Join us virtually on Wednesday, April 7, at 8:00 am as we honor exemplary local leaders with two awards: The Sydnor Thomson, Jr. Community Leader Award & The Bridge Builder Award. We’re pleased to announce the honorees for our 2021 Community Leader Awards!
Purchase Tickets Here The Sydnor Thomson, Jr. Community Leader Award
REV. DEBORAH C. WARREN
The Rev. Debbie Warren retired in January after a long career as the President and CEO of RAIN. In the early 1990’s, while working as a hospital chaplain, she began to witness people dying alone with a mysterious illness that became known as AIDS. Moved to respond, she organized a group of committed volunteers to engage the faith community in meeting the challenges of AIDS prevention and loving end of life care. RAIN was founded in 1992, and this early response shaped our community response, replacing judgment with understanding, prejudice with compassion, and ignorance with knowledge. Following the advent of successful antiretroviral therapies, Debbie led RAIN’s transition from providing compassionate end of life care to meeting client needs of health education, access to health care and medication, housing and other issues of health of quality of life. When those therapies became easier to tolerate and more HIV+ people could return to employment, Debbie again managed a successful transition and RAIN became a medical case management organization providing services primarily for those living with HIV who also live in poverty and have limited access to health care and supportive services. Over 29 years, Debbie taught hundreds of volunteers from the faith community to provide services to people living with HIV with integrity and love, often saying that a tenet of every major religion is compassion. She’s also raised up new generations of leadership – over 50% of RAIN’s staff are people living with HIV and 50% are under the age of 35. MeckMIN envisions a community that lives by the highest values and core virtues of its rich faith traditions and respects the dignity of every person – it is our honor to lift up Debbie Warren as a Community Leader who has lived out that vision and taught and inspired countless others to do the same. The Bridge Builder Award
Our community was immeasurably lessened by the unexpected death of Cicely Angela “Angie” Forde in January of this year. Born in Barbados, Angie attained degrees in Mathematics, Business, and Theology before pursuing a successful corporate career. After retirement from the corporate world, Angie pursued her highest calling: advocacy for the poor and the ministry to God in the Episcopal Church - lately at St. Martin’s in Charlotte, where she proudly took the title “trouble maker in chief.” She was a tireless advocate for the homeless in Charlotte, making her a regular speaker at city council meetings and for a myriad of advocacy efforts and groups. Angie’s activities in MeckMIN, One Meck, Roof Above, Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice and many such programs would lead one to easily come to the conclusion that there were many Angies around the city. Many organizations referred to her as one of their most active volunteers -- but there was only one Angie. She gladly became a thorn in the side of any who would stand in the way of justice. Angie loved God dearly and that abiding love was the only thing that allowed her to work so furiously for the dignity of all. One would speak for Angie at their own risk, but we think it safe to say she thought it the duty of all people to care for the least of these, as Jesus described the poor and oppressed. It is in service to others that we meet the very face of God.
TEMAKO “Meko” McCARTHY Meko McCarthy has worked to turn tragedy into healing for herself and others. Following the tragic loss of her son, La-Reko Williams, in 2011, she poured her grief into acting for positive change to build trust and accountability in law enforcement. Seeking a system that is fair and equitable for all, she’s sought greater accountability and policy changes, offered grief support and advocacy for others who’ve lost family members, and served as a bridge between government and the larger community, work that was recognized by her inclusion as an appointed member of Charlotte’s Safe Communities Committee Input Group. Her work has not been singularly focused, however. She’s also volunteered to increase the number of registered and active voters in Mecklenburg County and to increase awareness of domestic violence. She’s been a part of community health fairs, back-to-school giveaways, facilitating roundtable discussions, and creating networks of resource sharing. She’s spent countless hours throughout the pandemic providing moral support and essential resources to people who are unsheltered, regularly delivering food and other essential items. Tina Quizon, who nominated Meko for this award, writes of her: While striving to open the lines of communication for all stakeholders during critical times and crises, and through continued community engagement, she embodies the work of building bridges.