Flint Jewish Federation to honor 3 for commitment to community

FLINT, Michigan—The Flint Jewish Federation is honoring three people for their commitment to community, work to transform lives, and dedication to upholding justice — awarding them the 2019 Donald Riegle Community Service Awards, now in its 30th year. 
  • Rhina Griffel has made Flint her home for more than 50 years and committed tremendous amounts of time to volunteering for dozens of organizations. She is a life member of the League of Women Voters, St. Cecelia Society, Applewood, Flint Institute of Arts, the North End Soup Kitchen and several schools. She also opened her home as a host family for for Russian emigres, serves on her neighborhood watch, and is active on the committee City Charter for Flint. An active member of Temple Beth El, she also taught Sunday School, served on the Temple board for six years and volunteered on multiple committees. 
  • Courtney Hawkins was born in Flint, well known for his standout athletic careers at Beecher and Michigan State University before being drafted by the NFL in 1992. He retired from football after nine seasons and 15 surgeries. In 2006, he returned to his alma mater as athletic director and head football coach. He turned the struggling program into a championship team. Coach Hawk has served as a mentor to hundreds of Beecher teens and says his most gratifying moments are when former students come back to tell him he made a difference in their lives. 
  • Rev. Phil Schmitter serves a pastor for Christ the King Catholic Church in Flint and spearheaded a successful civil rights lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency that found it guilty of environmental racism for its plans to put an incinerator in the predominantly black and low income neighborhood. Schmitter also co-founded the St. Francis Prayer Center and has been honored with many humanitarian awards for his work. In 2018, Schmitter was appointed by Bishop Earl Boyea to the Diocese of Lansing’s Task Force on Race and Catholic Schools.


The awards celebration is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Flint Institute of Arts. As is customary, the event will honor awardees contributions and serve as a fundraiser for refugee and immigrant programs in Genesee County. City Clerk Inez Brown and Diane Lindholm, a former president of the Flint Jewish Federation, will serve as hosts.
 
Former U.S. Sen. Don Riegle, the award’s namesake, is also expected to speak at this year’s event.

Tickets are $125 per person and sponsorships are available. For more information, call 810-767-5922 or email [email protected].

The Flint Jewish Federation is a nonprofit corporation that promotes relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Genesee County for the benefit of everyone throughout the community. 

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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