Deloitte recently kicked off a long-term partnership with the home of Joel Chandler Harris – The Wrens Nest – to raise the home’s profile in the West End community and make it a more valuable resource for its neighbors. The investment will total about $45,000 and will include beautification efforts as well as storytelling technologies and improvements to allow the home to serve as an education destination for area schools.

In June, about 60 employees from Deloitte’s Atlanta office volunteered at The Wren’s Nest as part of the company’s Impact Day performing beautification work and doing pro bono consulting on improving the home’s outreach to the community.

But this was more than a “one-and-done” visit of volunteer service. Deloitte that day was launching a summer-long community collaboration to help transform The Wren’s Nest into a more connected, impactful and education-focused asset for the West End.

As the former home of author Joel Chandler Harris, compiler of the Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit folktales, The Wren’s Nest is channeling its storytelling past by creating an outdoor education facility that will enable students from the surrounding communities to participate in interactive, values-based experiences such as the importance of creative thought, social inclusion and the environmental sciences.

On Impact Day, Deloitte volunteers enhanced the 2.5-acre pocket park behind the home, bringing back to life a garden storytelling circle and connecting the circle to the historic home with a new gravel path. They also developed a dedicated picnic table area that can accommodate more than 150 students and planted a community garden that includes some of Brer Rabbit’s favorite treats, including strawberries.

Over the summer, the Wren’s Nest will commission a local artist to incorporate character sculptures from the Brer Rabbit tales. QR-code enabled technology within the storytelling circle and garden also will be implemented. This technology will preserve the African-American folklore that Harris celebrated and introduced to the country.

Deloitte professionals also are working with the organization’s leadership to develop a strategic marketing and communications plan for the nonprofit using case-based studies and visioning activities.

“This home has been part of the West End community for over 100 years,” said Maxwell Collins, a consultant with Deloitte Tax LLP, who led the volunteering efforts at The Wren’s Nest. “It’s an institution, but it could do even more to help address the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods, to be a true resource for the community.”

In all, Deloitte’s contributions are valued at about $45,000, which includes materials (mulch, gravel, soil, etc.) for the Impact Day work in addition to the pro bono consulting services for the marketing plan and a $20,000 grant to complete the outdoor transformation.

Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 5,000 private and middle market companies.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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