Goodwill of North Georgia (Atlanta) recently held its first Veterans, Service and Leaders Summit, a half-day knowledge-sharing and information-gathering session for about 60 individuals, including representatives from veteran-serving organizations, Georgia elected officials and local veterans. The event aimed to strengthen and increase understanding of the resources that are currently available to veterans and their families, and surface areas where needs are still unmet through the newly created Veteran Leader Corps (VLC).
In the half-day session, participants tackled some of the most pressing issues facing veterans and their families including employment, reintegration, volunteerism and housing. Additionally, the group listened as local veterans shared their personal success stories while pinpointing areas where they feel underserved.
“There is something extraordinary about being in the room at the right time, in the right place, with the right people all singularly focused on a common purpose, in this case, moving the needle for veterans in Georgia,” said Jenny Taylor, senior director of program development and training for the Atlanta Goodwill. “We have already seen action: an employment pilot partnership between the two state agencies, the military, employers and our Goodwill. With the level of motivation, resources and decision-makers involved, I think this is just the beginning.”
Participants also used this time to bring visibility to the VLC by discussing the partnerships, objectives and positive impact the program will have in North Georgia. The conversation included identifying areas of need for resources and determining whether they are a right fit for VLC volunteers.
The event culminated in the decision to create and publish a resource guide highlighting the network of people, resources and agencies that support veterans. The next steps for the group include holding a follow-up session on January 17 at the American Red Cross of Georgia where attendees will create plans to leverage existing resources or uncover new resources to fill gaps in veteran’s services.
The event was created in collaboration with AmeriCorps, Community Blueprint (a Points of Light Initiative) the Atlanta Goodwill and Hands On Atlanta. Representatives from more than 30 organizations participated in the summit including: AARP Georgia, American Red Cross of Georgia, AmeriCorps, Blue Star Families, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 91, Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia National Guard, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, Goodwill of North Georgia, Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, HandsOn Atlanta, IBM, Joining Community Forces Initiative, Kennesaw State University, Kingdom Covenant, Leadership @ Work, MLK March Committee, Operation Homefront, Pioneer Rehabilitation, Points of Light, Roosevelt Warms Springs Institute, Safe America, Shepherd MBC, Inc., The Marcus Foundation, United Way of Greater Atlanta, VA Medical Center, Veterans Administration and Warrior 2 Citizen.