Foundation highlights community advocates

ECHO Award recipients are shown. Front row, left to right are: Mary Jac Brennan; Donna Zayas of Joy Prom; and Mary Haglund of Mary’s Mavens. Back row, left to right are: Linda Sullivan, Chuck Spong and Al Zayas of Joy Prom; Rebeccah Byer of Mary’s Mavens; Jahmila Best; and Kelly Carpenter.

Foundation highlights community advocates
May 11
04:50 2017

Photo by Tevin Stinson



There were few empty seats inside the newly renovated Benton Convention Center last week as city officials, business professionals, and countless others came together for the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Community Luncheon.

With a sold out crowd of 1,250 people in attendance, the nonprofit organization geared towards making philanthropy and its benefits available to everyone, honored several people in the community that demonstrate the foundations core values of generosity inclusion, integrity, and excellence.

For his leadership of Triad Community Kitchen (TCK), Jeff Bacon took home the 2017 Winston-Salem Foundation Award. TCK is a culinary training program dedicated to empowering people to achieve their goals of employment and self-sufficiency. Unemployed or underemployed candidates are referred by Forsyth Technical Community College, and Goodwill Industries of Northwest N.C. Annually, TCK provides over 300,000 meals for those in need. After accepting his award, Bacon said the encouragement he received from people in the community over the years helped his dream grow into what it is today, and that same encouragement is what he passes on to those who participate in the program.

Bacon said, “I believe there is a piece of God in all of us that gives us encouragement. People that come into TCK often haven’t heard that encouragement in a while. It’s not always easy but it’s almost always right.”

2017 Echo Awards were awarded to three individuals, and two organizations that make the city of Winston-Salem a better place. Award recipients are: Joy Prom, Mary’s Mavens, Jahmila Best, Mary Jac Brennan and Kelly Carpenter.

*Jahmila Best is a junior at Parkland IB Magnet School and a National Honor Society member. She has been a vital volunteer and youth leader for Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods.

* Through her passionate work at Cooperative Extension, Mary Jac Brennan’s relational fingerprints are all over Forsyth County.

*As pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church, Kelly Carpenter leads and inspires a diverse congregation – but his social capital work goes even deeper.

Joy Prom is a ministry of local nonprofit Love Out Loud. 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.

*While the initial goal of Mary’s Mavens was to connect and support female business owners, it has now become a space for every woman with a dream.

Following the award presentation lifelong social justice advocate Howard Ross delivered the keynote address on unconscious bias. Ross is the author of “Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives” and “ReInventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance.” He is also a regular guest on National Public Radio’s “The Kojo Nnamdi Show.” Ross and his firm, Cook Ross Inc., seek to ignite conversations, transform minds, and inspire individuals and teams toward building effective and inclusive organizational communities.

To wrap up the luncheon, foundation President Scott Wierman encouraged those in attendance to continue the conversation.

“Accepting the reality of our unconscious bias is the first step toward addressing them,” he said. “As you can imagine there is a lot more to this than we covered today, so it is important that we continue this conversation amongst ourselves.”

Information from the Winston-Salem Foundation contributed to this report.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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