Contributed by Margot Ashley
SafetySmart Lilburn is an all-volunteer, nonprofit with tax-exempt status, founded in June 2010. The mission of the organization is increasing safety awareness in the greater Lilburn area and assisting with development of safe, prosperous and connected neighborhoods through collaboration with individuals, organizations and other resources from the community. The initial direction of the group was to foster and support neighborhood watches in the area. Since then, SafetySmart Lilburn has worked with Lilburn Police and Gwinnett Police Departments to build positive relationships; sponsored National Night Out and assisted with Small Town Big World International Festivals; hosted Rabies Clinics at low cost; generated a website and Facebook page and fostered additional neighborhood watch development in the area. As an all-volunteer organization, SafetySmart Lilburn hopes to gain additional support from the residents and businesses of the greater Lilburn area in promoting safety awareness and encouraging community involvement.
To encourage neighbors to communicate with each other, SafetySmart Lilburn started an electronic newsletter in 2011. Successive editors developed and grew the production until in January 2014, circulation was to about 1500 email addresses. Currently communications are not organized in newsletter format, but are sent as they become available. Communications are distributed to neighborhoods and community leaders by email, on the SafetySmart Lilburn Facebook page and by Nextdoor.com, reaching about 2500 people and 130 neighborhoods. Information ranges from upcoming events in the community including ways to become involved, to alerts from local police, to safety-related information found in a variety of media.
Neighborhood watches have become the focus of police departments across the country in hopes of reversing negative attitudes toward law enforcement. In addition to improving community-police relations, residents of an area can serve as extra eyes and ears to report suspicious activity to the police. As an example, watchful neighbors reporting the location of a fleeing burglar, enabled Police to capture two men trying to remove items from a home in the Mountain Park area. This watch began in 2012 with initial help from SafetySmart Lilburn.
SafetySmart Lilburn works to provide added support and encourage neighborhoods to pursue positive relationships. The first year, six new watches started; in the years since, a total of 25 neighborhoods in the city limits participate in watches. In addition, 105 neighborhoods (with whom we communicate) in the greater Lilburn area communicate with fellow residents through emailed alerts and notices sent between neighbors and by SafetySmart and local police. All these activities add together to make a vital organization working to build the safest community in Georgia.
SafetySmart Lilburn co-sponsors National Night Out with the Lilburn Police Department on the first Tuesday in August. The first year hosted four exhibitors and 150 participants; this year’s event scheduled over 100 vehicles-and-exhibitors and had more than 2000 people in attendance. The event brings the community together with local public safety personnel to provide a venue for positive interactions as well as offers information about resources and safety-related businesses. Kids’ activities are always available, including a construction project from Home Depot, a drunk goggles obstacle course from GUIDE, field games with police, the Georgia Fire Safety House and a Ninja Kour course. Georgia State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources helicopters and K-9 units from Duluth and Snellville were highlights of this year’s event. The best part of the evening is seeing people of all ethnicities interacting with each other, talking with police and fire personnel, breaking down barriers and enjoying life together.
In conjunction with Lilburn Community Partnership, SafetySmart has hosted an International Festival, called Small Town Big World for the last three years. The purpose of the event is to create a venue that engages and embraces the cultural diversity in our community; to help us make connection with faith, school and youth organizations as well as neighborhoods for future involvement opportunities and to provide a venue for educating the community in the various resources in the community.
Margot Ashley is the President of SafetySmart Lilburn. The Vice President is Ray Kaplan, and the Treasurer is Judy Mowrey. SafetySmart Lilburn works to increase safety awareness in the greater Lilburn area and assist with the development of safe, prosperous and connected neighborhoods through collaboration with individuals, organizations and other resources from the community. To get involved with SafetySmart Lilburn in the greater Lilburn area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-364-9731. You can also find us on www.safetysmartlilburn.org.