Community Engagement Reaps Rewards in Atlanta

Today, when organizations plan conferences, they often include community engagement on their agendas. Conventions open opportunities for attendees to connect with the city they are visiting — and make a difference. Recent examples in Atlanta include a sock drive, park beautification, a gift of technology and toys for Atlanta children.

Community engagement enables conventioneers to get out into the community and lend a hand. (Photo courtesy of the American Society of Association Executives)

SkillsUSA Donates Socks

Socks are one of the most requested items in shelters. (Photo by Enzo Sartori/Unsplash)

SkillsUSA, while meeting in Atlanta, partnered with CHRIS 180 to donate socks. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization serving more than 380,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.

CHRIS 180 is committed to the wellbeing of its community, providing behavioral health services and support systems to children and families affected by trauma.

“SkillsUSA’s mission is to empower students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members,” said SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis. “The 6,000 socks our students were able to provide CHRIS 180 during our National Leadership & Skills Conference service event — more than three times the original goal — shows just how seriously they take that mission.

“CHRIS 180 is such a crucial safety net in the Atlanta community,” Travis continues. “The work they do providing behavioral health services and support systems to children and families affected by trauma really resonated with our members, and they were thrilled for the opportunity to collect and donate those socks. You could see the smiles while they were lugging those 6,000 pairs to the CHRIS 180 box truck. SkillsUSA members share that desire to make a difference. With more partnerships between our young people and organizations like CHRIS 180, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.”

DreamHack Partners with Toys for Tots

DreamHack, an international gaming lifestyle festival and ESL FACEIT Group Brand, gave back to the community in the weeks leading up to the DreamHack Atlanta Festival in December 2023. The festival was held at the Georgia World Congress Center.

DreamHack partnered with Toys for Tots with a concerted effort toward contributions for foster children throughout metro Atlanta. As one of the largest campaigns in the nation, Atlanta Toys for Tots distributes toys to 18 different counties in Georgia.  

In addition to the Toys for Tots initiative, DreamHack donated more than $530,000 in free tickets to Title I public school students and their families across metro Atlanta so that they could attend the DreamHack Festival. These initiatives and partnerships represent a continued effort by DreamHack and its parent company, ESL FACEIT Group, to give back to its long-time North American partner cities. 

“DreamHack festivals are more than a celebration of local gaming communities; they’re also a chance to give back,” said Guy Blomberg, event director of DreamHack Festivals, Americas. “We want to channel the power of gaming for good, and the return of Dream BIG is sharing that with Atlanta, one of our most supportive host cities.”

ASAE Helps to Beautify Rodney Cook Sr. Park

Volunteers from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) dig into the community. (Photo courtesy of ASAE)

Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Atlanta’s historic Vine City was the beneficiary of of work by close to 75 volunteers from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) who worked to create a colorful splash pad mural at the park and also to replenish some of the plantings around the playground. 

“It was my honor and privilege to work with the team at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation to create an event that produced such great memories as well as making needed improvements and uplifting the scene around the playground with beautiful art for our special community park,” said Carrie M. Salvary, board chair of the Alliance for the Activation of Cook Park.

ACVB and the alliance appreciate the additional service and support of The Trust for Public Land, Park Pride, Atlanta’s Department of Public Works and a team from Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department. On hand to kick off the event were ASAE board chair Lynda Bouchard Patterson, Commissioner Justin Cutler – Atlanta Parks & Recreation and Atlanta City Councilman Byron D Amos, District 3.

Welcoming Next Gen Men & Women

ASAE exposed students to career pathways, work environments and mentors. (Photo courtesy of ASAE)

ASAE is committed to impacting positive change on communities where it holds meetings. For the August 2023 meeting in Atlanta, the organization identified a local organization called Next Gen Men & Women, which provides Atlanta youth with exposure to career pathways, work environments and mentors to hone their skills and interests.

The American Society of Association Executives invited students from Next Gen Men and Women to participate in the organization’s Atlanta conference.

ASAE hosted an exposure experience for Next Gen students to learn about careers in associations and the hospitality industry. Some of those students attended an on-site trade show to learn about career journeys from ASAE members and to understand what it takes to pull off a major convention and trade show, said Michelle. I Mason, president and CEO of ASAE’s Center for Association Leadership.

“Our students had an absolute blast on Sunday and especially appreciated the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world who traveled to Atlanta for this conference,” said Netanya Bledsoe, Next Gen community partnerships manager. “We look forward to future opportunities to get our students connected to ASAE and Discover Atlanta.”

Paying it Forward with Technology

Printing United Alliance met in Atlanta in 2023, and when the meeting was over, the organization left something behind — a gift of usable materials created using the company’s cutting-edge printing technologies. Printing United Alliance exhibitors printed products on behalf of local nonprofits, complete with the nonprofits’ own branding to demonstrate new technologies and machines and then donated the products for the nonprofits to use.

“Printing United Alliance is proud to support the local and surrounding communities in which the Expo is held each year however we can,” said Amanda L. Kliegl, vice president of public relations, Printing United Alliance. “We are proud to have partnered with the Atlanta CVB this year to connect our exhibitors with local charities . . . The alliance is a mission-driven association, which works to serve not only the printing and graphic arts industry, but our respective local communities as a whole. Thank you to all who engaged with this important initiative.”

Atlanta Giving Circle

Legacy Collective offers a way for meeting planners, event attendees and companies to give back to nonprofits in Atlanta while gathering for conferences, conventions and events. This giving community is dedicated to funding groups addressing systemic issues with sustainable solutions. Legacy Collective’s Atlanta City Giving Circle includes a comprehensive and diverse list of local nonprofit organizations that have been vetted to ensure they are all 501(c)(3) organizations in good standing with the IRS. Legacy Collective also confirms each group has a diversity and inclusion policy that does not discriminate against any legally protected class during the hiring process, employment or in their client services.

In 2023, Atlanta City Giving Circle continued in its second annual grant cycle. In partnership with Legacy Collective, Atlanta Giving Circle honored BeLoved Atlanta with a $1,000 grant. BeLoved Atlanta, a registered 501c3 nonprofit has been helping women escape the sex industry in Georgia since 2012. The grant goes toward safe homes and a two-year restoration program to equip women caught in the sex-trafficking industry with the power to create a new path in life.

If your organization would like create a stronger connection to Atlanta, Discover Atlanta’s community engagement partners welcome the opportunity to connect, to work together, to make a difference and to make new friends. It’s a win, win, win, win.

Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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