The Orange County Register, May 3, 2016
By THERESA WALKER / STAFF WRITER
Three moms from a troubled Anaheim neighborhood. The head of the local building industry’s charity group. A transgender educator and advocate. The couple behind a Sikh arts and film festival.
And, Disneyland Resort.
What would any of them have in common?
All are among the unsung heroes to be honored Thursday at the OC Human Relations Awards 45 presentation in Anaheim. The event celebrates efforts that embrace diversity and promote justice in Orange County.
This year marks the 45th anniversary for OC Human Relations, which started in 1971 as the county government-appointed Orange County Human Relations Commission and has evolved into a nonprofit.
The ceremony will recognize honorees in four categories.
• Diverse Community Leaders, honoring individuals and groups for extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights:
ABC Core Resident Leaders in west Anaheim, as part of the Parents in Action group, three mothers – Victoria Hipolito, Deborah De la Cruz and Maria Rosario Rubio – are central to a community-building initiative to combat gangs, crime and substandard housing in the Alameda-Brownwood-Catalina neighborhood.
Michelle Evans of Lake Forest, transgender founder of TG Rainbow, a support group that fosters “a safe community for all to find answers, support, and acceptance.” Evans also assists other transgender support groups and local chapters of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Steve Kim of Santa Ana, founder of Project Kinship which works to integrate former gang members and those released from incarceration back into the community with a support network that includes counseling and education.
Scott Larson of Irvine, executive director of HomeAid Orange County and chairman of the county’s Commission to End Homelessness, for his work on the county’s 10-year plan to end homelessness and the effort to build a year-round shelter for the homeless that is expected to open in Anaheim this year.
Jan Nelson Meslin of Mission Viejo, retired educator who serves in a volunteer role as director of social change development with Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. Her work focuses on the undocumented who are being held in immigration detention and immigrant justice.
Gurpreet and Bicky Singh of Orange, members of the Sikh faith who have worked to educate the community about Sikhs. The Singhs bring the annual three-day Sikh Arts and Film Festival to Chapman University, and are involved in other cultural and interfaith programs.
• Community-Policing, for creative strategies to provide outstanding service and build positive relationships with their community:
Officer Juan Munoz of Huntington Beach Police Dept., who pulled together a group of bilingual police employees to develop Spanish-language lesson plans for the department’s Citizenship Academy and to build a relationship between police and residents of the city’s OakView neighborhood.
• Distinguished School, for exceptional contributions in nurturing a school campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable:
Loara High in Anaheim, a campus involved in OC Human Relations’ BRIDGES program whose students, parents and educators have worked to improve communication and critical thinking through such efforts as theatrical plays on bullying and peer mediation.
• Distinguished Business, that goes “above and beyond” to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace and community:
Disneyland Resort, for its commitment to inclusiveness and promotion of diversity in how it recruits, hires and trains employees (referred to by the company as “Cast Members”) and other activities that include involvement in the multimillion dollar Accelerate Change Together initiative in Anaheim.
For more information on Awards 45, go to ochumanrelationsawards.org.
Contact the writer: 714-796-7793 or [email protected]