For the past 20 years, W&A Engineering and Donald W. Hansford Law have teamed up to host their Annual BBQ as a way to give thanks to the communities that support them. They invited friends, family, clients, business partners, local and state community leaders and partners, and the many people who crossed their paths over the years as they built their businesses. With over 600 community members in attendance in 2019, planning for the event this year proved to be a challenge due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. So, the team decided to keep the tradition going, but with a twist, and this year will be donating the BBQ directly to nonprofit organizations in our community who are helping those who need it most.
On Friday, June 12th at Harris Shoals Park in Watkinsville, a group of volunteers across multiple offices will smoke 1,000 pounds of meat. That’s half a ton! The entire cook is expected to yield about 600 pounds of BBQ. Volunteers will then chop, package, and distribute the BBQ to six local charities. The organizations receiving the BBQ are Area Churches Together Serving, Athens Area Homeless Shelter, Athens Community Council on Aging, Extra Special People, Family Promise, and Project Safe. W&A asked these groups how COVID-19 has impacted their programs and how they will use the donation:
Area Churches Together Serving
“As a result of W&A, the ACTS Ministry is excited to be able to provide much-needed food to our approximately 200+ families that we serve each month. The COVID19 pandemic has limited how far our usual funds can go due to increased costs and limited availabilities. W&A’s donations have been a blessing. Many thanks.” Dennis Clarke and Randy Dawson, ACTS Co-chairs
Athens Area Homeless Shelter
“During the COVID-19 crisis we’ve seen our community come together like never before. In response to the growing need for family shelter, we doubled our shelter capacity and increased food and basic supply support for all families already in our programs. Donations like the BBQ from W&A Engineering not only helps us provide food for the additional families but also shows AAHS families that they are seen and cared for in a tangible way during this crisis. Thank you!” Olivia Amato, Community Engagement Coordinator
Athens Community Council on Aging
“The Athens Community Council on Aging is concentrating all resources into the expanded Meals on Wheels model of service delivery, focusing on three areas: food and basic needs, security checks, and virtual social connections. This increased outreach is critical during the state-wide shelter-in-place ordinance for adults 65 years or older or medically fragile.
Due to COVID-19, ACCA is serving around 900 older adults per week through emergency food relief efforts. Prior to the pandemic, ACCA was serving 180 older adults weekly. This dramatic increase showcases the need among our most vulnerable community members. To date, over 58,000 emergency meals have been served since to over 1,700 seniors including those living in low-income senior housing.
W&A Engineering’s innovative twist on their annual BBQ will, in turn, feed seniors living in Denney Towers who face food insecurities. This selfless action truly illustrates what a supportive, tight-knit community Athens is. On behalf of the older adults we serve, thank you to everyone at W&A Engineering for helping us ensure that no senior is left behind during this time.” Amy Lancaster, Director of Development and Communications
“ESP creates opportunities for people with disabilities and their families to engage, connect, and thrive. We annually serve over 500 families from across the state of Georgia through summer camp, afternoon enrichment programs, and ongoing family support. In the wake of the current crisis, our families are facing financial hardships and food insecurity as daily needs become more challenging. As we approached the summer, we heard from our families that, despite the challenges, our summer camp program was needed more than ever. So, starting June 1st, ESP opened summer camp across six “mini- camp” locations. Our team worked tirelessly to adapt our one site model across six sites, with no more than 50 individuals at each site and increased health and safety measures. Additionally, we provide lunch to every camper, every day, for the first time ever, and each week of camp we send home a bag of food and essentials for our higher needs families. The quarts of barbecue generously donated by W&A Engineering will be included with these bags to help offer more relief.
W&A’s support will help ensure that our families receive an extra meal during this time of extraordinary hardship. We thank you for your donation and continued heart for kids of all abilities!” Ashley Stewart, Director of Development
“This BBQ will help us provide meals for our families at our static site at Athens Church of Christ where we have been able to house our families for the past several months in a safe, clean, and hospitable environment.” Blayne McDonald, Service Director
“Coronavirus has added stress and upended daily life for everyone, including survivors of domestic violence. People long for signs that life will get better, even if it doesn’t return to normal right away, and the opportunity to enjoy barbecue at the start of summer is certainly one such sign. Project Safe is very grateful for the support of W&A.” Joan Prittie, Executive Director
Another aspect of the BBQ event includes a commitment to sustainability. W&A will be recycling packaging materials, teaming up with Awesome Possum Composting to compost 250+ pounds of food scraps and compostable disposables, and taking the grease to the Athens-Clarke County Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM).
We look forward to a time when we can once again host our community, and until that time, we will continue to look for innovative ways to give back and to continue Building Better Communities.