CHICAGO: Frank Avila, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) since 2002, was honored by the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine Illinois, a suburb of Chicago on February 19 for helping the Sikh community.
The Sangat (congregation) was informed how Commissioner Avila helped the successful implementation of the O.S.H.A. (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Waiver from mandatory wearing of hard hat for turban wearing Sikhs working at MWRDGC. It was an uphill task and took years to get an already existing O.S.H.A. Waiver to get implemented at MWRDGC in Cook County Illinois.
The supervisors and the managers did not realize that a turban is a religiously mandated article of faith for practicing Sikhs, and becomes an extension of their body when out in public.
“But now due to a strong support by Commissioner Avila, who understands the significance of a turban for a Sikh due to his business travels to India, the waiver from wearing a hard hat was implemented at MWRDGC. So by setting this precedence it will be easier for the future turban wearing Sikh employees of MWRDGC to get the waiver,” said Rajinder Singh Mago.
Avila was introduced to the Sangat (congregation) from the congregation prayer hall podium by Rajinder Singh Mago. He was honored with a plaque by the Sikh Religious Society board members At the MWRDGC Commissioner Avila is the Chairman of Finance ($1.1 billion budget) and also committee chair of Engineering, and Maintenance and Operations.
Later Sarwan Singh Raju and Lal Singh facilitated the presentation to Avila of a picture poster of British India Sikh Soldiers who gallantly fought in World Wars I and II.
Commissioner Avila along with his wife of 52 years Sherry Avila observed the Sikh Prayer Service. They sat on the floor in the congregation, listened to the Kirtan (singing of hymns), partook Parshad (sweet pudding, a token of Guru’s love and blessings) and partook Langar (community kitchen vegetarian meal) alongside the Sikh community members.
Frank and Sherry Avila were greeted by a group of friends and welcomed with bouquet of flowers upon arrival at the Gurdwara facilities.