Gwinnett Outreach: building community
By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
We’ve come a long way since Maj. Gen. Allen Daniel, of the Georgia Militia’s 4th Division, issued orders for a new and better fort to be built at Hog Mountain in October 1813. Gwinnett County was established five years later in 1818 and our residents have been making things new and better ever since.
In 1820, there were a total of 4,589 residents in Gwinnett. Today, we number close to one million people across 437 square miles.
With such a large population that is also very diverse, we have an extra challenge to find ways to come together as a community, to discover what we have in common, and to learn to appreciate our differences. That’s why there are so many efforts to reach out and encourage people to get involved, especially in local government.
The County launched a series of Building Bridges outreach events earlier this year, which are great examples. At these events, the Gwinnett County Outreach Program invites a specific segment of our community to get acquainted with county government officials at an open house at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. In June, we gathered with members of the media from a wide variety of media outlets to allow them to meet County staff representing most departments. We celebrate with various groups such events as Black History Month in February, Asian-American Heritage Month in May, and Hispanic Heritage Month in September.
Twice a year, we offer the Gwinnett Citizens Academy, known as Gwinnett 101, in a 10-week format designed to acquaint participants with County services and the people who deliver them. Also, I meet for dinner with small groups around the county once a month and call it Dinner & Dialogue. Anyone can sign up for this monthly dinner, but registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nicole Love Hendrickson coordinates our outreach programs. More information can be found at www.gwinnettcommunityoutreach.com.
Our highly successful Volunteer Gwinnett program is now one part of a new Community Services outreach effort that also includes Live Healthy Gwinnett, which encourages us all to take better care of our health. If you are looking to share your talents, visit www.volunteergwinnett.com where you can find one time or ongoing volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups.
Public safety staff members run a variety of outreach efforts, too. There are police and fire academies for residents and Explorer scout programs for teens. And you can bring the family to the annual Public Safety Fall Festival at Coolray Field on October 8 this year. In addition, we have a long history of providing the entire Gwinnett community opportunities to come together to commemorate important holidays and events from the past, such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and 9/11.
There are also a number of excellent leadership development programs sponsored by groups like the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce to help you learn how to make things happen. And numerous nonprofits in Gwinnett let you do a world of good and build community at the same time.
Gwinnett County’s 200th birthday is coming up in two years. It’s almost time to celebrate. One great way to start is to find a way to get involved in your community!