Category Archives: ACSS Awards & Accomplishments

ACSS Graduate Steve Foley: “A Transformation Took Place”

ACSS Graduate Steve Foley

Steve Foley, one of our VIPs (Visionary Innovative Partners) and president of ACSS Class #13, delivered this speech to our staff, volunteers, supporters and his fellow graduates at their Sept. 30 commencement ceremony.

Distinguished faculty, guests and COHORTS!

WOW!!! What a whirlwind it has been for the last four weeks. We have learned A LOT! We learned how important motivation is to starting our day.

Personal affirmations are essential to building our self esteem. We did this every morning during this process – and for me – the difference can be seen by others.

There was a transformation that took place. We changed from people who really didn’t know why they were here; to people who knew the purpose of self-worth, positive attitudes and a new found confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

The Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency staff has given us tools to give us the best chance possible of landing, not just a job, but to build a career.

Now, it is up to us to take those tools and build upon the solid foundation that we have gained here.

Another invaluable asset that we have gained from the staff is HOPE! This hope is of a great and rewarding future of self-sufficiency. This will happen because we will persevere. The reason for that perseverance is because “We Are Powerful Warriors and Victorious Champions!”

Our graduation ceremonies are always inspiring and a great way to experience the results of ACSS programs. If you would like to join us for a future ceremony, please contact us for the schedule.

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Snapshot of Success: Patricia Graham

All of us at ACSS are thrilled with the success of Patricia Graham.

In three short months since graduating from our CareerWorks program, she has obtained full-time employment and a promotion from sales associate to a commercial representative handling business accounts. And she’s just signed a lease for an apartment. She moves in today!

Here’s how Ms. Graham describes her experience:

“When I came to ACSS, in my mind it was the last house on the block. I was discouraged, frustrated, homeless and had no hope for the future. This was the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life. After leaving the ACSS CareerWorks orientation, I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. After starting class, I was given a new perspective by the instructors. Within two weeks of graduating from the job readiness training program, I was called for an interview and got the job! I know this was because of how ACSS changed the way I viewed my situation.”

Congratulations, Patricia Graham! We’re proud to have you as an alumna. And thank you for sharing your story on how ACSS is breaking the cycle of homelessness.


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Culinary Fight Night: And the winner is…

Cafe 458 Executive Chef Tony Sharpe has made us proud yet again! Working alongside Chef Clarence Ridgley and a team from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Chef Tony helped score a major victory at Culinary Fight Night.

Left to Right: ACSS Board President Tom Body and wife Mary Beth, Chef Clarence Ridgley and Chef Tony Sharpe

In this unique event, Atlanta’s top chefs compete inside a boxing ring. Ringside judges score their culinary concoctions on taste, presentation and creativity. Each team picks a favorite charity to highlight. Chef Tony’s team selected Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency in hopes of building awareness and financial support for an organization that helps break the cycle of homelessness. Thank you! And nice work, all.

Main Course: Peppercorn seared beef tenderloin with sauteed Brussels sprouts and baby carrots.

Even if you missed Tuesday’s competition, you can still enjoy Chef Tony’s work every Sunday at Cafe 458. Proceeds from our public Sunday Brunch (including tips) support ACSS programs during the week to empower homeless individuals to become self sufficient, productive and charitable members of our community.

Culinary Fight Night pits Atlanta's top chefs in a head to head cooking competition inside a boxing ring!

Chef Tony at work.

Chef Tony Sharpe at Culinary Fight Night.

ACSS Board President Tom Body congratulates Chef Tony Sharpe.


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Ironman: Triathlete Board Member Competes Globally to Raise Funds for ACSS

ACSS board member and triathlete Bishop Leatherbury

ACSS Board Member and passionate triathlete Bishop Leatherbury has accepted the challenge to raise $100,000 for ACSS by competing in the Annual Ironman World Championship to be held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 8, 2011. It’s a race that combines a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon, all of which must be completed in less than 17 hours!

As Southeast regional managing partner of Tatum, LLC, Bishop has helped many Atlanta leaders to assess challenges, pursue opportunities and mobilize the right resources to solve problems and achieve results. As a valued member of the ACSS board, Bishop has utilized these same skills to help homeless men and women rebuild their lives.

As for competing in the Ironman World Championship, Bishop says, “I am combining two of my passions – my passion for the sport of triathlon and my passion for ACSS and its mission.”

