Community activist Ralf Bernecker to be honored by Syracuse University’s School of Social Work
Community activist Ralf Bernecker to be honored by Syracuse University’s School of Social WorkMarch 19, 2004Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Anti death penalty advocate David Kacyznski will speak during March 23 ceremony
Ralf Bernecker of Syracuse, an advocate for people with HIV/AIDS and members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community, has been chosen to receive this year’s Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Award. Bernecker will be honored with the award, given by Syracuse University’s School of Social Work and the Social Workers United student group in the College of Human Services and Health Professions, during a ceremony on Tuesday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in SU’s Hendricks Chapel. The program is free and open to the public.
The guest speaker for the program is David Kaczynski, an anti death penalty advocate and brother of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.
“We are excited to have Mr. Kaczynski join us, as he is a fine example of an advocate advancing social justice issues on a national policy level,” says Sarah Young, a senior in the School of Social Work and public relations manager of Social Workers United.
Bernecker is a treatment adherence counselor with AIDS Community Resources, a not-for-profit, community-based organization providing prevention, education and support services to those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. He has worked for DePalmer House, a residential program for persons living with HIV infection, and was director of the Living Room, a program that provides a nutritious hot lunch for persons infected with or affected by HIV.
Bernecker, who is living with HIV himself, is actively involved as an advocate in both the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities, and has been a familiar face on the SU campus, supporting and attending many events at the University’s LGBT Resource Center.
“He is an open and honest spokesperson who has suffered setbacks himself due to his illness,” Young says. ” He is a positive role model and a competent and ethical social worker. He is an advocate for social justice both in his job and in his free time.”
The Rubenstein Social Justice Award was created more than 20 years ago to recognize a person who reflects social justice values in his or her professional and/or personal life. The award was named after the late Professor Daniel Rubenstein, an activist member of SU’s School of Social Work, and his late wife, Mary Lou, a former school social worker. The award is presented each March in celebration of National Social Work Month.
The College of Human Services and Health Professions brings together Syracuse University’s professional programs in Child and Family Studies, Marriage and Family Therapy, Nursing, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, and Social Work in an environment of cross-disciplinary teaching, research, practice, and service. Through classroom learning and hands-on experience, students in the college are prepared for active and influential careers in the helping professions.