Community Engagement Makes Lives Better
Community is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. But I think it goes beyond that. Whether denoting a physical or religious connection or a bond through common interests, community engagement makes our lives better.
Three years ago, in the blog “Atlanta’s Edge Cities Develop New City Centers,” I focused on the development of City Centers and their impacts. In subsequent blogs, I consider how these initiatives impact communities beyond just their physical existence.
When you engage in actions or organizations that support the community in which you live, you improve the quality of life in that community. When you connect with people face-to-face in real time, you grow the fabric of your community.
Community Engagement = Stronger Community
Community Assistance Center
As a Sandy Springs resident, I offer the Community Assistance Center (CAC) as an example of the importance of community engagement. The “cornerstone of the human services network in the northern Perimeter area,” the CAC prevents hunger and homelessness in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody by averting eviction and providing food, with the goal of moving clients toward self-sufficiency.
The CAC serves 5,600 people annually, with 42 percent being children, providing emergency funds for “about 570 households a year to avoid eviction” and food for “500 households a month.” Other CAC Services include Clothing, Adult Education, Youth Programs, Holiday Assistance, Tax Return Filing and a Teacher’s Closet of free supplies.
Since 1987, the CAC plus ongoing community support has helped “more than 20,000 households cope with financial hardship.” My wife and I have served this organization for years and realize how this community engagement improves the overall quality of life in Sandy Springs.
City Springs Builds Community
A related community activity that brings people together and supports the CAC is Food That Rocks: A Celebration of Sandy Springs. In its fourth year, this summer event featured tastings from 20 local restaurants on the green of City Springs, the new municipal + performing arts center, in downtown Sandy Springs. This event benefits the mission of the CAC and also supports Ian’s Friends Foundation and Second Helpings Atlanta.
Food That Rocks not only benefits community-minded non-profits, but also gathers people, connecting citizens with community leaders, like Mayor Rusty Paul and his wife Jan Paul, Executive Director of Leadership Sandy Springs, who were in attendance. In today’s society, it is more important than ever to connect face-to-face versus just electronically.
City Springs has elevated the community by providing many similar events where people of the community can interact and connect, strengthening the community’s fibers and proving you do not need a fiber network to connect with fellow community members. You just need good ole’ face-to-face fellowship.
Call me old-fashioned, but my advice is to physically get out into your community and interact with neighbors. Get involved with community-based nonprofits and attend community events. The result will amaze you.