Boosting Involvement

New directory brings community connections

Connect Res

Looking to find your niche in Wilmington? Whether new to the area or a longtime resident, CONNECT Community Involvement Directory seeks to be a resource to the community. The website launched in April 2022 and is an extensive source of local organizations, groups, clubs, and events. The brain behind the idea is networker JUDY BUDD, a former associate publisher at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and WILMA magazine. “The idea was on my retirement bucket list, but as I was preparing for retirement, I ditched the idea,” she says. “A little over a month after I retired, I decided I did want to create a networking directory.”

Budd’s mission was to build a stronger community by providing a free platform for residents, newcomers, and retirees to find a sense of community and belonging. She decided the best approach was an online version, which would be “great for the younger generation as well.”

A natural choice for helping her spearhead the project was JENNA CURRY, founder of Port City Young Professionals and owner of Remedy Digital Agency. According to Budd, Curry had the marketing expertise and know-how to bring the idea to fruition, plus it helped that they made a good match. The two are commonly referred to as the “networking queens or mayors of Wilmington.”

“This directory was just a continuation of what we loved doing,” says Budd.

Once onboard, Curry expanded Budd’s vision of the directory by adding a community involvement calendar to the site. Additional features include Community Involvement Spotlights (blogs) about local businesses supporting community involvement, networking tips, and valuable advertising space for businesses to reach audiences. “We basically wanted to offer a service we always wish had existed,” says Curry. “This information is so useful for growing relationships and businesses.”

The website is indeed comprehensive, with more than 1,000 listings including everything from nonprofit organizations, clubs, associations, and schools, to golf courses as well as networking, religious, and veteran support groups. Anything that can be “joined” (or attended or volunteered) is included for all of Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties.

The website is set up to be both user-friendly for individuals and groups. Groups can participate by claiming or creating their free listing at and adding useful information, contact, and upcoming meeting and/or event details. Individuals can join the newsletter and search for events. There is a “get matched” feature that is a personalized service that will recommend groups based on interests and preferences.

“After two years of COVID isolation and adjustments to social activities, there has never been a greater need for the Cape Fear Region to reconnect,” says Curry. “In my thirteen years of running the Port City Young Professionals networking group, it is such a gift to be able to direct young professionals eager to grow, get involved and connect locally.” The website’s Upcoming Community Events section is filled with opportunities from kid’s activities to holiday volunteer events to N.C. Birding Hikes.

“It is perfect for when you are moving to the area, looking for a new career, or just want to make friends,” says Budd.

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Categories: Women to Watch