2017 Unsung Hero Award Winners

The Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee has selected the winners for this year’s Unsung Hero Award. The group will be honored at the Jan.29 event, which takes place at the Carrier Dome. Each award winner was nominated by a member of the community, and was carefully considered by committee members.

Shewa Shwani ’18
Student

Shwani is in her junior year at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is a student ambassador and president of the Food Recovery Network, which works with charitable organizations throughout the city to recover prepared but unused food from dining halls and donate it to those in need. Shwani also organized the inaugural 3k Run for Literacy in Syracuse, which served to draw attention to poverty issues and the refugee population in Syracuse. She draws her inspiration from her mom, who works with local refugees, immigrants and other disadvantaged groups in the greater CNY community, as well as from King himself. Shwani’s nominator says she “truly exemplifies the spirit, life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. Shewa is a leader and a doer, and a believer that only light can drive out darkness. It’s what motivates her to participate and host numerous interfaith, multicultural and community development events, while keeping a busy school schedule and a high GPA.”

A. Peter Castro
Faculty

Castro is a professor of anthropology in the Maxwell School. Castro has several decades’ worth of experience as an applied anthropologist for agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UN Development Programme and others, working on issues of poverty alleviation, sustainable natural resource management, participatory development and conflict management aimed at helping the world’s poor. His nominator writes, “Applied anthropology is a field that uses anthropological data to solve problems in the modern world. This is the driving force behind Peter’s work. Peter’s commitment is well illustrated by his almost 30 years of service as a consultant for the Near East Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Program, CARE and other organizations in which he has taken a leading role. Receiving an MLK Unsung Hero Award acknowledges his long-time service to African development as an applied anthropologist, particularly with regard to the management of and access to natural resources, and efforts to alleviate hunger and poverty.”

Dr. Robert Fangio
Community Member

Dr. Robert Fangio is a dentist and Roman Catholic deacon. He also volunteers his dentistry skills for Amaus Health Services, which provides free dental care to those in need, including homeless people and those just released from prison. Lacking regular preventive care, patients often suffer pain and health-threatening dental emergencies. Fangio is a supervising dentist at the SUNY Canton School of Dental Hygiene, and also serves as a deacon at Holy Family Church in Syracuse. An accomplished musician, Fangio plays the accordion and serves as a Holy Family cantor. Besides traditional liturgical duties, “Deacon Bob” leads youth and senior groups in social and community service activities. His nominator believes that one particular Biblical passage speaks uniquely to Fangio: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)

Vincent Love
Community Member

Love is president of 100 Black Men of Syracuse Inc. The group is committed to the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African-American community, by promoting a message of respect for family, spirituality, justice and integrity. Love works as a treasurer in the North Syracuse Central School District, and also serves on the boards of a number of organizations including the Center for Community Alternatives, The Gifford Foundation, Hillside Work Scholarship Connection and Vera House. He also helped to create the Saturday Academy, which works to improve the academic performance by young people in school and better prepare them for success in college and beyond. The program accepts a limited number of 4th- through 8th-grade male and female students without regard to their family’s financial situation. His nominator says that Love not only leads through his governance acumen, “but also by his personal modeling of what service and commitment to helping others is really all about; doing so with an unbridled passion and a pledge that is unmatched in a sustained manner. Through his strong commitment Vincent B. Love represents Dr. King’s legacy as King has stated ‘life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others.’”

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