Community engagement celebration unites partners, highlights achievements

By Mark Anthony Torrez | Office of Student Leadership and Service | May 1, 2013

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Volunteer Emory leaders and Emory student volunteers come together for a picture with the co-founders of IMAGE After School Programs, a community partner. Photo by Tess Komarek.

Volunteer Emory and the Center for Community Partnerships hosted the second annual End of Year Community Engagement Celebration on Friday, April 26 in the Winship Ballroom.

Created in 2011 by Volunteer Emory as an opportunity to celebrate the many working partners and volunteers who make the organization's work possible, the 2013 celebration expanded to include the Emory Center for Community Partnerships.

The Center for Community Partnerships and Volunteer Emory have a long-standing partnership. The two organizations work collaboratively to both coordinate and build the University's partnerships with community and governmental agencies within Atlanta, as well as enhance general community engagement opportunities available to Emory students, faculty, staff and alumni. 

In his opening remarks, Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris discussed the process of "partnership" as essential and vital to successful change efforts within communities.

The Center for Community Partnerships and Volunteer Emory presented overviews of their organizational histories and highlighted several accomplishments from the 2012-2013 academic year. The organizations’ combined engagement for the years was approximately 4,500 volunteers engaged in 34,194 hours of service within the greater Atlanta community and surrounding Southeast region.

A video presentation featured interviews from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners who are currently engaged through Volunteer Emory and/or the Center for Community Partnerships.

The keynote speech was given by McKenzie Wren '06MPH, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center. Wren challenged the audience to take the perspective of the many refugee children and adults with whom she works in Clarkston and imagine the myriad challenges the community faces on a daily basis. She then highlighted the triumphs made on the individual and collective levels because of Emory's continued support.

The celebration concluded with remarks from the Campus Life Dean of Students Bridget Guernsey Riordan. Riordan stressed that although it often seems as if Emory transforms the Atlanta community, the University itself has experienced tremendous transformation because of the great influence of its many community partners.