“Georgia, Georgia…just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”
Last month I hit I-85 South and 260 miles later found myself in “The 404.” This particular trip was dedicated to laying the foundation for our Dream On 3 expansion into Atlanta, slated for later this summer. We named these 3 days of back to back meetings with potential healthcare referral partners, potential corporate sponsors, advisory board members and candidates for the Executive Director position, the Feel the Love Tour! Truthfully, I didn’t know much about Atlanta before this trip. Most of my previous trips through Atlanta were confined to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. These 3 days provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about this beautiful city. I wanted to share a little with you about what I experienced during my trip…
I’ve always heard people compare Charlotte to Atlanta and I guess I can see some of the similarities. However, when it comes to traffic and getting around town Atlanta is in a league of its own. I can honestly say that I will no longer complain about the traffic that I have to deal with on my regular morning commute into Charlotte! When traffic backs up in Atlanta, you’d better have a full belly and a full tank of gas! Spaghetti Junction and The Connector are two places you don’t want to be when the whistle blows at 5:00.
When people ask “where are you staying?” or “where is your meeting?”….I learned that “Atlanta” is not an appropriate answer. Buckhead, Midtown, Paces, Vinnings, West End, Decatur, Lakewood and Northside are answers that will at least help mask the fact that you are completely lost.
Out of all the people that I met over the course of the 3 days, I believe that only 1 of them was a native of Atlanta. Atlanta seems to be a place where everyone you meet is from somewhere else.
Every other street that I found myself on had the name “Peachtree” in it somewhere. Which I guess makes sense at some level because Georgia is the “Peach State.” But I realized at the end of my trip, as I crossed the state line back into SC, that the only peach I had seen over the last 3 days was “The Moon over Gaffney.”
There was no question that I had plenty to learn about Atlanta. However, I came home with a sincere appreciation for Atlanta’s culture, its diversity, its people and their passion for philanthropy.
The trip began with a very crucial meeting with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). Let’s face it, if we are unable to get to the kids in need of assistance in living out their sports dreams then there was no need for any of the other meetings. That’s why we scheduled this one first. I can only imagine that when you’re one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the country how often you get approached by organizations that want to “partner” with you. So I can only assume that the natural reaction to an introductory meeting with another non-profit organization may very well be…what’s the catch? For Dream On 3 it’s easy…there is no catch!
When the amazing team at CHOA learned that Dream On 3 was coming to Atlanta for no other reason than to serve these kids and their families, they were VERY excited about the opportunity to become one of our Atlanta referral partners! We discussed our programming and together we determined that we will gift kids from 2 of their hospitals and the Marcus Autism Center with a Dream Experience in 2016.
It was hard to believe that the other meetings I had lined up could possibly go as well as the first. But they did! Each meeting that I had just further confirmed that Atlanta was the right choice for our next affiliate chapter. The meeting with the Atlanta Falcons may have possibly been one of the best meetings that I’ve been a part of since we started this organization 3 years ago. We are very excited about working with them and the other Atlanta based sports organizations to make dreams come true for children from within that community.
I met people who quickly became passionate about the mission of Dream On 3 and eager to serve as a volunteer or a board member. I met with business leaders that wanted to get involved right away and felt like Dream On 3 would fit nicely into their philanthropic goals. It blew my mind how many people had actually heard the Dream On 3 name and had seen stories of one of our Dream Experiences before! I called Elizabeth on the way home and told her that “it really felt as if the people of Atlanta were just as excited about us coming as were are about getting there!” Well, get ready Atlanta! We can’t wait to get in the huddle with you and make the impossible possible!
Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Project Going Forward and about our grand opening in Atlanta!