In a tradition going back to the 1970s, the Human Rights Commission honors individuals and organizations making significant contributions to ensure the human rights of people in Bloomington with the Omar Bonderud Award. This year, the award winner is Bloomington resident Tara Owens, above with her daughter.
Owens has done a lot of work to support children and families in the community. She serves as the chair of the Bloomington Early Childhood Advisory Council, a group of volunteer parents and supporters that promote the goals of the Early Childhood programs offered through Bloomington Public Schools. Her work there includes recruiting 12 new board members and engaging them in program planning, fundraising and advocacy efforts that serve families with children from birth to five years old.
She also leads a group known as Tod Pod. When the first round of the pandemic restrictions began to ease in 2020, Owens was looking for ways she and her two-year-old daughter could get some safely distanced, outdoor social time. She reached out to eight families she knew and asked if they wanted to start meeting weekly at Bloomington parks. Through word of mouth, the group grew from eight families to nearly 275. The group has been described as a “lifeline” by participants.
“Tara has been an invaluable resource to families in Bloomington,” Tod Pod participant Danielle Indovino Crawley, who nominated Tara, said. “The work that Tara is doing is having real impacts to help ensure that the human needs of families are being met—through education, language and literacy, physical play and social connectedness within a community.”