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Cheers for the volunteers.

Cheers for the Volunteers

Associations don't just pursue the specialized missions of their members. Many associations and their members also pursue broad-reaching programs that benefit all of American society.

To recognize these organizations for their efforts and to help raise awareness about the many valuable things associations do for society, the ASAE Societal Relations Task Force recently created the "Associations Advance America (AAA) Awards." This year's awards recognize programs that have demonstrated successful results since January 1990, such as: * a product safety standard that was developed to prevent injuries or improve service; * a code of ethics embraced by an association's membership; * a community service project involving the resources and/or volunteer efforts of an association; * international activities that benefit an association, American society, or the global community; * a research project within an industry, profession, or cause with results that benefit society; or * a public information campaign by an association that targets and benefits society.

At press time, Vice President Dan Quayle had been invited to speak at the session in which the top five award-winning organizations will receive the Summit Award--an etched crystal world globe set on an ebony base. The awards will be presented this month during ASAE's 71st Annual Meeting & Exposition in Washington, D.C. In addition, 46 associations will receive a "Certificate of Excellence," and more than 200 associations will be listed on ASAE's Associations Advance America Honor Roll, which recognizes associations for their service contributions.

This year's five Summit Award winners have remarkable and unique programs:

1. Chemical disasters like the gas leak in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that led to thousands of deaths caused Americans to scrutinize and question the integrity of chemical manufacturers and their operations. In response to public concerns, the board at the Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1988 adopted "Responsible Care," a voluntary initiative among CMA members to continuously improve the responsible management of chemicals.

A month later CMA's member companies--189 chemical manufacturers accounting for more than 90 percent of the productive capacity for industrial chemicals in the United States--made participation in the program mandatory. Under the Responsible Care program, CMA members * sign a statement of guiding principles, pledging to operate their organizations according to the requirements of the Responsible Care program; * adhere to six codes of management practices--performance objectives that encourage commitment, innovation, and continual improvement; and * conduct self-evaluations that measure a company's improved use of the management practices that each code defines, and in turn, submit the evaluations to CMA for approval.

Through the Responsible Care program, CMA members have made significant progress in fulfilling their collective and individual commitment to lowering emissions, reducing transportation accidents, and improving emergency response. 2. With the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973--aimed at developing fair competition to meet the needs of people with disabilities--the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the Office of Human Development of the Department of Education began administering "Project With Industry." The primary objective of this national program is to place qualified people with disabilities in competitive employment.

The Electronic Industries Foundation, Washington, D.C., established its own PWI program in 1977. The foundation's PWI program facilitates the competitive employment of people with disabilities by forming partnerships between the public and EIF members--primarily electronic makers--and vocational rehabilitation agencies.

Companies submit job orders to EIF regularly through an employment specialist. Pertinent information on available jobs and job market data are then made available to participating rehabilitation agencies, including colleges and universities. These organizations use the information to select candidates who are disabled.

EIF acts as an interface between industry and rehabilitation by placing people with disabilities in positions that match their abilities and interests. PWI services include awareness training, screened applicant referral, job-seeking skills development, job skills training, job placement, and job follow-up.

The program operates through a national headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and 11 affiliated area offices throughout the country. Since EIF established the program 14 years ago, more than 10,600 skilled people with disabilities have been placed in the work force. Positions filled have ranged from electronic assemblers to senior engineering managers with starting salaries from $7,000 to $62,400, respectively. 3. In direct response to President Bush's message at ASAE's 1990 Spring Convention & Exposition to rekindle the volunteer spirit in America, the National Association of Life Underwriters, Washington, D.C., launched the "Million Hour Pledge of Public Service" at its centennial convention in September 1989. The challenge: For NALU members to use private initiative to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate in their communities and nationwide. More specifically, NALU asked each of its 140,000 members--sales professionals in life and health insurance and other related financial services--to pledge at least eight hours of community service during the year.

