April 18, 2024
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The Columbia Chamber’s Leadership Columbia Class of 2024 (LC24), in partnership with Serve & Connect, is delighted to announce a block party to celebrate the opening of Serve & Connect's new headquarters at 8131 Brookfield Road. The block party, organized by LC24, will take place on Sunday, April 28, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m., and will feature food, entertainment, community information, and activities for all ages. All are invited. 

As part of the Leadership Columbia program, each class selects a project that positively impacts the Midlands community. This year, LC24 chose to enhance Serve & Connect's new headquarters which serves as a hub for community-driven initiatives aimed at fostering collaboration between law enforcement and local residents to address communal challenges.

Enhancements to the community center included the addition of a pergola, basketball court, outdoor pavilion, outdoor recreational spaces, landscaping and cosmetic improvements, and the development of a memorial garden to honor fallen officers and community members. These efforts align with Serve & Connect's mission to ignite positive change through police-community partnerships.

"We are thrilled to partner with Serve & Connect on this transformative project," said Emily James, member of LC24. "The Block Party on April 28th will represent a culmination of months of hard work and collaboration between Leadership Columbia, Serve & Connect, and the community at-large. It's an opportunity to celebrate not only the physical improvements to the community center but also the spirit of unity and connection that defines our city."

Kassy Alia Ray, Ph.D., Founder & CEO of Serve & Connect, expressed gratitude for the partnership, stating, "The block party represents a significant milestone in our mission to foster positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve as we launch our new headquarters. We are grateful to Leadership Columbia and the entire community for their support and partnership in this endeavor."

Thank you to the following donors that made this project possible: Amazon, Columbia Siding and Windows, SAFE Federal Credit Union, Jones Paving, Blanchard Machinery, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina, Clay and Bruce Auld, Coal Powered Filmworks, EcoPlay Structures, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Columbia, Mauldin & Jenkins, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Palmetto GBA, Pulliam Restoration, Queensborough National Bank & Trust, South Carolina Federal Credit Union, Tri-D Materials, Walmart, anonymous donors, BB Barnes, Cavanaugh & Thickens, Central Carolina Community Foundation, Chernoff Newman, Colucci Custom Awards, Columbia Arts Academy, CWR Investments, E&D Enterprises, First Citizens Bank, Hussey Gay Bell, Lexington Medical Center, Mo’ Better Soul, Richland Library, Richland Library Friends and Foundation, Riverbanks Zoo, Rudy Cunningham State Farm Insurance, SoulHaus, and Triangle Lawn Games.

About Leadership Columbia
Leadership Columbia is an educational program offered through the Columbia Chamber. The 10-month program provides emerging and existing leaders in the Midlands area with an opportunity to enhance their civic knowledge and network. For over 50 years, Leadership Columbia has helped participants better understand the local community, while building relationships with the region's current and future leaders. For more information on Leadership Columbia, visit www.columbiachamber.com/leadership-development/ or contact Mary Beth Sanderson, Director of Leadership Development, at 803.733.1124.

About Columbia Chamber
The Columbia Chamber is a private, nonprofit, Partner-driven organization comprised of 1,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions, and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its Partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural, and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its Partners through networking, professional development, advocacy, and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902. To become a Partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs, and initiatives, visit www.ColumbiaChamber.com.

About Serve & Connect 
Serve & Connect is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that aims to ignite positive change through police-community partnerships. Kassy Alia Ray founded the organization in memory of her late husband, Officer Gregory Alia, who was killed in the line of duty in 2015. Backed by evidence-based practices designed to fuel collaboration, Serve & Connect provides the tools, training, and technical assistance necessary for police departments, local organizations, leaders, and residents to work together to improve community outcomes.

Media Contacts:
Hunter Sox, Leadership Columbia Class of 2024, 803-479-2784, Hunterzerasox@gmail.com 
Meg Senn, Columbia Chamber, msenn@columbiachamber.com