The purpose of this award is to honor individuals or groups who, through their humanitarian activities, have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the philosophical principles of occupational therapy. The CFOT is honored to present the 2016 CFOT Humanitarian Award to John Hwang for his work with individuals on Skid Row.
John Hwang is an occupational therapist who received his degree from the University of Southern California. His work with individuals on skid row began following a chance encounter with a homeless person on a bridge in downtown L.A. The individual who was homeless began talking to John and John says that they were just talking about nothing in particular - just talking. He then told John that he was on the bridge because he was going to jump off and kill himself but their conversation made him feel better and gave him hope in life.
Following that encounter, John was profoundly moved and he wanted to learn more about the nature of the homeless population and what their stories were. He began visiting Skid Row almost every day. John headed out to Skid Row without any agenda, plan or idea of what he was doing. He simply wanted to build relationships with the people there and make himself available to care for them in any way he could. John never thought of himself as a savior or problem fixer - he went as a learner, servant, an equal, and friend. He talked with people, listened to any stories they wanted to tell and photographed those who gave him permission. He began posting the stories and photos on his personal Facebook page. He received so many responses and had so many people following his Facebook page that he created a separate page dedicated to these stories and photos which he named Skid Row Stories. In Skid Row Stories John documents and tells the struggles of those he encounters on Skid Row and the streets of L.A. He brings compassion, respect, and dignity to each person’s unique circumstance. The CFOT urges you to view this website and become familiar with those individuals.
When John is not connecting with people living on skid row, he visits L.A. area animal shelters and engages his keen photographic eye to record the emotion of dogs awaiting homes. His photos have facilitated adoption. His story and photo of Oliver whom he named the praying Chihuahua was featured on Channel 7’s Good Morning America.
Throughout this personal journey, John has simplified and focused his life. He moved out of his apartment and into a small converted garage with his dogs. He sold or gave away many of his possessions. He has maintained his license to practice occupational therapy but has chosen to leave full time employment and devote himself to understanding the lives of those he encounters on the streets of L.A. and to visiting and photographing animals in shelters in hopes of facilitating adoption.
John’s work has gained the attention of people throughout the area including local media. He has been interviewed on KPCC on two different segments: Off Ramp and Take Two. In 2016, he was featured in the California Community Foundation’s Portraits of Compassion, as one of 30 Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles County. The Portraits of Compassion celebrate everyday people doing extraordinary things.
John is drawn to this work and is doing it for his own spiritual growth and journey. He says “One thing I want to make clear is that this isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. So many people have reached out to me wanting to help out in some way - whether by giving donations, purchasing needed items, sending encouragement and prayers or just simply having an open heart and being moved by the stories. Everyone using their own unique gifts and talents for the greater good.” John’s work with people and animals embodies the humanitarian ideals the Humanitarian Award celebrates.
The CFOT Honored Lectureship was established to recognize occupational therapists in the state of California who have demonstrated leadership, promoted ideas and vision in occupational therapy for the profession, and to provide the occupational therapy community an opportunity to hear them speak at a public gathering.
Dr. Llorens received her Bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University, Master of Arts degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from Wayne State University, her PhD from Walden University and a Certificate in Gerontology from San Jose State University. Dr. Llorens’ professional career has covered over fifty years.
Her positions have included clinician, researcher, writer, editor, consultant, teacher and administrator. Academic positions held include Professor, Chair and Graduate Coordinator in the Departments of Occupational Therapy at San Jose State University and the University of Florida and Adjunct Faculty of the University of Southern California.
Dr. Llorens has published extensively in the occupational therapy literature and in Allied Health and Gerontology. Her service to the profession includes numerous professional presentations and consultations. Dr. Llorens has received prestigious honors from many organizations that include the AOTA Award of Merit, the Eleanor Clark Slagle Lectureship, and the Roster of Fellows. She received the A. Jean Ayres Award, and the Meritorious Award from the AOTF. Dr. Llorens is a recipient of the AOTA and AOTF President’s Commendation. She is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from OTAC.
