A Journey of the Heart…From Intolerance to Acceptance

The Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations and the Human Relations Commission honored two significant leaders in local interfaith activities. The theme for the Annual Human Relations Awards Breakfast on Friday, February 23rd was “A Journey of the Heart…From Intolerance to Acceptance.”

Several hundred people— community relations facilitators, educators, peacemakers, activists — gathered to honor those who have continued to make Santa Clara County a model for diversity and multicultural cooperation. Among those honored with Awards of Special Merit were the SF Bay Area Chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and Bart Charlow, Executive Director of SVCCJ (Silicon Valley Conference for Community and Justice).

CAIR has been involved, especially since the events of 9/11, in reaching out to the community to build bridges of understanding and appreciation between the Muslim community and others. They have sponsored educational events, open houses at local mosques, and community building events.

In response to his award, Bart Charlow noted that although attention is often given to the conductor, if there were not a whole symphony of talented players responding to the conductor’s lead, he would “just be flapping his arms.” SVCCJ not only sponsors interreligious dialogue groups— the Interfaith Religious Leaders Dialogue Group, the Jewish/Catholic Dialogue Group, the Women in Religion Dialogue Group, and the Jewish/Presbyterian Dialogue Group— it also provides support for victims and witnesses of crimes and a variety of programs that educate children and youth about diversity and the “fourth R- “Respect.”

In her acceptance speech, Saafa Ibrahim, Director of CAIR, said, “If we want to live in a better world, we have to work together to make it a better place to live in – not just for me, not just for you, but for all of us.” Congratulations to Saafa, to Bart, and to all those dedicated staff and volunteers that work with these two organizations to create and strengthen ties of respect and understanding in Santa Clara County!

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