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Hayes, Shahid, and Gagliardi win 2022 Peacemaker Awards

The Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) recognized the 2022 winners of its Peacemaker Awards at a ceremony on the Lutheran Seminary campus this evening. This year’s honorees were Yeimi Gagliardi, who received the Lifetime of Peacemaking Award, and Blessing Shahid and Alex Hayes, who received Peacemaker of the Year Awards.

Hayes, nominated by Rukhsana Rahman, stepped down in February after sixteen years at the Gettysburg Times including nine years as managing editor. His work was characterized by a dedication to local journalism and his fair and even-handed coverage of controversial issues. Hayes has been active in local community organizations, including Manos Unidas, the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Healthy Adams County, and the St. Francis Xavier Parish Council. Hayes is now Fund Development Director for the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County, for which he had worked part-time for fifteen years.

Introducing Hayes, Darren Glass said he had made a difference in the community through his work at the Gettysburg Times. “Alex made sure the Times stayed non-partisan,” he said.

Glass said Hayes normally worked behind the scenes but that when he spoke out “people knew he meant it.”

Glass also noted Hayes’ work at the YWCA, including producing the annual “Dancing with the Stars” competition and helping create the July 4 fireworks event at the rec park. “Alex believes in the power of dialogue and communication,” said Glass. “He believes the best way to solve a problem is to get people together.”

F. Blessing Shahid, nominated by Jan Powers, was honored for her work in promoting awareness of African American history. Shahid is the founder of the Gettysburg celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Shahid was instrumental in organizing the car parade for Martin Luther King Day in 2021, eliciting peaceful cooperation with the police. In 2022, during Black History Month, Shahid conducted a Black History evening once a week for four weeks at the rec park’ Sterner building, where trivia games about black history and an assortment of books and games for children were featured.

Speaking about Shahid, Melissa Rosenberger said she had “taught her when to speak up and stand up.”

Shahid said America has had a long history of silencing and diminishing the voice of Black people.”

Although she thought Gettysburg was a “beautiful community,” she nevertheless said she and her children had experienced overt racism. She said she learned what it was like for her children to have no Black teachers when they moved to Gettysburg. Shahid said her job was to continue to fight for African American rights.

“There is no pride without Black pride; There is no American history without Black history,” she said.

Shahid invited everyone to attend this year’s Juneteenth celebration to be held this Saturday.

Yeimi Gagliardi, nominated by Charles Stangor and Mikel Grimm, was honored for her unwavering service to the Hispanic community in Adams County. A native of Colombia, Gagliardi is Latino Health Educator at WellSpan Health and chairperson for the Latino Services Task Force and the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County.

Gagliardi has overseen local initiatives including early childhood education, health literacy, family planning and reproductive health, addiction and recovery and access to healthcare.

Speaking about Gagliardi, Stangor said she was calm and approachable, and seemed to be “continually riding a meditative wave while spinning a room full of china plates at the same time.”

Stangor spoke of Gagliardi’s fundraising skills and said her newest project is a program to provide digital literacy to the Spanish population. “She’s unflappable and unstoppable; she rides a wave of good and caring for others; she takes life in stride while helping our Hispanic neighbors; and she makes our whole community better and stronger,” he said.

ICPJ also belatedly publicly recognized 2020 award winners Vickie Corbett (Lifetime of Peacemaking), Chad-Alan Carr (Peacemaker of the Year), and the Gettysburg High School Amnesty International Student Group (Youth Peacemaker) and 2021 awardees Judy Leslie (Lifetime of Peacemaking) and Scott Hancock (Peacemaker of the Year).

Each Peacemaker Award consists of a framed certificate and the donation of $250 worth of books or other materials to the Adams County Library in the honoree’s name.

ICPJ invites nominations for the 2023 Peacemaker Awards. Please send them to ICPJ at icpj@icpj-gettysburg.org or P.O. Box 3134, Gettysburg, PA 17325.

Featured image caption: Gagliardi, Hayes, and Shahid.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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  • Missed the ceremony because I was out of town, so I really appreciated this excellent coverage of the event!

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