Submit a nomination: Charlie Smith Award contest is now open

Minnesotans with disabilities have many unsung heroes in their midst. These are the people and organizations demonstrating outstanding service and […]

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Minnesotans with disabilities have many unsung heroes in their midst. These are the people and organizations demonstrating outstanding service and commitment to others. Why not recognize that hero or heroes with a nomination for the 2014 Access Press Charlie Smith Award?

2011 Charlie Smith AwardThe award is presented annually to honor outstanding people in our community. The Access Press Board of Directors has announced the start of the nomination period. Nominations will be taken until 5 p.m. August 15.

“The disability community has a rich and varied past, some of which we learned about with last year’s winner,” said Access Press Board Chairperson Kristin Jorenby. “There are many people doing really transformational work particularly now that Minnesota has developed an Olmstead Plan. So whether you know someone that did something in the past that should be remembered, or someone that is doing great things now, we want to hear about them as nominees for the Charlie Smith Award.

The Charlie Smith Award is named in honor of the late Charlie Smith, founding editor of Access Press. He was a well-known Minnesota disability rights advocate and was well-known and respected at the state capitol. With the support of his family and his many friends, Smith founded the newspaper in 1990.

The first award ceremony was held in 2003, two years after Smith’s death. It began in St. Paul and has grown over the years, moving to a larger space in Bloomington several ago.

“When we first started the banquet it was more of a celebration of our friend, but it has become ‘THE BE AT BANQUET’ of the year,” said Access Press Executive Director Tim Benjamin. Benjamin, who was a longtime friend of Smith’s, is his successor at Access Press.

The winner and finalists will be honored in the September issue of Access Press.

The winner is the guest of honor at the annual award banquet, which is Friday, Nov. 7 at the Minneapolis Airport Marriot 2020 E. American Blvd., Bloomington. 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.

Interpretation is offered, by request for any guests. Please let the staff know if any accommodations are needed.

Any individual or group in Minnesota is eligible for nomination. People cannot nominate themselves. Past nominees can be nominated again, and can be nominated for two consecutive years. After two years a one-year wait for nomination is required. A nominator cannot nominate the same person or organization in consecutive years.

The entry form is  is available to be downloaded here. Please send a high-resolution digital photo or an actual picture of the nominee. Otherwise, tell the editors where a picture can be obtained. Pictures will be returned on request. 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 can be sent via email to [email protected], via fax to 651-644-2136, or mail to Access Press, c/o Charlie Award Committee, 161 St. Anthony Ave #910; St. Paul, MN 55103.

Access Press Business Manager Dawn Frederick is seeking banquet sponsors, as well as donations for the silent auction and raffle. Please contact Dawn at 651-644-2133 or [email protected]  if you would like to donate or have questions about donations.

Reservations can now be made for the banquet. 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 made online,  and any mailed checks with the name and number of guests can be sent to Access Press, Attn: Dawn, 161 St. Anthony Ave Suite 910, St. Paul, MN 55103. Please make checks payable to Access Press and note banquet in the notation line. Credit card transactions can be made over the phone by calling the office.


Previous winners are:

2013: Cal Appleby with the late Vern Bloom and Wayne “Mo” Moldenhauer, Augsburg College
2012: Charles “Chuck” Van Heuveln, Disability Rights Activist
2011: Jeff Bangsberg, Consultant, Legislative Activist
2010: Steve Kuntz, Minnesota 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
2004: Rick Cardenas, Co-Director of Advocating Change Together
2003: Margot Imdieke Cross, Minnesota State Council on Disability



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