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Inclusion Center honors Pres. Uchtdorf, other community ‘transformers’

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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was honored Thursday as a man who transforms and inspires those around him to better their communities.

The Inclusion Center for Community and Justice honored President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its Humanitarian Award during its annual awards social.

“President Uchtdorf is someone who transforms the world around him,” said Paul Draper, the evening’s emcee. “He is someone who leads people, mentors them and inspires them to be greater in their own lives and communities.”

The Inclusion Center for Community and Justice is a human rights organization charged with building communities of respect and inclusion across all racial, religious and class lines. The center offers solutions through conflict resolution, education, advocacy and empowerment.

For almost a century, the Inclusion Center has recognized individuals and organizations whose efforts and actions help build inclusive communities.

In his remarks, President Uchtdorf said the LDS Church is making “great efforts” to make a difference for good in the lives of all people. The church leader spoke of his support of the Inclusion Center’s efforts to battle prejudices, bullying, bigotry and discrimination.

“We must move forward and lift up our fellow men, whoever they are," he said. “We must invite them into our circles, wherever they are, and do it in a way that they do not feel excluded.

“We are all brothers and sisters,” he added. “We are all children of our Heavenly Father.”

He concluded by presenting Inclusion Center leaders with a check of $10,000 as a gift from the church.

Also honored with Humanitarian Awards at Thursday’s event at the downtown Rail Event Center was University of Utah history professor Ronald F. Coleman; the advocacy group Utahns Against Hunger; and a pair of Inclusion Center volunteers.

In his remarks, Coleman said he came to the Beehive State more than four decades ago to play football at the University of Utah. There he was mentored by many generous people who put him on his academic and professional path.

“No one gets through this journey of life alone,” said Coleman, who has published much of his research on the rich history of African-Americans in Utah.

Utah Against Hunger was also lauded for its tireless work to make sure that Utah families in need do not go hungry. The organization’s executive director, Gina Cornia, accepted the award. She invited all to take action and do what they can so people have enough food.

“The road to social justice may be long and it may be hard, but it is worth it,” she said.

The Inclusion Center also recognized a pair of its volunteers — Levi Webb and Zayla Long — for their exemplary service.

The proceeds from Thursday’s event will provide scholarships for youths and local schools to attend the organization’s human relations leadership retreats and workshops. Conducted in the Utah mountains, the retreats bring together diverse populations and build connections and unity through empathy and respect.

jswensen@deseretnews.com @JNSwensen