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Awards 

Deah Barakat Annual Awards


The Deah Barakat Awards are given in honor of Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23-year-old Syrian American who dedicated his life to humanitarian causes.

He was a 2013 graduate of North Carolina State University who majored in business administration. In 2015, he was a second-year student in the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.

He and 10 other dental students were planning to travel to Turkey to treat Syrian refugees as part of a project organized by UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and the Syrian American Medical Society. He also worked to provide free dental supplies and food to the homeless in his spare time.


Unfortunately, Deah, his 21-year-old wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha were brutally murdered by a neighbor on Feb. 10, 2015. This incident is known as the Chapel Hill Shooting. Collectively, they have been called and celebrated as Our Three Winners by their families, friends and the rest of the world.


All three of them were outstanding, caring, vibrant, beloved, bright young Americans selflessly working at home and abroad to ease other people’s pain and to make this world a better place for everyone. Their short but well-lived, focused lives are great reminders for us all.

 

May they all rest in peace and receive the highest rewards in Heaven. Indeed, they were all winners in this world and will be in the Hereafter.
 

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MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid has been a family friend to the Barakat family since Deah was a child. His loss is very personal to her and to the MY Project USA family.

 

We have named our first thrift store “MY Deah’s” per the request of Deah Barakat’s father, Namee Barakat. From day one, we have been committed to further the legacies of Our Three Winners. 


During the last several years, we have had the privilege to work with several young people from different backgrounds. We have proudly fostered them and have seen them turn into awesome community leaders.

 

We recognize that there are many Muslim young people across central Ohio that might also be investing their time in helping other communities through other organizations. We would like to recognize their leadership and community service by presenting them with different awards honoring the legacy of Deah, Yusor and Razan. 

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The Chrys Gee Activist Award: 

Chrys Gee was a loving wife and mother in Columbus, Ohio, who became an activist in the aftermath of the 2016 elections. Though she had always worked hard to make this world a better place, following that election, Chrys seemed ever-present.  


Alongside her husband and children, she showed up at every rally, march and vigil. She showed up for hearings and testimonies and visited our legislators’ offices, sharing her concerns and advocating for a better future. She did not aspire to leadership and never looked for fame. Instead, Chrys selflessly showed up, whenever and wherever she was called.

When she wasn't standing out front, fighting for the rights of others, she was in the background, doing the hard messy work to keep the progressive grassroots engine going. 

Chrys cared about the community. She helped at the MY Project USA warehouse, volunteered at her children's school and supported our immigrant neighbors in this sanctuary with her laughter, love, time and resources. Chrys was a doer with an incredible heart, and she gave with every ounce of her being.

Her sudden death in December 2018 was not only a shock but a true tragedy that has left a huge void in our community. This award is to honor Chrys and the remarkable person she was, as well as to further her legacy in the hope of inspiring others to continue the amazing work she started.

Deah’s Awards General Criteria: 

These awards recognize and honor exceptional individuals who make volunteerism and community service a way of life. Those who exemplify the best in volunteering, a sense of caring and responsibility for others that connects citizens and solves community problems. Each award winner must be someone who makes selfless and extraordinary contributions, in addition to those associated with their normal job duties, for the betterment of the local community and beyond. 


1. Deah's Change Maker of The Year Award:  


Specifically, the winner of this award will be an individual who:

  • Is a young person, aged 25 years old or younger

  • Lives in an underserved, immigrant/refugee community and is working hard to save their own people and uplift their neighborhood

  • Gives freely and selflessly of their time to community activities

  • Inspires others to serve and acts as a role model

  • Has started or significantly contributed toward an initiative in their neighborhood/community that would positively impact the lives of others in a significant way

2. Deah's Excellence in Community Service & Leadership Award: 


Specifically, the winner of this award will be an individual who:    

  • Goes out of their immediate circle and neighborhood to help the underserved, immigrant/refugee community & improves the lives of others

  • Has assumed the leadership role in managing a community service project/initiative or played a significant role in managing a part of a larger project for a minimum of six months

  • Has built a team of volunteers to grow and sustain the initiatives

  • Has positive feedback from their team members

  • Gives freely and selflessly of their time to community activities

  • Inspires others to serve and acts as a role model

  • Has a positive impact upon the direction and success of other community projects, programs or individuals

NOTE: Two versions of this award will be handed out. One to a young person, one to an adult.

3. Deah's Community Service Award: 


Specifically, the winners of this award will be individuals who:

  • Are a young person, 25 years old or younger

  • Have worked hard throughout the year to support a community initiative in any underserved, immigrant/refugee community

  • Give freely and selflessly of their time to community activities

  • Inspires others to serve and acts as a role model

NOTE: Several awards will be given in this category.

4. The Chrys Gee Activist Award:


Specifically, the winner of this award will be an individual who:

  • Is over the age of 18

  • Has worked hard throughout the year to support initiatives in under-served communities

  • Helps with political campaigns or grassroots organizations to bring about positive social change

  • Gives freely and selflessly of their time to community activism

  • Inspires others to serve and acts as a role model

  • Goes out of their immediate circle and neighborhood to serve as an active ally to marginalized communities

 

Nomination Process

 

  • Family, friends, employers, teachers and community members can nominate an individual. An employee cannot nominate their employer

  • MY Project USA Awards 2022-23 Nomination Online Form must be filled for each nominee

  • All forms must be submitted online by 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20.

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