Like many college-aged students in search of practical, hands-on experience, Christine went searching for an internship to supplement her studies in urban design and community development at Georgia State University. Luck would have it that she would cross paths with Woodruff Park Project Manager, Ansley Whipple and was immediately interested by the work that was taking place in the heart of Downtown Atlanta.
“I’m inspired to devote my life to social and environmental impact projects,” Christine says. “I want to build and create projects, places and programs that work in conjunction with the culture and beat of the community to help it thrive to its fullest potential.”
Over the summer, Christine began doing just that through her work at Central Atlanta Progress, the organization responsible for the management of Woodruff Park as part of their commitment to creating a thriving Downtown Atlanta community. Christine was charged with helping to facilitate the operations and programming of a new brightly colored activity game cart that was added as an anchor point in the Park with the help of a 2016 Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant.
The game cart has brought vibrant activity to an area of the park that Christine witnessed as poorly used and virtually abandoned in her four years of attendance at Georgia State University, whose campus is adjacent to the Park. “It’s heartwarming to see people from all walks of life enjoying the fun that the game cart has to offer. It has created diversity in the Park without displacing any groups and has promoted positive activity and interaction between people and groups with widely different backgrounds,” Christine exclaims.
Christine has had the pleasure of overseeing volunteers to manage and operate the game cart and one volunteer left a lasting impression. “Carlos regularly plays chess with his friends in the Park and was curious about the new game cart,” Christine remembers. “I explained that it is managed and run by volunteers and he immediately jumped at the chance to volunteer himself. He spent 5 hours volunteering and checking out games to his friends and neighbors, which he described as the most fun he has ever had working and was inspired to volunteer as often as he could.”
Do you know a “connector” like Christine in your community?
The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grants support the creation of spaces and opportunities that build connections and bring people together to strengthen communities for a more resilient future. To learn more about Woodruff Park, visit https://www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community/#atlanta.