The Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) received the Pennsylvania State Education Association's (PSEA) Award for Human and Civil Rights during the PSEA's Celebrating Excellence banquet held Thursday in Philadelphia.
The statewide award recognizes the organization that has done the most for human and civil rights.
Bob Curry, president of the HIP board, said the organization was both "humbled" and "delighted" by the award.
"I believe every single person in Hazleton should take pride in this award as it is possible only through the outpouring of support, both financial and through volunteerism, we have received from our community," he said.
Curry accepted the award on behalf of the group after a videotaped message from HIP supporter/founder Joe Maddon was played. Maddon is a Hazleton native and manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
"Let me say up front as clearly as possible that without Joe Maddon and his wife, Jaye, we would not be standing here tonight. Because without them there would simply not be a HIP, or a Hazleton One Community Center," Curry said.
According to information from PSEA, the annual award recognizes those who have expanded educational opportunities for minority or disabled students; advanced the cause of human and civil rights within the schools or the community, or promoted health and safety within the schools and the community.
"No one who begins the process of teaching or working with children does so to collect awards," Curry told those at the banquet. "Like you, we are dedicated to our work because it is so critically important to our children's future. But this is different. This award means everything to our organization because it forms a signpost that tells us that we are going in the right direction."