Jul
31
2015
11:43 am

Community Partner Spotlight – The Wren’s Nest

Many Atlanta residents are not familiar with The Wren’s Nest, but many people are familiar with the Brer Rabbit stories. The Wren’s Nest was home to the author of the Brer Rabbit stories, Joel Chandler Harris, and it’s now the oldest house museum in Atlanta. Along with tours and special events, The Wren’s Nest also offers a summer publishing program for high school students – the final project for the students is to publish a literary journal. Gas South has teamed up with the nonprofit to help raise awareness about the program and to help fund the journal. We recently spoke with Sue Gilman, executive director of The Wren’s Nest, about the 2015 Optimist Review high school publishing program.

What is your organization’s mission?

The Wren’s Nest serves as an educational resource for the community, the greater Atlanta area and visitors from around the globe by preserving the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris and the heritage of African American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight?

Our Optimist Review high school publishing program has produced a literary journal for the past eight summers. This summer we have eight editors in the program who come to the Wren’s Nest twice a week to learn about the publishing industry from professional writers, designers and editors. The students are also exposed to businesses, careers and behind-the-scene tours at local organizations such as CNN, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Creative Loafing.

 

This summer students are from Woodward Academy, Wesleyan School, DeKalb School of the Arts, Decatur High School, Dunwoody High School, Carver Early College, Georgia Cyber Academy and Riverwood International Charter School. The editors have already determined the title of the journal, Even After This Brief Eternity, which will focus on human rights and social justice issues. In order to be published in the journal, high school students from around Metro Atlanta submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art pieces. The final product is edited and curated by our student editors and then released at the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend. Participation in the program is free, but very competitive, for editors and contributors.

Why is your mission important?

Students who have been editors in this program have gone on to pursue English, journalism and creative writing degrees at Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Brown, Harvard, Kenyon and Wake Forest. A handful of our first year editors recently graduated from Emory and the University of Georgia and now work in the Atlanta area.

Kalin Thomas, program director added, “It’s a joy to work with such intelligent and creative young students. They all have excellent writing and leadership experience, from editing their school journal to writing for the yearbook. When I sit and listen to them brainstorm and debate the issues of today, it gives me confidence that our future is in good hands.”

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

Gas South’s financial support allowed the Wren’s Nest to extend the program for another summer. The sponsorship covered the cost of printing the journal and helped us to recruit and secure a great team of student editors, from a variety of high schools, to run the project.

 

Jul
16
2015
4:57 pm

Finding the Suite Spot: Building Relationships with Corporate Partners

Finding the Suite Spot is a three part blog series, written specifically for members of the nonprofit community. In this series, I will tackle researching and defining the right corporate partner for your organization, customizing sponsorship opportunities and building a strategic relationship (short or long term).

Relationship building, whether internal or external, opens doors and is often the key to getting things done. Let’s face it, projects, sales, ideas or potential business transactions are often conceived on a golf course!  The soft skill of relationship building is crucial and can be a game changer for your organization.

Part 1 of this blog series will focus on Finding the Right Fit. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “How can we get our foot in the door?” Gone are the days when corporations freely disperse sponsorship dollars to organizations just because they always have. Donor dollars are becoming a rare commodity for some which is causing agencies to be proactive, creative and transparent. There may still be some standing relationships you have salvaged over the years, but with employment turnover in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, many organizations may have to recreate relationships.

To find the right fit for your agency:

  • Research First! Do your homework before you approach a potential corporate partner.

Poll your board members, make them aware of the relationships you want to pursue and determine if any members have contacts or serve on other boards with employees of the targeted corporation.
Review websites to research what initiatives are supported. Do the initiatives align with what your organization has to offer? If not, then this may not be a good fit.

  • Get to Know Your Donor

Once you have decided to pursue the relationship and you have the correct contact person, schedule a meeting.  Face time allows you to develop a better feel for the organization, the culture and the giving habits. It also allows the corporation to see who you are and understand your needs − this is important as you should be pursuing a long term commitment. Be transparent about your goals, needs and purpose for reaching out. Leave materials with them and be diligent about following up.

  • Understanding Engagement Opportunities

A growing trend from corporations is to request volunteer opportunities − a volunteer “experience” or a team building opportunity. When meeting with companies, be prepared to discuss this. Are you staffed appropriately to host a group? What size group can you host? Is your staff open to this opportunity? Be open and honest about what you can or cannot do.

