Holiday Good News from your Security Chair
For the second time in 10 days, I have found myself driving in a part of Atlanta that none of you would likely be in unless you were extremely lost. These two locations are among the most impoverished, blighted, crime ridden neighborhoods in Atlanta. Many of the houses are barely standing. Those that are look sad and neglected. There are few signs of any Christmas season.
Why was I there? I was there due to the overwhelming generosity of you and many of your neighbors this year in the support of the Atlanta Police Foundation. I was there to see first-hand where part of the over $50,000 we raised as a neighborhood was reinvested back into the community. In the middle of these blighted neighborhoods stands two oasis of hope, The Atlanta Police Foundation “At Promise Centers”. While our funds went to support many of the Foundation’s efforts, including training of emotional support dogs, The Crime Stoppers reward program and in neighborhood housing for young officers among others, I believe the At Promise Centers may be the most rewarding.
The centers are designed to give a place of safety, meals, counseling and educational opportunities for youths that have little of that at home. Many of these young men and women never sleep in the same bed twice in a week- maybe one night with an Auntie, with a neighbor, or on the street. Most don’t have a complete family unit and few get any support to achieve the things we all take for granted. The centers are directed to those youths who have had run ins with the criminal justice system. Through the program’s psychological evaluations, counseling, tutors, high tech classrooms and available meals, these youths are hoping to change the direction of their lives. While I was there, I saw five ‘OFF” duty police men and women volunteering their time mentoring to these young people.
In coordination with other similar organizations such as The Boys and Girls Clubs, The United Way, and The Urban League and supported by many foundations such as the Blank Family, The Woodruffs, Coca Cola, The Atlanta Hawks, Georgia Power, Chick-fil-A, Sartain Lanier, Delta Airlines, the Holder Family, the Loudermilk Family, and many others, the At Promise Centers have achieved a remarkable record. The recidivism (repeating an undesirable act) rate for youths in this community is over 90%-a 90 % chance that a young man or woman will be arrested for felony theft, assault, or homicide which translates into a 100% chance they will spend time in a correctional institute. However in this “Oasis of Hope “, if a youth stays in the program, the recidivism rate falls to less than 5%.
So why is this important to us and why does our money make a difference when the likes of these generous foundations are involved? First and foremost, I believe you, my neighbors are good people and you want to help those in need. Second, more selfishly, these blighted neighborhoods are less than a 20 minute drive from Peachtree Heights West. In my Air Force days we would call Buckhead a target rich environment. When, we hear of houses or cars in our neighborhood being broken into, many of these young criminals come from these areas. When we hear of carjackings or shootings, it’s often these youths that are involved. If our dollar contributions can help make a directional change in these young people’s lives, we help them and we help ourselves from becoming a victim of their crime.
As to our financial impact? Yes, compared to Coca Cola or the Arthur Blank Family Foundation, our contribution is small. But each center, of which there are three, requires millions of dollars to build and over $1,000,000 for each center’s yearly operating cost. I can assure you that our money was well used and greatly appreciated.
We are blessed to live in a community of plenty. We are also blessed to live among neighbors who give so generously. I’ve now seen firsthand the wonderful effects of your gifts and I wish all of you the Merriest of the Seasons.
Security Chair, PHWCA