The Heart of Life

For a family with a child in need of a heart transplant, getting the call that a donor heart is available can bring a huge sigh of relief. That relief can be short-lived, though, as the longevity of donor organs can be uncertain.

The average lifespan of a donated heart, in fact, is just twelve years. If a child needs a heart transplant at a young age, this means they could possibly require another transplant before they even enter their twenties. This, combined with all the processes and procedures necessary to make sure the donated organ is performing properly, can lead to a long road for the recipient.

For these children and their families, there is hope, by way of Enduring Hearts. “Enduring Hearts recognizes that twelve years is not a lot of time for a child who receives a heart transplant at a very young age,” said Ankur Chatterjee, President and Executive Director of the nonprofit. “We fund research to improve the longevity of those organs and try to make the quality of life for these children substantially better.”

Patrick Gahan and his wife founded Enduring Hearts in 2012. Their young daughter Mya had weakened heart muscles, and was in need of a transplant. While going through the process, they found out that transplants are not permanent fixes, and that Mya would need frequent care and eventually another transplant. They started the nonprofit to address the need and help families in their same situation.

The organization has raised $2.5 million for new research and advanced science. They focus on issues affecting transplant patients, and how to improve their quality of life, placing special attention on conditions facing young children.

Working with the American Heart Association and the International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation, Enduring Hearts funds clinical research and new technology to increase transplant durability. Priority is given to research conducted on the long-term results of transplant patients, and each organization provides a funding match for selected projects. With multiple projects in the works right now, current research includes stem cell-based therapies, coronary disease in heart transplant patients, and short-term therapies to diminish instances of heart transplant rejection.

For families with children receiving heart transplants, this work is critical, and provides essential comfort. “These families are looking at it as a lifeline for their kids,” Chatterjee said. “This is stuff that can directly impact the lifespan of your own child. It’s great to be able to offer these families that kind of hope.”

Enduring Hearts accepts donations from funders throughout the year, and hosts an annual Bourbon Gala & Auction, coming up on March 30. Auctioning off 16 bottles of hard-to-find Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, all proceeds go toward funding research.
Grant requests and funding applications for the summer program schedule are due by June 10, with a decision and award granted by November 1. Those interested in learning more about the organization or how to apply for funding can visit Enduring Heart’s website at www.enduringhearts.org.

New Hope and Progress in East Lake

The East Lake neighborhood that people know today is not one and the same of 25 years ago. Formerly overrun with blight and crime, the community has seen a resurgence and revitalization, offering a safe place for families to live and grow.

Much of this transformation is thanks to The East Lake Foundation, a community nonprofit whose mission is to redevelop the area through mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education, and community wellness. Started in 1995, the Foundation provides opportunities for residents to get the resources and support services they need.

The Villages of East Lake, the Foundation’s mixed-income housing, provides a safe and stable living environment for the neighborhood’s residents. Residents receive the support they need without the stigma, and subsidized housing is situated right alongside tenant-rent housing.

Their education pillar stands strong with the Drew Charter School, the city’s first public-charter school, started in 2000. Once a public elementary ranking at the bottom of the 69 elementary schools in Atlanta, it’s now a K-12 site that seeks to have 100% of its seniors graduate every year.  Offering additional educational opportunities for children as young as six-weeks old, The East Lake Foundation partners with East Lake Sheltering Arms and the Early Learning Academy at the East Lake YMCA, giving students a chance to learn and be ready before they even enter Kindergarten at Drew Charter School.

“We’ve really disrupted the cradle to prison pipeline and replaced it with a cradle to college pipeline,” East Lake Foundation President Daniel Shoy said.

In the old school, less than ten percent of students in the 5th grade were able to meet or exceed state standards. Today, nearly 100% meet or exceed these assessments. The students at Drew have also been measured against their peers at other public schools, and rank above the 50th percentile in nationally recognized standards. Students living in the Villages of East Lake receive first priority for preference. Additional spaces are given to those in the greater East Lake and Kirkwood areas.

The Foundation’s goal is for 100 percent of its 82 graduating seniors to be accepted to at least one college. “We want to eliminate the barrier of access,” Shoy said. “In the old East Lake, you were more likely to be the victim of violent crime or the victim of a felony, than you were to graduate high school.”

