A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Signs of Sustainability: Reverend Richard Witt

The Signs of Sustainability (SOS) Project is a citizen-led initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural and human resources. Since it began in October 2012, the Signs of Sustainability Project has recognized 24 local individuals and organizations by documenting what they have done. Each year the past recipients of the award are invited to join in the selection process.

Reverend Richard Witt–Accord

Photo by Ilene Cutler.

Reverend Richard Witt of Accord has been an advocate for the rights of rural and migrant workers since 1991. As director of the Rural and Migrant Ministry, he works to “overcome the prejudices and poverty that degrade and debilitate all members of society.” It may come as a surprise that not too long ago rural and migrant workers on farms were not assured access to clean drinking water, field sanitation, and fair pay. Slowly some conditions have changed with the help of Richard’s leadership. Reverend Witt works to ensure that the concerns and interests of workers who are often invisible are represented.

An activist who supports the Justice for Farm Workers Campaign in New York, Reverend Witt believes that farm workers deserve the same basic human rights as other laborers. His voice helps to raise awareness of the plight and the hopes of rural and migrant workers and rally others to help work to change policies and laws and raise the life quality of the laborers we so depend upon.

Richard’s focus on the children of rural and migrant workers has been particularly inspiring. He helped build summer day camp programs as well as daycare and head start programs with the support of local churches like Christ the King and Marbletown Reform Church. Most recently he his efforts to save documentary The Hudson Dreamers–DREAMers Among Us have gained support and momentum. This youth film project focuses on stories about the challenges faced by young people who dream of attending college but are prevented from attending due to by citizenship issues. With Reverend Witt’s support the project is now nearing completion.
By presenting Richard with a Signs of Sustainability Award we want to show our gratitude for the determined, articulate, compassionate, and tireless efforts he makes to lift us all to the highest level of our humanity: service to others.

–Lisa Jones, Signs of Sustainability Coordinator