United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society members understand what a significant gift can help accomplish.

Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society, which was formed in 1985, is named after French politician Alexis de Tocqueville, who recognized the importance of voluntary action. Members of Tocqueville Society are philanthropic leaders in the Atlanta area who contribute $10,000 or more annually to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

According to United Way Worldwide’s annual report, Tocqueville Society has generated more than $10 billion to date. There are 25,000-plus members in 400-plus societies around the world.

In Greater Atlanta, Doug Hutcherson is one of those philanthropic leaders. The CEO of Lockton Companies Southeast has always had ties to United Way.

“I’ve contributed to United Way for many years with former employers — even dating back to elementary school,” Hutcherson says. “United Way was always kind of an omnipresent charitable organization, and we were encouraged to donate money.”

Hutcherson has been CEO of Lockton in Atlanta for the past 16 years. He says he created the Lockton business in Atlanta “from scratch” with 12 people, and now the company is 300-plus strong and has grown with revenues of more than $100 million.

Lockton is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and has always been passionate about service to United Way, Hutcherson says.

“It was a natural extension to Atlanta,” he says. “We carried on that cultural tradition. It was a natural fit.”

But around a decade ago, Hutcherson saw the work United Way of Greater Atlanta does from a different perspective.

Hutcherson had the opportunity to participate in one of United Way’s Street-to-Home outreach projects.

United Way’s Street-to-Home initiative seeks to end homelessness by helping people living on the streets obtain permanent housing and gain access to support programs.

United Way works alongside partner agencies to reach out to homeless communities in Atlanta in hopes of providing them transitional housing, and case management which enables a large majority of individuals to become independent.

The program helps to house hundreds of individuals each year.

During Street-to-Home outreach projects, volunteers will board buses early in the morning and drive around Atlanta to interact with the city’s homeless population. Volunteers such as Hutcherson will ask people if they can help put them in contact with resources.

Hutcherson says he went to United Way of Greater Atlanta early one morning for what he thought would be a discussion about how to provide services that would help the homeless population. It was then that he went into the streets with an ADP escort to directly engage people.

“The reason you go out at 5 o’clock is that you want to get to people before they get on the move,” Hutcherson says. “In those days, you have a group of people walking up to a homeless person on the street, and you can just think what was going through their head — ‘Am I about to be arrested, get beaten up, what’s happening?’

“There was very little trust between the homeless community, but with these outreaches over time, I think that we’ve done a good job of building relationships in this community.”

With these projects, Hutcherson was able to go beyond just giving a monetary gift. In all, he says he’s done about 25 or more of these outreach events, and he took his son out when he was 14 to help instill the importance of service.

This particular project was something that struck a chord with Hutcherson.

He said his office has allocated its United Way Campaign to the program each year since his first experience with Street-to-Home.

Hutcherson now serves on the Tocqueville Society Cabinet. He says he likes serving with other Tocqueville members and sees the group as a good leadership function for the Atlanta business community. He said Tocqueville does a nice job of promoting targeted philanthropy.

“Most Tocqueville Society members are good about sharing within their organizations the importance of philanthropy,” Hutcherson says. “Our company’s three pillars are clients, associates and communities in which we work and live. Giving back to the local community allows for the privilege of prospering in the being the business community.”

Hutcherson says he appreciates the leadership at United Way and called its message — specifically its new Child Well-Being message — an inspiring one.

“I have an inherent trust in United Way,” Hutcherson says. “I think it’s efficiently managed and United Way carries a very powerful brand within the philanthropic world. In Atlanta, I feel like it’s a very well-run organization. I think [President and CEO] Milton [J. Little, Jr.] does a great job, and [Vice President of United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness] Protip Biswas — I’m very impressed with how passionate they are. They believe in the message, which inspires others to act.”

If you are passionate about United Way’s message that all children deserve a chance to reach their full potential, donate to the Child Well-Being Impact Fund. Click here for more information about Tocqueville Society or learn more about how to get involved with United Way’s Street-to-Home initiative and how you can give.

#WhyWednesday: Josh Bray

“I really want people who feel unseen to know that they are seen.”

Josh Bray is the CEO of SafeHouse Outreach, which partners with United Way of Greater Atlanta to aid those suffering from homelessness to achieve stability and independent living. Today, hear why Josh aims to break the cycle of poverty and help those who need it most in Greater Atlanta.

Interested in learning how you can help those who need it most in your community? From homeless veterans to at-risk youth, United Way of Greater Atlanta is working to provide support and solutions for those in need. We’re making sure people are given the tools and resources they need to pull themselves out of homelessness and onto a path of self-sufficiency. Learn more here.

