Nominations for the 2014 Access Press Charlie Smith Award are due by 5 p.m. Friday, August 15. The award honors Minnesota individuals and organizations that provide outstanding service and show a commitment to Minnesotans with disabilities. Its namesake is the late Charlie Smith, longtime disability rights activist and founding editor of Access Press.
Anyone thinking about submitting a nomination should consider what the award means to those who have won. “I feel so grateful and honored to be a Charlie Smith Award Recipient because I admired Charlie’s work so much.
His founding and maintaining Access Press exemplified his very strong belief in the power of information; knowledge is power. His commitment to that principle has inspired me for many years,” said 2009 winner Anne Henry of the Minnesota Disability Law Center. “Working to share critical information with people who are so directly affected by changes in policies, laws and funding was hardwired into Charlie as was helping people get involved to shape those policies.”
“As the recipient of the 2011 Charlie Smith Award, I was truly humbled to be nominated by Anne Henry and Steve Kuntz. Being recognized by my peers, meant a lot to me,” said activist Jeff Bangsberg. “More importantly, the award gave me a chance to thank all the people in my life who have supported me along the way.”
Bangsberg said he will always remember the night he received the award. “During the ceremony, I was able to share what my father taught me: ‘Always try to leave a place where you’ve been better off than it was before’.”
Rick Cardenas, co-director of Advocating Change Together is another winner. “Receiving the Access Press Charlie Smith Award back in 2005 brought back memories of Charlie, and the beginnings of Access Press,” said Cardenas. “It was a huge pleasure to have most of my family there for the event. It also reminded me of all of the work that so many persons with disabilities have been occupying themselves with for years.”
Cardenas said that the award is a reminder that despite gains for Minnesotans with disabilities,much work remains. “It’s even more surprising that even with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 that the work of any folks with disabilities need to keep their eyes on the programmatic and physical accessibility of private companies, contractors, and government. Hopefully Minnesota’s Olmstead Initiative will move our revolution along.”
The award winner and finalists will be honored in the September issue of Access Press. The winner is the guests of honor at the annual award banquet, which is Friday Nov. 7 at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott, 2020 E. American Blvd., Bloomington.
Nominees can be from anywhere in Minnesota. The nomination form and rules are on the Access Press website, and available for download. Anyone who needs accommodations to complete the form or has any questions about the nominations can call the office at 651-644-2133.
Completed nominations with a photograph of the nominee can be sent via email to CSAnominations@testing.accesspress.org, via fax to 651-644-2136, or mail to Access Press, c/o Charlie Award Committee, 161 St. Anthony Avenue, Suite 910, St. Paul, MN 55103.
Banquet tickets are now available. Reservations can now be made for the Nov. 7 banquet, which starts at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner and ceremony at 7 p.m. Cost is $45 per person if you register early, $50 per person at the door or $325 for an eight-person table. The table rate represents a savings of $35. Registration can be done online. Look for the Charlie Awards tab at the top left corner of the home page.
Access Press is also seeking banquet sponsors as well as donors to the silent auction and pick your prize raffle. Please contact Dawn Frederick, newspaper business manager, at 651-644-2133 or firstname.lastname@example.org if have questions about tickets, sponsorships or donations.