CLINE: Great Days is Gwinnett at its best, October 8, 2013

As titles go, Great Days of Service works well, signifying both the quality and quantity of the annual event that concluded this past weekend. A Gwinnett tradition, the volunteer event put on by the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services completed its 14th year on Saturday and the preliminary numbers are impressive:

  • 12 food banks helped
  • More than 100 Gwinnett County Public Schools participating
  • More than 250 projects completed
  • More than 10,000 volunteer hours logged

Talk about engaging the community. Whether it was students bringing in canned food, young adults doing landscaping work or professionals working on high-end projects, Great Days of Service had projects that worked for all ages. And though it can’t be calculated like the aforementioned numbers, that feeling of what it’s like to give back to your community may be the most impactful part of the event.

Because those who experienced that feeling are going to help again. Not only at next year’s Great Days of Service, but sometime before that when an organization needs it. And they are going to spread the world about that feeling to friends and family, who in turn may be inspired to help at church, a food bank or even in their own neighborhood when there’s a need. Now that’s an impact.

In my experience, the only thing holding most folks back from volunteering is an outlet. Most people want to help, they’re just not sure how or when or where. With Great Days of Service that isn’t a problem. And once a person has participated in Great Days it’s easier to find other ways in which to help.

If you needed extra motivation for volunteering, consider the comments from Barbara Huffman, founder of the Huffman House, a mobile food bank that was one of the beneficiaries of Great Days.

“We are in gratitude to our Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services for holding their Great Days of Service program and for allowing us to participate,” Huffman said. “We are still in business, still feeding hungry people, still offering the empowerment of friendship and hope. Thank you, all who participated and gave, and to our amazing staff and volunteers who have worked so hard and still have a lot of work ahead. Bless you all.”

That appreciation comes from someone who is trying to help others. Imagine the appreciation felt by the people who will benefit from that food.

Great Days of Service is open to everyone, whether it’s an individual looking to help or a business that wants to put many employees to work. Primerica is one of the event’s sponsors, and this year it chose the nonprofit Streetwise as the organization it helped.

Fifty-six Primerica employees took part, doing everything from clearing a prayer trial of weeds to planting more than 50 plants to building a picnic table, a privacy fence and two benches. Renee Carter, program and events coordinator for Primerica, said Great Days makes an impact on the company’s employees.

“(Our) volunteers left tired but very pleased that they could help such a worthy organization,” she said.

Like many things in Gwinnett, Great Days of Service has grown from humble beginnings into something much larger. The final numbers are still being tallied, and they too will continue to grow, providing another example of the impact volunteers and volunteerism can make in our communities.

Nice work, Gwinnett.

Primerica, Inc., headquartered in Duluth, GA, is a leading distributor of financial products to middle income households in North America. Primerica representatives educate their Main Street clients about how to better prepare for a more secure financial future by assessing their needs and providing appropriate solutions through term life insurance, which we underwrite, and mutual funds, annuities and other financial products, which we distribute primarily on behalf of third parties. In addition, Primerica provides an entrepreneurial full or part-time business opportunity for individuals seeking to earn income by distributing the company's financial products. We insured more than 4.3 million lives and had over 2 million client investment accounts with us at December 31, 2012. Primerica stock is included in the S&P MidCap 400 and the Russell 2000 stock indices and is traded on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "PRI".