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Changing the world, one program at a time: eight Summit Award winners illuminate the tremendous positive impact associations make on our world.


Unfortunately, that may make it easier for us to overlook the positive forces emerging around us. Perhaps, then, the 2001 incarnation of ASAE's prestigious Summit Award serves to remind us of some of those positive forces--and the tremendous impact that association-led programs are having on our world.

"It's really the members that make the Clearinghouse work."

"Our members certainly have supported it."

"We consider the humanitarian effort of the organization, where doctors and laboratory technicians can give back to their local communities...."

Much of what you hear when speaking to recipients of the 2001 Summit Award is how their programs are succeeding simply because of the commitment of members. And because of those members' efforts, kindergarteners are getting cutting-edge instruction in their first steps toward literacy, survivors of domestic abuse are "getting back their smile" by receiving free cosmetic dental care, and the uninsured in one North Carolina county are getting access to comprehensive health care. In fact, it hasn't been highly publicized, but one Summit Award winner had an immeasurable impact in our post-September 11 world: In a scenario that most would call a miracle, a newly formed association program played a crucial role in identifying the first anthrax case last fall.

The Summit Award is the highest honor ASAE bestows upon associations that implement new and innovative programs to assist their communities. Part of the Associations Advance America Awards Program, the Summit Award illuminates some of the very best efforts engineered by associations across the country in areas like education, training, standard-setting, citizenship, and community service. The eight Summit Award winners were selected from more than 360 entries.

"Associations have always performed critical services in America's neighborhoods and communities," says ASAE President and Chief Executive Officer Michael S. Olson, CAE. "The programs honored by our AAA Awards program exemplify the broad mission of all associations to unite behind our society's common goals and values."

So if you want to feel a little better about our "changed world," just read on about the 2001 Summit Award winners.

A network response to bioterrorism: Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), Washington, D.C. Every once in awhile, life seems eerily predestined in our favor, and this truly is such a tale. At the time that ASAE chose APHL's newly created Laboratory Response Network for Bioterrorism (LRN) as a Summit Award winner, the world had no idea that an anthrax scare was only months away. Likewise, APHL, while understanding the potential threat of bioterrorism and the need to create an action plan, couldn't have had a clue what was soon to come when it created LRN. As it would turn out, LRN--by choice and by preparedness--found itself at the epicenter of the anthrax crisis.

Established in September 1999, the program's goals are to quickly and safely identify bioterrorist agents and coordinate interorganizational activities. The network combines the expertise and technology of APHL and public health and law enforcement communities with state laboratories. Clearly no one expected the program to be tested so early on, but when the anthrax crisis broke last fall beginning with a case in Florida, LRN came through with flying colors.

"The Laboratory Response Network was the network that detected the case in Florida," explains APHL Executive Director Scott Becker. "It did what it was supposed to do with very little resources." Becker explains that the hospital laboratorian who decided to send a specimen to the state lab because he was suspicious that it could be anthrax had attended an educational program on the subject sponsored by an LRN member lab just two weeks "So they knew who to call, and the system worked as it should," says Becker. When other suspected anthrax cases started appearing in the following days and weeks, state labs, which are the core of LRN, stepped to the forefront for testing not only clinical samples but everything ranging from the mysterious white powders that have been heavily reported in the media to automobile transmissions.

Giving back smiles to victims of domestic violence: American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) Charitable Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin. Pounded in 1999 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in cooperation with AACD, the "Give Back a Smile" program provides free cosmetic dental care to domestic violence survivors who have received traumatic dental injury as a result of abuse. Through the program, participating dentists cosmetically restore or replace damaged anterior teeth, which may cause a victim to become extremely self-conscious and prevent them from seeking employment, or in fact, reentering society.

AACD President Arthur Chal says that the program, under which AACD members donate their time and expertise to restore survivors' smiles, allows doctors and technicians "to give back to their local communities. Often being able to restore a traumatically damaged smile is a huge psychological benefit to the patient, and is satisfying and fulfilling to the dentists and technicians who give to that charity directly with their skills."

Boat safety, the convenient and cost-free way: BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, Alexandria, Virginia. After disturbing statistics revealed that errors by boat operators, and not malfunctioning equipment, cause most boating accidents in the United States, the BoatU.S. Foundation partnered in 1998 with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the National Safe Boating Council to develop a comprehensive online boating safety course, offered free at More than half of the 38 states with boating safety education requirements now accept the BoatU.S. Foundation online safety course. In 1999 and 2000, the online course was mentioned in 331 articles reaching 13,892,784 people. Meanwhile, 1999 saw an 11 percent drop in boating deaths from the previous year.

The high level of publicity for the course seems to be reaching boaters around the country. "We've had close to 300,000 people take it since 1997," says Chris Edmonston, program administrator for the online safety course. "Right now we're averaging 60,000-70,000 people a year taking it." Edmonston says that one nice thing about the course is that you can take it as many times as you wish. As a result, it has been taken more than half a million times. "It has surpassed our hopes," Edmonston says.

