It was Saturday November 6, 2010 when I received the email from the Alpha Delta Chapter of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc.! It stated that I had been selected for their Intern for a Day Program and would be placed with the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency. I was excited that I had been selected and immediately began to research information about the nonprofit I would be spending my day with. Through my research I discovered that ACSS is an organization which strives to break the cycle of homelessness in Atlanta. However, in my opinion they do more than that (they genuinely care about their cause and are willing to go the extra mile in order to ensure the success of those looking for help).
The morning of November 12, 2010 I walked up to the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, not really knowing what to expect. As I was about to enter the building I was greeted by a woman who asked if I was there for the job readiness orientation and I simply replied ” no“. Not having a clue about what she was referring to – but shortly after, I found out. A segment of ACSS is their CareerWorks program which is an intense job readiness program that provides homeless individuals with the necessary tools such as counseling, case management, trainings/workshops, showers, breakfast and lunch etc in order for them to land stable employment! Mr. Otis, VP of Programming took me under his wing for the initial part of the Intern for a Day program by allowing me to sit in on the orientation. To my surprise, the people in the room really didn’t look like my perceived notion/stereotype of a “homeless” person. One of the young ladies in attendance had to have been around my age; dressed well and carried herself with confidence. I guess my initial ignorance and lack of understanding what true homelessness was embodied my thoughts. I realized that I had let the media and past encounters with panhandlers (who often times aren’t homeless) take over my perception of all dispossessed individuals.
After sneaking a peek at the job readiness program and seeing the intense and strict orientation, I was fortunate enough to meet the CEO of the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency Mr. Charles Edwards. Such a kind-spirited person, he explained how he primarily deals with external issues, the Board of Directors and higher partnerships. In addition to explaining his job functions he also just provided me with great advice! Once Mr. Edwards and I ended our conversation, I went with Ms. Dana Inman-Johnson to the “Housing and Human Services Department’s 2010-2011 Annual Network of Provider’s Meeting”. I learned a lot regarding what it takes in order to obtain grants and getting other types of funding for a nonprofit organization – specifically as it relates to Fulton County. The meeting lasted for a couple of hours and included topics such as Reporting Requirements, Site Visits, Basic Standards and various Program Highlights. It was a very intense but educational meeting. Having the desire to start my own nonprofit organization (for at-risk adolescent females) in my late 20s early 30s – attending the County meeting was very eye-opening and beneficial. On the ride to our next destination, I was given advice from Ms. Inman-Johnson regarding nonprofit startups that had a sincere impact on my life. She explained how hard it truly is to create a successful nonprofit, obtain funding and other key elements necessary to thrive. But more importantly, how in her opinion, it’s better to go into an already established nonprofit that mission and goals line up with those that I intended to create. It made a lot of sense but I had never thought about that before. She suggested that I go that route and then just work my way up through management until I reach a point that I can alter the areas in the nonprofit I see need adjustment. Later in the day she allowed me to see several grants she had to write on behalf of ACSS.
The last stop of the day was at Café 458 – one of the best kept secrets of Atlanta in my opinion (http://cafe458.pmhclients.com/)! Café 458 is a restaurant for not only those incapable of working and homeless people; but it’s open to the public as well! Monday through Saturday homeless people and those who can’t work due to disabilities, addictions etc. have the opportunity to eat free at the café while ordering what they want from a waiter who tends to them. On Sundays it’s open to the public from 10am-2pm in which all proceeds (including tips) go to the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency! It’s a great environment, I was able to eat there and I enjoyed the sense of comfort at the restaurant plus the food was good – hence the chef is a Le Cordon Blue Culinary School alum. As a wrap I was introduced to Ms. Gwen – the head of Marketing for the nonprofit. She gave me the project of creating marketing copy for the organization that could be used on their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AtlantaCSS or their twitter page. Here are a couple examples I created:
- ·Countless heroes have served our country! But did you know that 1/3rd of homeless people in America are those same heroes? Support our Veterans; stop by Café 458 for Sunday brunch open to the public every Sunday from 11am-2pm! ALL of your proceeds go to the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency; a non-profit organization which inspires hope but even better – makes it REAL!
· ATTENTION College Students and Recent Graduates!!! Did you know that in Atlanta’s Fulton County alone, there are more than 21,000 homeless people??? What are YOU doing to help? Make your college proud by showing how much of a community contributor you are – Volunteer Today! Call 404-874-8001 for more information!
- · The Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency supports homeless men and women through 3 different avenues! Our CareerWorks program provides effective job readiness services. Café 458 supports those who struggle with addictions, mental health concerns and physical disabilities by providing case management and counseling. And the ACSS Clean Street Team provides homeless individuals with a legitimate transition into the workforce!
As my thank you to both the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency as well as the Alpha Delta Chapter of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc. I wanted to write a piece in the AUC Digest in order to promote the various volunteer opportunities through ACSS and to also let others know about the great Intern for a Day Program which will be occurring on a more consistent basis. For more information Contact Marissa Patterson at 757.232.4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Breeahna Britt, Clark Atlanta University 11’ Business Administration – Marketing Major