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Three chosen to receive Peacemaker Awards
The Peace and Justice Task Force this year received two nominations for the annual Peacemaker Award. Both proved exceptionally worthy, so two awards were presented at the closing banquet of the Rocky Mountain Conference annual meeting.
Bob and Louise West live their faith
Louise, retired this year from a distinguished teaching career at North High School in Denver, has been an effective mentor and advocate for youth empowerment. She has taken youth to Latino rights marches and protests, (giving them extra credit!), and to Peace Jam events with Nobel Laureates.
Bob is a UCC pastor, served Berkeley Community Congregational Church for many years, and other congregations as an interim or supply minister. He has served on the Colorado Council of Churches, as a member of the board and as a staff person for environmental concerns. Bob’s environmental and justice concerns have melded together in his work against the Peabody Coal Company’s use of Hopi and Navajo water.
Bob and his son, Noah, went to Chiapas in Mexico in 1999, following the Zapatista uprising, in support of the aspirations of the indigenous people.
He has been a member of the Peace and Justice Task Force since its inception in the1980s, and has just been elected as a member of the new Justice and Witness Ministry Team.
Bob, Louise and Noah have participated in demonstrations calling for the closing of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Bob and Louise have worked tirelessly for the rights of the marginalized, against Amendment 2 in 1992 and for GLBT rights in the years since. They have participated regularly in the Martin Luther King Marades (march and parade), and in countless peace, justice and anti-war demonstrations in Denver and elsewhere. They live their faith in lives of advocating, with sensitivity for and with the marginalized.
Jenny Whitcher works to end homelessnes and poverty
Since 1992, she has been involved in numerous work camps focusing on these concerns. These camps have been held in Guatemala, Hungary, Haiti, India and El Salvador, as well as in five U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Recently, she led groups from her church to San Marcos, Guatemala and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Some of these events have been Habitat for Humanity projects. She has been an officer and participant in Habitat campus groups in New York and Denver. In 2003 and 2004, she was the Campus Chapter Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity International and the national coordinator for HabiFest 2004, a student initiated day of advocacy for affordable housing and an end to homelessness. Participation increased from 10,000 students in 2003 to over 100,000 in 2004, with events held in 48 states, Canada and the Philippines.
Currently the founder and project manager of the Homeless Initiative for Policy and Systemic Change of Metro-Denver, based in the Center on Rights Development, she lists seven current action plans in progress.
The Justice and Peace Task Force presented the first Peacemaker award, in 1987, to Mary Elizabeth Gillespie of Greeley’s First Congregational UCC. The following award went to a married couple, Doug and Dorothy Gale. Since the Task Force has now become the Justice and Peace Ministry Team, it seems appropriate that these final Task Force awards also go to someone from the Greeley church and to a married couple
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