Countywide health care access: Buncombe County Medical Society (BCMS), Asheville, North Carolina. Thanks to BCMS Project Access, 100 percent of Buncombe County, North Carolina, residents have access to a full continuum of health care. Established in 1996, Project Access is an integrated system providing universal, on demand access to health care for low-income, uninsured citizens. The society has connected existing public and philanthropic primary care centers, private primary and specialty physician volunteers, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health and human services organizations to create a comprehensive and sustainable health care delivery system for patients in need. Project Access evolved from physicians' frustrations with the "band-aid" approach to providing health care to the county's estimated 15,000 uninsured, low-income residents.

"Where specialty care is needed, our network of volunteer specialists provides it compassionately," says Alan McKenzie, chief executive officer of BCMS. "Where medicines are needed, our county government and area pharmacies provide it effectively. Where lab work or hospital services are needed, they are provided efficiently." McKenzie notes that BCMS Project Access "has served as a national model for dozens of communities across the nation" that have created similar programs.

Successes in early literacy: California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC), Sacramento. Early Steps to Reading Success is a statewide early literacy project initiated in 2000 to improve teacher training in early literacy. CAEYC, a collaborative partner in the project, has set up 192 satellite sites and trained 4,000 educators. The course teaches how to prepare young children for success in reading, with the goal of transforming practice in the classroom to reflect the most current knowledge about how young children learn to read and write. The program already has reached between 40,000 and 50,000 children and more than 15,000 families.

"As an organization devoted to promoting excellence in early childhood education for children from birth to eight years, being able to offer the Early Steps to Reading Success program has been transformational for not only CAEYC, but also for the 4,000 participants who engaged in the course this past year," says CAEYC Executive Director Pat Phipps. "To be able to provide early childhood educators with training from the top experts in our field and have them make immediate changes to their practice with young children is amazing. We all know how important a solid foundation for developing early literacy skills is to children's later success in school and inevitably, life."

Tuning in to our children: Country Music Association (CMA), Nashville. CMA partnered with the Ad Council to promote the "Tune-In To Your Kids" radio and television campaign, which is directed to parents in an effort to improve communication between parents and their children by reinforcing better listening skills. The campaign's TV spot features country artist Martina McBride intently listening to her daughter tell a story about what happened one day and then closes with the tagline, "What's on Your Child's Mind? Tune In To Your Kids."

The radio spots feature McBride, Tim McGraw, and Wynonna Judd, with music written by award-winning songwriters Bob DiPiero and Stephony Smith. The spots highlight various children telling stories to their distracted parents. The stories are then embedded into a musical melody followed by the tagline, "If our kids' words were set to music maybe we'd all be better listeners."

The campaign was released to the media in December and garnered $5.6 million in overall donated media in the first quarter of 2000. The campaign ranked number one in radio support out of all Ad Council campaigns during that quarter in both number of placements and donated media value. "We think music is a great way to bring families together, to get them talking to one another," said CMA Executive Director Ed Benson when the campaign got underway. "We're pleased to be able to join in this significant effort to bring parents and kids closer together."

Showing the faces of missing children: Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA), both of Rockville, Maryland. In partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and one of its manufacturer members, MSCA prints and distributes magnetized missing children posters that members place on their service vehicles, which travel extensively throughout their communities. In 2000, 892 posters were distributed to members in 21 states. The posters featured 31 missing children, II of which have been found.

MSCA Executive Director Barbara Dolim calls the program a natural match for the association's members. "The service vehicle is really the perfect tool to display these posters because they travel around a broad area and get wide exposure, and people are likely to see them," she says. "So we think it works really well." Needless to say, the initiative would go nowhere without members embracing it, and embrace it they have. "Our members certainly have supported it," says Dolim. "They're very interested in displaying the posters and working with us."

Protecting kids from unfit teachers: National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), Mashpee, Massachusetts. The NASDTEC Clearinghouse database protects school-aged children by tracking and providing the names and other identifying data of professionally certified and licensed educators found unfit to practice, such as those who have abused or molested students. Serving as an international collecting point for professional discipline data, the Clearinghouse compiles this information and disseminates it to its members so that those teachers denied licensure vented from seeking employment in education elsewhere. The database's importance cannot be underestimated, as it is the only service of its kind available to educator certifying and licensing agencies.

Like many of the other Summit Award winners, the Clearinghouse could not work without association members embracing the initiative. "It's really the membership that makes the Clearinghouse work," says NASDTEC Executive Director Roy Einreinhofer. "It's something that the membership is really excited about."

Membership participation is crucial to the program's success because it is the members who provide the information that makes up the database; without their participation, there would be no data to share.

When it comes to child abuse, Einreinhofer is all too aware of one stark reality: If a teacher has molested one student, chances are he has molested others, or will do so in the future. "If we can get one teacher out of there, we have saved [potentially] hundreds of kids from that kind of scar on their sensitivities, or their ego," he says.

Carl J. Levesque is senior editor of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.
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Author:Levesque, Carl J.
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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