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Former resident honored

By Bob Henline
Focus writer


Val Halamandaris pictured working at the Caring Institute.

Founder and Executive Director of the Caring Institute, Val J. Halamandaris has been awarded the 2003 Ellis Island Medal of Honor for outstanding citizenship, individual achievement, and encouragement of cultural unity. Halamandaris grew up in Price and still has family and friends living in the community.

Among those named to receive the 2003 award along with Halamandaris include: Mike Wallace of CBS/60 Minutes; Jim Wright, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Mary Lou Retton, Olympic champion; Actor, Danny Aiello; entertainers, Ben Vereen and Michael Bolton; film producer/director, Martin Scorsese; Commander, Carlos Del Toro; Head of U.S. Naval Forces, Thomas Coughlin; President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores and Sams Clubs USA, David Komansky; Chairman of Merrill Lynch, Henri Landwirth; Founder of Give Kids the World and Curtis Silwa; Founder of The Alliance of Guardian Angels.

Previous recipients of the Medal of Honor have included Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon; Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki; Senators Patrick Moynihan, John Glenn and Hillary Clinton; General Norman Schwarzkopf; Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh; Dr. Michael DeBakey; Coretta Scott King; Rosa Parks; Muhammad Ali; Elie Wiesel and Joe DiMagio; television personalities Walter Cronkite, Phil Donahue, and Barbara Walters; and entertainers Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estefan and Bob Hope and a host of other statesmen, Nobel Laureates, educators, business and religious leaders.

Halamandaris is being recognized for his more than 40 years of public service, his contributions to American health care, and for his advocacy on behalf of children, seniors, infirm, and disabled Americans. He is also being recognized for his visionary 20-year leadership as the CEO of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), for his role in the creation of the Caring Institute, the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans and the Center for Health Care Law, a public interest law firm.

"I am honored to find myself among such extraordinary individuals who have done so much good for so many Americans. I will accept this award only as an encouragement to aim as high as they have and humbly do whatever possible, whenever possible to improve the human condition and uplift the spirit of as many individuals as I can," said Halamandaris.

The award is being presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), the largest organization of its kind in the U.S., serving as an umbrella group for over 350 ethnic organizations representing millions families. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is sanctioned by the United States Congress. The medals were conceived to pay tribute to the immigrant experience, remarkable individual achievement, and above all, the spirit that makes America unique among nations. NECO's mandate is to preserve ethnic diversity, promote ethnic and religious equality, tolerance and harmony, and combat injustice, hatred, and bigotry.





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