As I review the paper before it is sent to the printer, I notice that we have many organizations, (businesses and civic groups), involved in projects and activities that help the greater good of the community. As Supervisor Ray Carroll points out in his column, “The Vail area is a thriving community and home to a nationally recognized school district.” What makes for a thriving community? How does a school become nationally recognized, despite funding problems? The answer is social capital. More specifically, you can think of social capital as the benefits that accrue to the community from the positive actions of many different groups. When groups join together and respond to a social need or organize to support a cause or raise funds for a good cause, the social value that is produced is a form of social capital. One key researcher, Robert Putnam, noted in his studies that social capital produces wealth in communities. This wealth is not just financial wealth, it is also a sort of community wealth that can be measured as “thriving.”

In this issue alone we have excellent examples of communal social capital projects and the forms of thriving that stem from that. We have stories of Walgreens and the “Red Nose Day,” raising funds to support many good causes, (see page 14). Rita Ranch Automotive taking the lead sponsoring a 4th of July celebration, (with other organizations participating as well, see page 32), the Chamber of Commerce (page 26), and Cienega Rotary (page 8) providing scholarships to students.

Sometimes it takes one key person to provide the motivation for a group to take positive action, as Trent Thomas writes about on page 4.  Vail Parent Network member Stacy Winstryg took the lead to raise funds for a track at  Ocotillo Ridge Elementary School. With help from the VPN, a real benefit to the school and community came about. This is social capital at work! Additionally, on page 5, there is a very interesting story and example of how a few motivated and concerned citizens can make a real difference in the community. VPN also took action to participate in government by traveling to Phoenix to communicate to legislators their concerns. As Anne Gibson writes, “Arizona is a better state for it” and so is Vail.

Signficant social capital contributions often comes from the work of individuals. As noted in her bio, (page 26) volunteer writer Anne Gibson is very involved in the community, volunteering with the Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce and as a Vail Pride Day Director. Individuals like Anne Gibson, Stacy Winstryg, and J.J. Lamb, (founding member of the Vail Preservation Society) can make a difference! In this issue, (page 9) we have a remarkable story of how a high school student formed and led an orchestra and how a school school custodian (page 15 15), Carmen Santana, was voted by graduating students as the one person at the school who had the most impact on them.

A thank you to all these organizations whose contributions help Vail thrive:

Target, Wal-Mart, Northwest Medical Center, Allstate, Beach Fleischman & Co, Vail Education Foundation, Vail Parent Network, AllState, Rita Ranch Automotive, Cienega Rotary, The Vail Education Foundation, various PTA’s, Girl Scout Troop 25, Vail Preservation Society, Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce, Christ Lutheran Vail Church, Del Lago Golf Club, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Rincon Valley Fire Department, Impact of Southern Arizona, Harrington Technologies, Del Webb Pickleball Club, and the many anonymous donors. Of course, there are many other organizations and individuals whose volunteerism and fund raising make a big difference in the lives of others as well as helping Vail to thrive – this list only represents those organizations specific to this one issue. Accordingly, a thank you  to all those organizations and individuals not specifically mentioned at this time. Your work, efforts, and actions help Vail to thrive!

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