The teeming energy of connectivity and community interaction was palpable in the gym of Gainesville’s Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center Saturday morning. As city residents gathered for the inaugural city service fair, they were offered a chance to interact and learn more about various services and programs the city of Gainesville has to offer.
“It’s great to engage with the community and show what it is we have to offer to the citizens,” said La’Shundra Coley-Hale, volunteer program coordinator for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department.
The city service fair offered the opportunity for residents to speak to multiple representatives from departments within the city, learn more about employment availability and included a tree giveaway. Some of the services represented at the fair included GRU, affordable housing, Parks and Recreation and Public Works, among many others.
Orchestrating the fair was interim city manager, Cynthia Curry, who stressed the importance of being more aware of Gainesville residents’ concerns and interests. “We want to make sure information is shared with people here. It’s important to have this because we want to feel connected to the community,” said Curry.
“I originally came for the tree giveaway,” said Gainesville resident Susan Nelson. “I ended up talking to Parks and Recreation and learning about diversity here… This fair helps people understand the services that people can get from the city.”
For Gainesville citizen and CEO of T-FAN (The Foundation Assistance Network, Inc.) Patricia Lee, the service fair provided her with an opportunity to have face-to-face interaction and schedule a future meeting with Curry.
“This allowed for me to schedule a meeting with the city manager I would not have otherwise got,” said Lee.
Lee also noted that the fair allowed her to get acquainted with the different departments within the city, while also providing a networking opportunity.
The theme of increasing community involvement through more service fairs and communal interaction was common among the participants.
“It shows a buy-in to the community,” said Doug Hoffman, AMI Deployment Manager for GRU in regards to the idea of future city service fairs.
“It shows such a need and wants from the community to come in on a Saturday morning,” said Coley-Hale.
“This is the first of many,” said Curry, who says moving forward a service fair will be held quarterly, beginning next fiscal year.
“People don’t know what they are missing with these events,” said Lee.
The next city service fair is scheduled for September, at a location to be announced at a later date.