Wall Service Award 2005 Winners

Daniel Werner ’91

Daniel Werner ’91 used his Wall Service Award for his work with the Workers' Rights Law Center of New York's community legal education project. The Workers' Rights Law Center educates low-wage and immigrant workers on labor laws that are frequently violated. Additionally, the WRLC also provides free legal services to indigent workers who may not know that the law protects them.

One program through the WRLC is the Community Legal Education Project. This project trains local workers to lead workshops that will educate other low-wage and immigrant workers about their rights under the law. These “know your rights” workshops are conducted languages understood by the workers and are accessible, interactive, and practical. The WRLC pays the trainers a living wage for their work with the program.

With his Wall Service Award, Werner strived to achieve the following: To educate workers about their legal rights; to see workers successfully fight for their rights against unscrupulous employers; to discourage employers from mistreating workers, and to see quality of jobs in the region improve; and to increase workers' sense of empowerment in their workplaces and communities.

Janet Olson ’02

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Janet McLaughlin Olson ’02 and her husband Pete Olson ’02 learned about the indigenous people there. Modernization has pushed the Shuar people and their culture into a state of decline.

Olson hoped to rescue components of Shuar culture by preserving traditional craftsmanship, and to provide a source of income for marginalized people. The program's emphasis on women was intended to help them build a sense of worth and identity apart from their husbands.

Olson's project accomplished these goals by combining cultural preservation with income generation. "I developed an alliance with several community members who started a corporation dedicated to preserving Shuar culture, improving the quality of life for the Shuar, and promoting their social development," Olson explained to Grinnell Magazine.

The project involved a series of workshops, led by Shuar elders, to teach other Shuar how to make traditional artisan goods, as well as basic income management skills. “The combination of a dedicated Shuar organization [Corporación UNSA] with the knowledge and resources that Pete and I have will produce results much greater than each of us working separately,” she says.

Learn more about the Wall Service Award and see other previous winners.