Georgia Association of Convenience Stores

Power of A:  Doing Good on the Road

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By Mark Athitakis / Oct 15, 2019

(Alena Paulus/Getty Images)

During a strategic planning session in 2016, Angela Holland, CAE,

president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, agreed with a

young professionals group that said one organizational focus of GACS

should be philanthropy. But what would that look like? Thinking about

the Super Bowl a few months later, Holland had a clear answer.

The Georgia Association of Convenience Stores wins a few battles in the fight against human trafficking.

The charitable nonprofit In Our Backyard has successfully spotlighted

the problem of human trafficking in the United States, especially

around big-ticket international events like the Super Bowl. With the big

game coming to Atlanta in early 2019, GACS decided to pursue a

partnership with the group. That effort, called Convenience Stores

Against Trafficking, earned the association a Power of A Summit Award

this year from ASAE.

Convenience store employees are well positioned to assist in

addressing human trafficking, Holland says, because such stores are

among the few places where victims may be seen in public. Interest in

the program among GACS members was swift and enthusiastic.

“We signed up 17 companies and almost 300 stores,” she says. “And the

weekend before the Super Bowl, we had about 400 volunteers engaged to

spread the message in convenience stores.” Those volunteers distributed

books with photographs of missing children to convenience store and

truck stop employees and deposited stickers with emergency contact

information in restrooms.

The impact of GACS’s effort has been remarkable: By late May, 29 of

the 34 children listed in the book had been recovered, and multiple

trafficking victims received assistance.

Holland credits the program’s success with GACS members in part to

the materials In Our Backyard helped to create and distribute. But

direct contact with members through an education session at its annual

meeting was critical.

“We emailed constantly to inform as many retailers in our state as

possible,” she says. “But I think the biggest driver was hosting the

educational session at the tradeshow, where there was actually hands-on

training.”

GACS is keeping the program running, but it’s also working to pay its

success forward. The 2020 Super Bowl will be played in Miami, and GACS

has reached out its neighboring state to join the effort.

“We have invited the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association to a

friendly challenge,” Holland says. “I hope they have better numbers and

better stats next year than we have.

 

 

 

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for

Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership

for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments

in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »

 

 


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