Social Justice Award Previous Winners

2019


Escape Ministries’ Alternative Suspension Accountability Program (ASAP)
Education
For their work helping suspended and expelled students, a group disproportionately represented by students of color.  ASAP provides such students with a safe and nourishing environment, helps them keep up with their curriculum so that they can get back into their original schools, and pushes them to graduate. 

Angela Maxwell and First United Methodist Church for Refresh: Hygiene and Hope
Housing
Earlier in the year, Maxwell, Homeless Outreach Specialist at Community Action House, developed and launched a program with community partners at the First United Methodist Church. Refresh: Hygiene and Hope is a shower, mail, and resource connection program that was designed based on requests from houseless clients and has become a focal point of community for this marginalized population, as well as a place where relationships can drive connections to mainstream services.

Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys
Community Relations
In her prior role as Director of the Faith in Youth Program at Good Samaritan Ministries, Jenkins Leys recruited, trained, and supported AmeriCorps members who mentor at-risk youth in our community. Jenkins Leys currently serves as the Executive Director of Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates and also serves on the board of the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance. She is the co-founder of Women of Color GIVE, a philanthropy circle helping change the charitable giving landscape by adding more diverse voices to the philanthropy narrative.

Lupita Reyes
 Lifetime Recognition Award
 For her many contributions to the Holland community.  In 1965, Reyes created and hosted Alegria Latina, Holland’s first all-Spanish language radio show which continues today airing on 92.7 The Van. Reyes was also pivotal in creating Holland Community Health, which now provides healthcare to more than 10,000 uninsured patients. As part of HCH, she was instrumental in recruiting some of the first Hispanic physicians to the City of Holland. Reyes helped establish Community Action House in 1969, which works to meet the basic human needs in our community and advocate for migrant workers. She founded LAUP, Latin Americans United for Progress which hosts the popular Latina Fiesta, offers ESL and GED classes, and assists with language interpretation requests.  Reyes currently serves as a counsellor at LAR Counselling, which she also founded. 

Hannah Huggett
Student Social Justice Award
Currently a 9th grade student at Black River High School, Huggett started her community service in the 6th grade as a member of the Black River “Green Team.” Working with the Black River School board and Republic Services, she was instrumental in organizing a new trash and composting program at her school. Huggett also took the initiative to organize the recycling efforts at the Tulip Time run last spring which diverted 434 pounds of recyclable materials from the local landfill. Huggett organized the 2019 Holland Climate Rally and addressed gun violence at the 2018 March for our Lives Rally. She also participated as a panel member for the Interfaith Gun Violence Reduction Symposium in Saugatuck.

2018

Center for Women in Transition (now Resilience)
The Coaching Boys into Men program of the CWIT seeks to engage men and boys as leaders and allies in promoting healthy relationships as a means of preventing domestic violence and sexual assault. CWIT staff members received training from the national organization A Call to Men and are now working with coaches at local high schools and other local non-profits to teach young male athletes about what healthy relationships look like, as well as to engage men of all ages as allies in preventing domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Kayla McCallum, Holland Christian High School
Youth Social Justice Award
McCallum is actively involved in a variety of social issues from women's rights to gun safety and started the Social Justice Awareness Cub at Holland Christian. She helped organize and spoke at Holland's March for our Lives, attended the ACLU Advocacy Institute over the summer to learn more about the injustices within our society, and interned with Abdul El-Sayed to raise awareness for universal healthcare. McCallum is currently in communication with Promote the Vote, a movement to decrease voter restrictions in Michigan 

2017


Holland High School Fall Cheerleading Team
Several members of the Holland High School fall cheerleading team took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem at a home football game, in a sign of protest to social injustice; other team members opted to stand. The Commission recognized each member of the team regardless of their action because as a team each member endured all of the criticism and negativity as well as the praise that followed.  “The youth of our nation, of Holland, are concerned about their country, their schools and their community and these young women made a peaceful gesture, one of non-violence, one that was non-derogatory, and one that our civil liberties allow, to protest and promote awareness of social injustice,” said HRC Chair Keiffer Sestric. “It is not easy for anyone to stand up and speak out for yourself, for others, for something you believe in, and it is even harder when you are a youth, but we are a country based on freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom to protest. We are acknowledging you and your action to have expressed your views peaceably.” 