In addition to the Foundation’s housing and education work, small businesses are also supported through the Start ME (micro entrepreneurship) initiative.  The Foundation offers an accelerator program and connects small businesses with mentors, business plan coaching, and even help them increase their credit score.

The Foundation has seen great success from its holistic community work. When still in its time of turmoil, the East Lake community’s crime rate was 18 times the national average, but there has been a 90% decrease in violent crimes, and the crime rate for the neighborhood is 23 percent below the city’s average.

More information on the East Lake Foundation can be found online at www.eastlakefoundation.org.

Do you want to hear the full episode of The Good Works Show? Click here.

Love and Dignity, Beyond the Walls in Atlanta

For the homeless population of Atlanta and cities around the world, a place to sleep at night and finding stable housing have the highest priority. Beyond the hardships of not having a place to live, though, there are other, sometimes overlooked aspects that can go straight to the heart of effecting a person’s self-worth and pride. Seemingly simple, every day activities for some, like a man being able to shave his beard, or being able to receive a paycheck, aren’t easy to come by when living on the streets. For those necessities and more, there is Love Beyond Walls.

The organization unofficially started when Founder and Executive Director Terence Lester and his wife hit the streets of Atlanta, giving away clothes and items from their own home. From there, the Lesters started mobilizing their friends and family to help lead service projects in under resourced areas, eventually creating the nonprofit. Engaging the community through social advocacy, Love Beyond Walls advocates for those who are homeless and experiencing systemic poverty.

Lester applies his own “shoe-wearing” philosophy to the work of Love Beyond Walls, frequently walking in the shoes of those he serves. He has lived on the streets as a homeless person, under bridges and in tents, with no access to a change of clothes, to fully experience all that a homeless person endures on a daily basis.

“It’s about– how do I immerse myself into this sacrificial lifestyle in order to build a bridge between those who have and have not?” Lester said.

A 30-passenger bus that was donated to the organization for one dollar, also known as the Mobile Makeover Bus, is One of Love Beyond Walls most successful programs. The inspiration for the bus came from Leonard, a homeless man who had lost his wife and his hope, and hadn’t been able to properly groom or take care of himself for quite a while. Of all the things he could wish for, he said he wanted to be made over.

The bus is a conduit to self-care and other essential services. It holds a barbershop, a hygiene station and a clothing closet. It also offers further resources to help with steps toward self-sustainability. Since opening the bus, they have helped “makeover” more than 1,300 individuals, while also bringing dignity to those who don’t have access points on a regular basis.

Love Beyond Walls

“We are in the trenches every day. Service isn’t an event; it’s a lifestyle,” Lester said. “I’m constantly inspired and in awe. Every time I sit down with somebody who is experiencing homelessness, I am inspired by the stories they tell.”

The organization currently has two tiny homes that they are using for temporary housing for individuals without a place to live, many of whom are just caught in a string of bad luck. Through their Dignity Art Program, using pallet wood, homeless individuals in the program are taught how to take the pieces and turn them into art. They put their life stories and favorite words on the pieces, and then sell them at art shows. In the process, they learn a trade and earn a paycheck for their work.

To listen to the full episode of The Good Works Show click here. To find out more about Love Beyond Walls, visit www.lovebeyondwalls.org, or on social media @lovebeyondwalls.

Atlanta’s School of Rock

The Märchen Sagen Academy offers professional-led training for kids in everything from stop-motion animation to voice over work. Led by Executive Director Couleen LaGon, a video and music producer by trade, Märchen Sagen provides hands on programs to inspire local youth. “We develop humans, and their ideas,” LaGon said. “We are teaching these kids that they don’t have to compete for their world—they can create it.”

Märchen Sagen Academy

“I think that’s the most important thing that we do here—to teach these kids that nothing is impossible. If you can believe and have a little bit of applied faith and some personal action, you can do anything that you want to do.” Opened in August of 2016, Märchen Sagen has attracted many of its students through word of mouth and walk-ins off the street. The Academy also has a performing group that does shows at local schools, building even more local interest.

