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2014 Angel of Freedom Awards

IMG_7892Contact: Kavita Khandekar Chopra                                                                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phone: 214.855.0520

Email: kkhandekar@hrionline.org

2014 ANGEL OF FREEDOM AWARDS

Dallas, Texas (October 24, 2014) – Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI), a nonprofit agency in Dallas, has announced the recipients of their prestigious 2014 Angel of Freedom Awards: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, The Meadows Foundation, and DASH Network – a ministry of the City Church. The awards will be presented at the HRI Thanksgiving Event on Monday, November 3, 2014 held at the offices of Haynes and Boone LLC.

These organizations have made significant contributions, enabling HRI to better serve its clients and to advance the organization’s mission. The generosity of these award-winners has made a profound difference in the lives of many immigrants living in North Texas.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Over the last many years, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has donated thousands of hours in pro bono service to Human Rights Initiative’s two legal programs and provided guidance and expertise in HRI’s local and national advocacy efforts. Akin Gump attorneys donated over 800 volunteer hours over the last fiscal year.  In 2014, Akin Gump graciously loaned a full-time pro bono attorney to HRI for several months to help with the overload of children’s cases. The firm has also become one of HRI’s strongest corporate financial partners.

Steven H.  Schulman, Pro Bono Partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP says, “It is such an honor for Akin Gump to be recognized by Human Rights Initiative.  Our lawyers value the professionalism and expertise of our HRI colleagues as well as the opportunity to work with such courageous clients from around the world.  These are our best hours.”

The Meadows Foundation

Through the years, the Meadows Foundation has supported HRI through their grants and matching gifts programs.  Within its broad mission, the Foundation looks for programs and services that employ imaginative and innovative ways to help fragile populations improve their quality of life through programs that alleviate pain, enhance social skills, provide protection from abuse, lead to self-sufficiency, and promote better human relations. Most recently, The Meadows Foundation awarded Human Rights Initiative up to $80,000 to help meet the needs of unaccompanied Central American minors fleeing to the United States, and to facilitate appeals to other local philanthropists. The Meadows Foundation has also established the Wilson Historic District as a nonprofit campus where 39 selected nonprofit agencies are provided rent-free office space.  Human Rights Initiative was awarded one such space in 2009 and continues to work in the building.

“Human Rights Initiative is at the forefront of working with unaccompanied children who are seeking a safe environment where they can have a future.  The Meadows Foundation is honored to support HRI’s work and humbled to be a recipient of the Angel of Freedom award,” states Bruce Esterline, Vice-President for Grants.

DASH Network – a ministry of the City Church

Just two years ago, Human Rights Initiative struggled to find reliable and safe housing options for asylum-seekers who had nowhere else to go. Through the stewardship of Ashley Freeman, DASH Network – a ministry of the City Church, located in Arlington, has become the first and only housing service provider for asylum-seekers in the D/FW area. The organization grew out of church members’ desire to help asylum seekers who could not work while waiting for the case to proceed, and continues to be completely volunteer-driven.

Ashley says, “In response to Christ’s love, through this ministry it is our goal to love and welcome asylum seekers as we would hope for if were in their situation. We are so grateful for our relationship with HRI, not only because over 60% of those we house, feed and befriend are HRI clients, receiving their top-notch legal services, but also because HRI shares our values of welcoming the stranger and caring for the oppressed victims of injustice. We are so grateful to partner with them in this calling and to receive this award.”

Underwriters for the event include: Haynes and Boone, LLP; Locke Lord LLP; AT&T; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP; Thompson & Knight LLP; Vinson & Elkins LLP; Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP; Baker & McKenzie; McGuire Woods LLP; and Ambient Wine.
Human Rights Initiative (HRI) is a nonprofit which provides free legal representation and social services to indigent victims of human rights abuses and to serve as a community resource on human rights issues. Human Rights Initiative’s clients include victims of human rights abuses seeking asylum in the United States, victims of human trafficking, victims of spousal or child abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, men, women and children who are the victims of a violent crime, immigrant children who flee from violence and travel to the U.S. alone, or immigrant children that have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents in the U.S.