In March of 2009, Rose Augustine, received the 2009 CWU Human Right's award, for her work as Tucson's pioneer Eco-Justice advocate. The award was presented as part of the annual Human Rights forum, and Ms. Augustine will be the 5th Arizonan to receive this award from Church Women United in Tucson. Past awardees, include: Jim Zwerg (civil rights Freedom Rider); Elizabeth Sweet (providing legal counsel to immigrant children separated from their parents); Barbara Eiswerth (work with refugees, particularly in gleaning for food security), Milt Schweibel (work on effects of war on children).
Rose Augustine is a national leader in environmental justice, a term that had not even been coined when she began her work in South Tucson organizing the community to fight for clean-up of TCE contamination in the local water supply. Rose, who is, herself, a victim of the health consequences of years of indiscriminate dumping TCE, by irresponsible corporations, into our groundwater supply, helped locate and enlist other victims in a lawsuit to compel the clean up, and to take care of the medical needs of those impacted, primarily in low incomes communities in the Tucson area.
Rose subsequently sat on the US Environmental Justice Advisory Council, receiving testimony from residents of impoverished communities throughout the United States, whose citizenry had been further victimized by irresponsible corporate dumping of toxic chemicals. In our own community, she served as a board member for the El Pueblo Clinic, and has been a recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award.
Church Women United is an Interdenominational, Interracial women's organization, formed by the combining of several groups in December,1941. Our first act, at the founding convention, was to issue a proclamation for peace, three days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During, and immediately after, the war we circulated petitions for the founding of the United Nations, and were the first NGO to establish an office at the UN Building. In the 40's and 50's we initiated protests and boycotts of hotels and restaurants that would not serve persons of all races, and Coretta Scott King later served on our national board. Tucsonan Vera Lander recently served as national vice-president, and Tucsonan Claudia Ellquist is the current chair of the national Action committee.