A Call for Nominations for 2020 Union County Human Relations Commission Unity Achievement Awards

Nominations are currently being sought for the prestigious 2020 Unity Achievement Awards, presented each year by the Union County Human Relations Commission (UCHRC) to individuals, organizations, and businesses that have distinguished themselves in the broad realm of human relations and human rights. 

Simply put, the Awards honor ordinary people who do extraordinary things on behalf of others. Award nominees must live, work, and/or go to school in Union County. 

The Award categories include corporate/business enterprises, nonprofit organizations, community organizations, individuals, members of law enforcement, public service, veterans, the media, clergy, faith-based organizations, students, educators, and special recognition. The 2020 presentation will mark the 19th annual year in which honorees have been named. 

“We need the public’s eyes and ears to alert us to those who dedicate their time and effort to not only enhance others’ experiences and quality of life, but raise and honor the human spirit,” Commission Co-Chair Jo Ann Hamilton said. “These Awards recognize programs, services, activities, and efforts being put forth by local role models who promote cultural diversity, strong community relations, and human rights. Their efforts improve the lives of others, and by doing so, they truly make a difference in our communities and our world.”

“Listening to the stories told during the Unity Awards presentation every year, it’s impossible not to feel genuinely moved and inspired,” Commission Co-Chair Mark Spivey added. “The Award recipients represent the very best of us here in Union County.”

Four organizations and 19 individuals were honored in 2019. They represent a broad spectrum of focus, but all reflect selfless service, volunteerism, and honoring the human spirit.

Some acted on their own. One recipient acquired shelter and support for homeless individuals she noticed while looking out of her office window.

Another, a teacher, inspires and empowers his students through participation in challenging programs that raise cultural awareness, embrace diversity, and demonstrate the lessons of humanity.

After the tragic loss of a child, another award recipient, a local family, worked to create compassionate care and a comfortable, family-oriented environment in area hospitals for children and their families, as they deal with difficult medical situations. 

“We ask you to tell us about your friend, neighbor, or co-worker, who do not seek recognition for what they do to help others, but who deserve this recognition and our thanks for all they do on behalf of others,” Commissioner Hamilton said.

Nominations for the 2020 Awards are being accepted now, and they must be received no later than Thursday, December 26, 2018. The awards will be presented in May 2020.

Nominations can be submitted online at, emailed to, or mailed to the UCHRC, c/o the John H. Stamler Police Academy, 1776 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076.

Nominations must include the name, address, email, and telephone number for yourself and your nominee, as well as an explanation of the specific programs, activities, or efforts undertaken by the nominee (and, if relevant, any newspaper articles, literature, or other documents).

The UCHRC was created by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office in 1991, under the direction of County Prosecutor Andrew K. Ruotolo, Jr. The commission serves to promote a more peaceful and tolerant society throughout Union County, primarily by addressing the issues of prejudice, bias, and racism, and their impacts on our local schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.  

The UCHRC consists of a group of volunteer commissioners who live or work in Union County, hailing from a diverse collection of personal and professional backgrounds, in fields ranging from education to advocacy to law enforcement.

“We’re very proud that since establishing the UCHRC nearly 30 years ago, the Prosecutor’s Office has been actively involved in its operation ever since, with members of the legal, clerical, and investigative staff volunteering to serve as commissioners to this day,” acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo said. “Bias and hate have no place in Union County, and the commission speaks in one strong, clear voice to make that message clear.”

Meetings are held every other month on Monday evenings at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains. For additional information, please call 908-527-4621 or email