  • Financial Cycle of a Company

When is the financial cycle of the company? When is your financial cycle? More importantly, when are budgets set? Does the company have giving limits? Do not ask for more than companies give and present options at different financial levels.  Consider volunteer opportunities if you are able to do so.

  • Ask questions

Find out as much as possible up front. What is the corporation looking for in the relationship? What are you looking to gain from the relationship?

I hope this information has been useful. Please check back for the next part of the series where I will address sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

Jul
9
2015
10:37 am

Community Partner Spotlight – The Silverton Foundation

Gas South and The Silverton Foundation have recently partnered to help families in need due to large, unexpected costs. We spoke with Josh Moffitt, president and founder of The Silverton Foundation, to learn more about The Foundation and how the partnership is making a difference in the community.

What is your organization’s mission?  

When your child has a severe medical condition or illness, priorities shift in order to do whatever it takes to care for your child. Whether it’s hospital visits, long-term hospitalization or ongoing medical life-saving treatment, those costs can add up quickly and many people struggle to handle them. The Silverton Foundation was established to lessen the things families have to worry about during difficult times. The Foundation provides mortgage, rent or short-term housing payments to families with chronically ill children. We help families maintain their homes and reduce financial and emotional burdens, allowing parents to focus on getting their child better so they can return home.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

Families lose their homes for many reasons, but the two biggest reasons are because of a loss of job or health issues. In our families’ cases, the situation is even more compounded because it involves the health of their child, and in many cases, we see at least one parent lose their job to care for the child.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

We have recently issued a challenge for people to moonwalk across their next finish line! At the end of any road race, graduation, you name it, we want you to take a photo or video of the moonwalk and post it to social media using the #MoonwalkYourFinish hashtag. For every post, our sponsors will make a donation to The Foundation. This is just another fun way for us to raise awareness for our cause!


Our partnership with Gas South has also raised awareness about our program. When you sign up with Gas South, you receive a 2 cent per therm discount and Gas South will also donate $50 a year to our foundation – simple and easy! Click here to watch the video on Facebook to learn more.

How has Gas South’s partnership benefited your organization?

Gas South has been a great partner in getting this initiative off the ground. It’s not only an amazing opportunity to raise awareness, but it has also provided a sustainable funding avenue for our organization – and in turn, our clients save money!

What have Gas South employees done to help? 

Everyone has been very helpful with their time, energy and ideas. Even though we are a new (only three years old) and small organization, Gas South has jumped in and treated us as if we are a national brand.

Jun
19
2015
3:21 pm

Employee Spotlight: Father’s Day Feature

Did you know the first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1914 but it wasn’t until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

To honor fathers that work at Gas South, we spoke with a few to find out more about how they celebrate the holiday and what it means to be a dad.

  • Kamden Robb, Senior Account Manager, BAGM – Christian (4)
  • Greg Dunavant, Director of Customer Care – James and Woods (1.5)
  • Gary Jensen, Director of IT & PMO – Smith (6) and Collier (4)
  • Derek Outlaw, Customer Care Coach – Diquinne (20), Alexis (19), Dorian (15) and Danika (10)
  • Dion Jones, Customer Service Representative – Azaleya Yvette (8 months)


How has your own dad helped shape how you raise your child/children?

“My dad had a blue collar job and worked long hours for many years to support our family. Because he never got a college degree, he instilled in us the need to push beyond social and financial boundaries to achieve our goals. We may not have had everything when we were growing up but I always felt loved.” – Kamden Robb

“My dad has always been supportive and is an excellent role model for my family.” – Greg Dunavant

“My dad always made an effort to be at all my sporting events and school activities which is something I’ll really try to do with my kids. It’s not always easy so it makes me appreciate his engagement in my life.” – Gary Jensen

“My father was in the Air Force so I received a lot of structure and, as a child, I was also taught responsibility very young. When my father was deployed, it was my job to maintain the lawn and make sure it passed inspection. On military housing if you fail three inspections in one year, the entire family has to move out. From this experience, I’ve placed similar responsibilities on my children. None of those would result in the family having to move if not completed but giving a child responsibilities that involve the well-being of the entire family teaches them that they need to look out for their family. It allows them to feel that they have influence or a position in the family. That’s important.” – Derek Outlaw

“My father deserves credit for everything. From the small handyman jobs around the house to changing the brakes on a car, my dad instilled in me all of the morals and values I live by today. He showed me the importance of quality time and how important a father’s presence is in children’s lives and I will do the same for my daughter.” – Dion Jones

What is one of your favorite things about being a dad?

