Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Immigrant Welcome Award Winners

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Immigrant Welcome Awards Ceremony!
Congratulations to the Award winners!

Pictured left to right: Pastor Guy Lombela, Ricardo Carillo, Guadalupe Abreu
accepting on behalf of ECIRMAC, Allison Peraz Briseno, and Father Tom Royer.

The Immigrant Welcome Awards recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations that have created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants in the Champaign-Urbana community. The CU Immigration Forum has created the Immigrant Welcome Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of the following individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and have provided leadership for the wellbeing and success of immigrants in Champaign County.

2014 Immigrant Welcome Award Winners:

Student Leadership Award - student who has shown promise as an important leader in immigration issues, locally or beyond:

Allison Perez Briseno is a burgeoning leader in our community. She has participated in local immigration marches with her family and encourages other youth to chant and make an impact at these events. Most recently Allison presented Congressman Rodney Davis' Office with a father's day card where she spoke about the case of a close family member who was deported and the impact that had had on her family. She also shared that many kids at her school are living in constant fear of being separated from their parents. Allison is very young, but is already a strong leader!

Business Leadership Award - A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services and/or a locally owned immigrant owned business that has contributed to the local economic development of CU:

Rick's Bakery - Despite having language barriers and a lack of understanding about what is needed to own a business in the US. Ricardo opened his own bakery in 2012. He frequently donates products to community and cultural events. In addition, he sells Mexican handcrafts and folk art at his Bakery. He sends the proceeds from the art sales back to his family in Mexico. Ricardo's hard work helps his community both here and abroad, contributes to the local economy, and provides a great example for others.

Leadership Award - An individual who has been a strong leader in the immigrant community.

Pastor Guy Lombela is a dedicated leader of the Congolese community and the Francophone African Communities in Champaign-Urbana. As a Pastor at Stone Creek Church, he does so much to find resources and services for families and individuals as well as creating safe spaces for people to talk about important community issues.

Distinguished Service Award - An individual who has demonstrated long-term commitment to the local immigrant community:

Father Tom Royer (Retired St. Mary's Church) has worked for immigrant rights, human rights and social justice for over 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s he was a leader in the local Sanctuary movement, along with five other area churches. Since then he has welcomed political refugees and their families from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. His parish became a sister community to five small hamlets in rural El Salvador. At St. Mary's he organized times to offer mass in Spanish and also in a Mayan indigenous language. His motto is we work with immigrants not for them and we listen to their concerns.

Community Organization Award - A Nonprofit or community-based organization, which demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving and advocating for local immigrants:

East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC) has been serving refugees, immigrants, and political asylees in CU since 1980. They serve thousands of individuals and families every year. Ms. Ho and Ms. Hlavna are the driving force of the Center, but all of the staff have shown exemplary and sustained commitment to the refugee and immigrant community. They work day and night, and even on weekends.