Ottawa County recognized with two Social Justice Awards

General Press Release

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January 19, 2022

Ottawa County recognized with two Social Justice Awards

Ottawa County is honored to announce that two offices have been recognized with Social Justice Awards by the City of Holland's Human Relations Commission. 

  • The Office of the Public Defender
  • The Department of Public Health - Miles of Smiles Program

Social Justice Awards recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify the virtues of social justice by promoting equal opportunity and equal access for all residents in Housing, Education, Government/Community Relations, Health Services, Youth and Lifetime Achievement.

The Office of the Public Defender was honored for their work. The Public Defender assisted over 100 individuals expunge eligible criminal convictions. Ottawa County understands that some residents have made mistakes in their pasts, have served their sentences, and are on roads to better lives. Criminal records can put obstacles in paths for such residents and their families. Expungement can ease that burden so these residents can more easily find jobs, housing and other opportunities. 

The Department of Public Health's Miles of Smiles has provided dental care for 27 years, to underserved, financially-qualifying children. To date, the program has provided over 37,000 patient encounters, 22,000 fillings and 21,000 sealants reducing dental disease by 37%.

The complete News Release from the City of Holland is available here.

The award ceremony took place on January 18 at Holland City Hall. View a recording of the event here.

Nicole Social Justice Award 2

Nichole Jongsma-Derks, Public Defender, accepts the award for her office from Bob Hamilton, retired Ottawa County Public Defender.