Camilo Torres is currently the Director of the George Wiley Center, a Rhode Island non-profit organization founded by past Red Bandana Award recipient Henry Shelton, advocating for the rights and needs of the poor. When notified of the award, he noted the honor he felt following in Shelton’s footsteps and said, "the work can get tough, but something like this really helps keep you going."
Steve Alquist is an independent journalist, currently the editor-in-chief of Uprise RI, who has dedicated his life to reporting on issues of peace, the environment, and social and economic justice in the Rhode Island area.,writing about news and events that other mainstream outlets often do not cover. “This is an amazing honor,” Alquist said when informed of the ward. “I’m just knocked out."
Bella Robinson is the director of Coyote RI, which advocates for policies to promote the health and safety of people involved in the sex industry. In spite of the stigma often attached to her constituents, Bella has fearlessly spoken out for people many would like to ignore, finding a safe harbor for them and addressing their needs.
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The recipients of the Red Bandana Award for 2017 were Phil Edmonds and Omar Bah. Phil Edmonds, originally from Ireland, is a long-time resident of the Providence area who has been a constant presence in many local campaigns for justice, peace, and the rights of the poor and homeless. Omar Bah, founder and director of the Refugee Dream Center in Providence, is an immigrant from Gambia, who escaped imprisonment and torture to come to the United States. Led by his own experiences, he has become an important voice for the powerless and discounted, and a powerful advocate for refugees in the current hostile political environment.
The 2016 Red Bandana Fund Awards were presented to Artimis Moonhawk and Sarath Suong. Artemis Moonhawk, also known as Mama Dreads,founded and runs Mama Dreads Mission of Love, a grassroots operation to help the homeless. The award was given “for her tireless compassion, aid to and advocacy for the health and welfare of the homeless in Rhode Island. Through her work with Mama Dreads Mission of Love, she reminds us that our humanity is measured by our care for the least, which she exhibits gladly, joyfully and continually on the streets of our communities. We are all better for her presence in our midst.” Sarath Suong is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM).The award was given “for his steadfast and continued work with our Southeast Asian communities and the youth of Providence. Sarath’s dedicated vocation reminds us that the immigrant’s story is the story of our country and our community, that all people deserve a place at the table, and that speaking truth to power is possible every day.”
The 2015 Red Bandana Fund Award was presented to Prof. Eric Hirsch of the RI Coalition for the Homeless and to the workers of the Renaissance Hotel. Prof. Hirsch was honored “for his life-long commitment to bettering the lives of the poor and homeless in Rhode Island. Eric’s life and work is a reminder to all of us of the importance of both thought and action.” The workers of the Renaissance Hotel, many of them first generation immigrants, were honored “for their courage and persistence in demanding their right to a union and fair and equitable treatment and pay for their work.”
The 2014 Red Bandana Fund Award were presented to Henry Shelton and the Providence Student Union (PSU). Shelton, a longtime director of the George Wiley Center and a friend of Richard Walton’s, is known throughout the region for his steadfast commitment to bettering the lives of all Rhode Islanders, especially the poor and disadvantaged. The PSU has been addressing important issues of education in creative and powerful ways.
The 2013 Red Bandana Fund Award was presented to Amos House in Providence which makes a difference in the lives of others by providing basic needs, education and businesses such as the Friendship Cafe, More than a Meal Catering, and Bristol Harbor Homemade Baking Mixes.
Richard was a father, grandfather, brother, and friend. He was a social and political activist, working against homelessness, poverty, and injustice. In addition to his affiliation with Stone Soup, Richard had a deep personal involvement with Amos House in Providence. For many years Richard was an adjunct instructor in the Department of English at Rhode Island College and was the founding president of its Adjunct Faculty Union.
Richard was the heart and soul of Stone Soup Coffeehouse, serving as President of the Board for most of Stone Soup’s existence. For many people he was also the face of Stone Soup as its long-term master of ceremonies. Richard was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2016 for his dedicated involvement and commitment to the acoustic music community in Rhode Island.
The Red Bandana Fund is a nonprofit (501) (C) (3) organized to help sustain Rhode Island’s community of individuals and organizations that embody the lifelong peace and justice ideals of activist Richard J. Walton.
Our Mission: To honor those who work so tirelessly and selflessly, with so little recognition, on behalf of those who need it most.
Through the Red Bandana Fund, an annual financial award will be made to an organization or individual whose work best represents the ideals of peace and social justice that exemplify Richard’s life work. Your donations continue to support the Red Bandana Fund and help “honor Richard Walton and others like him who work to improve the human condition.”