Since first taking office in 2011, I have made it a priority to find ways to involve a wide variety of Gwinnett residents in county government. It started out with a program called Volunteer Gwinnett that had a goal of engaging residents in meaningful way to help Gwinnett County provide essential services. Now we have a robust and growing community outreach program.
In my State of the County speech earlier this year, I proposed a new tagline, “Many Voices, One Gwinnett” and encouraged folks to use it as a hashtag. It symbolizes our deepening commitment to inclusivity.
On Saturday, April 29, the 4th Annual Multicultural Festival hosted by police crime prevention officers will be held in the Gwinnett Place Mall parking lot from 10:00am until 2:00pm. The festival is expanding this year to include displays by county government departments and will offer the opportunity for residents to get to know county staff and ask questions about programs and services.
Of course, the traditional cultural performances, food trucks, kids’ activities, and community services booths that have become so popular will still be part of the event. The festival is a great way to celebrate diversity and learn about County programs and services.
Our signature outreach initiative is the Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy, a 12-week course in local government operations offered twice a year. It aims to impart knowledge of county operations and services, get more people involved with local governments, and engage participants in the future of Gwinnett County. Launched in 2015, it has graduated 115 residents to date. A program geared toward young people will be up and running this summer.
We have other outreach programs, too, such as Dinner & Dialogue small group discussions between commissioners and residents, Building Bridges open houses for constituent groups to interact with county departments, and heritage programming and cultural events that showcase our community’s diversity. You can learn more at www.gwinnettoutreach.com.
You can still find volunteer opportunities to help out with County projects and activities at www.volunteergwinnett.net. Last year, volunteers donated just over 900,000 hours at one-time events or on a long-term basis. It’s a great way to see County operations up-close, get to know others, and help build community spirit.
I hope you will consider getting involved with your county government in some way. Why not start by attending the multicultural festival at the end of the month? It’s a wonderful chance to meet your neighbors and get to know your county government. We’ll be glad to see you there!