Community Shares Spotlights the Good Taking Place in Our Community
I was at Union South Thursday night to witness another inspiring Community Change Maker Awards event.
You can’t attend one of these without being blown away by the incredible amount of work so many in our community give to help others throughout every year. Just as you’re ready to throw up your hands in despair, you discover that there’s also so much good being done around us that we, unfortunately, seldom hear about.
Three Madison women received the three top awards at the event, which is put together by Community Shares of Wisconsin, the umbrella fundraiser for some 60 local nonprofits, most of which concentrate on achieving social change in the community. You will recognize most of them, ranging from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, from Friends of Wisconsin State Parks to the Rape Crisis Center, from the Sierra Club to the League of Women Voters.
Cora White, director of the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center (operated by Center for Resilient Cities), received the Sally Sunde Family Advocate Award, honoring her for her tireless foster parenting through the years. She was the first woman and first African-American president of the National Foster Parent Association and has spread the message of how important foster care can be for parentless children throughout the world.
I particularly liked her comment, “When parents thank me for helping their kids I say, ‘Well, of course. They’re my kids, too.’ ”
The annual Liesl Blockstein Community Leadership Award was presented to M Adams, co-director of Freedom Inc. and co-founder of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition in Madison. It was pointed out that while Adams has worked for racial equality in Madison, she also has been a delegate to the United Nations’ Committe on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and is currently involved in nationwide strategy sessions on how community leaders should respond to racial injustice.
And Melanie Ramey, who many remember as the director of the Madison YWCA and from countless civic endeavors over the years, received the Linda Sundberg Civil Rights Defender Award for her work with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Ramey’s involvement in civil rights goes all the way back to the famed Freedom Rides of the 1960s, when she twice ending up in jail for demonstrating against poll taxes and intimidation of African-American voters. She’s carried on her crusades for civil rights and most recently was involved in battling voter ID requirements in Wisconsin, alarmed that new voting requirements mirror what she fought in the South in the ’60s.
Community Shares also paid tribute to 24 volunteers who were named Backyard Heroes this past year for contributing countless hours at nonprofits that work with children, the environment and everything in between. The weekly paper Isthmus, radio station 105.5 and Badger Signs and Specialties co-sponsor these monthly awards.
They all deserve our thanks.