Contact: Melissa Allen
(PITTSBURGH, PA) November 30, 2011– County Commissioner Bracken Burns has dedicated 40 years to Washington County government, working tirelessly to make sure everyone had a place in the community where they were valued and accepted for their differences.
Bracken has tried to build a regional community that embraces diversity and encourages its citizens to love and respect each other. He often reminds others that “inclusion is not just about race, it also includes gender, age, geography, income, folks with handicaps, etc.”
Nominated by Melissa Allen, County Commissioner Bracken Burns was selected as the November Dignity and Respect Champion for expanding the work he does in Washington County to surrounding communities and throughout the southwestern Pennsylvania region.
“Bracken’s devotion to the community is invaluable. Within just minutes of talking with him or hearing him speak to others, you can tell that the work he does is truly from the heart. He’s dedicated to making our communities welcoming to all of us,” Melissa said.
Serving as Washington County Commissioner since 1996, Bracken decided not to run for a fifth term in office. Since taking office 16 years ago, Bracken’s accomplishments include spearheading construction of the 50 bed Alzheimer’s Unit at the Washington County Health Center, developing an Attendant Care Training Program to aid elderly and disabled citizens, leading historic preservation efforts to restore and utilize the old jail as a Family Court Center, and more.
Commissioner Burns is known for starting all of his public comments with the phrase, “It’s a great day in Washington County.” He feels that we all have an obligation to be a “cheerleader for our community.”
Bracken is an influential supporter of the Dignity and Respect Campaign. In addition to advocating with Washington County Commissioners to recognize October as Dignity and Respect Month, he wrote a personal letter to nine other counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, promoting the Campaign and October as Dignity and Respect Month. Thanks to Bracken’s efforts, October was proclaimed Dignity and Respect Month in 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties.
Bracken has always admired the saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” He feels that those of us who have been blessed with health, wealth, a good family, etc. have an obligation to assure that others in the community are given the same opportunities.
In addition to being recognized as a Dignity and Respect Champion, Bracken has received many honors that show his dedication to fighting for everyone’s right to be treated equally. These awards include the Mental Health Neighbor of the Year Award in 1991, the Friend of 4-H Award in 2003, the NAACP Human Rights Award in 2007, and the Teen Outreach Social Justice award in 2009, among many others.
In accepting the award, Commissioner Burns said that he was, “humbled and honored to be recognized for doing what he called “the minimum expected of each of us – loving your neighbor.”
The Dignity and Respect Campaign is an awareness initiative designed to join individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and corporations under the common notion that everyone deserves dignity and respect.
For more information and to take the Dignity and Respect pledge, visit dignityandrespect.org.
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