LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 9, 2018) — This spring, the University of Kentucky's College of Social Work is recognizing some of the Commonwealth's unsung heroes. They were recently honored during the college's Evening of Excellence held in April.
The Social Justice Unsung Heroes Award is in its second year, thanks to generous support from UK’s Office of Institutional Diversity’s Inclusive Excellence funding program. Awardees were nominated by their peers/members of their communities and are recognized as those who devote time and energy to the pursuit of social justice in Kentucky. Recipients must work toward social change and equality for all members of our society, take action to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities and inspire others to want to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Five Kentuckians were honored this year.
Hale’s career in social services has been described as remarkable. She has served as a childbirth educator, children's service worker, home care program coordinator, nutrition coordinator and hospice volunteer in Floyd County. Hale also teaches as an adjunct faculty member in UK’s MSW program in Southeastern Kentucky, sharing her experiences, knowledge and wisdom with the next generation of social work professionals. Throughout her career, she has worked to find resources, service and support for those often overlooked by society. Hale is described as a role model for professional and community leaders. She is a graduate of UK’s MSW program.
Hobson serves as the family engagement and volunteer coordinator for Berea Community Schools. She’s known as the person who can “get things done” and who knows how to stretch resources to meet the many needs of students and families in her community. In addition to her direct service work, Hobson works tirelessly as an advocate and voice for social justice through her ongoing “Letters to Mitch” project. She writes near-daily correspondence to policy makers at the state and federal levels, often using humor and day-to-day experiences to encourage lawmakers to promote policies and programs in the best interest of Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations. Hobson is currently working on a book project related to this campaign. She is a graduate of UK’s MSW program.
Quinn's work is focused on multiple groups of people and addresses a host of critical issues. Her efforts include: restoring voting rights for convicted felons, making public bathrooms safer for trans and gender diverse people, and advocating for people with HIV/AIDS in their search for housing. Quinn is dedicated to making a significant impact in lives of those in rural Eastern Kentucky. Throughout her career, she has worked at many different Kentucky-based nonprofits. Quinn is a true advocate, continually examining, learning and educating others about the injustices faced by marginalized and oppressed populations. She is a graduate of UK’s MSW program.
Lancaster is a social worker in Lexington. Throughout his career, he has focused his work on helping those who are battling addiction, has worked with teens who have experienced trauma and currently works as the children’s advocate at GreenHouse 17. Lancaster’s commitment to social justice is evident in his work, paid and volunteer. In addition to his professional work, he is an active volunteer in the community. Lancaster gives a voice to those who are often unseen and unheard through his compassionate and thoughtful advocacy work.
Roodhouse is the director at the E7 Kids Café in Lexington. In this role, she works tirelessly as an advocate for low-income children and families. Roodhouse coordinates after school programs, tutoring events, summer camps and meal and snack prep. She is determined to provide the highest quality of care and service to the kids at E7. Roodhouse’s attention to detail — such as always knowing each child’s likes and dislikes — makes her a difference maker in her extended family at E7.
Diane Loeffler, senior lecturer in the College of Social Work, sums up the work of these professionals best. “Each of the people we are recognizing this year is someone who is committed to their work because of their deep conviction to do good and to create positive change in the world. None of these people are doing this work for public recognition. It is an honor to recognize each of these social justice activists for their hard work.”
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