August 10, 2019
Keonda M. Banks

On Saturday, August 10th, 2019, 45 YPL (Young Professional Leaders) members and other United Way volunteers had the opportunity to visit the newest United Way Kids Home Initiative site in South Fulton. On this bright and sunny Saturday, volunteers descended on to the Regency Park Apartments with hundreds of school supplies and treats to support a back-to-school event that can only be described as deliciously generous.

The brunch spread that was provided was nothing short of yummy!  It would delight even the most seasoned of “Sunday-Brunchers” (sans rosé and mimosas) and put bright smiles on the faces of even the littlest of critics.

While the kiddos enjoyed their treats, got face paintings and had fun, volunteers organized the kaleidoscope of brightly colored backpacks and stuffed them with pencils, paper, crayons, folders and more. Parents and adults could visit tables that featured community resources and other local opportunities. At the end of the event 75 students and their families were impacted and left feeling prepared and more excited for the first day of school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the event, YPL members were also given an exclusive tour to visit the Kids Home Initiative office in the complex, where we talked with Tosha Settles, the site’s Community Coordinator, about the program’s successes to date and future opportunities. The space had tables for students to complete homework, a kitchen for snacks and colorful educational posters and art on the wall that completed a great learning environment. Ms. Settles’ positive attitude and enthusiasm for connecting with children was on full display.  When asked what her biggest need for the program was, with a smile, she simply replied “volunteers”.

Through the generous investment of $100K by YPL and our partners at the Night for a Brighter Tomorrow Gala this event was made possible, and is the first of many inspirational, warm and exciting opportunities to get involved.

If you and your network have a love for connecting with youth and being a positive influence in building thriving futures, join YPL members as volunteers to support Kids Home Initiative.

For more information about how to get involved, please connect with us for more information at ypl@unitedwayatlanta.org or visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org/program/kids-home-initiative.

Group is more than 1,600 members strong and growing

By Bradley Roberts

There’s a group of young adults working in the Atlanta area with a shared vision to make an impact in the lives of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region.

The Young Professional Leaders affinity group is made up of people 40 and under. It’s a step-up from the LINC group, which is available to people age 22-30. Members of YPL give $500 or more a year to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“This is a group of people that have varying backgrounds, and they come from different places around the world, but they come together hoping to make an impact by focusing on the Kids Home Initiative,” says Lauren Rock, director of Young Professional Engagement at United Way. “We have various levels of professionals—you see vice presidents and senior managers and a lot of different backgrounds. The big thing, though, is that you have people that want to talk about the issues.”

YPL has adopted the Kids Home Initiative as its primary focus. With Kids Home, children become the focus behind finding a solution to combat Greater Atlanta’s complex issues. 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.

Through Kids Home, Rock can introduce YPL members to the Child Well-Being Agenda of United Way of Greater Atlanta.

United Way uses 14 different data-driven child, community and family measures to determine an overall “Child Well-Being” score for each zip code in our 13-county region. This helps United Way leverage your donations in order to maximize the impact and reverse the implications of the Child Well-Being score. By using the child as the lens, United Way can then identify the big picture needs of the community.

Rock says YPL has chosen “basic needs and homelessness as an umbrella” to work under. It’s an easy concept to introduce, she says. The issue is one you can see across the city, and it’s something members can get behind.

“You know that people have basic needs like having clothes, something to eat and a place to rest at night,” Rock said. “The Kids Home [relationship] came out of what most identifies with this group.”

That collective decision to focus on the Kids Home Initiative comes from the YPL board, which is the governing body of the group that is more than 1,600 members strong and continually growing.

Many of those members inquire online or through meetings or volunteer events at their office.

There are some great benefits of joining YPL.

The affinity group takes Greater Atlanta, and it gives you a smaller community of people that you’re on the same level with. Members can be open and clear with one another.

YPL meets regularly with potential members, and the members of the board sometimes assist in recruiting.

The group has several core events that happen each year, Rock says. There is the HoliDAY of Service —on Dec. 1, more than 200 volunteers at nine different sites across the Greater Atlanta Region made a difference in the lives of 300 children and families—personal and professional development events, spring mentoring mixer, which is a partnership with the Tocqueville Society, SaturDAY of Service and The Night for a Brighter Tomorrow Gala.

The YPL Gala will be May 3 at 8 p.m. on the Roof at Ponce City Market.

Rock says funds raised at the Gala goes to support Kids Home directly.

YPL has the benefit of having enough events geared around a common issue together, which makes it appealing to members. There’s an added benefit of networking and getting to know people across many different industries who have similar philosophies and passions as you.

“There are a lot of young professional groups in Atlanta, but what makes us unique is that we’ve got an umbrella view of the city and the city’s organizations,” Rock said. “We have the opportunity to connect you to people in various industries that you may not be able to otherwise.”

To learn more about YPL, click here.

#WhyWednesday: Victoria Witherington

At a YPL event, Victoria Witherington saw firsthand the impact of United Way — and she stepped up to do her part. Hear why Victoria gives back to her community as a United Way Young Professional Leaders advisory board member!

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Young Professional Leaders turn their influence into impact in our communities. Through their signature cause, United Way’s Kids Home Initiative, YPL members are helping families across Greater Atlanta become financially stable and have access to brighter futures. Click here to become a member!

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.

Kids Home Initiative: Kelleyina’s Story

The Achievement Club program provides incentive payments to help people achieve their goals. During this process, families and neighbors will develop a valuable skill set for setting and achieving daily goals.

Here is a two-generational success story from Kelleyina in Cobb County:

Kelleyina and her children were all members of our Achievement Club at Yells, Inc. Kelleyina invested her first incentive payment and opened a business bank account. She appreciated the opportunity to earn extra money to help build her family’s future.

Kelleyina was named Club ‘Valedictorian’ because of her goal completion. She finished a total of 4 goals with focus and diligence. She is now in our Alumni Achievement Club, and another one of her daughters has joined our new club.

Way to Go, Kelleyina!

 

Kids Home Initiative is a comprehensive solution between the United Way, the Siemer Family Foundation, the school system, homeless service providers and other non-profit organizations to help children avoid or escape homelessness by assisting children and families who are at risk of becoming homeless regain secure and successful futures.

United Way’s Achievement Club program is a part of Kids Home Initiative. Within the intensive 6 months of the Achievement Club program, families are rewarded for making steps toward achieving a goal.