Town and Gown is an annual event held by ABAC which allows clubs, churches, local businesses and nonprofit organizations to introduce themselves to students and cultivate their interests. At this event, the organizations gave out free stuff for the students: including candy, cups, shirts, ramen, hand sanitizer and more that would be useful to any ABAC student.
Both businesses and students were excited about Town and Gown and the opportunities that this event provided for them. Many freshmen, as well as some upperclassmen, were introduced to clubs and organizations that they had not heard of, this helped new students begin to spread their wings in college. Nicholas Spader, one of the biochemistry majors, says, “…a lot of students aren’t from Tifton like I am. They don’t necessarily know the lay of the land, so this really does help to introduce them to the environment where they’re going to be growing up and learning in.”
This event allows students to find new friends with similar interests within clubs.
One business owner, Trisha from Southern Bodies says, “For me personally and for my business it’s awesome. I get to meet a lot of new students… that stay for their length at college. I get to know these students and they become more like family.”
Many businesses such as The Big Store and Ameris Bank were excited about the opportunity to put a face to the name of a business. It’s important for a business to let the public know that they are more than just a company. Other businesses, like Planet Fitness, were able to introduce themselves as new companies in the community. One employee stated, “We’re new to Tifton so it’s important for us to do this. I think this event is great.” South Georgia Banking Company also stated, “We’re excited for the exposure, the opportunity to get our name out there for the students coming in.”
There were several health, safety and nonprofit organization booths set up to inform students and make them feel comfortable about coming forward with sensitive topics. Ruth’s Cottage, a domestic violence prevention program, emergency shelter and sexual assault advocate program located in Tifton, Ga, said, “…we want to be very accessible to ABAC students should they ever need any of our services. It’s just a matter of educating students as they start a new chapter in their lives.”
There were also organizations for those who want to support people who are suffering or in need, like the Alzheimer’s Association. Buffy Hankinson said, “It’s great to see so many young people involved in the Alzheimer’s Association admissions…”
All the businesses, clubs and organizations interviewed said that ABAC’s hospitality was fantastic, constantly offering help and support during the event.
When asked what could be improved most said the event was perfect now that it is indoors, but there were a few suggestions. Gwen Anderson from The Stallion Shop said, “I think it’s great. I think the only suggestion is a lot of time these students come around and have a lot of stuff in their hands. Almost like, they should come up with some kind of bag… for this event.”
The only other suggestions were from Ranisha Johnson (a Biology major), Reginald Jackson (a criminal justice major) and the Devine Savior Catholic Church. All of whom said that the event did not get enough exposure because they did not find out about Town and Gown until last minute.
This year’s Town and Gown was a success. Many people were happy, and maybe with the suggestions from this year, next year’s event will be even better. ABAC’s community events continue to help students integrate into Tifton’s society and find ground to stand on. The community appreciates ABAC’s efforts for advancing everyone forward.