Peachtree Corners – Pat Quigley and Joe Sawyer, both Peachtree Corners residents, met for breakfast one day a couple of years ago to talk about issues in their community and to share prayers for its well-being.
The two men talked about what many community leaders in Gwinnett discuss on a regular basis: diversity. Some see diversity as a problem; others embrace it and see it as an opportunity.
The newest city in Gwinnett County, Peachtree Corners was founded in 2012. It is also the largest city in Gwinnett, with about 40,000 people living there. As is true of any Gwinnett city, the population is surprisingly diverse. The second most affluent city in the county (Berkeley Lake is the first), the median annual household income in Peachtree Corners is more than $94,000. Whites make up 49 percent of the population; African Americans 19 percent; Hispanics 15 percent; and Asians 8 percent. Even in light of the comparatively high median household income, nearly 60 percent of middle school children in Peachtree Corners are on free and reduced lunch programs. Clearly, there is a measure of economic need, even in this city.
Quigley and Sawyer recognized this need. After that first breakfast meeting, they invited a few more men to join them, to pray and exchange ideas, and to think about how to build community across some very definite lines of division. Out of these breakfast meetings, Bridges Peachtree Corners was founded in 2014. Led by a group of Christian men, the organization is already making a difference in the city.
In January, the group hosted a breakfast at Landmark Church, the topic “How to Build Community.” Last fall, United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) granted their annual Star Award to Bridges, recognizing the group for its service to the community. “What excites us about Bridges is that they bring different groups together to have conversations about real issues in our community, and talk about how to address them,” said Scott Hilton, president of UPCCA at the time the award was bestowed.
This past November, Bridges members organized an event honoring veterans, starting with a preschooler sing along and program at Salvation and Deliverance Church, moving on to Perimeter Church for a celebration and reception, and ending with lunch for veterans at Jason’s Deli at The Forum.
From programs like these to job fairs, to interacting with schools and teachers to identify community needs, to an event honoring first responders, the grassroots group meets the community where people live. They host community picnics. They participate in community cleanup days.
Bridges reaches out with respect, reverence and a helping hand to bring citizens together. Members of the group believe that the lines that typically divide – race and economic standing – can be erased in their community. They believe that they can build one another up, instead of divide and tear each other down. And so far, it seems that they are right.
Breakfast forums with community leaders like Rob Woodall and Lynette Howard, job fairs, service projects, prayer gatherings, and partnerships with churches, schools, and local businesses are fostering positive change. Schools, churches, and businesses are the very foundation of any community, so what better places to begin to effect change? At least that’s what Bridges Peachtree Corners members believe. Every meeting is geared toward answering one simple question: “How can we build stronger community when there is so much that could separate us?”
Bridges Peachtree Corners is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. To learn more about Bridges or to donate to the group, find them on Facebook, or visit http://www.bridgespc.org
Published: 2016-03-30 13:40