Last year the League of Women Voters launched Democracy in Action Awards. We continued that
tradition at our annual meeting held on May 13, at the Aull Center by presenting three Democracy in
Action Awards to The Community Coalition for Social Justice, Mr. John Sonnenday of the Coordinating
Council on Homelessness, and League member Lyndell Millechia. The meeting began with a very
informative presentation by guest speaker Barb Howe on the “Evolution of the Voting Rights Act (up to
The League recognized the Community Coalition for Social Justice with a Democracy in Action Award.
The CCSJ was represented by Al Anderson, Susan Brown, Nora Sheets and Barb Howe. It was chartered
in 2000 with a mission to promote the principles of social and economic justice, respect all people and
oppose discrimination and hate motivated violence. In addition to individual members the CCSJ is joined
by religious organizations, labor councils and community advocacy groups and most recently by the
League of Women Voters as an organizational member.
The CCSJ has sponsored events such as forums on fair housing and religious diversity and they provide a
wide range of books on social justice themes to local libraries. Their most visible activity is the annual
program to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event educates us about where we have been and
where we are going as a country and as a community in terms of civil rights. The award was accepted by
Al Anderson on behalf of the Coalition for Social Justice.
The second award of the evening was presented to Mr. John Sonnenday for his tireless work on behalf
of the homeless population in Morgantown and Monongalia County. In the spring of 2010, the
Morgantown City Council and the Mon County Commission created a task force to study and develop a
plan to reduce homeless. Mr. Sonnenday was the chair of the task force and since that time, he has
been instrumental in guiding a dedicated group of people who continue to work toward eliminating
homelessness in our area.
The work of the original task force led to the creation of the Coordinating Council on Homelessness,
which was launched in February 2014 with John Sonnenday as the Executive Director. Under his
guidance, 145 people were moved into permanent housing in 2013 and 206 in 2014, including 39
chronically homeless people. The Council has received federal grants and participated in nation-wide
campaigns and under his direction. Our community was chosen as one of 71 communities in the country
to participate in Zero:2016, with the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and
chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. The League was honored to present Mr. Sonnenday with the
Democracy in Action award.
Last but far from least, the League honored one of our own, Lyndell Millecchia. League President
Jonathan Rosenbaum, presented her with a Democracy in Action award. Lyndell has been a League
member for over 40 years. She is the go-to person of the organization, Board member, past President,
current Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, she maintains our membership list and mailing list, updates our
Guide to Government Officials, she has arranged locations for countless League events including
Candidate Forums. She is always the first person to arrive and the last person to leave League
sponsored events. Her contributions to the League are immeasurable. Lyndell can be described by the
title of the opera that chronicles the life of Susan B. Anthony, “The Mother of Us All.”