Foundation serenades unsung heroes

From left, Chris Flynt, Sister Attracta Kelly, Omer Omer
From left, Chris Flynt, Sister Attracta Kelly, Omer Omer

PJ staff report

RALEIGH, N.C. – Three North Carolinians received public thanks and cash awards in recognition of the quiet work they do to improve the state during  the 25th annual Nancy Susan Reynolds Awards presentation, hosted by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Over the past quarter-century, the foundation has honored 82 individuals and awarded a total of $1.875 million as part of program named for Nancy  Susan Reynolds, a founder of the foundation and committed philanthropist.

Each award recipient receives a $5,000 cash prize, $20,000 to direct to the nonprofit of their choice, and a sculpture of Nancy Susan Reynolds.

Chris Flynt, head of A Brighter Path program at Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, was honored in the category of personal service.

Legally blind since he was in his 20s, Flynt now works to help other blind people improve their lives by learning to use public transportation, shop for themselves, manage their own finances and live independently.

And through the A Brighter Path Program, the organization provides activities for the blind, including a darts club, book club, pottery classes and hiking and running clubs.

Sister Attracta Kelly, an Irish nun, was honored for her advocacy efforts that focused primarily on immigrants who fled their home countries because of fear of persecution.

As head of the Immigrants Legal Assistance Project of the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh, Kelly helped immigrants gain legal status and founded a support network that connects immigrants and their families to resources throughout the community.

She also provided legal assistance to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse, and to victims of violent crimes.

Omer Omer, executive director of African Services Coalition in Greensboro, was recognized for his work in race relations.

A former journalist and refugee from Sudan, Omer brings together refugees from war-torn African nations to help them overcome enmities among tribes and nations.

He also connects them with the African-American community in Greensboro, helping dispel the belief that blacks and Africans have little in common.

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