Arizona Interfaith Movement honors those living out the golden rule

2016 Golden Rule Award Winners and Arizona Interfaith Representatives: Rev. Larry Fultz, AIFM Executive Director; Sybil Eppinger; Dr. Paul Eppinger, GR Interfaith Award; Diana "Dede" Yazzie Devine, GR Community Service Award; Tristan Peterson-Steinert, accepting GR Youth Award; Charles Keller, GR Humanitarian Award; Anne Taylor, AIFM Business Manager; Anita Rangaswami, AIFM Board of Director-Secretary; Eldred Spain, AIFM Board of Director-President. (submitted photo)

2016 Golden Rule Award Winners and Arizona Interfaith Representatives: Rev. Larry Fultz, AIFM Executive Director; Sybil Eppinger; Dr. Paul Eppinger, GR Interfaith Award; Diana “Dede” Yazzie Devine, GR Community Service Award; Tristan Peterson-Steinert, accepting GR Youth Award; Charles Keller, GR Humanitarian Award; Anne Taylor, AIFM Business Manager; Anita Rangaswami, AIFM Board of Director-Secretary; Eldred Spain, AIFM Board of Director-President. (submitted photo)

Four individuals were honored by over 1,000 people attending the Eleventh Annual Golden Rule Awards Banquet hosted by the Arizona Interfaith Movement on April 7.

AIFM is now over 20 years old and the “Golden Rule” has been at the heart of all the organization does to educate and inspire people of all faith groups to understand, respect and support each other while working together to build peaceful religious communities.

This year’s honorees included:

  • Matthew Kaplan (Winner of Golden Rule Youth Award), created The Be ONE Project, a community building, and bullying-prevention non-profit organization for middle school students.
    • The goal is to bring Be ONE to every middle school in Arizona, and ultimately to have a network of Be One presenters throughout the country. Already Be ONE is training high school students at Scottsdale’s Horizon High School to become program presenters. Tristan Peterson-Steinert, The Be ONE Project’s Program Director, accepted the award for Mr. Kaplan, who is a Robertson Scholar at Duke University.
  • Diana “Dede” Yazzie Devine, Native American Connection President/CEO (winner of Golden Rule Community Service Award), since 1972 has been working with Native American urban and Tribal entities.
    • NAC serves all populations with a targeted mission to serve Native Americans living both in Phoenix urban area and from tribal communities. NAC offers innovative research-based behavioral counseling, substance abuse treatment that is integrated with Native cultural and traditional healing practices and has developed, owns and operates over 600 units of affordable housing for working families and homeless housing in central Phoenix.
  • Charles Keller (Winner of Golden Rule Humanitarian Award), has elected to spend his free time owning a real-life Batmobile and building The Colten Cowell Memorial Crime Fighting Cave—one vacuum tube at a time.
    • Many of us remember childhood as a carefree time filled with magic, wonder, fun and a healthy dose of rerun TV. But for kids and families dealing with illness, disability or the loss of a loved one, these happy experiences occur a lot less often than they should. These families deserve a moment away from worry, judgment, and the feeling of being different—a chance to be transformed through imagination, an amazing ride in a Batmobile, and the healing power of giving to others in need. That’s why the Colten Cowell Foundation is dedicated to helping kids and families set aside day-to-day concerns to share a few laughs and create lasting memories, while also experiencing the joy of giving to those who, just like them, could use a reason to smile. Mr. Keller has enjoyed careers in government, finance and technology, but what has truly defined him is a lifelong love of classic rerun television.
  • Rev. Paul Eppinger (Winner of Paul Eppinger Interfaith Award), is retired as the executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement. Dr. Eppinger founded AIFM in 1995, and is currently serving as its first executive director emeritus.
    • In his life’s work, Dr. Eppinger has exhibited a passion for interfaith work locally and globally and has led as a visionary peacemaker among the multiple religions and cultures of the world. In addition to Dr. Eppinger’s interfaith endeavors, his work on behalf of racial, religious and social diversity and non-violence has touched people in the Valley, statewide, nationally and internationally.
Charles Keller with James and Carlie who spend their time and money bringing "blessing bags" to other kids in the hospital, they brought presents for Batman to their cave show on their birthday. (submitted photo)

Charles Keller with James and Carlie who spend their time and money bringing “blessing bags” to other kids in the hospital, they brought presents for Batman to their cave show on their birthday. (submitted photo)

For more information about Arizona Interfaith Movement’s mission and programs visit www.azifm.org. For more information about the Colten Cowell Foundation and the batcave visit www.coltencowellfoundation.org.

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