“I love watching the pure joy in my son’s eyes when he gets to experience something new for the first time. I love having a ‘mini-me’ to do things with and pass on life lessons to.” – Kamden Robb

“I love how excited my kids are to see me when I get home from work.” – Gary Jensen

“Being a dad has made me focus on something other than myself. It’s a lot of responsibility but it also comes with great reward. To see one of my children be successful in a task or to see one of them make a long term goal and follow through with it is a moment of pride that can’t be replaced. Being a dad encourages me to be a better person because I know my kids are looking up to me as an example.” – Derek Outlaw

“My favorite part is the unconditional love your child shows you, and knowing that their life and well-being is determined by your success or failure. It keeps me focused and fuels my fire to become the greatest man I can be.” – Dion Jones

Does your family do anything special for you or for your dad on Father’s Day?

“Typically we spend Father’s Day doing something outside as a family. We like to ride our bikes on the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail. I have a tandem bike that allows my son to sit behind me while I do all the work!” – Kamden Robb

“My family usually gives me the day off. I get to sleep late and they’ll give me a few presents. Since we have a new grill, my oldest daughter will flex her grilling skills! I spend a lot of time on the grill in the spring and summer, and the kids are used to me grilling so it’s great to watch them take what they’ve seen and put it into practice.” – Derek Outlaw

“We take the day to enjoy our time together, talk about funny stories from the past, barbeque and maybe watch Rambo! I always have to watch a manly movie that day!” – Dion Jones

May
22
2015
2:58 pm

Memorial Day

Many people know that Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States and is a day of remembrance for those who have been killed while serving in the country’s armed forces. What many people don’t know is that Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day. The day originated after the Civil War to commemorate Union and Confederate soldiers who died. In the 20th century, the day was extended to honor all Americans who were killed while in the military service.

During this time of honor and remembrance we would like to take the opportunity to thank Gas South employees who served our country:

Air Force
Sandra K. (Mills) Hamilton, Customer Service Representative

Army
LaTitia “Tish” Winbush, Customer Service Representative
Rhonda Garrett, Customer Service Representative
Tiara Allen, Customer Service Representative
Stephon White, Accountant

Navy
Juawana (Croswell) Glass, Executive Assistant and Human Resources Coordinator
Michael Clark Guice, Customer Service Representative

On Memorial Day Weekend, many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor the fallen, and there’s no shortage of events and ceremonies to attend in the Atlanta area.

May
7
2015
11:46 am

Employee Spotlight: Mother’s Day Feature

 

To honor Gas South moms, we spoke with a few mothers on our staff to learn more about their Mother’s Day plans and what it means to be a mom.

  • Tiara Allen, Customer Care Representative – daughter Cayla Surai
  • Sheirra Granville, Customer Care Representative – son Alijah Sherrod (13)
  • LaNise Jones, Operations Specialist – son Jordan (6 months)
  • Stephanie Perrone, Senior Marketing Coordinator – daughters Karina (3) and Milania (1)
  • Kimberly Rollins, Customer Care Coach – daughter Jessica (17), and sons Justus (14) and Jacobi (10)

Does your family do anything special for you or for your mom on Mother’s Day?

“Every mother in my family gets together and we cook all the favorite dishes of all the moms in the family.” – Tiara Allen

“Normally I plan Mother’s Day for my mother and mother-in-law and the whole family goes along with what I plan. Since this will be my first Mother’s Day, I have no clue how it will be spent – I have been told it’s all a surprise!” – LaNise Jones

“We have a tradition of having family dinner and spending the day together. My mother lives with me, so my kids and I make sure she is treated special by showering her with gifts and taking her to brunch or dinner. Mother’s Day is a special day for my family because I’m a single mother and my mother has been my backbone! She runs the house and I make sure the needs of the family are met. She is truly a jewel and I’m thankful for all she is in my family’s life.” – Kimberly Rollins

What is one of your favorite things about being a mom?

