Samina Faheem Sundas gets Human Relations Award
from Santa Clara County, CA
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Santa Clara CA., June 2, 2005: The Santa Clara County today awarded Samina Faheem Sundas, Executive Director of American Muslim Voice, a prestigious Human Relations Award for her outstanding contributions to the community.
Each year the Office of Human Relations and the Human Relations Commission of Santa Clara County holds an award ceremony to honor a number of outstanding citizens, for their voluntary and/or professional contributions in the areas of human rights, civil rights and human relations in Santa Clara County. This year the Human Relations Awards Breakfast at the Wyndham Hotel, San Jose was attended by 500 people.
Accepting the award Ms. Samina Faheem Sundas stated that “I am grateful to Allah for blessing me with the heart that could feel the pain of others. I am very fortunate to have the most wonderful parents who taught me Islamic and moral values by their actions that all human beings are equal by treating every one with respect.”
“My grand parents for their unconditional love, my extended family and my friends for their support and guidance. My grandmother was an amazing woman with qualities of a saint. She was the ultimate peace maker and an inspiration for me. I always admired her for her ability to love people, to be able to listen to other calmly and offer guidance when requested at times of turmoil in her neighborhood.
“American Muslim Voice is 23 months young organization but when I look around this beautiful banquet hall I see no strangers but 500 of my friends. AMV was founded to do exactly this, We are a grassroots, nonviolent, inclusive, civil, immigrant and human rights organization building alliances and genuine partnership with like minded groups and individuals to protect and preserve civil liberties and constitutional rights for ALL. Our goal is to bridge the gap between all communities and unite us all under the umbrella of our common humanity.
“This award does not just belong to me, it belongs to my parents, my grandparents, my relatives and friends, my teachers, my daughter Misbah, my son Squib, my extended activist family and anyone else who have touched my life.
“I am thankful to Santa Clara county Human Relations Commission for recognizing the work of a Muslim American under the current political climate. I have just started on this path and have taken a few baby steps in the direction of a well paved road by great humanitarians. I am honored to receive this award. Thank You.
“If we all focus on the similarities we will see that we are all human beings with so much more in common than we realize. We bleed red. We cry when we are hurt. Our tears have no color. When we are afraid, we try to flee to a safer place. We all smile in the same language. Each one of us have the same needs, we want to feel safe, accepted, loved and respected.
“I would like to thank all of you for supporting AMV through difficult times and with our many projects, INS special Registration, our biggest campaign to " Stop the INS Special Re- Registration" passing resolutions against the USA Patriot Act, Our Open Houses and forums. We still have a long way to go and will need your continuous support. Currently we are working towards making the state of California safe for all of us. Senator Liz Figueroa has introduced a bill SJR-10 in the state senate. please write a supporting letter and call your senator and ask them to support this bill.
“Our unity is our best bet for a safer, kinder, peaceful and harmonious America, where all of us feel safe, accepted, cherished and respected. We need to make the most beautiful diverse human wall of support and strength for each other, one that can't be shaken. Please cherish each other,” she concluded.
Samina received resolutions from Zoe Lofgren, Member of Congress and Santa Clara county Board of Supervisors, Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, Phyllis A. Perez and Liz kniss, Chairperson Board. She also received Certificates of appreciation from Assembly member Ira Ruskin, District 21. State Senator S. Joseph Simitian District 11Th, State Senator Elain K. Alquist District 13Th.
In addidtion to Samina, merit awards were also given to four other human rights advocates:
Nancy Gutierrez, a teacher in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District known for motivating students.
Sam Ho, director of the San Jose City College diversity office who promotes multiculturalism.
Wiggsy Sivertsen, director of counseling services at San Jose State University and outspoken champion for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Lucy Victoria Tansey, a 99-year-old tireless woman who has dedicated the past 42 years to helping American Indians overcome alcoholism.
In addition, the county's board of supervisors also gave awards for humanitarian works to: St. Joseph's Family Center; Californians for Justice; Fariba Nejat, credited with empowering Iranian-Americans; Union Community Resources; and Emily Thurber, a longtime Democratic Party activist.
Human relations chief Richard Hobbs gave the Director's Award to the Arab-Jewish Dialogue Group, which seeks a peaceful settlement to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The Human Relations Award Breakfast ceremony was also a tribute to Jim McEntee, a champion among human rights advocates, who headed the Office of Human Relations for 27 years until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2004.
Gertrude Welch received Jim McEntee Sr. Lifetime achievement Award. After receiving the award she said "A life of service is important,'' ``It's gratifying to see people's lives changed.''
At the awards ceremony, Welch was presented the plaque by Ann McEntee, widow of Jim McEntee.
She said: ``Gertrude's life has been and continues to be committed to building peace, justice and unity for all people.''