Asheville’s COLA wins Defenders of Justice award
Full announcement, from the NC Justice Center, below:
Each year, the Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty. This year is the 13th annual event.
“La Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas has improved the lives of countless workers and families in western North Carolina through its efforts to organize and empower groups serving Latino communities,” said Melinda Lawrence, executive director of the NC Justice Center.
COLA is a regional network based in Asheville that was formed out of a need for Latino-led organizations in rural counties of western North Carolina to learn from each other and work together. Today, almost nine years after COLA’s creation, some 25 organizations in 21 counties actively participate in the coalition and use the network to coordinate efforts on issues of local and national importance to the immigrant community.
COLA’s one paid staff member—the incomparable Ada Volkmer—and committed volunteers have been effective leaders in the effort to document and combat the abuses created by current immigration-enforcement practices. These and other challenges facing the Latino community have been the topic of many of COLA’s Encuentros—regular bilingual gatherings of organizations and leaders from through the state’s mountain region. In addition, COLA offers courses on “immigrant realities” in western North Carolina, leadership retreats for members of area Latino organizations, and immigrants’ rights workshops.
Perhaps most importantly, COLA’s core value is respect for the wisdom and experience of communities, and it allows that knowledge to guide its work as it tries to secure equal opportunities, equal rights, fairness and justice of the Latino workers, families and communities of western North Carolina.
The Defenders of Justice awards are given in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work. Those areas are Legislative Advocacy, Policy & Research Advocacy, Litigation, and Community Capacity Building. COLA’s award is in the Community Capacity Building category.