UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Award for International Commitment
The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is the world’s leader in responding to the humanitarian devastation resulting from armed conflict. What started 65 years ago in response to the magnitude of displacement caused by the second World War, has grown out of necessity and with the confidence of the international community into an operation with over 9,300 staff members in 125 countries across the world. Their work takes place in the world’s most violent and politically sensitive conflicts. UNHCR works tirelessly to reach the far-flung and isolated victims of war regardless of race, religion, or nationality. In the Middle East alone, UNHCR oversees 5.1 million registered refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless peoples. Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011, UNHCR has once again responded to the urgent call to aid victims of war; they are now caring for over 4.5 million registered Syrian refugees primarily in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Despite risks to their own staff’s safety, UNHCR is still working in Syria to provide critical services to the starving, injured, and impoverished civilians. Not only does UNHCR meet the urgent needs of refugees by providing temporary shelter, food, and healthcare, but they also run the global resettlement program to screen and recommend refugees for resettlement in foreign countries, including the United States. In recognition of UNHCR’s unparalleled programs, they have been awarded two Nobel Peace Prizes, one in 1954 and one in 1981. We are proud to be adding the Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Award for International Commitment to their list this year.
Unite Lebanon Youth Project
Award for Institutional Excellence
The Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP) has distinguished itself with its superior programming and services, creating a better, more unified, Lebanon. In the five short years since its founding, and in the midst of a flood of incoming refugees from neighboring Syria, ULYP has reached thousands of vulnerable youth with high quality educational programs and remarkable opportunities for success that were previously unimaginable for low income children. Its tranquil campus outside of Beirut is a one of a kind space for the underserved youth of Lebanon – including Palestinian and Syrian refugees as well as impoverished Lebanese – to befriend one another and believe that success is possible even in the midst of physical, financial, and mental insecurity. ULYP’s programs meet the many diverse needs of students yearning and capable of success – from preschool through high school and on to college. Indeed, one of their most impactful programs is their provision of scholarships for Palestinian youth who may otherwise have never had the chance to pursue their education. The work of this small but mighty organization has propelled a paradigm shift away from historical divisions along religious, political, socio-economic, and ethnic fault lines towards a vision for the country that embraces unity in a shared struggle for a better future. Their success stories are changing the way youth see themselves and each other, and in so doing, ULYP is redefining the future of Lebanon. We are pleased to recognize the Unite Lebanon Youth Project with the 2016 Award for Institutional Excellence.
Special Recognition Award
Jamie Farr is a distinguished Arab American actor and philanthropist most remembered for his endearing portrayal of Corporal Maxwell Klinger in the hit series M*A*S*H*. Over the course of M*A*S*H*’s critically acclaimed 11-year run, Mr. Farr brought to life the humorous, deeply compelling story of a lovable Lebanese serviceman from Toledo, Ohio. Like his character, Mr. Farr was born to Lebanese parents in Toledo. His portrayal of Klinger was one of the earliest positive, three-dimensional depictions of an Arab American in the media, which made many in our community proud. In addition to his on-screen accomplishments, Mr. Farr has a distinguished history of giving back to his Toledo community. Mr. Farr runs a scholarship fund to support Toledo’s youth, and for 28 years he organized the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic golf tournament to benefit dozens of children’s charities across Ohio and Michigan. Advancing Kahlil Gibran’s ideals of diversity, acceptance, and unity, Mr. Farr’s sense of humor and dedication to public service has brought laughter and warmth into the households of millions of Americans. We are proud to present Mr. Farr with this Special Recognition.
The Honorable Suzanne Sareini
Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service
Suzanne Sareini’s history of public service marks a milestone in the march towards political empowerment for the Arab American community. A lifetime Dearborn resident and local business owner, Ms. Sareini’s 1989 campaign for City Council came on the heels of Dearborn’s first public confrontation with a simmering anti-Arab sentiment that challenged the Arab American community’s place in Michigan. The multi-ethnic support Ms. Sareini won on the campaign trail was a powerful refutation of attempts to sideline and cast suspicion on our community. Because of Ms. Sareini’s tireless dedication to the community and indefatigable spirit, she went on to be reelected for six straight terms. The first ever Arab American elected to public office in the city of Dearborn, Michigan – Ms. Sareini represented her constituents with determination, boldness, bipartisanship, and ear to the city’s many voices and needs. For over 25 years, her commitment to the empowerment of the Arab American community has paved the way for many others across the country to run for office, while her commitment to her constituents has demonstrated the true spirit of public service. It is because of this and much more that we are honored to award Ms. Sareini with the 2016 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service.