Every year, the Prince William County Human Rights Commission recognizes community members for their work in expressing and promoting principles of human rights. This year, the Commission recognized five people during its Universal Human Rights Day celebration on Saturday, Jan. 18, in the Board chambers at the McCoart Administration Building.
Gerard Creedon, the pastor of Holy Family Church in Dale City, was recognized as an “advocate for social justice with a strong dedication to serving the poor and the most vulnerable among us.”
Creedon told the full house that he whole-heartedly supported the Commission and its work. “I believe in the cause of humans rights, the Commission’s work, the work this county does to protect the vulnerable, and I’ll stand with you whenever and wherever there is a violation of human dignity.”
The commission recognized Vicky Castro for her work in coordinating the IMPACT Program, a substance abuse program for students and parents. Castro is a social worker for Prince William County Public Schools.
Castro quoted poet Edward Hale, who said, “Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the one thing that I can do,” and asked others to get involved in their communities. “I encourage everyone to find their passion. Make a phone call, write a letter, reach out, inform yourself and just continue doing what you’re doing.”
Doreen Dauer, the supervisor of Student Assistance and Prevention Programs for Prince William County Public Schools, received recognition for her work on a human trafficking prevention project with the Potomac Health Foundation, as well as her work with the “World of Difference” program which promotes local peer mediation and diversity conferences. Dauer said she accepted the award on behalf of others. “I am one of the truly blessed people of the world to be able to do a job that I truly love. It’s not me. I accept this award for all the coordinators and students who courageously put themselves on the line every time they stand up for those who are put down.”
Cydny Neville, the Director of Community Services for the Town of Dumfries, received an award for establishing the mentoring program for youth called “Dumfries Cares.” Neville also volunteers at Swann’s Creek Elementary School, Graham Park Middle School, Triangle Elementary School, and coordinated a Birthday Bag drive for homeless children. Neville also created the “You Can Do Anything Too” book scholarship for children.
Neville said she was proud to receive the award for doing something she was pleased to do anyway. “I am a simple person who sees needs that need to be met, and I try my best to address them, and I am thankful to be receiving this award for simply doing what I feel needs to be done. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Sam Sanders is an Attendance Officer for Prince William County Public Schools who encourages students to finish their education and overcome obstacles. He was recognized by the commission for his work in pioneering the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference Program during his tenure at Osbourn park High School. “It was a labor of love. It was something that was very easy for me to do.”
In addition to the five recognized for their contributions to the community, Carlos Labiosa was also recognized for his 20 years of service to the commission.
Labiosa, who is the Treasurer of the Association for Human Rights, said he only did what he thought anyone should do and encouraged others to do the same. “You need to keep on working and working and working and never stop. Never stop doing. Keep on going.”
State Sen. Henry L. Marsh, III was the keynote speaker and congratulated the commission on its work in Prince William County. Marsh, who was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1977, told the audience that all of the laws aimed at human rights were for naught if people didn’t get involved.
“What you’re doing here with this commission is something that can’t be done with laws. Only the commission, comprised of diversity, can solve these tough problems. What you’re doing is what has to be done to make Martin’s dream come true,” Marsh said of Martin Luther King, Jr. “You’re doing something wonderful up here, so keep on doing it. Don’t let people dissuade you from your mission.”
Prince William Supervisors John D. Jenkins and Maureen S. Caddigan attended the ceremony.