Gov. Gary Herbert receives lifetime achievement award from refugee community

(Courtesy | Utah Department of Workforce Services) Gov. Gary Herbert accepts a lifetime achievement award Friday from leaders of Utah's refugee community and the Governor’s Refugee Services Advisory Board.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert received the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” Friday from Utah’s refugee community and the Governor’s Refugee Services Advisory Board.

Herbert received the award for his support of refugees in Utah, especially during President Trump’s refugee ban and as other Republican governors were vowing to block refugees from some nations.

“Over the last few years, the refugees in Utah, and the country, have gone through an emotional roller coaster over concerns of the global refugee situation,” Pamela Atkinson, Refugee Services Advisory Board Member and adviser to Herbert, said at an employment conference of the state Refugee Services Office. “Through all this debate and discussion, our governor, who has always been a supporter of refugees, made the bold declaration that Utah will remain a welcoming state to refugees.”

After accepting his award, Herbert said he wants “all refugees who live in Utah to feel like this is their home and feel like they are part of this great state.”

The conference aims to integrate Utah’s business community, refugee service providers and refugee community leaders in the “Utah Refugee Employment Model,” which helps the state’s refugees obtain high-paying entry-level employment and work toward upward career mobility.

Hafsa Abdikadir, a refugee from Somalia, shared her story about being a refugee in Utah.

“Calling Utah home means a lot to so many refugees. It gives me hope and gives hope for my children,” Abdikadir said. “The governor’s words means so much to us. It shows to the world that we as refugees can be part of the community. I am able to become what I want to become.”