CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. - The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on in his words, acts of service, and leadership he has inspired. For the last twenty years, Camden County Board of Commissioners has awarded deserving neighbors the Freedom Medal on MLK Day.
This year, stories of selflessness and sacrifice mean a little more, as community leaders stepped up to help through a contagious pandemic, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, civil unrest, a polarizing political election and riots at the U.S. Capitol building.
"Everyone wants to feel like their voice matters," said recipient Christina Decristofor, who created Operation Kindness. "Everyone wants to feel like their voice can be heard."
Watching the virtual ceremony from his couch, Gurpreet Bhalla showed his leadership by volunteering and giving free food to ICU and ER doctors at Cooper Hospital, along with first responders and the homeless, part of the Khalsa Aid US Team humanitarian organization.
"Martin Luther King Jr changed the way of thinking for the community," said Bhalla. "A single moment we can spend for the community and make a great impact in the eyes of others."
Bobby Harris was also awarded for starting the "Dreams for Tomorrow" organization, empowering teens to invest in their future: "To be some place and not do something to make it better, i feel like you are wasting your time."
The twelve recipients differ in their areas of service, but shared one thing in common: the desire to carry on Dr King's legacy and inspire the next generation.
2021 Camden County Freedom Medal Recipients include:
Christina Decristofor – Gloucester Township
Gurpreet Singh Bhalla – Gloucester City
Bobby W. Harris – Sicklerville
Jennifer Lewis-Hall – Cherry Hill
Daniel Lombardo – Berlin
Sue Quinn Morris – Cherry Hill
Larry Abrams – Cherry Hill
Dr. Kenneth Hartman – Cherry Hill
Chris Bruner – Cherry Hill
Jordan Grabelle – Voorhees
Stacy Johnson – Camden
Gerald Davis – Collingswood