County honors 12 ‘outstanding’ residents with Freedom Medal

Award goes to those who embody the ideals and actions of Dr. King

Courtesy of Camden County website
The medal winners pose with county commissioners at the site of the awards in Collingswood on Jan. 17.

Twelve individuals from Camden County were recognized on Jan. 17 for their selfless contributions to the community at this year’s Freedom Medal ceremony in Collingswood.

The prestigious Camden County Freedom Medal – established by the board of commissioners in 2001 – is presented annually to civic leaders who embody ideals and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

- Advertisement -

The ceremony at the Collingswood Grand Ballroom saw a diverse group of honorees, each of whom made significant improvements to their communities through volunteer work. Since its inception 23 years ago, the award has acknowledged more than 1,200 Camden County residents.

Commissioner Jonathan Young expressed his admiration for the awardees.

“These incredible individuals have been shining examples of selflessness and sacrifice,” he remarked at the ceremony. “These are the kinds of leaders that make Camden County such a wonderful place to live, and I admire the hard work and dedication they have put forth to improve their communities.”

Among the honorees was Kelly E. Thomas of Berlin, who was recognized for her 25 years of service. The mother and community advocate founded Girls Like You Inc., which mentors and advocates for Black and Brown women and girls. Despite personal challenges – including a recent medical diagnosis and the loss of her partner – Thomas continues to be a beacon of hope for her community.

Young shared insights into the significance of the Freedom Medal, highlighting its role in recognizing community leaders. The selection criteria for the award include being a county resident, making tangible contributions to a community and strictly volunteer work. Awardees have included disability rights advocate Nimit Kaur and community leader Robert Edward Cream.

Disability rights advocate Nimit Kaur has been called an inspiration for the Asian Indian community. Despite being blind, she has received presidential awards and earned a master’s in social work, along with addressing her graduating class.

Kaur is the co-founder of the Nimit Foundation, a nonprofit that provides food donations to individuals with disabilities, seniors and others facing hardship, and she volunteers extensively across the state. Her fight for disability rights resulted in her opening the disability office at Rutgers-Camden.

Cream’s community service includes addressing the lack of activities and human services for underserved youth. His leadership of the Homestead Youth Association (HYA) provides opportunities for kids, seniors, and families and has led to the establishment of a community activity center with like Time for Tots, Latch Key After School and a Sociable Seniors Club.

As for the future, Young said the Freedom Medal ceremony will go on and he encourages the broader community to get involved by volunteering and spreading awareness about community initiatives.

- Advertisment -