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November 9, 2016, Flint, Michigan – Sister Carol Weber, OP, and Sister Judy Blake, CSJ, Co-founders and Co-directors of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, received the Community Contributor of the Year Award for their service to the Flint community.
The award, bestowed by the Arab American Heritage Council (AAHC), was presented October 27 in Northbrook Center, Flint, during the AAHC’s 20th Annual Ensure the Legacy Awards Banquet. The banquet, bringing in some 350 people, also celebrated the 30 years of the AAHC’s service to the Flint community.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the physician who discovered the extent of the lead poisoning suffered by Flint children from the city’s contaminated water, was also honored at the banquet.
Sisters Carol and Judy have been working since 2000 with the people of Flint, first serving them through street ministry. They opened the N.E.W. Life Center in 2002 and offer a variety of programs, including a literacy center, employment preparation, a sewing co-op that provides women with a livelihood, and a food pantry.
“It was an honor to be recognized by the Arab-American community,” Sister Carol said. During her brief remarks, she focused on the theme of the evening, “Together it Can Happen.” She noted that by working together, the people of Flint can solve problems that the community faces. “Only together can we do anything,” Sister Carol said. “We can’t do anything in isolation.”
Sister Carol said she had heard in May that she and Sister Judy were to be honored this Fall, and that she was reminded only recently about the awards banquet. “I was overwhelmed with the Arab-American community wanting to honor us,” she said.
Meeting members of the AAHC helped her to realize that many people in the local Arab-American community are in the same situation as some of the local Hispanic community. Those who don’t understand English were unaware of the contaminated water in their community until others explained it to them.
Sister Carol sees the award as significant to her ministry. “It really means that there’s a whole Arab community that recognizes what we do and wants to partner with us,” she said. “They’re a group of people who certainly know what’s happening in Flint and want to make a difference.”