Highland Park resident Harry Pangemanan received the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Highland Park Human Relations Commission at a ceremony that took place January 15 at Highland Park High School. The annual event recognizes an individual who has shown exemplary leadership and service to the community.
.Settling in Highland Park in 2000, Mr. Pangemanan helped form an Indonesian congregation at the Reformed Church of Highland Park (RCHP). He worked to assist hundreds of Indonesians register with the federal government. Detained in 2009 after facing his own immigration challenges, Mr. Pangemanan started a detention visitation program. He assisted in writing the Indonesian Refugee Family Protection Act, introduced by Congressman Pallone and Senator Lautenberg in 2012.
He was also active in collecting goods, preparing meals, and offering hospitality to victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The following year he became RCHP’s Minister of Disaster Relief and created Churches Accomplishing Long-Term Recovery. Over the next four years, Mr. Pangemanan led more than 3,000 volunteers on week-long, disaster –relief trips; they completed major rebuilding projects on 209 homes along Raritan Bay. He also led Rapid Response trips to flooded areas in the Carolinas, West Virginia, and Texas.
Currently, Mr. Pangemanan is the property manager for RCHP-Affordable Housing Corporation, overseeing 25 properties owned or rented to provide supportive housing in New Jersey for refugees, asylum seekers, veterans, developmentally disabled, and others. He lives in Highland Park with his wife, Yana, and two daughters, Joceyln and Christa.
Mr. Pangemanan said his work never would have happened without the support and assistance from his community and from his church.
“I do what I do and I will continue serving Highland Park because of the support from all of you,” Mr. Pangemanan. “Thank you for what you have given me and thank you all for being an inspiration.”
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that ‘everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,'” said Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler. “Harry Pagemanan exemplifies these words of a call to service. He is an inspiration to us all and we are so honored that he has chosen Highland Park as his home.”
Highland Park Councilman Matthew Hersh, who serves as the Council liaison to the Human Relations Commission, pointed to Mr. Pangemanan’s courageous fight to stay in the country while serving his community.
“We need to seize every opportunity to protect our residents. We do that through service to our community. We do that through advocacy and activism. We do that through a commitment to the belief that there is no door that shuts out our neighbors and we do that by making sure we operate always through a lens of equity,” Councilman Hersh said.
“We have no choice. As Harry says, it’s not about one life, but about the entire community,” he added.
CAPTION: Highland Park resident and immigration rights activist Harry Pangemanan received the 2018 MLK Jr. Humanitarian Award Monday night from the Highland Park Human Relations Commission. Pangemanan received a plaque commemorating his service to the community Tuesday night from the Highland Park Borough Council. Pictured, from left, are: Councilwoman Susan Welkovits; Councilman Matthew Hersh (liaison to the Human Relations Commission); Councilwoman Stephany Kim-Chohan; Pangemanan; his wife, Yana, and daugthers Jocelyn and Christa; Council President Phil George; and Councilman Josh Fine