Jenny Fischer Derksen, an instructor at Ohio State ATI, received the Michael Berken Peace and Justice Award from the Catholic Commission of Wayne, Ashland, Medina counties at its 31st annual Pope St. John Paul II, Proclaimer of Justice Gala and Silent Auction at St. Stephen Parish in West Salem.
Derksen was nominated for the award by Jeff Stewart, director of the Immigrant Worker Project (IWP), where Derksen volunteers as English as a Second Language program coordinator.
The IWP came to life as a result of churches in rural areas of the state realizing how many non-English speakers were filling their pews. “The rural community didn’t really have a lot of services for them,” Derksen said in an article in the Wooster Daily Record on April 20.
That’s where Derksen and other volunteers, workers, and interns come in.
“She embodies the Gospel spirit of being a neighbor and welcoming the stranger,” according to a release from the commission, “especially our area migrant neighbors who go unnoticed in northeast Ohio until immigration concerns and fears arise at the state or federal level.”