Margaret O’Donnell to Receive 2021 Ruby Layson Award

Margaret O’Donnell, founder and executive director of the Frankfort Immigration Assistance Network (FIAN), will be an honored guest Tuesday, October 19, at the Frankfort Interfaith Council’s regularly monthly meeting. She will be recognized as the recipient of the council’s 2021 Ruby Layson Award for promoting the interfaith qualities of justice, compassion and human kindness.

Layson, a charter member of the interfaith council, died in 2017. She was a journalist, educator, environmentalist, world traveler, and tireless worker for peace and equality.

The council’s meetings have been held virtually by Zoom since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. The program to honor O’Donnell will start at 7 p.m., immediately following the monthly business meeting. Meetings are always open to the public.  

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FIAN, which is staffed by about 15 volunteers, began in January 2017 when community members saw a need for a network to support immigrants residing in Frankfort and Franklin County, most of whom come from Mexico and Central America.

Since then, FIAN has evolved to provide immigrants in the Frankfort area with a broad range of services, including collaboration with local social service non-profits to provide food and housing assistance as well as health care to immigrants; accompaniment to immigration appointments and court hearings; legal referrals and representation; support for immigrant parents with children in school; and interpretation assistance.

 Nash Cox, an interfaith council member, says, “Margaret O’Donnell, an attorney for 36 years, has been a voice for vulnerable people for ages, and has worked with people facing a death sentence. She has worked with children who have been affected by incarceration. FIAN is quite an incredible organization that is doing wonderful work in our community.”

The local interfaith council has members from the Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha’i and Unitarian Universalist religions.

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