It was a pleasure last evening to join the Madison Common Council in honoring Carmella Harris as the recipient of the Reverend Wright Human Rights Award.

Carmella is a Community Health Worker, a Wellness Educator, a Behavioral Specialist, and a Substance Abuse Counselor. She is also the founder of Community Agency Bridging the Gap (CABG), whose mission is to “provide free and immediate crisis intervention, which is critical to prevent subsequent homelessness, unemployment, bodily harm, psychological trauma, gun violence, sometimes death.” Carmella founded Community Agency Bridging the Gap in 2020 as a crisis service to meet the overwhelming needs of her community in Madison.

Carmella was nominated by colleagues who said, “Carmella has been tested, and has gained neighborhood credibility as a support person in times of crisis. She is a community leader who is committed to empowering others to be part of the solution.”

The Reverend James C. Wright Human Rights Award honors the late Reverend Wright, a civil rights pioneer in Madison. During the 1960s, he worked on the adoption of the City of Madison's Equal Opportunities Ordinance, and served as Executive Director of the Equal Opportunities Commission from 1968 until his retirement in 1992. The award is given to an individual who best exemplifies Rev. Wright's dedication and compassion for civil and human rights and who conducts their daily life consistent with these values.

Carmella joins an incredibly impressive list of honorees including Jacqueline Wright, Dr. Richard H. Harris, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Helen Vukelich, Jonathan Gramling, Agnes Gutierrez Cammer, Jeffery Erlanger, Professor Richard Davis, Darlene Hancock, Colleen Butler, Charlestine Daniel, Dr. Floyd Rose, Anthony Timmons, Annette Miller, Brandi Grayson, Tamora Fleming and many more. People like Carmella and those who came before her are examples of our convictions to continue to improve the quality of life in our City for everyone. We have much to do, but her work gives me hope.

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