Grace Abularage of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, and Eve Van Sickle of southern Ohio, will receive the HCEF President’s Awards for 2008 at HCEF’s 10th International Conference. The HCEF President’s Awards are given annually to honor volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land through acts of love and support.

Two ordinary HCEF supporters have made a difference by doing the extraordinary. It’s for this reason that Grace Abularage of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, and Eve Van Sickle of southern Ohio, will receive the HCEF President’s Awards for 2008 at HCEF’s 10th International Conference.

The HCEF President’s Awards are given annually to honor volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land through acts of love and support. HCEF’s 10thInternational Conference AwardsBanquet takes place on the evening of Friday, October 24, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD.

Ms. Abularage (left) has established a Holy Land Christian Support Network (HCSN) branch where she resides in Torreon, Mexico, and has devoted herself to several thriving HCEF programs there. She acquired a permanent space in a major market in Torreon for the sale of Holy Land Gifts. The market grants considerable economic support to Arab Christian artisans in the Holy Land, and increases Mexican awareness of the plight of their Christian brothers and sisters there.

In 2003, Ms. Abularage hosted HCEF President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie and Vice President George Ghattas, arranging for them to meet the local Bishop and to attend a special Mass in Torreon. She also organized an event where the HCEF officials planted an olive tree near the city’s cathedral as a sign of Torreon’s solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land. Ms. Abularage herself is a Palestinian Christian.

Ms. Van Sickle (right) has for several years provided diligent and effective leadership for other volunteers in her area by organizing Holy Land Gift sales, and by arranging for extended visits of Palestinian Christian children to Ohio through HCEF’s Child Sponsorship Program.

Moved by her experiences with Palestinian children, Ms. Van Sickle participated in an HCEF pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2005. During that trip, she attended Mass at the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, around the rock at the Garden of Gethsemani, and atop of the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. "Each place, as it is named in scripture, evokes a clear and vivid memory for me," Ms. Van Sickle wrote of the pilgrimage. "Everyone on the trip said the prayer experience was like nothing they had ever experienced before, impossible to describe."

Ms. Van Sickle, who has enlisted as an "Ambassador of the Mother Church," faithfully supports HCEF through active participation in HCEF’s onferences, local symposia and other events.

Commenting on Ms. Van Sickle’s Christian spirit, one of her collaborators said, "Eve’s labor of love in serving those in the Holy Land is a beautiful testament to the big heart that God has given her. She shows to the so-called "forgotten faithful" of the Mother Church that they are not, in fact, forgotten.

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