CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) -- Several people, striving to build a connection with other countries, are being honored for their work.
Both cities are recognizing those who help immigrants reach success. This year's winners are contributing a wide variety of efforts to the case. Some say this is important in the nation's current climate; now more than ever.
The mission of the Education Justice Project is to be a college-in-prison program. They've even changed practices to adapt the current situation. Nine years ago, Rebekah Ginsberg helped start EJP; a group improving the lives of those in prison as well as their families.
"After the election of Donald Trump last year, we expanded our work to also write letters to people who are facing threats due to immigration policies or uncertainty in immigration policies." Ginsberg says it started with letters to those behind bars, but over time, the climate in today's society changed what they were doing. One reason is a recipient of this year's Immigrant Welcome Award.
"We recognize them, we see them, we welcome them, we value them and we have their backs." The award is designed to highlight those who go above and behind to bettering the lives of immigrants. EJP is sharing it with the Immigration Project.
Ginsberg says it's time for everyone to get on board with their mission. "Whether you're a soup kitchen, a domestic violence shelter, a library or a college and prison program, there's something all of us can be doing, quite frankly, in this time of urgency." Karyl Wackerlin is also being recognized.
She's taken a different approach to lending a hand. She's traveled to Haiti to donate her time at God's Little Angels Orphanage. "Sometimes these trips aren't about, 'What can I do when I'm there?' But, 'What happens in me while I'm there and what happens to me when I get back?'"
Over the years, Wackerlin has taken 45 women to volunteer on these Soul Journeys. "It's about more than the work we do. It's about building relationships before we go and building relationships when we get there." For her, it's about the everlasting impact she hopes she's making.
"It's important, I think, for them to see us come back and, I think, it's important for us to make a commitment." It's all part of next week's Immigrant Welcome Week. There will be a ceremony dedication Saturday for all recipients.
Next week, there will also be a representative from Haiti in town. It all stems from Soul Journey's mission.
Click here for a list of all of the award winners.
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