ALBANY -- It's often said that perception is reality. Emerge Albany's Caitlyn Cooper and Barbara Rivera Holmes believe it.
"We are trying to change the perception that there is nothing to do in Albany," Rivera Holmes said at the Dougherty County Rotary Club's meeting Tuesday at Doublegate Country Club.
Emerge Albany is a group of young Albany professionals whose mission is to build relationships, develop professionally, become politically and philanthropically active, and contribute to the economic development of Albany through networking events and cultural education.
"When I first moved to Albany, I thought, 'Wow, there's nothing to do here,' but I was wrong," Holmes said. "We hope to educate our members and make them aware of what the community can do for them."
To that end, the group has begun an "ExploreAlbany" campaign, which is checklist of 101 things to do in Albany.
Suggestions range from camping at Chehaw to volunteering at a local soup kitchen.
The idea, Cooper says, is to keep the young professionals in town and to attract locals back after they have graduated from college by eliminating the area's negative perception.
"One of the biggest challenges here is getting plugged into networking opportunities," said Cooper, Emerge Albany's chair. "It's as much of a social network as anything. There is a great need to keep talented young people in Albany.
"These personal and professional resources can help Albany keep its best and brightest - if we can get them to understand the benefits of living here."
"People like to see young families out and about in the community," she said. "We think ExploreAlbany will help us with that."
When Emerge Albany formed in 2007, its membership stood at five. Today, it boasts 225 members, all between the ages of 21 and 40.
"We encourage our members to get involved early and and get involved fast," Cooper said.
"Our members are in the loop," Holmes added. "We've got great people in Albany. We need to keep them here."
And if you'd like to see the list of 101 things to do in Albany, visit http://www.albanyga.com/youngprofessionals.html.