Amnesty International Local Group 1101 — while only just recently organized — has been awarded the 2011 Sister Laola Hironaka Award.
The award is presented annually to one Amnesty International USA local group that has demonstrated innovation, courage and effective campaigning strategy. The award serves to honor and recognize the most outstanding chapter in the country.
The Payson chapter, co-founded by Penny Navis-Schmidt, was selected for its work during 2010, particularly its victory advocating and proclaiming December 2010 Payson Human Rights Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the Payson chapter sponsored a number of events including a human rights documentary screening and discussion, a marathon 12-hour Global Write-a-Thon and cooperation with various community groups which helped expand the scope and impact of their work.
In submitting an application in consideration of the award, the Payson group cited the events mentioned here and provided an essay, for which Navis-Schmidt wrote this synopsis for the Roundup:
“In a small, rural town where the very word ‘amnesty’ carried very negatively charged political connotations that were widely held, the founding members of the local group 1101 knew they would face many challenges as they sought to raise awareness and educate their community about human rights.
“From the start they realized the importance of fostering good relationships with key members of the community and with established and respected organizations. They recognized a need for patience and a determination ‘to meet the community where its members are.’”
The Payson chapter will be honored at the 2011 Amnesty International USA Annual General Meeting in San Francisco on March 19, giving the chapter national recognition. The annual general meeting brings together hundreds of groups and individual activists from across the country.