ECHO Award Winners - 2017

Jahmila Best: 
Jahmila is a junior at Parkland IB Magnet School and a National Honor Society member. She has been a vital volunteer and youth leader for the community organizing nonprofit Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, helping to conduct door-to-door interviews with city residents to learn more about their visions for their neighborhoods. By meeting people on their own doorsteps, Jahmila encourages open dialogue and is strengthening neighborhoods from within. She has also trained residents on community development strategies, encouraging neighbors who were previously strangers to become partners in their shared goals for a stronger community.

Mary Jac Brennan: Through her passionate work at Cooperative Extension, Mary Jac’s relational fingerprints are all over Forsyth County. An instrumental figure in the establishment of many local community gardens, the Urban Farm School, and the Forsyth Community Food Consortium, Mary Jac has brought diverse individuals and networks together through a common interest in food, farming, and the regional food economy. The connections she has built between community members, farmers, culinary professionals, healthcare providers, and policymakers will continue to improve the health and vitality of Forsyth County’s residents for years to come.

Kelly Carpenter: As pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church, Kelly leads and inspires a diverse congregation — but his social capital work goes even deeper. Kelly’s intentional desire to bridge across divisions has fueled innovative programs such as the Institute for Dismantling Racism, The Shalom Project, and Winston- Salem’s first Circles program, which builds relationships between community allies and individuals who are working to exit poverty. Kelly, an original ECHO Council member, also helped found the Peters Creek Community Initiative, which joins churches, businesses, city officials, and residents in that area’s revitalization efforts.

Joy Prom: Each spring, Joy Prom brings together 200 individuals with developmental, intellectual, and/or physical “different abilities” with a diverse group of 350 community volunteers for an enchanting prom evening filled with ball gowns, make-up, shoe shines, refreshments, dancing, and crafts — and all free of charge! Guests, who range in age from 16 to 72, volunteers, and caregivers are profoundly impacted by the annual event, which forges connections that last well beyond the evening itself. Joy Prom is a ministry of local nonprofit Love Out Loud.

Mary's Mavens: The idea for Mary’s Mavens grew out of Winston-Salem’s EmcArts Community Innovation Lab, which has engaged diverse community stakeholders to address complex social challenges. Mary Haglund, Paola Miranda, and Rebeccah Byer started this group, which is now over 1,000 members strong and includes networking and educational sessions on topics such as life-coaching and entrepreneurship. While the initial goal was to connect and support female business owners, it has now become a space for every woman with a dream — and for those coming from many different backgrounds and struggles.

is Forsyth County Public Library’s book club for men. Members are encouraged to share their own literary finds, thoughts on current events, and personal stories. They range from recent high school graduates to retirees and from the unemployed to businessmen – resulting in close, trusting relationships and bridging social capital among this diverse group of community members.

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