Organizers of the DACA March, October, 2017
Youth Social Justice Award
The organizers of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) March in October , 2017, galvanized the community in a discussion around immigration and the impact to the Dreamers. The march was organized by representatives of three Hope College student organizations: the Latino Student Organization, Hope United for Justice, and Hope Democrats.   The students receiving the award were Nancy Sierra, Jocelyn Gallegos, Alejandra Gomez-Limon, Frina Redolozar, Julia Fulton, and Ye Ji Jun.  HYAC Co-Chair Alex Key noted that “By organizing this march, these students brought awareness around the plight of many youth in our community and country who arrived as children; many not knowing that they were undocumented until it was time to get a driver’s license, or complete college applications.” 

Phil Coray
Lifetime Achievement Award
Phil Coray was recognized for his service on the Human Relations Commission spanning many terms, including his service as commission chair. The commission also recognized Coray’s lifetime of advocacy for fair housing, civil rights, and for those who feel their voices aren’t being heard.   

2016


Spartan Nash and its Family Fare Supermarkets
For their commitment to employ and offer employment opportunities to veterans and persons with disabilities.  Additional social justice programs include food and monetary donations to local food pantries and a commitment to advocating for the fair treatment of migrant farm workers. 

Jesse Lynn, West Ottawa High School
Youth Social Justice Award
Lynn was responsible for organizing a peaceful protest on November 12, 2016 at Centennial Park.  “Jesse’s peaceful march was not inspired by the results of the election; rather, the results of the hateful events after the election,” said HYAC's Jazmin Martinez.   

2015


Sarah Yore-Van Oosterhout
    On November 2, 2015, Sarah opened a nonprofit immigration legal service office, Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates, located at the Macatawa Resource Center.  She is recognized as a leading advocate for community members in need of immigration assistance with a special focus on youth and victims of crime, such as trafficking, abuse, or sexual assault.  She is also an educator and speaks regularly regarding important changes in U.S. immigration law and policy, immigrant rights, and immigration-related fraud prevention.   As Executive Director of Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates, she provides both direct legal services and training to local agencies and the community to educate others on immigration issues and how to best serve this vulnerable population.  She does all this with obvious passion, kindness, and cultural sensitivity.   Sarah has previously worked for Justice for Our Neighbors, Immigration Legal Services, the Michigan State College of Law Immigration Clinic, and volunteered with the Michigan Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Don Martin
Donald Martin is  recognized for his advocacy in diversity, equity, and inclusion for the people of Holland. He has served many local organizations, including the City of Holland's International Relations Commission, Holland is Ready, Latin Americans United for Progress, and Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. Donald was also part of the Migrant Mentor at Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, and at Hope College's Step Up program. He volunteers with the Feeding America program, a mobile food pantry dedicated to ending food insecurity.

Kyler Beal, Holland High School
With a focus on widows and orphans, Kyler has been building homes, producing short films, and working to feed those in need in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. He has been involved in bringing awareness to our local community of the plight of children in Guatemala. While in high school he served as a Young Life leader for 2 years, where he taught others there is more to a person than their appearance and background. Most recently, he engaged his high school soccer team and student peers to bring soccer balls to youth in Chichicastenango, where youth would be found playing soccer with crumpled paper or other materials for soccer balls. He has shown that regardless of his age or the age of his peers, the youth in the community can make a difference. In Guatemala, Kyler, has helped serve over 5,000 meals a month . Kyler is journaling his experience in Chicicastenango on his log https://kylerguatemala.wordpress.com/.

