Andrea Cooke, posing for Jessica Whitley + Macon Magazine
Photo credit: Jessica Whitley + Macon Magazine

Laundry doesn’t necessarily rise to top of mind when thinking about big issues facing a community. It’s usually just one more dreaded task on the to-do list, but for many it’s more burdensome than that. Doing loads of laundry at the laundromat can be really expensive, especially for larger families, and those costs add to their pile of rising financial burdens.   

It’s challenges like these that come to light when community members from varying backgrounds are able to come together and have meaningful conversations about issues important to them, which is why On The Table has become such an important event across Central Georgia. 

We know open dialog breeds deeper understanding and powerful change begins – like Andrea Cooke’s idea for Laundry Days, an initiative born out of an On The Table conversation in 2018.

After attending On The Table, Andrea knew she could make a real difference in the lives of others, and the idea was simple – help people with their laundry, with one stipulation. While washing their clothes, program participants would engage in a community building conversation with others around them. Not only would the program ease the financial burdens of local families by helping them complete an essential household chore, but it would also ensure important community building conversations would continue to happen. 

Armed with the idea, Andrea just needed a little financial assistance to get the program started, so she applied for and received a $1,000 Conversation to Action grant to provide free tokens and supplies for washing clothes. 

Andrea watched the Laundry Days program not only help people with their laundry but also activate a community of people who, through meaningful conversations, began to realize they could also do something to give back. She credits her On The Table experience with igniting her passion to want to do more to help those in her community.   

“It activated a part of me I didn’t even know could be activated,” shared Andrea. 

Since her initial On The Table conversation, Andrea attended the event again in 2019 receiving another Conversation to Action Grant for a new project aimed at reducing unequal access to greenspaces.   

And she started a nonprofit, C-Qul, which seeks to eliminate barriers to wellness for those in need and has received two grants from funds at CFCG since it’s inception (the Linda Harriet Lane Fund for the Emergency Family Backpack Program and the Fund for Community Grants to support the Diaper Bank).

Andrea has certainly made a splash in Macon with her passion for and dedication to improving the community. In fact Macon Magazine recently recognized her as one of their “5 under 40” young leaders for the many wonderful ways she gives back to the community.

At the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, our vision is a community where philanthropy thrives, communities are strong, and citizens work toward common goals, and Andrea’s On the Table story is one of many examples of moving us toward making that vision reality. Let’s keep the conversations going because they are what inspire the big ideas that make our community stronger, safer and more dynamic.

About On The Table

On The Table began in 2018 as part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory. The Knight Foundation provides funding for the annual event, which is designed to bring people together to build personal connections, share ideas and inspire action to make our communities stronger. 

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