Community Impact Award goes to Bend the Arc:CU

The 6th Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards ceremony was held Saturday, September 21 at which Bend the Arc:CU was presented the Community Impact Award.  

Bend the Arc is part of the national movement of progressive Jews who are organizing acts of public protest and organizing for social, racial and religious equality. Bend the Arc:CU has been a tireless advocate in support of Dreamers and Comprehensive Immigration Reform locally and in our nation’s capital. Here in Central Illinois they have played an important role in bringing the community together to understand the threat of white supremacy and the need to organize together to fight hate and defend the rights of immigrants and refugees.

Diane Ore, chairperson of BtA:CU accepted the award.

"It is an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of Bend the Arc: Champaign-Urbana. Two and a half years ago I gathered 18 Jewish friends around my dining room table to see if we had enough collective chutzpah to make big changes in our community starting with opposition to the Muslim Ban. Then we joined Bend the Arc, received encouragement and advice from some people who knew how to make social and political change a reality and the rest is history.

Immigration is and always will be at the forefront of Bend the Arc’s work. Jews have a special relationship to immigration because so often we have been forced to be refugees from our homes. We know how it feels and how important it is to be welcomed by other countries. We escaped slavery in Egypt, the Spanish inquisition and the pogroms in Russia. When we tried to escape Nazi Germany to American shores in 1939, antisemitism was rampant in this country. We were turned away and forced to return to Europe, where we were murdered in concentration camps. The memories and stories from those times have been passed down to us by our ancestors and we can never forget.

Our religion reminds us to treat strangers as ourselves, just as our ancestors learned when they came here penniless, tired and afraid. They worked so hard to receive an education and become hardworking members of American society. Now it is your turn to take that same journey. We see you, we want to help and we will fight for you every day."

Other award recipients included:

Ann Abbott - Community Impact Award

Ruth Wyman - Business Leadership Award

Susan Ogwal - Student Leadership Award