mastering a task toward their chosen goal,
Shannon Redbrook- Triumph Award for overcoming adversity to achieve a goal;
Julie [last name withheld] - Prosperity Award for obtaining an asset;
Velvet Robinson - Empowerment Award for making big personal strides;
Heidi Cronick- Tenacity Award for not giving up when faced with roadblocks;
Terri Bunnell - Achievement Award for attaining significant goals.

Each award winner received a handmade bowl created by Community Action Board member Harley Blake. The mission of Community Action Duluth is to use innovative strategies that mobilize low-income people and the broader community to build assets that prevent poverty, create equality and strengthen our social fabric.

Community member [and Hillsider board president] Bruce Howell said of the event, “ This is one of the most inspiring meetings I’ve been to. They didn’t just lift themselves out of poverty; they are clearly success stories with significant accomplishments. These are some of the things that some people never accomplish.” He cited examples such as homeownership and attaining graduate degrees.

For more information about Community Action Duluth programs and to see the annual report go to their website