FLORIDA HUMAN RIGHTS volunteers earns presidential award 

The President of United for Human Rights Florida, was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 640 hours of volunteer service last year as a proponent of human rights education and the care of victims of human trafficking.

Florida – June 7, 2013
Gracia Bennish of Tarpon Springs, Florida, President of United for Human Rights Florida, was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 640 hours of volunteer service last year as a proponent of human rights education and the care of victims of human trafficking.

Bennish received the acknowledgement April 24, 2013, at a National Volunteer Week celebration at the Fort Harrison religious retreat of the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization.

Bennish, a photojournalist, graphic designer and painter, has served as president of United for Human Rights Florida since 2009. UHR is a nonprofit, non-religious human rights education program supported by the Church of Scientology.

Scientology Founder, L. Ron Hubbard wrote, "Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream."

UHR provides educational booklets and videos on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and teaching curricula for middle school, high school and college students. It makes these materials available free of charge to educators.

"Bullying, human trafficking, domestic violence, child pornography and all other human rights abuses have their root in lack of knowledge and understanding of human rights," says Bennish. "Education in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the key to bringing about respect for self and for others and promoting tolerance. This knowledge helps youth gain the courage to speak out against human rights abuses for themselves and for others."

Bennish introduces the United for Human Rights program to community leaders, legislators and educators.

"We participate in many national and regional education conferences where we have informed thousands of teachers about our materials," says Bennish. "It is gratifying that so many educators we meet are already using our materials, often passed on to them by another teacher who was inspired by them."

Bennish is also a member of the Clearwater Human Rights Task Force, and she created United Physicians for Human Rights, an initiative through which medical professionals provide urgently needed medical and dental care to human trafficking survivors.

The President's Volunteer Service Award was created in 2003 to honor Americans who serve as a model of volunteerism. In his proclamation on National Volunteer Week 2013, President Obama stated: "National Volunteer week is a time to renew that fundamentally American ideal of service and responsibility. It is also a time to recognize the men, women, and children who bring that principle into practice every day by lifting up the people around them."

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