MIDDLETOWN - The Orange County Human Rights Commission held its 19th Annual Awards Dinner last Thursday at The Fountains. The dinner honored recipients of this year’s Human Rights Award: The Rev. Stephen Ruelke, Daniel Hutting, Patricia Fayo and Glenn and Susan Dickes.
Glenn and Susan Dickes have spent the last decade in retirement, committed to helping eradicate hunger in their community. Susan has worked as a Registered Dietitian and Glenn as a Corporate Attorney. When they moved to the Village of Warwick, they learned that hunger and food anxiety was a widespread and chronic condition in this middle class community. They soon joined with others to help make a difference in this very basic of human rights. Working in close partnership with the Warwick Valley Central School District administration, they help all achieve better access to the human need of sufficient food thus greater equity.
Patricia Fayo measures her success by being able to put her head on the pillow every night and honestly say, "I have helped someone today." She believes in giving a "hand up" to single moms, seniors on fixed incomes, struggling veterans and people with disabilities in Orange County.
Fayo taught nutrition to low income families through Cornell Cooperative Extension and is a Leadership Orange graduate.
Daniel Hutting sees possibilities where others may see barriers. He shares his own experiences with others to help them find hope in situations that may seem hopeless and he does not hesitate to speak up for others when he believes they may be victims of discrimination or abuse.
Hutting has spent his career working with local organizations in the mental health, developmental disabilities and HIV fields. He joined Independent Living in 2001 as a Mental Health Peer Advocate/Self-Help Facilitator before taking on the position of manager in 2008. He leads supports groups for dually diagnosed individuals in prison and hospitals.
The Rev. Stephen Ruelke and his wife Ruth founded Ecclesia Ministries of Newburgh in 2006. Its formation, however, began three years prior when Stephen met a homeless man pushing a shopping cart filled with bottles down Liberty Street in Newburgh. It was from that interaction that he had a vision that he should serve the marginalized, abandoned, thrown away and oppressed people in the City of Newburgh.
Ecclesia held its first service in a vacant lot next to an overnight shelter on Johnston Street. About a dozen people gathered. Years later, Rev. Ruelke still conducts the Sunday afternoon street service for anyone and everyone, now in front of the Hope Center at 85 Grand Street.
Amado Valdes was born in Havana, Cuba in 1927. He came to the United States of America when Fidel Castro took power. He trained US and Israeli Air Force pilots for combat missions before taking a job with Pan Am.
Valdes moved his family to Orange County in the 90s and began work as a Credentialed Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Counselor for Restorative Management, where he remains employed at age 86. He works with individuals who suffer from the most serious and persistent substance use disorders providing counseling, tenacious advocacy, case management and inspiration.