By Jordan Beach
The faculty and staff at Reinhardt University recognize the importance of connecting with the community. Staff members like Erika Neldner, director of marketing and communications, express their commitment toward making Reinhardt the best it can be through their efforts in community involvement.
The four years Neldner served in Rotary Club of Towne Lake aided the association in naming her President for the 2019-20 term. Previous service to the Club include Public Image Chair, Secretary, Vice President/President Nominee and President Elect.
“Serving as president of the Rotary Club of Towne Lake is an honor,” said Neldner. “I was asked two years ago to serve in this volunteer role and have been preparing for about a year. Our Club members are some of the friendliest and philanthropic minded people I have ever met, and it is a joy to serve alongside of them.”
With more than 10 years of experience as a local journalist prior to joining Reinhardt in 2016, Neldner provides Reinhardt’s marketing department with invaluable knowledge that continues growing public awareness of the University, its students and faculty/staff. Her personal community engagement models the University’s mission to educate students through service learning.
“The mission at Reinhardt University is to educate the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, vocational, spiritual and physical dimensions of its student, and we emphasize the importance of high impact practices, which includes service learning. If we as faculty and staff are to be strong role models for our students, our service to the community is of the utmost importance. It shows students that we not only believe in what the University is teaching them in the classroom, but we also value service because we are devoting our own time and resources to making our community better.”
The Rotary Club of Towne Lake betters the community through the provision of basic necessities to those in need. The Club sponsors food and toiletry boxes from Never Alone Ministries, specifically for Colbert Square residents, and visits the Section 8 senior housing complex in Woodstock on a monthly basis to deliver the boxes.
“For some, we may be the only people outside of the complex they see all month. They hug us, strike up conversations and are genuinely appreciative of the time we spend visiting them.”
Neldner describes her experience with Rotary as “much more than getting together for lunch once a week.” The Rotary Club of Towne Lake also supports education, funding Ferst Readers of Cherokee County, an organization that provides age appropriate reading material to children of low-income families every month, a vital resource in educating young minds.
“Rotary is about connecting with your community and joining forces to help those in need and make a strong positive impact in the lives of others. Rotary International’s Motto is Service Above Self, and we strive daily to live by that motto and the Four Way Test: Is it the Truth, it is Fair to All Concerned, Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships, and will it be Beneficial to All Concerned.”
The 2019-20 theme from Rotary International President Mark Maloney is “Rotary Connects the World,” something Neldner can use to inspire her decisions during her time leading the Club. She believes when the community is connected, more can be accomplished.
“We are able to get a better understanding of what our community needs when we are building personal connections. The same is true for Reinhardt. With our community partnerships and volunteer service, we are able to make the much-needed connections that, in turn, can provide more opportunities to Reinhardt students.”
Neldner attributes her ability to take on her new role to Reinhardt’s promotion of community involvement.
“I would not be able to serve as the Club’s president without the support of Reinhardt leadership. I am fortunate to work at an institution that values service and allows its employees to being involved in the community.