Anyone you know? Access Press calls for award nominees

Minnesotans with disabilities play many roles in their communities, as individuals or as part of a group. They may testify […]

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Jessalyn Akerman-Frank

Jessalyn Akerman-Frank

Minnesotans with disabilities play many roles in their communities, as individuals or as part of a group. They may testify on legislation at the capitol, do volunteer work, organize fellow community members or work to make a big difference in the lives of others. They are often unsung heroes, doing work that is important and yet not in the headlines.

Individuals and groups with records of exemplary community service and commitment to others are worthy of nomination for the 2016 Access Press Charlie Smith Award. Readers are urged to nominate people they know.

The award will be presented Friday, November 4 at the newspaper’s annual banquet. Please save the date. The Access Press Board of Directors has announced the start of the award nomination period. Nominations will be taken until 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 15. Information on the award can be found at under the “Charlie Awards” tab. Email [email protected] for a form or call 651-644-2133 for assistance.

If assistance or accommodations are needed to submit an award nomination, Access Press staff is glad to provide help. “We, the board, always look forward to seeing all of the outstanding efforts happening within our community as we review nominations for the Charlie Smith Award,” said Access Press Board Chairperson Kristin Jorenby. “Whether it is a group or individual it is high praise to be recognized with this award. Fall seems so far off at this point, but it will be here before we know it and so now is the time to begin drafting your nominations for this year’s award. We can’t wait to have our socks knocked off as we review the accomplishments of the nominees.”

Deaf community advocate Jessalyn Akerman-Frank was the 2015 award winner.

Past award winners are:
2014 – Christine Marble and Wendy Devore,CareerVentures
2013 – Cal Appleby, Augsburg College
2012 – Charles “Chuck” Van Heuveln, St. Paul School District
2011 – Jeff Bangsberg, MN Department of Health
2010 – Steve Kuntz, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
2009 – Anne Henry, Minnesota Disability Law Center
2008 – Pete Feigal, Co-Founder of Tilting at Windmills
2007 – Jim and Claudia Carlisle, People Enhancing People
2006 – John Smith, University of Minnesota
2005 – Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD)
2004 – Rick Cardenas, Co-Director of Advocating Change Together (ACT)
2003 – Margot Imdieke Cross, Minnesota State Council on Disability

“We always enjoy reading the applications submitted for the award. It’s one of our most fun tasks at  the paper,” said Access Press Executive Director Tim Benjamin. “We have many people in Minnesota doing great things for people with disabilities. Every year, we are impressed by the wide range of activities our award nominees take on.”

Benjamin noted that the banquet is not only a time for nominees to share a fun evening with friends and family, it is also a time for disability community members to gathering and share in community accomplishments.  “It’s a great time and we encourage everyone to save the date and to consider submitting a nomination.” The award winner is chosen by the newspaper’s board. The winner and finalists will be honored in the September issue of Access Press.

The Charlie Smith Award is named in honor of the late Charlie Smith Jr., founding editor of Access Press. He was a well-known Minnesota disability rights advocate and founded the paper as a way to provide information and organize the community around key issues. He was well-known for his tenacious spirit, yet he was also someone who quietly reached out to and helped people with disabilities.

Smith founded the newspaper in 1990. He led Access Press through many changes, including conversion to nonprofit status. He worked to expose what he considered to be inequities in how people with disabilities are treated, as well as problems with disability services.

Any individual or group in Minnesota that is part of Minnesota’s disability community is eligible for nomination. Provide as much information as possible about a nominee as that information is used by the newspaper board to evaluate the nominees. Links to newspaper, magazine or online articles, or television news stories are welcome.

People cannot nominate themselves.

Past nominees can be nominated again, but there are rules specific to repeat nominations. A person or organization can be nominated for two consecutive years, but has to wait one year before being nominated again. A person or group can be nominated for two consecutive years, but a new person must make the nomination the second year.

Please send a high-resolution digital photo or an actual picture of the nominee. Otherwise, be prepared to tell the editors where a high-resolution picture can be obtained. Pictures will be returned on request. Completed nominations, with photographs can be sent via email to [email protected], via fax to (651) 644-2136, or mail to Access Press, c/o Charlie Smith Award Committee, 161 St. Anthony Avenue #910; St. Paul, MN 55103.

The winner is the guest of honor at the annual award banquet. Guests enjoy a delicious meal, a fun silent auction and “pick your prize” raffle, speeches and time to socialize with friends. Family members and friends of the honoree are encouraged to attend. Meal choices will be announced soon. Watch the newspaper and website in the weeks ahead for information on the banquet, sponsorship levels and ways to donate to the silent auction and raffle.



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