Press Release: $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries

For Immediate Release- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries
On June 5, 2019 at the Weston Award Banquet, Samaritan Ministries was honored for their leadership and excellence in non profit management and awarded $50,000.
The Joel and Claudette Weston Award has honored and recognized leadership and excellence in nonprofit management at local organizations for more than 30 years.  Joel A. Weston, Jr. was a senior executive at the Hanes Companies and an active member of the Winston-Salem community.  He served as president of the United Way of Forsyth County Board from 1980-1982. Joel believed strongly that nonprofit organizations should be well run and efficient and he introduced many innovative programs designed to strengthen charitable organizations and the community.   He passed away unexpectedly in 1984.
The Weston Award Endowment was founded in 1985 at The Winston-Salem Foundation by family and friends of Joel A. Weston as a way to honor his vision and dedication to the community.   In 1985 the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence was established to recognize local human service agencies that are performing at peak efficiency.  Today, Joel’s widow, Claudette Weston, continues the family tradition of community involvement and philanthropy through her efforts on numerous boards and organizations and as a member of the Weston Award Committee.
All applications are reviewed by a 16 member Weston Award committee.  In addition, the committee hears an oral presentation by representatives of each applicant agency.  Site visits are included in the review process if necessary.   The winner is presented with the prestigious and much coveted bi-annual award, and beginning in 2019, a grant award to the organization of $50,000. 

The Weston Award recognizes, affirms, encourages and financially supports the best- run charitable organization in Forsyth County as selected every other year by the Weston Award Committee.  The Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management. The award promotes efficiency, competence, fiscal integrity, innovation and program effectiveness.  Nonprofit management excellence in turn equates to a community that can better help its most vulnerable citizens, maximize philanthropy and enhance quality of life for all.

“Joel and I always believed in giving back to the community. The spirit of this award is to honor non-profits or social services organizations that enhance lives, but do so with the most efficiency,” said Claudette Weston. 

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer, notes, ” We were very fortunate to have Joel serve as our Board Chair and we are honored to be a part of the Weston Award as it supports his and Claudette’s vision and drive for excellence. “

 “The Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management had a tremendous impact on me as a leader and on the agency that I represented.  I can’t say enough about the good that it has accomplished.” Richard Gottlieb, President emeritus, Senior Services

For more information on the Weston Award: Claudette Weston, cweston@westoninc.com

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

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Press Release: 2019 Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Award Recipients Named

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The 2019 Annual Forsyth Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards Breakfast was held April 17, 2019 where local volunteers were recognized for their commitment and service to the Winston Salem – Forsyth County community.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards recognizes and honors volunteers who have made significant contributions to Forsyth County through volunteer service.  Created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 as a way to honor the true spirit of volunteerism, the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are held annually in each of the State’s 100 counties.   Any person, group, or business from the public, non-profit or private sector serving Forsyth County may be nominated for the award.

This year’s recipients and their categories are:

Elite Canine’s Comfort Dogs- Animals

HanesBrands, Inc.- Corporate Business

Deanna Perez- Cultural

Robin Pardella- Director of Volunteers

Maya Agger- Disaster

Liz Price- Environment

Darlene Talbot- Faith-Based

The Shepherd’s Center Singers- Group/Team

Charles Poteat- Health and Human Services

Myrtie Davis- Lifetime Achievement

Moriah Gendy- National Service

The Legendary Labelers- Perseverance in Volunteerism

Joseph Turner- Senior

Dr. Richard Gray- Serving Youth

Camilla Washington- Veterans/Military Families

 

The People’s Choice Award, which is voted upon by members of the public through the Winston Salem Journal website, was awarded to Myrtie Davis.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored locally by HandsOn NWNC, United Way of Forsyth County, Salem College, and the Winston-Salem Journal on behalf of the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Office of Governor.

