The city of Auburn will host a virtual meet and greet on April 15 to connect neighborhood leaders with Neighborhood Specialist Allison Blankenship, who will present some of the city's communication goals and then look for feedback.
Blankenship took over as the city's neighborhood specialist last January and started to reach out to homeowners associations right before the pandemic hit.
"I had started making contacts at that time with neighborhoods and HOAs, and I was planning to go and be a part of some of their events and, of course, none of that happened," said Blankenship. "I've been able to form some connections and contacts, but I know that there are still probably so many HOA officers and unofficial neighborhood groups and residents that I have not had the chance to meet and engage with."
Blankenship will introduce herself and talk about the goals of her position, as well as present the city's communication goals and the efforts she is undertaking this year.
"Then I'm going to take some time to give the floor ... to people who attend who want to introduce themselves as well, just to kind of help me put some faces to names and meet some new people," she said.
Blankenship will also send out a survey to meeting participants to get feedback and gauge how she can best support them going forward.
"One of the things I'm most excited about is just getting to know the people that make up each of these neighborhoods, which all have their own character," she said while acknowledging the challenges the pandemic has presented in making those connections. "In Auburn, people come here from all walks of life. There's a lot of retirees here; there's a lot of people who moved here for the university. I just feel like we have a very diverse community, and I've been looking forward to meeting people and the people that serve their neighborhoods.
"Since no events can be held in person, it's just been really challenging."
An Athens native, Blankenship first moved to the area in 2006 to attend Auburn University and has stayed in the community all but one year since. She also built connections with the community through The Villager, where she served as associate editor for more than six years.
Blankenship said she hopes that the virtual meet and greet will help her continue to establish good working relationships with neighborhoods across the city.
"While the pandemic has made it challenging to meet people and has affected in-person events I would have liked to have over this past year, I have been able to virtually connect with some neighborhoods and begin to establish good working relationships with many," she said. "I am looking forward to continuing those and interacting with even more neighborhoods and residents as we move forward. The Auburn community is an engaged and active community, and I look forward to supporting that and finding ways to make the relationship between the residents and their local government even more meaningful."
Auburn Police Division officer Bud Nesmith will also introduce himself at the meeting and discuss what the APD can provide to neighborhoods.
The city is encouraging an HOA officer or representative from each neighborhood to attend. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 15.
If you have any questions, email Blankenship at email@example.com. Register to attend at the following link https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oVBg-QX1T9GchfKPO9JCug.