Aiken Public Safety encourages the public to be a part of its annual Aiken Safe Communities Cultivating Community session on Saturday, Feb. 8.

City employees will hold back-to-back sessions on topics ranging from mental health, cultivating community gardens and a Safe Communities roundtable from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center, 400 Kershaw St. N.E.

The Safe Communities initiative also happens to be part of a submission from Public Safety to the S.C. Municipal Association for its achievement awards recognizing a municipality's innovative ideas and excellence in local government.

While everyone in the community should come out, the attendance of a representative of each neighborhood association would be greatly appreciated to foster the connections between neighborhood leaders and residents, said Cynthia Mitchell, Aiken Public Safety community services coordinator.

“A connection with a neighborhood leader helps with information shared between that association and Public Safety to better flow,” Mitchell said. “We're also inviting family members and church groups, because we do have churches who contact us, and any sector of our community, because we find no gift or resource too small.”

Lunch will be provided in between sessions, and door prizes will also be given away.

These workshops help support the Aiken Safe Communities program Public Safety adopted to strengthen the partnership between the department and residents, Mitchell said.

“We strongly encourage everyone in our community to be a part of it, and we're trying to offer sessions and topics relevant to where we are as a community,” Mitchell said. “We need the community to come out and participate so we can receive feedback and insight into the process.”

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard.

An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.