A community group that earlier this year urged the Holland City Council to add anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people will return to City Hall on Jan. 18, this time to receive an award for its social justice work.
Holland is Ready will be the recipient of one of four Social Justice Awards to be given out by the Holland Human Relations Commission at the 7 p.m. Jan. 18 meeting of the City Council. It will receive the Government/Community Relations award while other Social Justice Award winners will be the Ready for School initiative for education, Ourstreet and Neighborhood Liaison Programs for housing, and Timmy Kim for youth. A lifetime achievement award will also be given to Rebecca “Becky” Arenas.
Holland is Ready held its first meeting in January of 2010 in response to filmmaker Dustin Lance Black not being allowed to speak and show his movie “Milk,” for which he won an Academy Award for screenwriting, on the Hope College campus. About 150 people showed up for that first meeting, where it was decided its mission would be to make the Holland area more inclusive for LGBT people and its monthly meetings continue to draw large numbers of concerned residents, business people, clergy and community leaders.
The group has worked to educate people on the issues faced by LGBT people by, among other things, holding a 2010-11 film series. It has also hosted speakers, helped sponsor the annual Pride Day in the city of Holland and held a community picnic.
Holland is Ready also strongly advocated for changes to the city’s ordinances and policies that would give LGBT people the same anti-discrimination protections that others enjoy with regard to housing and employment. Holland is Ready members packed the City Hall on June 15, providing testimonials on why such anti-discrimination protections were needed, but the council voted 5-4 against having that language drafted.
“We were disappointed in the Council’s decision last summer to not extend basic rights of protection to members of this community who are LGBT, but a very high percentage of those present that night and in the months that followed indicate that Holland is moving in the direction of equal rights for all of its citizens,” said Jennifer Adams, spokesperson for the group. “We are grateful for the city’s recognition of our efforts. This is truly an honor and we’ll continue to work for a Holland that is able to celebrate the diversity that is present among us.”
Holland is Ready continues to be active in the community. It plans to host educational programs in 2012 and will continue seeking support of area businesses that share its mission by holding social gatherings there. They also continue to build and show support for stronger anti-discrimination policies in the city.
For more information, or to volunteer or donate, go to http://www.hollandisready.org.