The Columbus Human Rights Commission is pleased to welcome the community to celebrate awardees and learn more  about fair housing at the Annual Dinner Meeting to be held on Thursday, June 27, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. at The Commons,  300 Washington Street.  

Message to the Community on Housing 

Ms. Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (“FHCCI”), will provide a timely  keynote address on housing. Nelson is a housing advocacy expert and has been a leader in Indiana since 2011. The mission  of the FHCCI is to ensure equal housing opportunities by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy,  enforcement, education, and outreach. The FHCCI currently serves 24 counties in central Indiana, including Bartholomew  County, which houses about 2.5 million Hoosiers.  

“Living Your Authentic Life” 

Earlier this year, the Commission organized an art and essay contest for Bartholomew County students in grades 5-12. One  hundred and forty (140) entries were received on theme of “Living Your Authentic Life.” Community volunteers reviewed  and selected winning entries. The contest provides educators with an opportunity to activate student engagement in civic  programming while exploring themes that are inclusive, reflecting real community issues, and fostering empathy. Selected  students receive a $100 award, an award-winning book, and complimentary tickets to the June 27 event for parents/ guardians and teachers. This year’s winners are:  

J. Irwin Miller Art Contest:

Elementary School Division:
No entries, no winner

Middle School Division:
Macey Rees, Northside Middle School

High School Division:
Madyson Hall, East High School

Benjamin M. King Essay Contest:  

Elementary School Division:
BriAnna LaRance, Mt. Healthy Elementary School  

Middle School Division:
Trinity Wills, Central Middle School  

High School Division:
Maricela Stinson, East High School  

Laws Award Winners       

The William R. Laws Human Rights Award recognizes substantial contributions to the Columbus community in any area(s)  of human and civil rights, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice. Previous award recipients include Fr. Clem Davis,  Gil Palmer, Sherry Stark, Bob Pitman, Laura Leonard, Sondra Bolte, Madelynn Smith, and J. Irwin Miller. Earlier this month,  the Commission announced the selection of Howard “Bud” Herron and Rev. Dr. Felipe Martínez as this year’s  recipients.  

Mr. Herron is described as a conversationalist, writer, and an even better listener. Mr. Herron made a career in journalism,  where he used his platform to improve relationships and bring awareness to issues faced by those who underrepresented and  disenfranchised. After retirement from The Republic in 2007, he became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)  volunteer for Advocates for Children. He earned the trust of the children he advocated for by continuously showing up. A  supporter stated that Mr. Herron embodies the true spirit of volunteerism, selflessly giving his time, energy, and heart. His  dedication is a shining example of the differences one person can make in the life of another.  

Rev. Dr. Martínez, a México native, joined the Columbus community as the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in 2016. He  has been instrumental in leading and convening conversations centered on racial injustice, welcoming & inclusive worship,  and housing disparities. Pastor Martínez’ broad community engagement has embedded him in a position to relate to and  walk alongside the most influential as well as the most humble in our community. As part of First Presbyterian’s 200th  anniversary, Rev. Dr. Martínez and the church’s Bicentennial Committee and Foundation are collaborating with Lincoln  Central Neighborhood Family and the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County to provide grants to individuals to help them  become more self-sufficient. A supporter stated that First Presbyterian’s investment in its own neighborhood, gifting its own  neighbors a hand-up, is truly faith in action; and the community is well-served by having him as a steward of this  transformational initiative.  

Admission to the dinner is by advance ticket purchase. Tickets are $30.00 per person and available online, by calling 812-376-2532, or in person at the Human Rights Commission office located in  City Hall at 123 Washington St. The Commons is wheelchair accessible. For other accommodations or for financial  assistance in purchasing tickets, please contact Commission staff in advance. 

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