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.
RescueCats, Inc. is a no-kill group dedicated to caring for homeless and owner-surrendered cats. While cats are waiting to be placed in loving, permanent homes, volunteers provide them with shelter and any necessary medical care, including spay or neuter procedures to prevent pet overpopulation and special supplements for those with feline leukemia virus. They also host weekly adoption fairs at PetSmart to increase each cat’s chances of being adopted. During its 13 years of operation, RescueCats, Inc. has found loving homes for more than 5,700 cats and kittens.
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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.
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.