Erica McDonald became a teenage mother while still in high school at the age of 16. She worked hard to graduate and gain her bachelor's degree in teaching and has since striven to help other young people accomplish similar goals. As part of this aim, she founded Treasurechest Learning Systems, which combines a specially designed curriculum of seminars for teens and presentations for parents to help teens return to school after childbirth and achieve future success and self-sufficiency.
The organization's program works with teenagers to determine what they need to accomplish to graduate, and creates plans of action for attending postsecondary school or finding places in the workforce. Participants are required to complete at least three applications for postsecondary education or jobs. Should students decide to pursue a resultant opportunity, Treasurechest Learning Systems can identify useful social services and provide transportation for a limited time, application fees, uniforms, and shoes to achieve this goal.
A trio of volunteers—Ami Ciontos, Liz Henderson, and Jillian Udelson—has a special place in their hearts for pit bulls. They founded the Atlanta Bully Rally in honor of National Pit Bull Awareness Day, exposed a fraudulent pit-bull rescue group, and organized fundraisers to sterilize and rehome pit bulls. As part of the Atlanta Underdog Initiative, they spend their spare time protecting pit bulls and finding them adoptive homes. When the three discover bully-breed dogs in dangerous situations, they step in to rescue the dogs and then find them adoptive homes with responsible and well-educated pet owners. They also care for local pit bulls by delivering dog food and flea care to owners, driving dogs to veterinary appointments, and vaccinating puppies against diseases.
In Lithia Springs, there's a tiny clapboard building called the Church of Mighty Pain. Its name is a big hint that it's not a traditional worship center. Passers-by seek refuge not from the world's ills but from an onslaught of paintballs. Their fully stocked pro shop located on site, one of five fields that also feature spaces to play with airball and spool markers. Teams battle each other in fun skirmishes or competitive tournaments, including playing capture the flag just like the United States and Great Britain did before things got out of hand in 1812. Players can rent a Tippmann 98 marker from Classic Paintball or buy one from the pro shop, which makes future games less expensive and future house-painting sessions more fun.
ReNew partners with organizations, sponsors, and community members to help increase the wellbeing of economically disadvantaged and otherwise marginalized segments of the community. Through Fill My Backpack, Renew distributes backpacks filled with healthful snacks to metro Atlanta elementary-school students who are receiving reduced or free lunches. Representatives of the program maintain contact with the children's families in order to make sure they have enough to eat during holidays as well as during spring and summer breaks.
More than 58,000 people receive emergency food each week through more than 600 nonprofit agencies in 29 metro-Atlanta and north-Georgia counties. And those nonprofits agencies get their food from Atlanta Community Food Bank. But this organization's reach wasn't always so wide. In 1979, when Atlanta Community Food Bank set up shop in St. Luke's Episcopal Church, it distributed 15,000 pounds of food in its first six months?a respectable sum, but nothing compared to the 45 million pounds of food it distributes annually today. Growing with the number of residents facing food insecurity, the Food Bank expanded into a permanent 129,600-square-foot facility, gathered a force of volunteers, and pushed its balanced meals into food pantries, childcare centers, and night shelters.
Although it tackles hunger, Atlanta Community Food Bank believes groceries alone are not enough to stymie the effects of poverty?it also takes education. To that end, it engages and empowers the community through seven core projects. These include educating residents on healthy eating, helping them begin community gardens, and supplying brand-new school supplies.