“The warm hugs, sloppy kisses and bright smiles.” – LaNise Jones

“Watching my daughters’ personalities grow and change on a daily basis. It’s especially fun to witness mine and my husband’s characteristics and quirks emerge in their personalities – both girls love shoes as much as I do!” – Stephanie Perrone

“I love the laughter of my children. They bring me joy daily. Just to see them engaged, healthy and productive means the world to me. They’re truly my gifts and they make me proud in their studies, behaviors and character.” – Kimberly Rollins

How has your own mom helped shape how you raise your child/children?

“My mom has always been very supportive of everything I’ve been involved in. She tells me often how proud she is of the woman and mother I have become.” – Sheirra Granville

What does it mean to be a mom?

“Being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. I never knew how one small person could give me so much motivation and the unnerving desire to be the best that I can be. I appreciate life and family so much more! I respect my mom and dad for all of the sacrifices that they made for me and it reassures me that I can do the same for my child. Being a mom is awesome and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” – Tiara Allen

“Being a mom is the best feeling in the world. I strive to be the best mom I can be for my son every day. I enjoy the time we spend together and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be a mom. I don’t take the time we spend together for granted and I’ve learned over the years to cherish every moment. Everything I do is to help ensure a better lifestyle for my son and I. He’s my pride and joy and I love him with everything inside of me. It gives me so much joy to hear my son say. ‘My mom is my role model.’ It reassures me that I’m doing something right.” – Sheirra Granville

“Mother’s Day is very special to mothers and my hope is that every mother is appreciated every day, but especially on Mother’s Day. I’m thankful for having an employer that embraces mothers and all the activities we have to do in our roles. It’s truly a blessing to be called ‘mother.’” – Kimberly Rollins

Apr
3
2015
11:50 am

Bringing the Heat is what we do best!

For the fifth straight year, Gas South’s Bring the Heat™ campaign will donate $25 to a local nonprofit organization each time a Braves pitcher records a strikeout! This year in recognition of the 125th anniversary of the Salvation Army’s “Doing the most good,” we’re donating the money to The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta. By partnering with the Braves for Bring the Heat™, we’re able to fulfill our commitment to giving back to the communities we serve.

Gas South is the Official Natural Gas Provider and Proud Sponsor of the Atlanta Braves and since 2010, the company has contributed more than $235,500 to Georgia nonprofits through Bring the Heat™ − another great reason to cheer when the Braves strikeout the competition.

As you enjoy your hot dog and Cracker Jack’s at Turner Field this season, don’t miss the fireworks from Gas South’s sign in right field signifying another strikeout and another $25 donated to help support the great work the Salvation Army is doing in our community.

Go Braves!

Mar
23
2015
9:42 am

Community Partner Spotlight – MUST Ministries

Gas South is committed to supporting the communities we serve through our Gas South Cares program. Through this program, we partner with some of the most effective nonprofit organizations in the state. Gas South would like to feature one of our most enriching partnerships, one that we are proud to work with all year long.

MUST Ministries is a volunteer-driven organization providing a range of services to needy people, from food and clothing to job training. We recently spoke with Don Crampton of MUST Ministries to learn more about the organization.

What is your organization’s mission?   

Serving our neighbors in need; transforming lives and communities in response to the call of Christ.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

MUST Ministries serves close to 34,000 people in eight north Georgia counties. We’re the largest safety net for the poorest, most desperate residents in this region. MUST helps them meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, and clothing, while also providing longer-term resources, like counseling and training needed for employment.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

The MUST’s Summer Lunch program serves approximately 5,000 children per day in eight counties. In 2014, 254,000 sack lunches reached hungry children in our 19th year of meeting this tremendous need. Thousands of volunteers made sandwiches, packed lunches, checked sacks, drove lunches to sites, contributed supplies, donated money and partnered in a host of ways to be sure children would not go hungry. [If you’re interested in donating your time to the Summer Lunch program, check out this site.]

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

We are extremely honored to have the support of Gas South for the past five years. Their desire to serve is demonstrated by their actions. Gas South has helped MUST Ministries in all areas, through volunteerism as well as corporate contributions. In particular, Gas South is a sponsor of our two largest fundraising events, the Safe Refuge Gala and the Annual Thanksgiving Day Gobble Jog. Gas South is also a major supporter of our Summer Lunch program and is the lead sponsor for our Step Up Your Game: Getting People Back to Work seminar.

What have Gas South employees done to help MUST Ministries?

Several Gas South employees have volunteered over the years to serve at MUST Ministries. More specifically, Gas South has been one of the lead participants in our employment education area, offering assistance in helping our clients to enhance resume writing skills and prepare for job interviews.