2014


Ralph Kickert

Lifetime Achievement Award
Since 1970, Ralph Kickert has championed the cause of social justice and community corrections with emphasis on racial equality.  Mr. Kickert, started several organizations and served in many leadership roles including, Good Samaritan Ministries, Community Action House, Holland 58th District Court, 70x7, Jubilee Ministries, Ottagon Alcohol Rehabilitation, and the Holland Area Coordinating Council.  He has built relationships with local individuals, churches, and agencies to serve the poor and marginalized.  He has also served on the Human Relations Commission.

Roberto Jara, Destination Education
Education

Rick Mannes, Lakeshore Lifeworks
Employment

 Jeannette Brownson, Brownson Properties
Housing

“In the Community” published by the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmon
Government/Community Relations 

Jacey de Blecourt
Youth Social Justice Award

2013


14th Street Church for their S.T.E.P. (Students and Teachers for Educational Progress) Program
Education

This program provides afterschool tutoring to children focused on fostering student success.  Director, Bob Doan along with retired educators and college students provide the tutoring services.

Andy and Carin Ribbens
Employment

For demonstrating their commitment to employment of those with felony convictions.  By providing full-time employment opportunities and full benefit packages to this group of workers , they provide hope and improve their opportunity for rehabilitation.  

Pancakes R Us
Government/Community Relations

Pancakes R Us has filled a gap in the community.  Three years ago a group of members in the community learned that there was a need in the community to serve economically disadvantaged citizens on Saturdays.  Today, Pancakes R Us serves over 200 residents each Saturday.   

Albert Serrano
Lifetime Achievement Award

Mr. Alberto Serrano, retired Human Relations Coordinator was recognized for his service to the City of Holland as the Human Relations Coordinator.  He served the City of Holland for 27 years in a variety of roles.  Previously he has served as a case worker at Community Action House focusing on emergency housing assistance, first time home-buyer assistance and tenant, landlord disputes.  He also served as the executive director of the El Centro Hispanic Counseling Center.   Serrano was instrumental in the development of Mediation Services.  In retirement, Mr. Serrano continues to touch many organizations throughout our community.   

Grace Elizabeth, Sunny Katherine, and Babs Leigh Hough founders of  “You are Home,”
Youth Social Justice Award
This afterschool organization helps English as Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learner (ELL) students with transition to life in the United States.  Having lived in Turkey four years, the girls understand the educational challenges faced when there is a language barrier.  As a result of this experience, the Hough sisters have made it their mission to ensure ESL and ELL students overcome the difficult task of learning with a language barrier. This student organization meets once every other week.  Over a dozen students come to seek homework and language assistance in a safe, comfortable, judgment-free environment.    

2012

Tracy Hoesch
Housing

Chanda Miller
Education

Bill Freeman
Government/Community Relations

Ethan King
Youth Social Justice Award

2011


Ready for School
Education

City of Holland Our Street and Neighborhood Liaison Programs
Housing

Holland is Ready
Government/Community Relations

Erin Wilson
Government/Community Relations

Briahnna "Brie" Borgoetz
Youth Social Service Award

Timmy Kim
Youth Social service Award

Rebecca Arenas
Distinguished Community Service

2010


Holland Public Schools VR Tech School
Education

Christ Memorial Church, Open Arms Ministry & Escape Program
Employment

Justice for Our Neighbors
Government/Community Relations

Community Action House
Foreclosure Prevention Program

Christ Memorial Church, Melton
Youth Social Justice Award

2009


Jonathan & Jeanette Brownson
Government/Community Relations

Frank Coronado
Community Relations

Chris Hoffland
Community Relations

Alan McGeehan
Government/Community Relations

Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance: Migrant Mentoring Program
Government/Community Relations

Heath Sakwam
Community Relations

2008


Kids Hope USA
Education

70x7 Life Recovery Temporary Recovery Program
Employment

Robyn Afrik
Government/Community Relations

Nancy Haynes
Housing

Fred Johnson
Government/Community Relations

Alan McGeehan
Government/Community Relations

Amanda Witte
Youth Social Services Award