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Community Relations Council recognizes Human Relations Award winners

Community Relations Council recognizes Human Relations Award winners

Feb 04, 2021 | Boards and Commissions

The City of Hickory Community Relations Council (CRC) released a video on Thursday, February 4, to officially announce the 2020 Human Relations Award winners.

The annual Human Relations Awards are designed to recognize any individual, youth, or organization/business that has gone “above and beyond” in promoting good human relations in the City of Hickory.

Congratulations to the 2020 Human Relations Award winners: Reverend William “Bill” Garrard and the Hickory Choral Society.

Rev. Bill Garrard is a former Associate Pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Hickory, having served in that capacity from 2003-2010. Upon retirement, he has maintained an active membership in the congregation, serving as a Sunday School teacher and advocate for the Hispanic ministry at St. Luke’s. In addition, he is influential in the Methodist ministry of Earth Keepers and created the Foothills Creation Care Alliance to bring together local congregations in efforts to educate citizens and promote stewardship for the environment.

One of Rev. Garrard’s major contributions to promote human relations in the community is his work with the Hickory Racial Justice and Reconciliation Discussion Group. He presently serves as co-chair and has held this position since its beginning about 10 years ago. As facilitator, Rev. Garrard encourages open dialogue and leads discussions twice a month with concerned citizens and community leaders to develop trusting relationships among a diverse group.

Since 1978, the Hickory Choral Society has raised its collective voice to unite the community through the power of music and the spirit of song. In response to the unprecedented events of 2020, the Hickory Choral Society made the decision to “Stand Together” in solidarity with those affected by the worldwide pandemic, victims of social injustice, systemic racism, and the storm and tumult of the political landscape by producing a virtual fall concert unlike any other. Hickory Choral Society conductor Dr. Ryan Luhrs had a vision to unite choirs throughout the City of Hickory and Catawba County to mount a true community choir, sending the message that we are all human, and that even though we have different beliefs, we must all stand together, undivided, in these difficult times.

The resulting program featured a choir of 276 singers, including 80 Hickory Choral Society members and singers from the following local organizations: Catawba Valley Community College Chorus, Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir, Lenoir-Rhyne “Lyric” Youth Chorus, Maiden High School, Bandys High School, St. Stephens High School, Bunker Hill High School, Fred. T. High School, and Hickory High School. The centerpiece of the concert was the world premiere of Karen Marrolli’s “Undivided,” a powerful expression of being kind and standing together in the face of derision, hatred, and violence.

“The CRC endeavors to promote positive relationships, diversity, and unity within the City of Hickory. This year’s Human Relations Award recipients truly exemplify this goal and make Hickory a stronger and better community,” said Mandy Pitts Hildebrand, Chair of the CRC.

The City of Hickory and the CRC congratulate these important members of the community.

For more information about the Community Relations Council or the Human Relations Awards, please contact staff liaison Captain Philip Demas with the Hickory Police Department at 828-261-2608.


City of Hickory

76 North Center Street
Hickory, North Carolina 28601
Phone: (828) 323-7400
Fax: (828) 323-7550



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