Organized by the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Bartow, each year, takes nominated participants through a series of courses and activities designed to develop leadership skills, team building and community knowledge while raising awareness of service opportunities.
Twenty-two participants in this year's Leadership Bartow class spent time learning about the services provided by each of the organizations before working on immediate needs.
Breaking into three groups, volunteers descended upon the Etowah Valley Humane Society, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and the Women's Resource Center.
"Everyone engaged in working really hard to help that nonprofit out. Nonprofits are usually on a shoe-string budget and they have limited staff members," said Leslie McMillan, chamber community and government relations director. "That's one of the major pieces of Leadership Bartow. We don't want the education to stop at the end of the program, we want everyone to go out into the community after they serve.
"Like our slogan, 'chamber serving businesses, businesses serving the community.' So there's nothing better than a lot of business leaders going out into the community and seeing how they can help."
Through the Leadership Bartow Community Service Day, the three highlighted organizations received a concentrated volunteer effort accomplishing everyday needs as well as large projects.
"I heard Jessica Mitcham [executive director of the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter] say, the six or seven people that helped her clean out the storage building and do those little things it would have taken the staff there three months to do," McMillan said. "She had a list when we came in. We painted the trim on the building, we made copies and put booklets together for the educational pieces for the mothers they serve. We planted plants and spread pine straw and we bagged diapers and sorted clothes. Those are little things that it would take numerous volunteers to come into the organization on numerous days."
Immediately following the Community Service Day, Leadership Bartow participants took a short survey for future improvement of the program. Fleetwood Security Sales Representative Brad Cowart is currently in the Leadership Bartow program and served on the Community Service Day planning committee. From the survey results, Cowart and team members found a common sentiment from respondents.
"The general consensus, and I was in agreement, was just it's amazing to see what the need is in Bartow County," Cowart said. "We were all kind of blown away with what all [the organizations] did and what it took to actually make each one of them function.
"Everyone really enjoyed the hands-on experience feeling that we were contributing back to the community. That's part of what Leadership Bartow is, is getting us involved."