On Thursday Jan. 20, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce held an official ribbon cutting for The Place of Dawson County, a local nonprofit aimed at helping people in need in the community through providing them with essential resources.
The Place of Dawson County is an extension of The Place of Forsyth County, which was founded in 1975 and has served the local community through providing financial emergency assistance, clothing, food and other support services.
In 2021, The Place of Forsyth County merged with RIC-Rack Thrift Shop and Food Bank to form The Place of Dawson County. Since then, The Place has been supporting Dawson County families in need with its thrift store, food pantry, workforce and education development, rental and utility assistance, parenting classes and more.
During the chamber’s ribbon cutting, board members and volunteers from The Place joined with local business leaders to cut the ribbon and celebrate the office that The Place of Dawson County has recently opened.
“I just want to welcome you all and thank you for being here,” Dawson County Chamber of Commerce 2022 Board Chair Shannon Voss said to The Place leadership during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We’re so excited to have The Place as a new member of the chamber but most importantly we thank you for all the things that The Place does for the community.”
According to Amy Palmer, outreach coordinator for The Place of Dawson County, having the office space in the county will allow the nonprofit to provide a “safe place to land” for those in the community who have a need.
“Kind of the vision for this office is to be a welcoming spot and just a very hopeful place for people to come, a safe place to tell your story,” Palmer said. “We try to make it super flexible; we have a computer with our programs so if people don’t have internet they can come here and we’ve had clients come in for career coaching.”
The office space is currently open part time, but The Place President and CEO Joni Smith said that the goal is to have enough volunteers helping out so that the office can be open five days a week in the future. As it is now, the Dawson County Schools social workers have access to the office anytime in the case of an emergency need.
“Amy keeps emergency bags — tents, sleeping bags, hygiene products — and when we are not here the school social workers and education coordinator know to come in here and take what the families need and leave us a note,” Smith said.
Smith said that expanding into Dawson County has been something that The Place of Forsyth County had been wanting to do for several years before RIC-Rack leadership approached them about a potential merger.
“We are honored to be here; we have wanted to venture more into Dawson County for many years and we were in that process when RIC-Rack approached us and we were able to work out a merger,” Smith said. “We’re really excited about that and we have a lot of great plans of how to outreach to the community and try to meet their needs.”
The Place of Dawson County has been filling a lot of needs in the community, one of the most recent of which is an expanded food program. With an approach like Instacart, clients can order the food that they need on a weekly basis, rather than a monthly basis like in the past. Because of this, Smith said that The Place of Dawson County is averaging about 42 to 45 families making use of the food program each week.
Smith added that she and other leadership from The Place rely on the community and partnerships to help keep their mission going.
“The Place is in Forsyth County and we’ve been there 46 years, and it’s all by the community partnership that we’ve been able to be there that long,” Smith said. “The funding, the support, giving us your stuff for the thrift store — that is what has kept us going and that’s what will keep The Place of Dawson going too.”
Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mandy Power said that The Place of Dawson brings much-needed resources to the Dawson County community, and that she and the other chamber leadership are grateful for all The Place does for the county.
“What an amazing resource we have for Dawson County,” Power said. “While we would all like to think things are unicorns and rainbows, there are people in our community right here that need help and we’re so blessed to have The Place of Dawson here to do that.”
The Place of Dawson County is always in need of volunteers and donations, and there are many ways to do so, from donating to the thrift store to donating monetary funding to donating time.
For those in need, the best way to get assistance is to call, and a representative from The Place will help find a way to meet your needs.
The Place of Dawson County office is located at 517 Allen Street in Dawsonville, and is currently open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To ask questions or for more information, call The Place of Dawson at 770-288-0088, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.theplaceofdawson.org.