Four awards given to those who improve Davis community
Four community members and organizations accepted the Thong Hy Huynh awards for their involvement in helping improve the Davis community on Tuesday, May 15. These recipients received awards in four categories: civil rights advocacy, community involvement, young humanitarians and lifetime achievement.
The Thong Hy Huynh awards are presented each year in memory of the death of Thong Hy Huynh, a former Davis High School student who was stabbed at the school in a racially motivated incident. After his death in 1983, the award was established to raise awareness of social justice issues in the community of Davis. This award is presented each year to community members and organizations that advocate for diversity, community, social justice and equal rights. The Davis Human Relation Commission leads the nomination process.
The civil rights advocacy award was presented to Wendi Counta, the executive director of the Progress Ranch. This award was given to an individual that the Humans Rights Commision felt helped the disadvantaged and disempowered in the community. Counta and Progress Ranch give boys ages 8 to 14 facing homelessness a temporary home. Progress Ranch provides professional mental health assistance to the boys while also maintaining a homelike environment.
“I’m surrounded by people who are passionate about what we do, and we have a wonderful program here in Davis and it stands out in this field,” Counta said. “I am strengthened daily by the resiliency of the boys that we work with, and there’s nothing like having the Davis community to support our boys. They really change because of our community and how much they […] support them.”
The community involvement award was presented to Greg Wolfe, a rabbi who has been an interfaith leader in the Davis community for over 20 years. Wolfe received his award for promoting positive human relations, equal opportunities and civil rights in Davis. His congregation consists of over 260 families.
“To be able to be honored for something you had really loved to do and is so important […] there’s really no words to express what that means,” Wolfe said. “I am so proud of [the] community for the work that we’ve done in building bridges between the two communities and of course there is a lot more work to be done.”
The next award that was presented was the Young Humanitarian Award to the Student Solidarity Task Force. The group was formed in Fall 2014 as a response to incidents of racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism. The group consists of people from many racial and ethnic backgrounds. One of the reasons that the SSTF was presented the award was through six panel discussions, in which minority groups spoke about their experiences in the Davis educational spaces.
“The students of the SSTF embody some of the best of this generation,” said Will Arnold, Davis city councilmember. “A sense of responsibility based on personal experience, universal well-being and an approach to change that insists that our capacity to listen to all voices and perspectives directly affects our ability to solve all of the problems of the present and of the future.”
The lifetime achievement award was presented to Gwyneth Bruch, a Davis High School teacher. The award is given to someone for their significant civil rights efforts over a long period of time in Davis. One of the reasons that Bruch was given the award was because she put on drama productions that highlighted social justice issues.
“When several incidents of hate occured on the DHS campus this fall, [Bruch] announced that she would be looking for a production that would help the community understand and process events that are both well understood and difficult to reconcile,” said Lucas Frerichs, a Davis city councilmember. “[Bruch] embodies so much of what the Thong Hy Huynh award is intended for: abiding personal and professional commitment to justice and civil rights.”
Written by: Hannan Waliullah — firstname.lastname@example.org