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Outreach opportunities: Helping people connect to their community

Back in the not-so-distant past, there was only one big telephone company and making a long distance call was a big deal.

Charlotte Nash, Chairman Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

They promoted long distance service with the line, “Reach Out and Touch Someone.” Today we call it outreach, and long distance has become a relic. 

As our community grows and becomes more diverse, we sometimes feel like there’s more distance than ever between neighbors in the same community. That’s why we’ve started some new ways to bring people together to discuss issues of importance to all.

Last April, we launched the Gwinnett 101: Citizens Academy, a 10-week program offered twice a year. There you can interact with government leaders, visit county facilities and network with others who live, work, and learn in Gwinnett County.

September 10 marks the start date for the fall class, which is already full. Topics include taxes and budgets, planning, transportation, water, police, fire, courts, parks, and more. The idea is to learn about and discuss Gwinnett’s infrastructure and meet the people who make it work. Please consider this class for next spring. There’s more information at

I’ve also started having dinner once a month with small groups of 10 residents at local restaurants around the county. I call it Dinner & Dialogue. It’s an opportunity for you to discuss local issues with me and a mix of people of other races, backgrounds, genders, and generations in an informal setting. It’s a great way to start getting more involved in your community. Reserve a future spot online at 

One attendee at the first dinner in August said, “Not only can it lead to a united Gwinnett but ultimately it can lead us back to a United States of America.” In a county with almost 900,000 residents, can a group of 10 really make a difference? I think so, and I believe it’s that kind of spirit that has made Gwinnett great.

Don’t forget that Gwinnett police and fire departments both offer citizen academies where you can meet and learn about the folks who protect you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find details online at

In Gwinnett, we have a long history of reaching out, closing the distance, and solving problems and getting things done together. Our newest outreach programs build on that tradition. I hope you will join us.