#WhyWednesday: Amy Barrow

Amy Barrow believes that every individual deserves access to safe, stable and secure housing—and she says that working at United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Regional Commission on Homelessness is living the dream! Today, learn why.

Want to do your part to make sure everyone in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties has access to the stable housing they deserve? To learn more about how United Way of Greater Atlanta is addressing homelessness in our region, click here.

Every day at 5:00 a.m. the alarm goes off. Paul and his family get up and crowd into their bathroom to brush their teeth and do their hair, and then begin the search for clean clothes before they rush out the door. The bus stop isn’t a far walk, it’s just down the parking lot and up the hill from their room. Paul is joined by other kids as they wait for the school bus. He doesn’t know them though; the names and faces change often.

Once Paul gets to school, he can finally eat breakfast. He enjoys school because it offers him a chance to be ‘normal’, even if it’s only for a little while. He gets to hang out with his friends and enjoy all the new things he’s being taught, he just wishes that he wasn’t so tired all the time. At lunch, the day begins to turn. While Paul’s friends talk about their new video games and shoes, he just silently nods along thinking about the second-hand sneakers from a clothing closet he’s wearing.

Once the school day is over, Paul returns to his room to find his mom reviewing the help wanted section of the newspaper. She was terminated because she called in too often to take Paul’s sister to multiple doctors’ appointments for asthma. Paul walked in and completed his assigned chores and then his homework, which is becoming more difficult without a computer or a desk.

After a light dinner, it’s time for bed. Paul brushes his teeth, puts on his pajamas and climbs into bed with his mom and two younger siblings. He prays that tonight the couple in the room above them don’t start fighting again so that he can get some sleep and do it all over again.

Sadly, this is an all too common a day in the life of a child whose family is suffering from homelessness in Gwinnett County. Our lack of shelters has driven too many families into local extended stay hotels and motels. These families believe that any roof is better than no roof and that it will only be for a few weeks until they’re back on their feet and able to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, most extended stays cost as much, if not more, than some of the apartments in Gwinnett, which inhibits the ability of the family to save and get themselves into stable housing.

This system is not sustainable; it’s not healthy. Our answer is HomeFirst Gwinnett, a comprehensive solution that focuses on advancing our entire homeless system. Solutions that provide families like Paul’s with access to services and options so that he and the more than 1,000 other kids who are identified as homeless in Gwinnett County Public Schools can have a brighter future.

As you carry out your year-end giving plans, please consider investing in HomeFirst Gwinnett. Paul and families just like his need you.  We need champions like you, ordinary citizens who want to lend a helping hand to make our children and families whole again.

There are many different initiatives within United Way of Greater Atlanta to combat homelessness, help families, feed the hungry and provide hope and stability for people in need.

While Kids Home Initiative helps with all of these things, there’s a difference. Children become the focus behind finding a solution.

“In this program, the kid is the starting point. They are the reference point,” said Amy Barrow, director of the Kids Home Initiative.  “We start with housing, and we get referrals from Homelessness Liaisons at the school or a social worker about a family that is in a crisis. We also get in contact with apartment complexes, and we have good relationships with the office managers that know that community well.”

Kids Home is a comprehensive solution helping children avoid or escape homelessness by assisting children and families have secure and successful futures. They do it by helping kids stay in school.

“The overarching mission is to keep kids in their school of origin,” Barrow says.

By keeping kids in their own school regardless of their living situations, Kids Home can provide the child with at least one point of stability even though the rest of their life may be in flux.

And then, Kids Home can start to help parents by providing stable housing.

“We try to get them stably housed,” Barrow said. “It’s not crisis intervention. We’re not able to help someone if they have zero income, but we’re trying to stabilize them. Sometimes, it’s about helping with the extra move-in costs, turning on utilities or helping with a deposit.”

Miquael Williams moved to Atlanta from Daytona Beach, Florida with a pair of children. His marriage ended after the move, and this left him as the sole guardian. Unfortunately, things went south quickly.

His family moved from place-to-place and house-to-house. Williams’ car broke down, and this cost him his employment. He struggled to pay his rent, and he was later robbed at gunpoint at his apartment complex.

Williams needed help, and that’s where Kids Home came in. United Way connected him to partner organizations that helped him with receiving housing services.

“None of the places stood us up on our feet like United Way did,” Miquael says.

 

For more information or to sponsor Kids Home Initiative, contact Amy Barrow at abarrow@unitedwayatlanta.org.