Gail Long Recipient of 2008 Ione Biggs Award

By Sarah Valek

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) is pleased to announce Gail Long as the recipient of the 2007 Ione Biggs Social Justice Award.

The award is given in honor of the memory of one of the favorite daughters of Cleveland. Ione Biggs helped facilitate the development of many social justice groups, and represented Cleveland at the United Nations forums on women.  She led the way as a pioneer in the area of civil rights, reducing poverty, equality, and peace.  A committee of progressive groups came together to select this year’s Ione Biggs Social Justice Award winner including Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice, Women’s Re-Entry Network, NEOCH, the Empowerment Center of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Tenants Organization, and the Church of the Covenant.

For over four decades, Long worked diligently for the rights of disenfranchised and low-income people. She started as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in the 1960s doing community organizing for the West Side Community House and eventually became the executive director of the Merrick House in the Tremont neighborhood.

Gail Long became involved in a broad range of social, political and economical justice issues, such as the anti-war movement, bridging the racial divide, fighting for state budget equality, and universal access to health care.  She passionately fought for her constituency on the near west side of Cleveland through heath care accessibility and affordability by creating a county-wide coalition called Citizens to Save Metro Health that fought against any privation of Metro Health hospital.  She has served on the Cleveland Housing Network Board as well as the Cleveland Tenants Organization’s Board to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities.  Long did extensive work with Cuyahoga County to protect low-income families through two decades of reform of the welfare system.

Long’s tenacious commitment to stand, walk and work with disadvantaged people is why the committee chose Gail Long as the 2007 Ione Biggs Award winner.  We present this award to Gail Long, and her name will be placed on the plaque kept in the main office of the Coalition.

Long received the award at NEOCH’s seventh annual “Partnering to End Homelessness” fundraising dinner and auction on Friday, May 2nd, 2008.  The Ione Biggs Social Justice Award is given out each year to a person who’s made an outstanding contribution to advancing social justice. The first recipient in 2007 was Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 84, May 2008