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Life at Perficient

Volunteer Experience Turned Into a Night with Perficient and the “Extra Special People” Organization

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Group Photo Copy ImageWhen the Atlanta Giving ERG team was brainstorming volunteer ideas, Eric Courtney, associate business coordinator in our Sitecore consulting group, mentioned an organization that everyone immediately agreed they wanted to sponsor – a dinner with members and staff of Extra Special People (ESP).

According to ESP, the organization “exists to create transformative experiences for people with disabilities and their families, changing communities for the better!”

Going back to his college days at the University of Georgia, Eric was motivated to volunteer with ESP through a college friend. Eric has stayed in touch with his college friend, who is now an employee of ESP.

Eric Courtney“I recommended ESP as an organization to partner with because I’ve seen, first-hand, how small actions can create unforgettable experiences for someone with a disability, who may not have otherwise had the opportunity,” said Eric. “You develop a connection with the participants, families, and ESP staff – something I think is unique to this organization. As ESP expands its footprint in Georgia, and Perficient’s Giving ERG continues growing its volunteer efforts, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to engage our colleagues and help create transformative experiences for individuals in our community.”

It Was Special From the Beginning

Founded by Laura Hope Whitaker in 1986 in Athens, Georgia, ESP has a long history of serving people with different abilities. ESP’s mission from the beginning has been to provide social engagement for children and young adults who would have otherwise not had these opportunities. Like Eric’s experience with ESP, the founder started as a volunteer while attending the University of Georgia in Athens. Since 1986, the organization has flourished, expanding its reach to more locations throughout Georgia such as Atlanta and Rome, and soon, in Gainesville.

Extra Special Dinner

The Perficient Atlanta ERG team that night, Bekah Williamson, Grayson Harden, Eric Courtney, and Lisa McMichael, brought in sandwiches, fried chicken – which was a big hit – snacks, and drinks. The team mixed and mingled with about 30 family members while dining with them for several hours that evening. That night was Extra Special for the team as they realized how big of an impact they were making with a simple gesture of sitting down and having a conversation with families.

The Perficient team learned about their everyday lives. They heard stories of how long families had been involved with ESP, how they got started with the program, and how lives were transformed. Lisa was especially impressed with one family’s experience with ESP. A mother working as a registered nurse in healthcare highlighted the tenacity she used to secure employment for her two adult sons in the hospital where she works. Lisa explained that “it brought to life a real story, and highlighted the importance of having meaningful work accessible to young adults with disabilities.”

ESP’s leadership was thrilled with Perficient’s generosity and level of engagement with participating families. During the dinner, the team had several discussions with ESP leaders about ways Perficient could help their organization in the future and help develop its presence in the Atlanta area. One idea is hosting “JavaJoy” later in the year, a ‘mobile’ coffee stand. The Perficient team is also considering a carnival event. Stay tuned for more updates!

“Thank you again for sponsoring the night and providing food for our families; the night would’ve not been possible without Perficient.” –Extra Special People

Get Involved

ESP’s programs wouldn’t be possible without volunteers. To learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference within ESP, check out their Volunteer page.


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Hannah Elzey

Hannah is the Communications Associate Marketing Coordinator based out of St. Louis, Missouri, focusing primarily on strategizing and composing internal corporate communications. She enjoys learning more about Adobe Creative Suite, following hockey, and spending time with friends and family in her free time.

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