And the attention doesn’t stop there. The kids in the program were recently hired by Leon’s Full Service Restaurant to produce their new local advertisement. The Academy hopes to continue to provide these services to local individuals and businesses to give participants real-life training, all while securing funds for Märchen Sagen.

While the school year is in session, Märchen Sagen holds a daily after-school session from 2:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at their 418 Church Street location, offering students the chance to learn about making electronic music, songwriting, filming on a green screen and video production. Providing snacks for the students while they are there, Märchen Sagen offers a variety of different payment packages for participants, who can come between two and five days a week.

During school breaks, Märchen Sagen holds K.A.M.P, or Kids and Multimedia Production. K.A.M.P. is a full-day opportunity for students to continue honing their craft. The Academy offers day and full-week rates during these school breaks.

In addition to their work with the kids, Märchen Sagen is also available for additional video production and studio space. Offering quality equipment and production tools, artists can rent out the studio for recording and tracking work. With the Artists Development Package, artists get six hours of studio time, which includes one hour of pre-production, four hours of production time, and one hour of mastering.

The Academy is also available for parties and events, offering locals the opportunity to rent out the historic space. Those interested in learning more or enrolling in the summer camp can visit their website at www.marchensagen.org.

To listen to this full episode of The Good Works Show, click here.

Leadership Tip: The Importance of Showing Up

Show up

Woody Allen once said, “80-percent of life is showing up.” This week’s guest on The Good Works Show, Michael Lucas, Deputy Director of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation, seems to agree.

“I think leadership is all about the power and the value of showing up,” he said. “Whether it’s as a leader and showing up for your staff, or it’s for an organization that wants to do community change, there is incredible value in just showing up, and being present in solidarity with the community or client base you are trying to serve. Both the leader and the organization will reap the benefits of that.”

To hear more from Lucas, listen to the episode podcast.

Job Tip of the Week from The Good Works Show

This week’s job tip on The Good Works Show came from Summer Dunham, Director of Public Relations at Goodwill of North Georgia. From turning her childhood interests into a career, she provided a job tip that has helped her build a career while doing what she is passionate about.

Job Tip Summer

“Think about something that you like, and find a way to do it as a job,” she said. “When I was little, I liked talking to anybody that would listen. I looked at careers that involved talking to people, and here I am doing public relations in the great state of Georgia, for an organization with a mission I really believe in. Think of what you like, and find a way to get paid for it.”

To listen to the full show, click here and don’t forget to tune in at noon on Saturday for a new episode of The Good Works Show!

In Case You Missed it…Literacy Action and First Step Staffing on The Good Works Show

Last week on The Good Works Show, two local nonprofits shared how they are making lasting impacts on the community. In the first segment, Literacy Action’s Executive Director Austin Dickson said, “Our mission is to teach literacy life and work skills to undereducated adults and help them reach their highest potential wherever we find those adults in the community.” As an adult literacy nonprofit, Literacy Action helps adults learn to read, learn math skills, and even receive their GED.

Dave Shaffer from First Step Staffing joined the show in the second segment to explain the idea that there is more to finding a job, than just finding a job. The nonprofit helps those with barriers to employment find steady work. While most staffing agencies are for-profit, First Step uses their “profits” to provide additional wrap-around services for their clients. In addition to finding employment opportunities, they help with job coaching, mentoring, and transportation to interviews and work. “First Step Staffing seeks to end poverty and homelessness by providing sustainable income and income streams,” he said.

To learn more about the work these nonprofits are doing in the community, listen to the full show here.

Leadership Tip from Usher’s New Look Alumna Kamera Cobb

Usher’s New Look alumna Kamera Cobb learned a thing or two from going through the four-year program. One of the many leadership tips she picked up while participating with the nonprofit? Networking, and how you present yourself, is key.

Usher
Usher

She emphasizes this with the current students of the program, with whom she advises. “It’s all about eye contact, a firm handshake, and speaking clearly,” she tells them.

These tips are also critical when interviewing for a job. First impressions are key, and even the littlest component of the initial meeting can contribute to the overall success of the interview. Beyond eye contact and confidence Cobb suggests, here are a few more ways to make your mark.

