Touching Lives in Atlanta’s Communities
On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, StoryCorps Atlanta headed into the heart of downtown Atlanta to record at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The recordings, an effort on behalf of the Foundation to collect stories from some of its veteran staff, donors, and participants in its Neighborhood Fund and AIDS Partnership Fund, were inspiring and heartfelt.Arlene Parker Goldson and her friend Mattice Haynes, talked about how they got involved with The Community Foundation and the work they do as community coaches. They work one on one with community residents and grassroots leaders on various community-based projects that are funded by the Neighborhood Fund. Arlene and Mattice not only shared what they are able to help communities achieve, but also what they learn from the communities and individuals with whom they work. For Arlene, one of the things about which she is happiest is that she gets to meet so many people. “I mean great spirit, great energy, great passion. So, I’ve met so many people who don’t mirror me–because I don’t think you grow that way–but give me an opportunity to grow and stretch.”
Also that day, Ms. Robin Nash, sat down and shared her story. A pillar of strength, Ms. Nash refused to let the emotional scars of her son’s death from crib death, or her battle with drugs and alcohol define her life. Ms. Nash’s story illustrated how a life gone awry can, with the love and support of family, community, and faith, get back on track. She reinvented herself and now helps young girls and boys envision for themselves a better life. When asked what she wants to do in the future, Ms. Nash said, “Now what I really want to do is just what I’m doing… mentoring children.” Equally important that day were stories recorded that documented the voice of HIV/AIDS. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the AIDS epidemic and Ken Lazarus, talked about his involvement with the Foundation’s Atlanta AIDS Fund (supported with funds from United Way, the National AIDS Fund, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and Fashion Cares). The Fund supports the work of organizations in the twenty-three county, Atlanta metro area, particularly in areas of treatment, advocacy, education and prevention. Mr. Lazarus expressed concern about today’s society, though. “Unfortunately,” he said, “in our advent of social media and marketing, we’ve glamorized HIV and AIDS. Many of our ads make it look like a real pretty, sexy thing…so the ad pictures something that’s very sexy and whatnot, and then you have to read to see that’s it’s about HIV prevention. HIV prevention is not a pretty story.”
Founded in 1951, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta “is one of the largest community foundations in the country and works with more than 650 individual funds and several supporting organizations ranging in value from $50,000 to $190 million. Together with our donors, we average more than $75 million in grants annually to an estimated 2,000 nonprofit organizations locally, nationally and internationally.”
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