Gas South has worked with MUST Ministries for over five years, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, click here.

Mar
12
2015
1:55 pm

Employee Spotlight – Mary Crane Orne

Mary Crane Orne, senior account manager, has been working for Gas South for more than two years. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Orne is looking forward to the biggest celebration of the year in her hometown on St. Patrick’s Day. With the holiday quickly approaching, we spoke with Orne to learn more about her family traditions surrounding the holiday and the town that hosts the celebration every year.

What are some of the things you and your family do in Savannah to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Growing up, I was in the choir at an all-girls Catholic school, St. Vincent’s Academy, and we would sing a few times each week during the month leading up to St. Patrick’s Day throughout different locations in the city. We sang at various events and for numerous groups – including nursing homes, the airport, restaurants and festivals for the grand marshal. Attending some of the events continues to be a tradition for my family during the weeks leading up to the big day.

The “Greening of the Fountain” ceremony is held the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day in Forsyth Park and the Saturday before the 17th, we attend both the Tybee Island Parade and the Tara Feis Irish Celebration. The celebration is a festival located downtown with Irish dancing, food, crafts and live music.

On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, my family and I attend mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist for the feast day of Saint Patrick. After mass, everyone in Savannah quickly finds a place on the street to get the best view of the parade. We set up our spot inside Chippewa Square, which is known for the famous park bench scenes from “Forrest Gump.” Once our spot is claimed, we set up tents, tables, chairs and plenty of food and drink for all, and wait patiently for the parade to start!

What do you enjoy most about St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah?

The St. Patrick’s Day parade is a “coming home” for many Savannahians, so I’m looking forward to seeing old friends. I’m also looking forward to seeing the grand marshal, the families of past grand marshals, school groups, bands and other groups in the parade. Once the parade is over, I’ll find a pub – all of which are Irish on March 17th – listen to bagpipers and try my luck at Irish dancing!

What would you tell someone considering a trip to Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day?

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and come ready to have a great time! The city closes down for the celebration and towards River Street it’s a wild party, but away from the river, a lot of families enjoy the festivities together.

One last tip – on St. Patrick’s Day, when someone greets you with the phrase, “Top of the mornin’ to ya’ ” you must respond back saying, “And the rest of the day to you.”

Erin go bragh!

Mar
5
2015
11:21 am

Community Partner Spotlight – Action Ministries

Action Ministries is a non-profit organization providing a wide range of services to Georgians who have fallen on hard times. By meeting basic needs of hunger relief, housing and education, Action Ministries removes barriers that prevent thousands of Georgians from breaking the cycle of poverty and realizing their potential. We recently spoke with Rebecca Whicker of Action Ministries to learn a bit more about the organization:

 What is your organization’s mission?  

Action Ministries mobilizes communities to address the challenges of poverty by focusing on hunger relief, housing and education.

 Why is your organization’s mission important?   

Georgia has the second largest number of homeless children in the nation, it ranks second highest in the nation in the number of homeless veterans, and it has more than one million children who are food insecure. Last year, Action Ministries was able to serve over 140,000 people with the help of partners and volunteers. We want to break the cycle of poverty and ensure that everyone has the tools they need to reach their full potential.

 Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

Our Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program is an initiative we prepare for year round. We also have our Feed the Hungry Food Box initiative, and we’ve made it easier to get involved. If any of your readers would like to help feed a hungry family they can text FOODBOX to 41444 and donate from their mobile phone. If your readers would like to keep up with the action and receive periodic updates from Action Ministries, they can text ACTIONHERO to 51555.

 How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

Gas South has given its time to support our hunger relief efforts through Smart Lunch, Smart Kid and Feed the Hungry. In the summer of 2014, with the financial and volunteer support, we were able to provide over 219,000 lunches to children in need. Gas South’s financial and volunteer support of our Food Box initiative will help us provide more than 400,000 meals to hungry families over the next few years

What have Gas South employees done to help Action Ministries?

Gas South employees participate in lunch-making events throughout the summer, providing meals to children who receive free and reduced-price lunches during the school year but are at risk of going hungry during the summer break. Gas South employees have also helped pack food boxes at our Feed the Hungry warehouse. We love our Gas South volunteers!

Gas South has worked with Action Ministries since 2012, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to volunteer, click here or if you would like to donate, click here.

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