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County’s 7th Annual Beacon of Light Awards to Recognize Individuals and Organizations

The County of Santa Clara Office of Human Relations will present the Beacon of Light Awards to individuals and organizations that work to advance the human rights and effective integration of immigrants in Santa Clara County.
Beacon of Light Award Recipients: Reza Odabaee, Vice Chair of the Immigrant and Refugee Forum of Santa Clara County; Balbir Ladhar, community volunteer and English teacher; The Mexican Consulate in San Jose
February 22, 6:00 - 8:00p.m. TODAY
County of Santa Clara Charcot Center Café, 2310 N. First Street, San Jose
The United States has a deep-rooted history as a nation of immigrants.  OHR recognizes that Silicon Valley’s success as an economic leader of the world is to a great extent the result of the hard work of immigrants. Immigrants have contributed countless hours of work, their own capital, and ingenuity to help make this valley significant in the global economy. 
The Statue of Liberty has long been a symbol of welcome to all immigrant communities. The Beacon ofLight Awards are given as a symbol of the torch that is held by the Statue of Liberty. The light is a reflection of the hopes and the dreams of immigrants for a bright beginning in a new country.  
Presentation of awards;
Performances by Folklorico Nacional Mexicano, Hala Dance, and Kwamka Africa
About the 2013 Beacon of Light Award Recipients
Reza Odabaee
Reza came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1988. From 1992 to 2011, he worked at Catholic Charities Santa Clara County assisting hundreds of refugees while administering a comprehensive resettlement program. In 2012, Reza established the Pars Equality Center South Bay to assist low-income Iranian Americans. During the first year of the Center’s existence, Reza worked with more than 200 individuals and helped more than 45 clients find jobs. Reza is a long time member and the current Vice Chair of the Immigrant and Refugee Forum of Santa Clara County.
Balbir Ladhar
Balbir has been active in organizing citizenship preparation classes. He helps immigrants gain English skills and understand basic history and civics to prepare for the citizenship test. Balbir continues to volunteer at John XXIII Multi-Service Center where he assists seniors who speak Indian languages. His training as a County Health Trust Senior Peer Advocate has proven invaluable in his work. He is one of the original initiators of the Senior Program at the San Jose Sikh Gurdwara and has also taught English to immigrants through Project SHINE. Hundreds of immigrants, as well as regular county residents, have directly benefited from Balbir’s excellent work and personal commitment.
The Mexican Consulate in San Jose
In 2012, the County of Santa Clara initiated discussion with the Mexican Consulate and the City of San José to address concerns regarding the rise in hate incidents and hate crimes in local immigrant communities. As a result, an unprecedented Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the County, City of San Jose and the Mexican Consulate to work together to raise awareness of hate crimes and hate incidents targeting Mexican nationals, and to encourage the reporting of such incidents. The Mexican Consulate is being honored for the leadership it has taken on this issue.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Teresa Castellanos, Office of Human Relations (408) 792-2306       
Posted: February 22, 2013