Volunteer Hate Crime Responders Ready for Action

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end-bigotry-begin-tolerance CCEJ VolunteersTwenty-one dedicated community volunteers recently completed 17 hours of training by The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ)to assist victims of hate crime and bias incidents in the City of Long Beach. A celebration will be held on September 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm at Police Headquarters, 400 West Broadway, to honor the participants for completing the training.

The effort is part of the City’s Human Dignity Program, founded in 1999 to ensure that all City residents are treated with courtesy and respect regardless of their racial background, their nation of origin, the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, gender, or disability status. Hate crime are crimes in which bias against the victim’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender is a substantial motivating factor in the commission of an offense.  

The 21 volunteers learned such valuable skills as: empathic listening, victim support, crisis response, and community mediation. Teresa Gomez, Human Dignity Program Coordinator said,  “Together these volunteers have learned about themselves and each other and about the nature of a crime that is often unexplainable and devastating not only to the victim, but the victim’s community.”

“Unfortunately in these tough economic times, incidents of intolerance, bias and even hate crimes tend to increase,” said Danielle Nava, Director of Programs with CCEJ. ”This team is here to demonstrate that all residents of Long Beach deserve to feel safe and to be treated with respect regardless of their real or perceived identity.  These volunteers are role models for good human relations out in the community.”

Graduates include:  Dan Pitre, Erwin Saenz, Eydie Pasicel, Francisco Martinez, Henry Salzer, Johnny Wazney, Kimiko Martinez, Rafael Lerma, Robert Payne, Travis Miller, Brenda Novela, Pamela Krug, Paula Trzicky, Linda Nelson, Lois Schneider, Mary Zendejas, Nicole Palmer, Renee Florsheim, Tracy Weaver, Wendy Andersen, and Ruth Meghiddo.

The effort is a partnership between CCEJ and the City of Long Beach, Community Development Department, Neighborhood Services Bureau. CCEJ is a non-profit human relations organization based in Long Beach since 1963. The mission of the organization is to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism in America through conflict resolution, advocacy and education.

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