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Hands On Atlanta tackles Greater Atlanta's most pressing needs by igniting a passion for service and creating lifelong community volunteers.
Founded in 1989, Hands On Atlanta tackles Greater Atlanta's most pressing needs by igniting a passion for service and creating lifelong community volunteers. Nearly 20,000 volunteers participate in Hands On Atlanta service projects benefiting more than 100 community and nonprofit agencies and public schools every year. Worth an estimated $3M annually, these volunteer hours strengthen Atlanta by providing cost-effective services while also engaging community members in the improvement of their city. Hands On Atlanta mobilizes an equipped, organized volunteer corps to tackle the most pressing needs of our community: education and youth development, including literacy, child hunger, and parental engagement.
Over 30 years ago, Elise Eplan, was a newly minted investment banker, having trouble finding time to volunteer at organizations. Her and her friends' work schedules clashed with nonprofits' 9-5 weekday programs. So, she and 11 acquaintances came up with a more organized and flexible business model for volunteering. The 12 volunteered as a group. If an agency needed a weekly volunteer, rather than one person having to make a weekly commitment, the group worked together to fill that slot, providing flexibility.
The idea, which began with an informal meeting in 1989 has become a one-stop shop to bring together Atlanta volunteers and nonprofits. After determining their system worked, they invited friends to join. Their numbers went from 12 to 60. They started getting a few small grants to help with postage, phones and other costs. With success came new problems. They were growing beyond what they could manage out of Eplan's apartment and began looking for someone to run the organization. Michelle Nunn was weighing different opportunities, but when offered the opportunity to lead Hands On Atlanta, didn't think twice, and the rest is history - growing from 12 to an organization with citywide impact and thousands of volunteers.