 

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Happy National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, which is a good time to dispel some common misconceptions about volunteering. Here are a few:

It is tough to find time to volunteer. If you have a lunch hour, you have time to volunteer. Head to a nearby school to read with children, or tutor a struggling student in math. If that’s too time-consuming, just walk down the hall at work. Your local United Way can organize on-site volunteering to build kits – such as school supply backpacks, and hygiene or literacy kits – to distribute to elementary schools, shelters and families who may not have many books at home.

Volunteering will add stress to my life. Actually, working with or for others, staying active and expanding your worldview adds up to a healthier lifestyle. There is a significant correlation between volunteering and good health.

Volunteering is dirty work that no one else will do. Sure, sometimes people paint school walls and plant gardens, but they also help make critical decisions as board members or grant reviewers. Professionals, like engineers and scientists, can put their skills to use through programs like STEM in the Schoolyard, a fun and rewarding way to help close the STEM gap for students.

You have to be present to make a difference. Virtual volunteering – like online tutoring programs – connects people to organizations and their beneficiaries. Using our own online platform, United Way Worldwide has helped companies give their employees the ability to write a note of encouragement to students, veterans or other groups who need support.

Volunteering takes time away from family. When you bring the kids along to volunteer, you strengthen family bonds, instill empathy and create wonderful memories. This past fall at United Way of Buffalo & Erie County families came together to pack 40,000 nonperishable meals for people in need.

Problems are so big; I can’t make much of a difference. This week, United Way of Miami-Dade is offering a range of activities in which volunteers will see the differences they’ve made. Volunteers will create a lending library at an early childhood development center, engage adults with dementia in socialization and music activities, and build a sensory garden for people with disabilities.

Volunteering is thankless work. National Volunteer Week is our time to thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, brains and brawn to causes they care about in their community and around the world. THANK YOU for stepping up – in person, online, with coworkers and your family. Thank you for showing what it means to LIVE UNITED.

The Key to Making Any Volunteer Experience Worthwhile- Aaron Gibson

Equity is the lens through which we get the clearest picture of how to combat injustice. This requires empathizing with those experiencing an injustice, setting aside our own thoughts on the matter and living with their perspective. My volunteer experience with A Wider Circle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018 was a great reminder of this process.

I was assigned to measure and sort business suits that had been donated to the Bethesda-based charity’s workforce development program. To my surprise, two hours into my group’s four-hour shift, we hadn’t done a single thing. As it turns out, this was intentional.

Instead of getting right to work, a volunteer coordinator spent the first half of our shift getting to know my group and teaching us about the organization. A Wider Circle uses a holistic approach to ending poverty. Its CEO, Mark Bergel, sleeps on the floor or a couch every night to try to understand one of the greatest needs of his clients: a lack of mattresses. We toured the donation processing facility, where only high-quality furniture is accepted. At A Wider Circle, if they wouldn’t gift a donation to a family member, they won’t give it to their clients. We also learned that each person looking for a job gets five business suits free of charge because no one should have to wear the same work clothes twice in one week.

You may think a two-hour orientation was a waste of time. After all, we were there to serve—not be served. However, it created the space for us to try to have a deeper understanding and compassion for the organization’s clients. While sorting and measuring each business suit, I imagined the person receiving it, and whether or not the quality was something I would be proud to wear.

Equity is impossible to accomplish without empathy. In 1994, congress established MLK Day as a national day of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for eradicating racist policies that plagued people of color in the United States. MLK was a champion of equity, and a master at empathizing with others to understand and vocalize their needs.

Try this the next time you volunteer 
There’s a simple exercise in empathy you can do with others or by yourself. Imagine that a volunteer is coming into your home to cook you a meal. What would be going through your head. Would you be nervous? How would you like the volunteer to treat you? How would they know what kind of food you like to eat?

When You Invest in Your Community, You Invest in Yourself

“Givers gain.”

That phrase was racing through my mind as I put on my “Live United” t-shirt, scanned the conference room and listened to the Rappahannock United Way staff explain the logistics of the sort-a-thon. I was surrounded by Fredericksburg, Virginia, residents, all of whom were eager to sort children’s books, divvy up school supplies and create “kits” to help kids prepare for the school year ahead.

