Three Northwest Indiana residents, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and Community Healthcare System were honored Wednesday, March 27, during the 13th annual Disability Awareness Awards at Genesis Convention Center, Gary. The awards, from the Mayor’s Organization on Disabilities (MOD) and Gary Human Relations Commission, honor those who make outstanding contributions to improving the lives and opportunities of people with disabilities.
Using the 2019 theme, “Be Cool; We Are,” Gary Human Relations Commission director Haneefah Khaaliq told more than 300 people gathered how encouraging it is to see so many “able-bodied” individuals who are “differently-able” to excel and contribute to society.
Dr. Edward L. Williams, MOD Chairperson, thanked award winners for their grassroots efforts, community leadership and civic engagement to tear down obstacles and boost the abilities and opportunities of those who have different perspectives and experiences. “You lead with courage to change people’s lives for the better,” Williams said.
Community Healthcare System hospitals – Community Hospital, Munster, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, and St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart – received the Business Award for its healthcare programs, community outreach, accessibility and workforce development initiatives in Gary and other areas of Northwest Indiana.
Frankie Fesko, chairperson for the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana Inc., (CFNI), and parent company of Community Healthcare System, said it is an honor to receive the award. “We share the Mayor’s Organization on Disabilities and Gary Human Relations Commission’s strong commitment to empower and work with businesses that are inclusive of people with disabilities,” Fesko said. “We all have a greater responsibility to enhance health, improve quality of life and make the world a better place for everyone.”
Tony Ferracane, vice president Human Resources, CFNI, thanked the event hosts for recognizing Community Healthcare System’s outreach and business endeavors. He said however our work is not done and it is imperative that we continue to support members of our communities who may have barriers to wellness programs and employment.
Other award recipients at the event that featured entertainment by the TradeWinds choir, were:
- Community Award: Dr. Vanessa Allen-McCloud and the Urban League of Northwest Indiana
- Individual Award: Donald Williamson, retired Gary Fire Chief
- Doris R. Carbins/Chairman Award: Jacqueline K. Bennett, office manager, Gary Human Relations Commission
The Rev. Marilyn Wynn, of The Blind Center, praised the organizations for their work and dedication to help boost up the ability of those so they can feel like a part of society. The 30th anniversary of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act will be marked next year.