Thomaston-Upson Heart & Soul, Georgia
Georgia EMC’s Community Development Team partnered to offer Community Heart & Soul® to the Thomaston-Upson (T-Up) community on behalf of Upson EMC. T-Up Heart & Soul was a joint effort of the City of Thomaston, The Upson County Commission, Upson EMC, the Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce, private businesses, and countless volunteers. In March of 2020, the T-Up Heart & Soul team was recognized by the Georgia House of Representatives for being the first community in the state to complete the process.
The first Heart & Soul community in the state of Georgia, Upson County is about 90 minutes southeast of Atlanta. The county seat is Thomaston, which serves as a hub for the area. The Thomaston-Upson County School District serves the entire county. The local electric cooperative, Upson EMC, as well as both city and county government and local organizations, supported Thomaston-Upson’s Community Heart & Soul initiative. The Project Coordinator retained her office at the County Clerk’s office, which reinforced the collaboration that was essential for this county-wide effort.
Volunteer and Community Response:
The Heart & Soul Team focused on creative engagement activities in the community. Each meeting and activity brought new community members and volunteers together to share their stories and thoughts on what matters most to the community.
Engagement activities included:
• Story circles connected to annual Emancipation Proclamation Celebration
• Game On Arcade Day to reach youth
• Hopes and Ideas jar at public offices
• Large chalkboard to collect ideas at downtown events and festivals
Heart & Soul Outcomes
• 20 prioritized action ideas, stewarded by the Heart & Soul Legacy Team, IG-Knight Thomaston Upson
• Commendation from state legislature with a resolution designating Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul Day at the state capitol
• Increased volunteerism throughout the community, including the creation of Unsung Hero Awards to lift up contributions of residents
• An increased awareness of civic engagement and the opportunity to play a role in local decision making
• Thomaston Chamber of Commerce recognized the Heart & Soul team with a “Unity in Community” Award (2018)