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Fayetteville Launched the Community Link Today

08/09/2011

The City of Fayetteville launched the Community Link this morning at the Fayetteville Public Library.  The Community Link is an innovative, free, online resource for community-wide engagement, collaboration, innovation and volunteer management.  The Community Link takes citizen engagement to a new level by fostering civic culture and building a stronger communication infrastructure. 

Mayor Lioneld Jordan kicked off the celebration of the Community Link at 11:00 a.m.  Mayor Jordan recognized Fayetteville for achieving the Outstanding Volunteer Community of the Year, with over 20,000 people a year donating over half a million volunteer hours.  He stated, "The Community Link is the open door that allows people to open their hearts and also bring an open mind to strengthening our connections with each other.  It is that one place in which people can go to post volunteer opportunities in the city, to share information, and to determine how they wish to participate.  It connects good causes with good people. From seniors to school children, from uptown to southside, we all contribute to community.  The Community Link is a force of unity that harnesses the energy and imagination of our diverse community."  Mayor Jordan thanked the Fayetteville City Council for passing the Resolution for the City of Fayetteville to actively engage in social media for public information and outreach, and he encouraged the community to get engaged with the Community Link, noting that it is easily accessible on the City’s website AccessFayetteville.org. 

Laura Speer, Fayetteville Public Library Director of Library Services, remarked that the Fayetteville Public Library’s mission is to inspire imagination and foster learning, and what she likes about the Community Link is that "it captures that same spirit because it will empower people with accessibility to ideas, opportunities, partnerships, and connections that will further strengthen Fayetteville and promote inclusion and diversity."  Speer added, "From the volunteer Library Board to the Friends of the Library, volunteers make programs possible, and the Community Link is a great free outlet to further involve the public in library events, opportunities, and activities and provide additional public information about our many programs and many services available to our community."

Connie Edmonston, City of Fayetteville Director of Parks and Recreation, stated that "There are always volunteer opportunities at the City of Fayetteville-from assisting with events such as community softball and soccer games, building soft trails, cleaning a park, volunteering at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter or serving as a Trail Trekker to recycling projects and work on community events such as Concerts in the Park and the Annual Lake Fayetteville festival.  The Community Link will help bring people together for fun in a way that benefits the entire city."  Edmonston noted that in 2010, the Parks & Recreation department had over 15,901 hours donated by residents contributing to their community, which amounts to $321,897.

Sherri Napier, Director of the Fayetteville Senior Center, stated, "The Fayetteville Senior Center is like many non-profit organizations, we look for affordable ways to link services with people, link innovative ideas to those who can help us make them happen, link service opportunities to volunteers, and provide seniors with opportunities to continue giving back to their community.  The Community Link is needed in Fayetteville to further connect all of us-it is a free resource that helps get information out, it provides the ability to reach wider audiences, it will help connect people and connect neighborhoods, it will, essentially, move Fayetteville to a higher level of civic opportunity and engagement.  The Community Link will provide that necessary connection with the community that entities such as the Senior Center have needed to better connect with seniors and the entire community."

Steve Clark, President of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, spoke at the launch, stating that  Fayetteville businesses "not only provide goods, services and jobs, they also give back much to the community; and an inclusive venue for sharing that commitment to community is important. It is also important for cities to foster community engagement, and the Community Link does just that.  The Community Link is another example of how Fayetteville is setting national models in the area of civic participation and partnerships for progress."  Clark noted that the Community Link provides a free venue for "building collaboration and partnerships, for facilitating innovative ideas, and for capturing the spirit of Fayetteville that is truly alive with innovation."

Marilyn Heifner, Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, remarked that "community involvement and volunteers are necessities for the success of the many events and festivals that attract visitors to our area--from Lights of the Ozarks and First Thursday to Springfest and Bikes, Blues and BBQ.  The Community Link provides a free resource for informing the public of opportunities available for participation and for entities to recruit enthusiastic volunteers that assure the success of these community events."

Founder and Executive Director of the New Design School, Sonia Gutierrez, who is also a member and past-chair of the Fayetteville Forward Creative Economy Action Group, stated, "The Community Link represents the spirit of Fayetteville Forward, informing our residents and empowering them to determine our future as a community.  My work as a member and past Chair of the Fayetteville Forward Creative Economy Action Group convinces me that the Community Link will increase the synergy of artists, patrons, and volunteers who advance the arts through public events such as First Thursday."

"Our public schools are successful because of the active involvement of parents, students and patrons, from guest speakers sharing their expertise, the community engaging in school events as attendees and volunteers, to our green teams, reading programs, and fundraisers such as our annual fundraisers to assist the homeless in Fayetteville" said Susan Norton, Chief Information Officer of the Fayetteville Public Schools and chair of the Fayetteville Forward Education Action Group.  Norton added, "The Community Link is a great way to keep informed and to inform, providing everyone with the inclusive opportunity to contribute to the conversation and make a difference."