WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Sept. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Three community leaders will be honored by The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) with the 2013 California Peace Prize for their efforts to promote peace and prevent violence. George Galvis motivates young people by providing healthy alternatives to crime and violence and promotes restorative justice in communities in the Bay Area. Lali Moheno is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of female farmworkers in Tulare County who are often victims of sexual harassment and other forms of violence. Tasha Williamson, a fierce advocate for peace, provides support and compassion for families in San Diego County who have lost loved ones to gang or gun violence.
"This year's honorees are visionary leaders who have used limited resources and personal tenacity to create effective responses to violence in their communities," said Cole Wilbur, interim president and CEO of TCWF.
On October 10, 2013, TCWF will honor these community leaders at its 21st annual California Peace Prize ceremony in San Diego. In recognition of their efforts to prevent violence and promote peace, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000.
"We know that solutions to violence can't be answered easily or quickly," said Julio Marcial, TCWF's program director for violence prevention. "But this year's peace prize honorees have told us we can – and we must – begin to answer this public health issue by coming together, by sharing what we've learned, and by being clear about what is working and where we need to improve."
For more than two decades, George Galvis has promoted restorative justice and healing to address the violence plaguing communities in the Bay Area. Cofounder and executive director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ, pronounced "courage"), Galvis draws upon his experience and his self-described "indigenous" roots to motivate youth, particularly those involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, to become future community leaders. Using restorative justice by involving the youth and the community, Galvis works with the youth to identify issues affecting their lives and trains them to develop strategies and policies that impact their community. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Galvis was drawn into what he calls "the street life" as a means of rebellion against a system he felt targeted by and consequently spent time incarcerated as a youth. These experiences led him to a steadfast commitment to elevate the voice and power of young people. Galvis is a leader in statewide advocacy to change punitive school discipline and juvenile justice policies that disparately impact youth of color. He has developed traditional rites of passage programs as healthy, constructive alternatives to gang violence using culturally and spiritually based approaches to build and strengthen healthy individuals, families and communities.
"We never know what kind of phenomenal contributions a young person might be able to make to our families, our communities and to our society," said Galvis. "Every child is a blessing, born with a gift to share with the world, and we must guide them to ensure they unwrap their presents."
Lali Moheno is a community leader dedicated to improving the health and wellness of female farmworkers who are often victims of sexual harassment and other forms of violence at home and in the workplace. In 2002, Moheno organized the inaugural Farmworker Women's Health, Safety, Education and Environment Conference in honor of her mother, Juanita Saenz, and other mothers who worked as migrant laborers. Now in its 11th year, more than 1,000 people attend the annual conference, which addresses violence and other health concerns in the community. Moheno's experience has taught her that many of the female farmworkers victimized in the fields were forced to suffer in silence due to fear of losing their livelihoods. Through Moheno's efforts, thousands of women and their families in Tulare County have been connected with health care and mental health services, as well as advocacy support to combat sexual harassment.
"Farmworker women are traumatized by violence and harassment, but it is never too late to rise above it," said Moheno. "I know these women are strong, and we as a community can be supportive."
Tasha Williamson, a fierce advocate for peace, works directly with families who have experienced the devastating loss of loved ones. In 2008, she cofounded the San Diego Compassion Project, a collaboration among advocacy groups, law enforcement and churches. The project has supported more than 80 families and 500 individuals who have survived the trauma associated with homicides, suicides and assaults. Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Williamson grew up in a community plagued with violence and is a survivor of sexual abuse. Inspired by a high school teacher, she learned the importance of both community and personal advocacy.
Williamson is a community outreach consultant for the Urban League of San Diego where she cocreated the Block By Block program, which helps educate young people on alternatives to gang involvement and assists their families in accessing social services that she finds are lacking in many southeastern neighborhoods of San Diego. She previously worked as a manager at Project Safeway, a safe passage program for students traveling to and from school, addressing community issues, including combating homelessness, domestic violence and gang involvement.
"To bring peace and end the violence we have to advocate and have compassion for ourselves, for our children, for our communities, and even for strangers," said Williamson. "Violence, especially gang violence, is preventable."
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women's health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues and special projects outside the funding priorities.
Since its founding in 1992, TCWF has awarded 6,919 grants totaling more than $852 million. Please visit TCWF's website at CalWellness.org for more information, including a newsroom section devoted to the awards and the three honorees. High-resolution photos are available, and video interview clips are posted on TCWF's YouTube channel.
SOURCE The California Wellness Foundation