ECHO Award Winners - 2012

Adventure Sail
has created bridging social capital between youth and adult mentors through an innovative program focused on the sport of sailing. Founded in 2007 by a group of dedicated volunteers experienced in both boat construction and sailing, the Adventure Sail program is now a partnership between Adventure Sail volunteers and the YMCA of Northwest NC, The Children’s Home, and The Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation. The diverse participants, in second through fifth grades, are participants in YMCA afterschool tutoring programs, receive therapeutic services at The Children’s Home, or attend Camp High Hopes. Adventure Sail begins with the construction of a 7.5 foot long, 75 pound sailboat with the children and mentors. Youth learn metric measurements, knot tying, and sailboat terminology, and all receive swimming lessons at the YMCA. Once completed, they are able to sail their boats independently, currently at High Point’s Oak Hollow Lake until Salem Lake reopens. This program has broken many barriers – kids, some who had never jumped in water or been on a boat, learn to swim, to build a boat and to sail. Increased self-confidence also results with improved skills in vocabulary, math, and woodworking. The program has forged new relationships and opportunities among families, the various agencies, and its Leadership Council.  The group was nominated for the ECHO Award by Dean Clifford.

El Cambio
is a youth-led organization that not only builds bonding social capital among its members, but also bridging social capital by reaching out to the community, spreading its message, and building awareness and trust through education and interaction. Since El Cambio was founded in 2010, the organization has organized and energized hundreds of young people and has worked tirelessly to integrate undocumented students into our larger community and advocate for the DREAM Act. Not only has it given young people a voice and leadership opportunities, it has reached out to the community-at-large to eliminate stereotypes and promote understanding through interaction and dialogue. Their mantra of “debate not hate” is reflected in their presentations at schools and churches, at forums and debates such as at Winston-Salem State University and Salem College, at information fairs and voter registration drives, and through their interaction with candidates and elected officials. The courage of these young people drives those who meet them and hear their stories to want to respond in a positive way. The group was nominated for the ECHO Award by Mary Dickinson.

CHANGE Member Network
builds bridging social capital by living out its mission of bringing diverse members of the community together to build mutually enriching relationships and in the process, identifying common interests and values. CHANGE stands for Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment. CHANGE is made up of 53 member organizations reflecting a diverse composite of our community. The member network believes that this process can revitalize democracy, strengthen our capacity to organize the civil society, and build coalitions with the private sector and government. Individuals, with diverse political, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, are given a platform so that they can capitalize on their common interests for the betterment of the community. The CHANGE Member Network embraces social capital-building by seeing our diversity not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to creatively deal with issues. The Network moves us from “our community as it is” to “our community as is should be.” CHANGE was nominated for the ECHO Award by Jo Ann Goodson.

 Forsyth Humane Society’s New Leash on Life program has built bridging social capital on many levels: between inmates, dogs, volunteers, and eventually, adoptive individuals and families. Housed at the minimum-security Forsyth Correctional Center, the program pairs homeless dogs with prisoners who have gone through an extensive application process in order to participate. The program intentionally brings together inmates of different ethnicities, ages, and beliefs – which is an unusual occurrence within the largely self-segregating prison population. Inmates work with volunteers and professional dog-trainers to learn positive reinforcement training methods, as well as how to give and receive unconditional love, which is often a new experience for them.  Dogs live and work with the inmate trainers, sleeping in a special Doggie Dorm. After graduating from the program, dogs are ready to become the newest members of adoptive families, and another dog is paired with the inmate trainer. Many adoptive families will send photos and updates about their dogs to the inmates. To sum up this social capital-building program, both the inmates and dogs are given a “new leash on life” and through their interactions, many others learn to see beyond stereotypes and labels. It is exciting to note that New Leash on Life was initially supported with grant funding resulting from Candide Jones’s receipt of the 2007 Winston-Salem Foundation Award.  The group was nominated for the ECHO Award by Melinda Jones-Moore.

Dirk Robertson has built social capital in our community as an advocate of education, inclusion, Diversity, and collaboration. For years Dirk has advocated for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer community, working to ensure that they are respected and heard, and he has opened minds and attitudes, ultimately creating bridges in our community. Dirk is a co-founder of Equality Winston-Salem, a collaborative organization dedicated to the well-being, inclusion and strengthening of the LGBTQ community. He has been integrally involved in events such as gay bingo, which has allowed this community, regardless of race, religion or age, to gather together in a positive, safe atmosphere and work together to support positive common causes. Dirk was also instrumental in creating, planning, and executing Winston-Salem Pride 2011, the first such event in our community in 15 years. All of these events are open to larger community, allowing straight and LGBTQ individuals to interact in a non-threatening environment, allowing them to bond over common interests. Feelings of goodwill and solidarity with the straight community that are generated from these events will help to facilitate further understanding and cooperation between these two groups. Dirk was nominated for the ECHO Award by Rivkah Meder. 


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