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December 18, 2012 > County awards 'Excellence in Human Relations' awards

County awards 'Excellence in Human Relations' awards

Submitted By Moina Shaiq

This years' recipients include Louis Chicoine, Executive Director of Abode Services of Fremont which provides services and housing for homeless, foster youth and families; Suzanne Shenfil, Director of the City of Fremont Human Services Department which provides a one-stop shop for all human services through the Fremont Family Resource Center; Jaime Jaramillo, Executive Director of Centro de Servicios in Union City which, as the oldest non-profit services organization in the Tri-Cities area, provides, among others, immigration and naturalization services, youth programs and health care assistance to low income families.

Nika St. Claire received the award posthumously. As Program Director for DreamCatchers Youth Shelter in Alameda, she directed community- based programs for over 30 years. DreamCatchers and Ms. St. Claire ensured runaway, homeless and exploited youth had a safe place to go. She dedicated her entire life to supporting, serving and advocating for the county's most vulnerable youth. Barbara Quintero, Director of Operations for Women on the Way of Oakland, has worked tirelessly to ensure fair opportunities for re-entry women and their children. She knows from personal experience that everyone deserves and can benefit from a second chance and has been a role model to young women that hard work and compassion can make a difference in people's lives.

Marilyn Washington-Harris is the founder and Director of the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence, an organization in Oakland named and founded after her son, a star athlete at McClymonds High School who was murdered in 2001. Ms. Harris has dedicated her life and career to the service of other families that have gone through the pain and struggle of immediate loss of a loved one through violence. She works on a daily basis to prevent violence and meets with families to prevent retribution and to ensure families are not taken advantage of by others during their most vulnerable times. Ms. Harris makes herself available to all families in times of need and has provided strength, compassion and support for others to continue.

Since 1978, Boona Cheema has been the Executive Director of Building Opportunities for Self- Sufficiency (BOSS), an organization serving homeless families and individuals through shelters and drop-in programs in Berkeley, Oakland and Hayward. A pathfinder in developing partnerships with agencies (both private and non-profit) and governmental, her organization has provided needed services and housing for homeless populations and poor/low-income people. She has been a leader in developing and conducting seminars for clients and professionals and in working with political systems to increase funding for her clients; Anne Moses is the founder and President of Ignite, an agency which serves young, lower-income women from ages 14-22, and provides training and guidance to assist such women in developing skills, abilities and confidence to run for public office. The program includes training and education, mentoring and assistance in finding connections to help in the development of political careers.

In addition to the Supervisors' recognition, State Assembly member Nancy Skinner also provided certificates of recognition to the awardees. The mission of the Human Relations Commission (HRC) is to preserve human rights and to work to foster mutual respect for all people who live or work in Alameda County. The body reports to the Supervisors and advises and makes recommendations regarding legislation or communications around human relations issues. To learn more about the HRC go to

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