Once a month, United Way Worldwide employees can spend a day volunteering. It’s an opportunity for us to extend our support beyond helping the network from afar—to join the “boots on the ground.” I chose to lace my boots and contribute to my local United Way’s school readiness efforts. Rappahannock United Way is doing great work in the education space. When I heard about their sort-a-thon, I decided to contribute. I expected to give my time, and what I got was far more valuable.

The conference room was a bibliophile’s dream. There must have been a hundred books on tabletops, with volunteers organizing each. Nick, a Marine from nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico, drove 30 minutes to participate, and he was enjoying every second of it.

“I heard about the event from a volunteer coordinator on base,” said Nick. “I’m big into reading, and I like to support anything that has to do with youth and literature.”

Once the books were sorted and labeled, they were handed over to a crew of kit creators. Bags were filled with miscellaneous school items—from markers to notebooks—and given one book each before being set aside. It was a well-oiled assembly line of goodwill. I manned the supplies line, doling out cardboard paper for future coloring. To my right, a woman was talking about inspiring her sons to volunteer. Another woman, Geetha, commented on early learning.

“The beginning part of a child’s education is the most important,” said Geetha, a former nutritionist for Head Start. “Each month they don’t get the right education, they’re set back two months.”

All in all, the sort-a-thon was a hit, with dozens of people coming together to create hundreds of kits and set underprivileged children up for success. Personally, I was given a valuable reminder: Anything is possible when you combine your heart with hard work. Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be arduous, and you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to act.

One decision, one hour, one moment—you’ll get back tenfold what you give.

Are volunteers more likely to practice preventive healthcare, go on fewer doctor visits and spend fewer nights in the hospital?

Although numerous studies have shown that volunteering is linked with better mental health, physical health and health behaviors, new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health went one step further and asked: are volunteers more likely to practice preventive healthcare, go on fewer doctor visits and spend fewer nights in the hospital?

The “Volunteering is prospectively associated with health care use among older adults report found that volunteers are more likely to engage in preventive health care than non-volunteers. For example, volunteers were 30% more likely to receive flu shots and 47% more likely to receive cholesterol tests. While volunteering was not associated with frequency of doctor visits, the research did find that volunteers spent 38% fewer nights in the hospital. With a U.S. population that is rapidly aging, these findings may open the door to new ways to advance preventive health care, lower health care costs and improve the health of older adults.

And why might volunteering and the use of preventive health care be linked? The answers are likely a mix of psychological, social, and physiological factors. Eric Kim, who led the study, suggests that volunteering “increases a sense of purpose in life, which has been seen to be a driving factor for a lot of positive health outcomes. Volunteering also increases social connections, which have been linked to better health for a wide range of reasons. For example, people can share and receive information about things like where to buy healthy foods at the best prices or remind one another of which health screenings to get. People can also provide and receive instrumental support, such as sharing resources like rides to medical appointments. Social networks also provide emotional and psychological support, and that leads to better health.”

The bottom line? Volunteering may be an ideal low-cost strategy to help improve health among older adults. Learn more about volunteering and health through these links:

 

Aligning Corporate Volunteer Efforts to Achieve the Global Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to do no less than to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and address climate change throughout the world. These “Global Goals” tackle such big issues; even the most socially-conscious of us might wonder, “Are my efforts making a difference on a global scale? How do we get there from here?” Read more here .

 

 

Connecting Employees to Community Service Opportunities is a Win All Around

BRIAN GALLAGHER,  

Did you know that millennials will be 50 percent of the workforce by 2020?  Or that 88 percent of millennials feel their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social or environmental issues?

These facts helped set the scene during United Way’s recent annual forum with corporate and foundation leaders to discuss how together we can support employees who want to feel ‘engaged’ at work and in the community.

And it’s not just millennials who want to give back.  A 2016 survey by Cone Communications found that 74 percent of employees find their work fulfilling when provided with opportunities to help their communities.  What’s more, 55 percent would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary is less!  For millennials, that figure is even higher.