  1. Don’t be late. But don’t be too early. The potential employer might have a very busy schedule, so don’t show up too ahead of your interview, making them scramble to be available.
  2. Dress appropriately. This will likely be the first time you have met the employer face-to-face. Make sure you wear something that fits well, is ironed and clean, and is professional.
  3. Practice your elevator speech. All interviews are different, but it’s usually a given that you’ll be asked to tell the interviewer a little bit about yourself, and why you are a good fit for the job. Be prepared with this answer.
  4. Treat everyone with respect. You aren’t just trying to impress the interviewer. Make sure to be kind and appreciative to everyone from the secretary to the CEO.
  5. Send a handwritten thank-you note. Emails and quick communications are the norm. Stand out by taking the time to write, and mail, an appreciation for the time of your interviewers.

For more job and leadership tips tune in to The Good Works Show on Saturdays at noon on News Radio 106.7 FM or catch the podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow.

Good Works Show Leadership Tip: Find the Right People

 

EM-Foster-QuoteAtlanta-based Amplify 4 Good creates social and organizational change by using rapid problem-solving techniques and by coming up with innovative solutions to challenges. Amplify’s co-founder and Executive Director Joey Womack joined The Good Works Show to talk about the organization and offer some leadership advice to listeners.
“Build a solid team. Hire slowly, fire quickly. Definitely take time to find the right people—people that have the values that you see in your organization, people that are committed to the cause.”

An organization that thrives on efficiency and high-paced work would surely depend on an effective team, but a quality staff is critical for any organization. Here are some steps to creating a strong group.

1. Define your organization’s needs and goals. By identifying the mission of your work, you will be better able to fill it with people who can get the task at hand done.

2. When hiring for a position, meet multiple people. Even if you think you’ve found “the one” in the first interview, sit down with at least a couple more. This will broaden your selection pool and enable you to pick the best person for the job.

3. Throw a curveball. Move the interview mid-conversation. Have another employee come into the room to ask a question. This will allow you to see how the job candidate responds to different situations.

4. Get the opinion of the current team. Have the job candidate talk with a few different members of the staff. Let them get a feel for the potential new employee to evaluate whether or not they would be a good fit.

5. Consider all sides. This person may have the technical experience, but do they come with the passion and the drive? Try to fill your team with people who have a combination of tangible and intangible skills.

Hear more from Womack on the episode podcast.

Spotlight: Invictus Consulting

Invicuts

Chris Green, COO of Invictus Consulting explains how his company offers safety and stability. “Invictus Consulting is a physical security and risk management consulting firm that provides clients with answers to today’s rapidly changing environment,” Green says. “We come in and help companies take a look at their security and risk needs.”

Invictus partners with seasoned professionals with backgrounds in hostage negotiations, law enforcement, security systems, and access control. “We marry those mindsets together — both the physical and tactical side — and offer a holistic approach to clients when we come and look at their facilities,” Green says. The firm works with companies of all shapes and sizes. Smaller to medium size companies generally do not have a trained crisis professional on staff. According to Green these duties normally fall on an HR or operations employee, usually with little expertise in the area.

Invictus does a lot of work with schools, property management companies, and manufacturing firms. “We guide them in best practices so they know what they are doing to protect their people,” Green says. “We come in and give a high level of what to do when something happens. We get very comfortable, and what you have to realize, even in the best parts of town, if you dial 911 you are 2.5 to 5 minutes away from getting some sort of response. You are ultimately responsible for being able care for yourself for that amount of time.” Green adds that individuals should take a few minutes at their job to evaluate how they might get out of a dangerous situation, including possible escape routes. He encourages people to be aware of surroundings and to watch out for warning signs.

“It’s not rude to inquire how someone is doing to see if you can get them help,” he says. “Although our culture tells us not to intrude, sometimes it’s crucial when someone or something seems wrong. In addition to its work with company and individual clients, Invictus also offers training within the community. Green says this is the fun part of the job for the tactical professionals, as they enjoy giving back to the community.  Once a quarter, Invictus holds “CRASE” classes, or Citizen’s Response to Active Shooter Events training. For these training sessions there is no charge, and individuals are encouraged to learn and then teach people around them.

“If you need help, we are always there,” Green says. Invictus can be reached at 678-894-4408, online at www.invictusconsulting.com, or at cgreen@invcts.com.