NALU and the leaders of its local and state associations encouraged participation and monitored the progress of the underwriters who took part in the Million Hour Pledge of Public Service. In turn, they submitted log sheets to NALU that identified the number of hours their members contributed to community service.

A year later, 140,000 NALU members had pledged 1.6 million hours of public service. The public service programs in which NALU members participated were as varied as the needs in their communities. In Kentucky, underwriters raised $100,000 for the Leukemia Society. In Florida, underwriters helped train seeing-eye dogs for the blind. In New York, underwriters warned teens about the dangers of drugs through comic books. 4. Within 48 hours of the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, the 510 affiliates of the National Mental Health Association, Alexandria, Virginia, began calling their national organization to determine whether NMHA had produced any materials on how to cope with the war. Affiliates were receiving a rush of requests for such information from individuals in their own communities.

Although NMHA didn't have anything in print at the time, it didn't waste any time in responding to the overwhelming requests. To better equip community organizations with current and accurate information on coping with the war, NMHA--along with the expertise, leadership, and generosity of several organizations--developed and distributed 5,000 free "Coping With War" resource kits, which consisted of 14 different camera-ready fact sheets on topics such as coping with war-related stress, helping children handle grief, and understanding military resources for families in crisis. According to NMHA Deputy Executive Director John Smith, the kits were designed to be easily and inexpensively reproduced and "personalized" with information relevant to the distributing organization's resources and community. In turn, these organizations used the materials to respond to public inquiries--as hand-outs for support groups, as media outreach tools, and as general information resources for libraries, schools, employee assistance programs, and so forth.

NMHA's affiliates as well as other community agencies, service organizations, and military installations--appropriately named "Distribution Partners"--received bulk copies of the kit and then distributed them to their own local and regional affiliates. More recently, the association has produced another war-related kit, "When the Yellow Ribbon Comes Down." 5. Do you recall the popular 10-second commercial in which a man drops some eggs into a frying pan, then tells viewers, "This is your brain on drugs"? This commercial is 1 of nearly 300 ads produced by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a New York City-based nonprofit coalition of volunteers from the advertising, public relations, production, research, and media industries.

The mission of the partnership is to reduce demand for illegal drugs by using media communication to help bring about public intolerance of illegal drugs, their use, and users. The partnership creates, produces, and places anti-drug messages directed to potential users, casual users, or those who can persuade others to remain drug free. These messages are found in newspapers and magazines, telephone directories, in theaters, in subways and buses, on billboards, on national and local radio and television, and on rented videos and toys. Since the partnership's inception in 1986, the media has contributed approximately $567 million in time and advertising space.

The coalition also * has become a resource for producers and scriptwriters in Hollywood, California, to deglamorize drugs on television and in the movies; * convened prominent physicians and health care professionals at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, last fall to explore how they can become more involved in fighting drugs; and * supports state-wide partnership coalitions to tap the grass-roots movement against drugs.

"These programs provide excellent examples of the many things associations are doing to advance America," says ASAE President R. William Taylor, CAE. "Individually, each is impressive for its focus and impact. Collectively, they represent the impressive initiative of associations to make this country a better place in which to live."

The deadline for the 1992 Associations Advance America Awards is Nov. 30, 1991. Programs from June 1990 to December 1991 are eligible. Next year, AAA winners will receive their awards at ASAE's Spring Convention & Exposition March 7-11 in Washington, D.C. For information about the awards program, call the ASAE Public Relations Division at (202) 626-2733.

PHOTO : Clockwise from top left: The Electronics Industries Foundation helps place people with disabilities in positions matched to their qualifications. From the Partnership for a Drug-Free America: An advertisement to make parents aware of potential drug use among young children. Hundreds of NALU members participated in a 10k run to raise money for those less fortunate in their community.

Patricia A. Mascari is senior editor of Association Management.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:winners of the top "Associations Advance America" awards for member-driven programs with broad-reaching effect on American society
Author:Mascari, Patricia A.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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