These employees want to see purpose in what they do, and as part of their engagement they might volunteer their time, donate money, or advocate on issues important to them.

Businesses benefit, too.  In an increasingly competitive labor market, companies are pursuing effective employee engagement strategies to improve worker recruitment and retention, increase productivity and further engage targeted communities or demographics.

At this year’s forum, company representatives made it clear that the war for talent is driving the need for engagement options among all employees, but particularly millennials.  Younger workers want to contribute, and do so with their friends in an easy, digitally-connected, and impactful way.

United Way and ExxonMobil made a joint presentation showing how we worked together to increase millennial engagement in Houston.  ExxonMobil, a 65-year partner with United Way, had been experiencing low participation from its early career professionals.

To change that, the company used improved marketing and mentoring to reach out to their young professionals, but they also teamed up with United Way’s LINC initiative.  LINC (Lead, Impact, Network, Change) specifically works to engage millennials and turn them into lifelong contributors and young leaders.

The result for ExxonMobil was an increase in campaign participation, gifts and volunteer hours.

Another take away is that employees are increasingly inspired by issues rather than institutions.  This is an important insight for United Way.  Fortunately, while our work in education, income and health isn’t changing, by focusing on VeteransJobsRefugees, and Human Trafficking, our role and influence in society remains as timely and relevant as ever.

We are also heavily involved with Salesforce to create a digital employee engagement platform that will allow workers to create online profiles and find issues that motivate them.  The goal is to empower employees and make it easy for them to connect with each other – and friends – and make a difference.

Moving forward, we invite companies and organizations of all sizes to partner with us so we can learn from one another.  We may not have all of the answers right away, but the networking and sharing of promising practices could lead to valuable partnerships down the road.

Treehouse Foundation

18 years ago I became a foster parent after reading a heartbreaking newspaper article about a 5-month-old baby who was kidnapped from his crib in foster care. The article was a catalyst for my family to step up to the plate and support our foster care system. My husband and I enrolled in foster parent training classes and were delighted when two beautiful little sisters were placed in our home.

I knew very little about our foster care system. I had one foot in the “Land of Opportunity” where my children by birth grew up, and where they received all of the resources they needed to live healthy, connected and fulfilling lives. My other foot was planted firmly in the “Land of Child Welfare” where resources are scarce, and every year nearly 25,000 young people “age out” of foster care and are at risk for homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, teen parenting and lives of poverty.

As a former teacher, I believe in the promise we make to children when we remove them from their homes: to provide them with safety, and to find them a permanent loving connection if they cannot be returned to their first family. Additionally, I realized they needed passionate advocates to fight on their behalf and ensure they have everything they need to live productive and fulfilling lives.

In 2002, I established a vibrant nonprofit organization called the Treehouse Foundation. My goal: To move children out of foster care into permanent, loving families and communities that invest in their hopes, dreams, lives and futures.

The Treehouse community is a 60-home village located in Easthampton, MA, in the heart of the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. Our intergenerational approach supports families adopting children from foster care and their neighbors, older Americans (55+), who act as “honorary grandparents.”

Treehouse is a special place where all generations thrive. In our first decade, we have accomplished many milestones. Families are strong. Kids are growing up surrounded by people who love them. They are graduating from high schools, colleges and vocational programs to pursue their dreams. Elders are imparting their knowledge to the next generation and actively investing in foster care innovation.

This year, as we celebrate our 11th anniversary, the Treehouse team is preparing to share our model with states all over the U.S. Plans are in place to build two more Treehouse communities in California and Massachusetts that will benefit upwards of 250 people.

I’m thrilled that America will soon meet the wonderful children and youth, families and elders living at Treehouse when our community is featured on “The Hero Effect,” a docu-series presented by United Way that airs on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. I encourage you to tune in on May 13 at 10:00 am EDT to learn how you can get involved in the Treehouse Foundation or support youth in foster care in your community.