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  • Creating Positive Change

    Jeremy Park , Creating Positive Change

    By Jim Beaugez

    When Jeremy Park moved to Memphis eight years ago, he didn’t know anyone—but he quickly saw the same community needs he had observed in cities like Los Angeles and Dallas.

    Every city has major gaps, and they need third-party catalysts to step in to be able to make a difference,” said Park. As president of cityCURRENT, a motivator for community impact funded by private business, Park is now helping bring together business leaders to create meaningful change in the Mid-South.

    “Government obviously can’t solve all the problems and non-profits can’t solve all the problems,” he said. “Businesses are equipped with the resources to be heavily involved, but the problem is they’re so busy focusing on their business that they don’t know how to make it easy.”
    Taking the breakfast meeting series started by Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, Park developed cityCURRENT into a program of workshops, seminars, executive lunches, cultural connections and more, all geared to enrich lives and get people engaged in their communities.
    Park identified five areas to bring cityCURRENT’s mission to a wider audience, focusing on corporate philanthropy, collaboration among businesses and leaders, free events for the community, turnkey volunteerism and positive media.

    A team of partner businesses underwrites the programs, including more than 75 businesses and some of the world’s largest employers, such as FedEx, AutoZone, ServiceMaster and Smith & Nephew. Through their help, by 2015, the program had expanded from eight signature breakfasts to 181 events.

    “Instead of a group coming together for networking, we’re about true philanthropy,” said Park. “How can you take business processes and make it about the higher purpose, the higher good, to actually be physically engaged in the community, and make a real difference?”
    A media professional by trade with a background in television and radio, Park has expanded the footprint of cityCURRENT with shows on WREC-AM news radio and WKNO-TV, as well as a weekly column, “Giving Back,” in The Commercial Appeal, a podcast, and two books that expand upon the mission of being active in the community.

    The platform has also grown into the annual Spark Awards, a televised award show that honors individuals and organizations that make a difference in the Greater Memphis community.
    Adding to the support from like-minded businesspeople in the Memphis area, Park stresses that cityCURRENT is an opportunity for all.

    “Anyone can get involved in the community and it’s not going to cost them a dime. I think that’s important especially in a city like Memphis, where money can sometimes be a barrier to engagement. We take that off the table.”

    For example, when he brought members of the community together to participate in a Samaritan’s Feet event—where people from all walks of life gather to wash the feet of and provide new footwear to those in need—he saw cityCURRENT’s mission in action, as people collaborated on ways to solve other community problems.

    “You’ve got ministers, CEOs, principals and college students, and they’re coming out to serve, and the next thing you know they’re working together to help kids who want to be police officers get into the Explorers program with Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

    “You start seeing these relationships form. And things like Faith in Action, the first year 15,000 volunteers come out to pick up trash over three days across the Mid-South. We were a huge part of that activation piece. You see all these sides coming together for the common good.”

    “If you just come home and turn on the 10 o’clock news, I don’t care where you are, you’re never going to see the good in your city.”

    For additional information about Jeremy Park, please contact Executive Speakers Bureau, 901-754-9404.

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