ACSS continues to demonstrate its worth through the year-to-date performance of its programs.

ACSS CareerWorks has graduated 210 (93%) of the homeless clients called Visionary Innovative Partners (VIPs) from the program with 155 VIPs obtaining full-time employment earning an average wage of $9.25 per hour.

Cafe 458 has had 67 VIPs enroll in the Cafe program since January 2011 with 36 new enrollees during the 2nd quarter. Ten of those VIPs obtained permanent housing, and 30 entered shelters or transitional housing. Twenty-two of the VIPs obtained benefits.

Seventy four military veterans (50 males and 24 females) enrolled in ACSS Veterans Reintegration Programs resulting in an additional 31 full-time jobs this year.

“Every morning, nearly 7,000 people in Atlanta wake up with no place to call home,” Bishop says. “It is a sad and troubling statistic. It’s even more troubling when you realize that veterans of our country’s armed services are disproportionately represented among the homeless. ACSS is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness in metro Atlanta and beyond.”

Bishop’s efforts to complete the race and raise money for ACSS provide the benefit for all of us to potentially see fewer people on the street without a place to call home. Please get involved today by making a donation and helping Bishop reach his goal of $100,000. Donors who support the ACSS cause will be provided a tax receipt and the great personal satisfaction of helping the less fortunate to transition back into the workforce and becoming a vital human resource for the community.

To join Bishop’s efforts, please visit:

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Coach Bill Curry Explains “The Miracle of Team”

Georgia State Head Football Coach Bill Curry

Georgia State football coach Bill Curry calls it “the miracle of team” — the ability to unite individuals from completely different backgrounds and mindsets under a common cause.

“That very person that we thought we hated becomes our brother, and it lasts for a lifetime,” Curry said. “That’s supposed to happen in church. That’s supposed to happen in the family, and sometimes it does. It always happens in the football huddle. It can happen here.”

Curry was speaking to a packed Parish Hall at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which hosted Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency’s Annual Brunch. It was a year ago this month that Atlanta Enterprise Center, which grew out of an employment training ministry at St. Luke’s, merged with another independent non-profit, Samaritan House, to form ACSS.

St. Luke’s remains an important and active partner in ACSS’s interfaith support system.

The crowd in attendance included ACSS staff, volunteers, supporters and clients — folks from many different backgrounds, united under the common cause of breaking the cycle of homelessness.

One of our volunteers produced this short video to introduce just a few of the many dedicated and diverse clients, volunteers and staff who come together to make ACSS and its programs successful and effective. Call it “the miracle of team.”

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ACSS Graduation: “Opening the Door into Our Potential”

On March 4, the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency held a graduation ceremony for our 6th CareerWorks class. After successfully completing four weeks of intense job readiness and life skills training, these 31 graduates are ready to join the workforce.

But the program doesn’t stop there. For the next 12 months, ACSS will continue working closely with each graduate, supporting their path to success and self-sufficiency.

“It’s a full-year that we have available to us assistance in job search, assistance in housing,” said Darryl, an ACSS graduate. “So, we’re really just opening the door at this graduation into our potential.”

Here’s a 60 second video with highlights of the graduation ceremony.


Filed under ACSS Awards & Accomplishments, ACSS Programs, CareerWorks

And the winner goes to…

Last week the world paused to remember a man who committed his life to serving those less fortunate and to inspiring others to greatness – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Each year, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health honors organizations who demonstrate true leadership in the community at its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, and Café 458 was honored to be one of this year’s recipients!

Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency President Charles Edwards and ACSS’s Clinical Counselor Bobbie Slocumb attended a reception at Emory University last week where they accepted the award on behalf of our dedicated staff and volunteers.  Here’s a picture of the award which is now proudly displayed in the Café 458 dining hall.

The award reads “For unwavering dedication towards building community through unity, service, collaborative responsibility.”

Café 458 was nominated for the award by a volunteer who was impressed by Café 458’s programs and lunch service for Metro Atlanta’s homeless population. By providing daily meals, case management and support services, Café 458 helps our guests achieve personal goals. Staffed by ACSS employees and volunteers, everyone who works at Café 458 makes extra effort to ensure that the men and women we serve feel special and are treated with dignity as they continue to make strides towards recovery and self-sufficiency.  Click here to read more about ACSS’s award-winning program.

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