Nominations Sought For 2023 Union County Human Relations Commission Unity Achievement Awards

Nominations are currently being sought for the prestigious 2023 Unity Achievement Awards presented to individuals, organizations, and businesses that have distinguished themselves in the broad realm of human dignity, human relations, and human rights. 

The awards are presented each year by the Union County Human Relations Commission (UCHRC) to 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, law enforcement, public service, veterans, the media, clergy, faith-based organizations, students, educators, and special recognition. The 2023 presentation will mark the 20th annual year in which honorees have been named. 

“We need the public’s eyes and ears to alert us to our “local unsung heroes” 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 Dr. Martin Dickerson. “Especially during the Covid pandemic, so many heroes have stepped up to lend a hand to help their neighbors and community.  With this award we want to recognize the programs, services, activities, and efforts being put forth by local role models who have gone above and beyond just because that is who they are, what they are made of.”

“Listening to the stories told during the Unity Awards presentation every year, it’s impossible not to feel genuinely moved and inspired,” said Commission Co-Chair Charlene Johnson. “These award recipients simply improve the lives of others, and honor human dignity.”

“The Award recipients represent the very best of us here in Union County,” Co-Chair Johnson added.  “Their efforts truly make a difference in our neighborhoods, communities, and in our world.”

The most recent award ceremony, held in June 2022, honored the twenty 2020 awards recipients — fourteen individuals and six organizations. 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, a mom, started a group to gather and disperse diapers — a huge budget item — to low income moms who were already struggling with simple basics like feeding their infants.

Another, a group of corrections officers routinely dress up as superheroes to raise funds and awareness for special needs and terminally ill children, taking time to meet, greet, and take photos with anyone they meet along the way.

Another award recipient provides special needs children with the chance to strut with confidence, sing with heart, and forge strong friendships that honor inclusivity and connection.

After the tragic loss of their mother and two brothers, three adult siblings whose family was helped by the community when they were children found a way to give back and create positive change in memory of their loved ones.

Another, an organization founded by two young men, provides an alternate path to bring the expensive game of soccer to youngsters who otherwise not be able to gear up or participate, while teaching them values that will carry them through their adult lives including respect, confidence, fair play, good sportsmanship, and teamwork.

“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,” Co-Chair Dr. Dickerson said.

Nominations for the 2023 Awards are being accepted now, and they must be received no later than Wednesday, December 22, 2022. The awards are scheduled to be presented in May 2023.

Nominations can be submitted online at, emailed to, or mailed to the UCHRC, c/o Karen Positan, AKR Building, 32 Rahway Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey 07202.

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, and working to eradicate the conditions that cause them.

“Today we witness the strong focus on inclusion, equity, and social justice,” Union County Prosecutor William Daniel said.  “The commission speaks in one strong, clear voice to make the message clear that we must all do our part to look after and care for each other, and that bias and hate have no place in Union County.”

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 our legal, clerical, and investigative staff volunteering to serve as commissioners to this day,” Prosecutor Daniel added.

For additional information, or if you are interested in learning more about the Commission, please email