Deadline is approaching: Nominate someone for Charlie Smith Award

Someone out there works every day to provide outstanding service to Minnesotans with disabilities. That someone works for change in […]

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Someone out there works every day to provide outstanding service to Minnesotans with disabilities. That someone works for change in the community, lobbies policymakers, works to promote equal rights and equal opportunity or quietly helps out as needed. That someone may be one person, two people or an entire organization.

Think about those special “someones” as potential nominees for the 2017 Access Press Charlie Smith Award, which will be presented in November at the newspaper’s annual banquet. The Access Press Board of Directors has announced the start of nominations. Deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 9.

Board members and newspaper staff always enjoy reading the nomination forms. The winner and all nominees are featured in the September issue. “The Charlie Smith Award has been given to a number wonderful and distinguished people over the years who have impacted our disability community in countless different ways,” said Steve Anderson, chairman of the Access Press Board. “By nominating a person for this award you are not only recognizing that person for their contributions to our community, you are also shining a positive light on our community as a whole.”

The award is named in honor of the late Charlie Smith, founding editor of Access Press. He was a well-known Minnesota disability rights advocate. With the support of his family, Smith founded the newspaper in 1990. Under his guidance Access Press covered a wide range of community issues and forced changes on a number of fronts. Smith was an outspoken advocate but was also known for his outreach to others with disabilities and his many kindnesses.

Smith died in 2001. The first award was given in 2003.

The award is given to an individual or group, in recognition of outstanding service to Minnesota’s disability community.

The winner is celebrated at the annual award banquet, which is Friday, November 3 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington. The banquet includes a delicious meal, a silent auction and raffle, speeches and social time. Interpretation is offered for guests. The venue offers ample parking and plenty of space for banquet guests to enjoy themselves. Save the banquet date and watch for details on tickets and food choices.

“We at Access Press are always happy to see the nominations come in for the Charlie Smith Award,” said Access Press Executive Director/Editor Tim Benjamin. “Sending in a candidate is a great way to honor someone who provides outstanding service to our community. We always look forward to reading the selections and featuring them in the newspaper.” Any individual or group in Minnesota that is part of Minnesota’s disability community is eligible for nomination. Nominees can be from anywhere in Minnesota.

Nominators should provide as much information as possible about a nominee, as that information is used by the newspaper board to evaluate the nominees. It is also used to compile newspaper articles. Links to newspaper, magazine or online articles or television news stories are especially welcomed. That information presents a complete overview of the nominee’s work and life.

People cannot nominate themselves. Past nominees can be nominated again. 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. Questions about a nominee’s eligibility can be directed to Access Press staff, at [email protected].

The nomination form is on the Access Press website, and can be downloaded in .pdf and .docx formats. Anyone who needs accommodations to fill out the form or needs the form in another format can call the newspaper office at 651-644-2133.

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.

More information will be announced soon about the banquet and food choice.

Access Press will also be seeking banquet sponsors and donors for the very popular silent auction and raffle. All types of prizes will be needed. Watch Access Press in the print edition and online for details.

Here is a list of past Charlie Smith Award winners and their affiliations at the time each award was given:

2016 – Clifford Poetz, Institute on Community Integration
2015 – Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, Minnesota Commission for Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing
2014 – Christine Marble & Wendy Devore, CareerVentures
2013 – Cal Appleby, Augsburg College, with the late Vern Bloom and Wayne “Mo” Moldenhauer
2012 – Charles “Chuck” Van Heuveln, St. Paul Public Schools
2011 – Jeff Bangsberg, Minnesota 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.



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