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December 07, 2022

SIU emerita professor to receive human rights award

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Jane Swanson, a professor emerita in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will receive the 2022 Human Rights Day Award from the Southern Illinois chapter of the United Nations Association during a ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Swanson, who retired from SIU Carbondale in 2015 and is founder of the Diaper Bank and the Free Laundry Project in Carbondale, will receive the award at 11 a.m. at the Carbondale Public Library, 405 W. Main St., Carbondale. The hybrid ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will also be available via Zoom, although though webinar registration is required.

The ceremony “Laundry, Diapers and Human Rights” is part of UNA-USA Southern Illinois chapter’s 13th annual event. Human Rights Day, which is on Dec. 10, commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Swanson has served on the Carbondale Warming Center board and with the Carbondale Interfaith Council, assisting the city’s homeless population in many ways, said Cindy Buys, the UNA-USA Southern Illinois member who nominated Jane Swanson.

Swanson’s work is “the embodiment of Article 1 of the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,’” Buys said.

Swanson will share how the free laundry projects and diaper bank provide people with dignity and better health. The laundry project provides people with clean clothes and helps them in preparing for interviews and work. The diaper bank provides free diapers and wipes to low-income parents and families through various partner agencies in Southern Illinois, including the Survivor Empowerment Center (formerly the Women’s Center), Good Samaritan Homeless Shelter, Pregnancy Matters and Southern Region Early Childhood Services.

“Her work improves infant and toddler health by ensuring they are able to have their diapers changed regularly, reducing skin rashes and other irritations, and making them less vulnerable to the invasion of bacteria and yeast,” Buys said.

Swanson, who came to SIU in 1986, spent 28 years at the university.