The Judie Aronson Social Initiative Advocating for Social Justice was established shortly after Judie’s death in 2018 with a grant from the Aronson family.
A former teacher, Aronson was inspired by the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam,” which literally means “repairing the world.” Her activism for social justice began in the Lowcountry, using her teacher training through Literacy of the Lowcountry, teaching English as a second language to recent immigrants.
Aronson’s passion took her in many directions – helping abused women through CODA (now Hopeful Horizons) and responding to hunger by nourishing children and families throughout Beaufort County by volunteering with Backpack Buddies, Deep Well and Bluffton Self Help. In addition to addressing hunger and nutrition, Aronson worked to provide short-term assistance to families in need through Family Promise.
Aronson was an organizer of Martin Luther King Day activities and commemorative events on Hilton Head Island, advocating for social justice and civil rights for all. She was an inspiration not only to her Jewish faith community at Congregation Beth Yam but also to countless others in the region through her activism in working toward a more just society.
The Judie Aronson Social Justice Award given by the Aronson family honors her legacy.
The Judie Aronson Social Justice Initiative committee recently announced its award selections for the 2019-2020 school year. This year’s recipients are: Jaala Grant, Hilton Head Island High School; Joy Elizabeth Schleicher, May River High School; and Grayson Short, Bluffton High School. This year, the award has been increased to $2,000 for each recipient.
Jaala’s commitment to social justice includes extensive work with the Martin Luther King Day Committee and the Mitchellville Project. She will be attending the University of South Carolina and will live in a residence hall dedicated to leadership and community.
Joy’s work is in inclusion of all, based on her support for gender equality. She will spend part of the summer on a service trip in Costa Rica, and then will continue to work in the area of social justice through her studies in both undergraduate and graduate school. Her long-range goals include work with the Peace Corps and the Department of Education.
Grayson’s emphasis is in the anti-bullying campaigns. He has mentored young people who were bullied, as he once was, and has found creative ways to show young people how to recognize and overcome bullying.
These young people represent what Judie Aronson stood for, with regard to social justice.