Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia, Inc. runs nine children’s care centers across the region that serve infants and children with disabilities. The care centers offer special services including speech, occupational, and physical therapy to those with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome, in addition to classes for children with and without disabilities. Its curriculum is designed to appeal to each age group, with developmental programming for toddlers and exploratory play with toys for children up to age 8. Because the classes are inclusive, differently abled children learn together in groups, breaking down social barriers and encouraging them to help each other learn.
Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.
Founded in 1913 by a team of 15 prominent physicians and business leaders in New York, the American Cancer Society (ACS) aimed to raise awareness about cancer and find ways to treat it. During that time the society created the iconic Sword of Hope—a caduceus entwined with serpents—and started a movement that would transform cancer from a death sentence into a survivable disease.
Today, the American Cancer Society funds research, raises awareness, and sponsors support programs through 12 chartered divisions and more than 900 local offices across the country. In the past several decades, ACS has funded significant research leading to a cure for cancer, and supported more than 46 researchers who have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. ACS’s programs include the Reach to Recover program, which matches survivors with someone suffering from cancer to help share experience and create hope, and the Road to Recovery program, which provides free rides to and from treatments.
Care Ring was originally founded in 1955 to help prevent heart disease and manage work-site wellness. Over time, it adapted to serve the holistic needs of the community by providing preventative health services to local families. Today, the low-cost clinic treats more than 7,000 uninsured and under-insured Mecklenburg County residents, with care including regular physicals, chronic-disease management, lab work, and sick visits. Partnering with the Mecklenburg County Medical Society and Charlotte Dental Society, 1,500 volunteer dentists and physicians provide these free and low-cost services for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid. The organization also conducts a nurse home-visiting program that assists first-time mothers and their children. Care Ring’s programs help reduce the number of costly, unnecessary emergency-room visits, and aims to prevent patients’ health conditions from worsening when they cannot afford to seek medical care.
In August 2006, a small group met at a coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, to discuss a goal: to pass anti-tethering legislation in North Carolina's Triangle area. To help the legislation pass, as well as aid community members in adjusting more easily to not chaining their dogs, the Coalition to Unchain Dogs—led by Amanda Arrington, now the executive director—organized volunteers to regularly build fences at no cost to the dog owners.
Today that small group has grown to more than 100 volunteers, with four chapters in North Carolina and one in Atlanta, Georgia. The coalition couples its fence-building services with vaccinations and spaying or neutering services for each local dog. In the past five years, Unchain Dogs has spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and built fences for more than 1,200 area dogs.
Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love rescues great danes and other mixed-breed dogs, especially those with specials needs or health problems. Volunteers pick up the dogs from local shelters and evaluate them for temperament and health. After caring for any treatable conditions, such as heartworms or injuries that require surgery, the volunteers place the dogs in compatible foster homes. The foster families supply the dogs with food and toys, transport them to and from the vet, and bring them to events to meet potential adopters.