Dr. Llorens’ lecture was titled “Implementing Occupations for Health and Well Being: A Personal Story”. Dr. Llorens distributed a handout titled Lela’s New Life in which she illustrated the process of reorganization of life priorities following the death of her husband Joe. She took us through the changes she needed to make in the occupations meaningful to her at a different stage in life. It was a process very meaningful to all as everyone has had to adjust to different living patterns for a variety of reasons. The lecture was honest, powerful, and full of grace. The OT community gave her a standing ovation and we all wish her well in her new life transition.
The purpose of this award is to honor an individual who has demonstrated exceptional effort on behalf of the CFOT for over five or more years and who has made a major impact on the mission, goals, and objectives of CFOT in the present and for the future.
Sarah Kelly has served the CFOT in many positions over a number of years. It is difficult to remember a time when Sarah was not a contributing voice to CFOT policies and future directions. She has been a member of and chair of the CFOT Steering Committee, a past Chair of the Recognitions and Awards Committee and the immediate past Secretary of CFOT. She helped organize the nomination and award process for CFOT. As Secretary, she made sense of several people talking at once and captured the core ideas and deliberations in the minutes. Her minutes made all of us seem thoughtful and organized!
Throughout her years with CFOT, Sarah has demonstrated skill, poise, and grace. She is a thoughtful presence who contributes excellent ideas to any discussion. The CFOT looks forward to having her continue her involvement with CFOT as a member at large.
Frank Gainer, MHS, OTR/L, FAOTA
Frank Gainer is the Director of Conferences for AOTA. Several years ago, Frank attended the OTAC conference and stopped by the CFOT booth. He asked how we got donations for the silent auction. He said he might have something to donate - time at his time share in Las Vegas - would we be interested? Indeed we were!! The silent auction is one way in which we raise money towards scholarships, traineeships, research grants and seed money grants. Frank has been doing this since 2011 and this silent auction item is in high demand. It has helped us raise money for our foundation efforts.
Bob Knox has provided wonderful hospitality to CFOT board members several times a year for many years. The board of directors has been meeting at the home of Sue and Bob Knox. Bob has done transport service to and from Burbank airport for our members from the North, has made coffee and tea and keeps an eye on our cups for seconds or thirds, and helps with kitchen set up and clean up at our potluck lunches. He also shares any financial tips with his wife, Sue, our treasurer. He does this with good cheer and always a welcoming smile.
This year the CFOT awarded $21,000 in scholarships, $2500 in traineeships, $4500 in research, and $1240 in seed money requests! In conference fundraising we generated monies through the silent auction and through matching the fundraising we generated through the challenge board worn through the exhibit hall. Bonita Kraft, Michele Berro, and Linda Florey matched amounts up to $500. Thank you conference attendees as we gained monies well beyond $500! Thank you to those contributing a named scholarship, to everyone contributing auction items and contributing to our fundraising efforts. We are very, very grateful for your current support and your ongoing support for the past 35 years!
After 35 years of successful support for OT scholarships and research in California, CFOT has embarked on a plan to ensure that it can continue to provide this support in the future. By establishing an endowment, CFOT can continue in future years to provide educational scholarships and support OT researchers in California. This is how the plan works: Those of you who wish to participate provide $2,500 -- in installments over five years or as a lump sum. These supporters are recognized as Charter Members of the CFOT Legacy Circle and continue to receive special commendation by CFOT. By joining the CFOT Legacy Circle you are making a difference for a lifetime. The contributions in the endowment fund are invested so they will grow in value each year. The earnings from these investments may be used each year to support California OTs with scholarships and/or research funds, or they may be re-invested for added growth. Please join the pioneers who have started the Legacy Circle with a full contribution. You may send a full or partial contribution to:
CFOT, 3458 La Sombra Drive, Hollywood, CA 90068. Mark your contribution for the Legacy Circle.
Charter members of the CFOT Legacy Circle: