Native Atlantan Builds Up Hometown Residents Through Fundraising, Food Distribution and Education

Daily Point of Light # 7735 Jan 29, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Brittany Hartman. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Brittany Hartman, a 33-year-old Liberian-American, was born in raised in Atlanta. Proud of both her heritage and her hometown, she spends a lot of time with family. She’s the oldest of eight, most of whom still live in the area and get together almost weekly at her grandparents’ house to share stories and cook, something she credits, along with its similarities to chemistry, for sparking her love of all things culinary.

Brittany spends her workdays as a product manager of customer data privacy and governance at The Home Depot where she also volunteers. Being deeply invested in the community, Brittany’s desire to improve the lives of the people she cares about extends beyond those who share her last name. She works with Hands On Atlanta as a fellow in their Civic Leadership Program, leading an engaging learning program at a local elementary school. Concerned about those facing food insecurity, she helps Open Hand Atlanta fill grocery bags to give away. And there are many days she finds herself at Dekalb Brilliance Academy both as a board member of and volunteer at her nephew’s school.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I’ve been doing community service for as long as I can remember. At college, I was a member of Clemson’s chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma, a service sorority. I was a community scholar with Civics and Service House, and as part of the requirements to live in my dorm, we did weekly community service. When I plan or participate in events, it makes me feel like I’m making the world better. I take pride in where I was born, where I live now and where I’ll live in the future with my own children. I want to make sure that my city looks beautiful and people have access to things they need.

As a lifelong volunteer, Brittany Hartman works with multiple Atlanta-based organizations to address issues related to homelessness, improve the lives of those around her and expand learning opportunities for kids./Courtesy Brittany Hartman

What inspired you to get started with these initiatives, and what is your role within each?

We used to volunteer at Open Hand Atlanta quite a bit when I was working at Cox Enterprises. What really stuck out to me was that a large majority of the money that they raise goes directly to helping communities here in Georgia. I put together market baskets and meals for individuals afflicted with certain illnesses that require a very strict diet. They also offer healthy cooking classes. I joined the Open Hand Society, the young professionals board and do a lot of social events and volunteer. Last year, I was the auction chair for Party in the Kitchen, our biggest fundraiser.  

I connected with DeKalb Brilliance Academy when my nephew became a student. They promote project-based learning and bring in professionals to expose kids to different career paths they might not have otherwise known about. I volunteer for things like chaperoning a dance, but I’m also on the board, so I help fundraise.  

I was in high school the first time I did a Hands On Atlanta program, a beautification project at an elementary school. For 2023-2024, I’m a civic leader program fellow and a Discovery program captain stationed at Kindezi Gideons, an elementary school in my neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta. Some days, I lead social-emotional learning, wellness and STEAM projects. Other times, I guide the volunteers through the process of teaching lessons.  

I also do different projects with The Home Depot. We went to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and put together grocery bags for people experiencing food insecurity. We have service projects every quarter, and I just stepped into a co-chair position for Women’s Link, one of our employee resource groups, so I’ll be running service for them as well.  

Do you have any long-term volunteer plans or goals?

I’m passionate about driving down homelessness. It’s one of those things that keeps me up at night. I think about how to get more people more involved and how to get people access to things they need. 

Also, there are a lot of things that I think I got exposed to too late, and I wonder how different my life would been have had I known about them in grade school. I love what Hands On Atlanta is doing with the Discovery program. I want to continue helping individuals who historically wouldn’t have access, give them a head start and ensure them an equitable playing field.  

Brittany (front right) attends a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day supper with fellow Civic Leadership Program members./Courtesy Brittany Hartman

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

It’s easier for me to feel like I’ve done something good when I get direct feedback. Working with kids and seeing their faces has been the most rewarding thing. Building that connection has been so rewarding. Bringing other people to service is the best, too 

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

When I’m volunteering, it puts the world in perspective. When I’m caught up in my professional life, it’s hard to remember to appreciate things that I have access to that not everyone does. That’s what I’ve learned the most. Be grateful for everything that you have, and if you have a way to help someone, offer that up. 

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Start small. Don’t feel obligation or anxiety when you think about trying to tackle the world’s problems. When I was in high school, cheerleading was my passion. When I could no longer cheer, I coached for 3 to 6-year-olds. There’s always an opportunity to do something.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

Sometimes, I don’t feel like I don’t have time to do everything that I do, but maybe the lesson is that you always have time. Small things can make a huge impact. One group, Flowing With Blessings, sets up outside of Grady Memorial Hospital where there is a large homeless population, and they take donations. I’ll collect gently used clothing from friends, family and colleagues and take it there. Anything you can think of might benefit somebody else. If you see an issue, try to figure out how to tackle it. Brainstorm with your friends. And be open to having conversations with people about how to better the world around you 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Brittany? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Kristin Park