Wyoming Independent Citizens Coalition receives 21st Compassion-in-Action award

Hannah Black, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·2 min read

Feb. 21—CHEYENNE — After less than two years together, the Wyoming Independent Citizens Coalition is being recognized for its impact on the Cheyenne community.

The group received the latest Compassion-in-Action Award from Compassionate Cheyenne on Saturday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. WICC's main mission is to represent and give voice to people and groups in the community that are underrepresented or have been neglected, challenge systemic and structural racism, and to promote diversity, especially in the school district, vice president Carla Gregorio said.

In her nomination letter, St. Joseph's Food Pantry Director Renee Gamino wrote that WICC "has been concerned about the suffering of the misfortunes of another and (is) moved to do something about it."

"Whether you know it or not ... that's our definition of compassion," Compassionate Cheyenne working group member Ed Boenisch said while presenting a certificate to four of WICC's volunteers. Each organization to be awarded also receives $100 from the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Another thing about the organization that caught Compassionate Cheyenne's attention, Boenisch said, was WICC's desire to partner with other community organizations, as well as "loving your neighbor and speaking truth and facts, and to represent people that ... were marginalized and voiceless, and that needed some kind of a support and representation."

Boenisch said it was rare that Compassionate Cheyenne would give the award to such a new group, but that WICC has already made such an impact on the community through its work to elevate underrepresented communities.

Gamino's letter noted several recent contributions by WICC and its members, including the successful push to include representatives from south Cheyenne on the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees beginning in 2022.

"Just being an adult, or a mother, a teacher, in Cheyenne, Wyoming — I think a group like this is really needed, and I think we have and will make a difference," coalition member Paulette Gadlin said.

"This particular group's effort ... is to be active. It's not just to care about people, but to put the words into action, and that's what I see this group really doing politically, educationally, personally, professionally," coalition member Sally Meeker said, also emphasizing the diversity of backgrounds and political beliefs present in the coalition. "All that effort really is important because there's a lot of people that are uneducated about the needs in our community."

Following the award presentation, the four coalition members who accepted the award planned to stay and volunteer at the Just Caring lunch at St. Joseph's, where they would be serving those experiencing homelessness or hunger.

"They're citizens, just like we are," Meeker said.

Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.