On the evening of November 4th, 2021, Uplift Solutions held a beautiful reception celebrating our impactful work. Guests enjoyed delicious food and drink in the stunning Arts Ballroom, high-energy music by the Jellyroll band, and the highlight of the evening was a moving awards ceremony honoring some of our community’s most passionate changemakers.  

Uplift honored Joanna Visser Adjoian with The Changemaker Award for dedicating her career to advocating for young people in the adult criminal justice system, and particularly for her work with the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Program. As she accepted the award, Joanna said “I am deeply, deeply humbled… We fight every single day to keep children out of adult jails and prisons. To walk alongside them in their re-entry journey, and connect them with powerful programs like Uplift.” 

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) received the Trailblazer Award for their innovative programming, and critical partnership with Uplift to expunge the criminal records of our graduates to give them brighter futures. Tobey Oxholm, Director of the PLSE Pardon Project, said “Everything I read is making me more and more angry about what our system does to people in the name of justice. This can’t go on. I don’t care where you grew up or what color you are. Everybody should be allowed to reach their potential.” and Taylor Pacheco, Deputy Director of PLSE said “The goal of a nonprofit should be to put itself out of business, that’s what we want, a day where you can finish your [prison] sentence and your sentence is over.” 

Shuja Moore received the Visionary Award for his work to reduce poverty and gun violence by inspiring young adults through his work as a filmmaker. Shuja said “It’s always weird standing on a stage to receive an award because at the end of the day, I committed crimes, and I made some horrible decisions that led me to prison. I recognize that my experience is meaningful when I am here now and seeing the work that people are doing. I went through that experience so I can represent a lot of people who are still in that situation. I only accept this award because I am going to give this to my mom…the real visionary.” 

And finally, Uplift was pleased to honor two of our graduates, Adrienne Shaw and Wayne Garrett, with the Unparalleled Perseverance Award for overcoming countless hurdles on their paths to success. Adrienne said “I am both humbled and appreciative for this opportunity. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has made Uplift possible. Thank you for seeing me, not for the mistakes I may have made, but for who I really am. I would like you all to know that the work you do is certainly not in vain. As long as I still have breath in my body, each and every day that I wake up, I will stand tall, hold my head high, and keep pushing. Never underestimate the strength of a chain breaker!” Additionally, Wayne said “The Uplift program is needed in the community because it helps restore formerly incarcerated individuals back into society, giving them a chance to provide for their loved ones. Know that if you support Uplift, you are supporting a community, and you are making a big, big difference.”     

Uplift Solutions Executive Director, Atif Bostic, closed out the evening by saying this: 

“I will say to you, if you leave this evening without feeling any bit of anger, without having a tear in your eye, then we did something wrong. Today, what you have seen is a journey. You have seen what it means to go from Hardship to Hope. In all of this, you have heard of the tremendous efforts, and the tremendous gains that each of these individuals have made, and the value that they make for this community, this city, and this world. It does not stop here; this is just the start” 

The Hardship to Hope reception was made possible thanks to the event sponsors, supporters, attendees, and organizers.