Gwinnett Coalition honors community partners who served residents throughout pandemic

The Gwinnett Coalition hosted the Gwinnett Cares Celebration last month, an event honoring community organizations that served residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nicole Love Hendrickson, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman, spoke at the event about the community efforts that have been achieved since the beginning of the pandemic — including the administration of more than 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to residents, moving nearly 1.1 million pounds of food to 153 markets and distributing $63 million in housing assistance.

“Opportunity comes out of challenges — and we have certainly seen our share throughout this pandemic,” Hendrickson said. “We will continue working together to build coalitions, develop ideas and innovate in order to enhance the quality of life for our residents and strengthen the vibrant connections that unite our community.”

Matt Elder, director of HomeFirst Gwinnett, an organization that works to address homelessness in the county, recognized partners who supported eviction prevention and housing solution programs.

Those programs, he said, lead to opening two shelters, and the completion of 117 new affordable housing units.

Jace Brooks, the director of Better Work Gwinnett, a job training organization, talked about decreasing Gwinnett’s unemployment rate during the pandemic from around 15% to 2.1%.

Upcoming initiatives in the county were also announced, including a comprehensive human services needs assessment, United Way’s community equity assessment and Gwinnett Coalition’s development of the Gwinnett Health Finder tool.

“Over the past couple of years and under the banner of Gwinnett Cares, the community came together to support those most impacted by the pandemic,” Renee Byrd-Lewis, CEO of the Gwinnett Coalition, said.