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Secretary of State Jeff Bullock awarded Karelin Torres the 2022 John Lewis Youth Leadership Award. Torres is the first individual in the State of Delaware to be honored with this award.
The John Lewis Youth Leadership Award was established by the National Association of Secretaries of State to honor the extraordinary accomplishments of the late Congressman John Lewis. The award recognizes a gifted, civic-minded young Delawarean who has demonstrated leadership abilities, has a passion for social justice, and is improving the quality of life in their community.
“Karelin’s work in educating and encouraging non-English speaking Delawareans to vote in the 2022 Elections exemplifies Congressman Lewis’s mission. Young people across our state are rising to the challenge and working to make a difference in all sectors of their communities. This was shown by the number of outstanding nominations that we received last year, and I am proud that my office can showcase a changemaker each year.”Secretary of State Jeff Bullock
Torres was active with the Votamos We Vote Coalition—a collection of Latinx civic engagement organizations in Delaware dedicated to registering and encouraging Hispanic citizens to vote. Through the Entre Nosotras Program, a radio program on a Spanish-language station in Sussex County, Torres worked to promote election information ahead of the 2022 Elections, including how to register to vote, information about candidates, and the mail-in voting process. Through storytelling, Torres helped shaped the listener’s views on the importance of voting, particularly for first-generation Americans, and ultimately inspired individuals to cast their ballot for the first time.
“I am forever grateful to my mother, Cruz Maria Alba, for all the sacrifices she has ever made for me. I am thankful to my community for always providing support and I would not be capable of doing this work without the guidance of Carla Guerrón-Montero and Charito Calvachi-Mateyko. Finally, I want to thank the ACLU of Delaware, Mike Brickner and Meera Deevota for bringing me in as a part of their team.”Karelin Torres, 2022 John Lewis Youth Leadership Award recipient
In addition to spreading information about the 2022 Elections, Torres worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Delaware to recruit bilingual poll workers to polling places across the State of Delaware. Currently, visibility of bilingual poll workers to help break barriers, including language barriers, is critically low. Through Torres’ activism and passion to address this issue led to the recruitment of a number of bilingual poll workers and she partnered with the Delaware Department of Elections to place them in polling places that were likely to have a high traffic of Spanish speakers. As a result of her efforts, every bilingual poll worker was able to wear a button that said “Hablo Español” (I speak Spanish), indicating to voters that they had an advocate in the room that would assist them.
“Karelin is a remarkable advocate and I have been in awe of her passion to champion civic engagement in Delaware’s Latino community. The right to vote is foundational to every other right, and Karelin’s work to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot means that more Latinos are weighing in on critical issues that face their communities. Importantly, Karelin has led other forms of civic engagement beyond voting to ensure that those who are not yet citizens and eligible to vote can still make their voices heard. She epitomizes John Lewis’ spirit of ‘Good Trouble’ and I am delighted she is being recognized.”Mike Brickner, Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware