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Building Atlanta Together

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A first look at The Home Depot Backyard

By John Ahmann

On Friday, August 17, for our 15th Transform Westside Summit of 2018, WFF had the honor of hosting more than 150 attendees, ranging from Westside residents to members from across the city’s public, private and nonprofit sectors.  

What they witnessed was yet another example of what can happen in our community through collaboration and partnership, or as I reflected in last week’s column, “the more we can do, the more I can do.”

The “we” here is The Home Depot, The Home Depot Foundation, AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Through their vision and teamwork, the Westside will have 11 additional acres of greenspace and community space, known as The Home Depot Backyard.

But what’s truly remarkable is not just the size of the project, but the impact and the magnitude of the additional opportunities that will now exist for the residents and community members of the historic Westside. Residents who will now be within steps of this new and world-class community asset.

Because of this investment from two of Atlanta’s most influential corporations, the entire community – from the Westside youth, to our neighborhood nonprofits to our small business owners – will have an additional place to gather, play, connect, grow and thrive.  

And this focus on community was by design.

The Home Depot’s Heather Prill reinforced this during her remarks Friday, stating that, “For us, when Arthur and Bernie created The Home Depot almost 40 years ago, the company was founded on core values, which continue to influence us today. Two of our core values are doing the right thing and giving back and this was a great opportunity for us to give back to the community. We’re really excited and honored to be a part of this.”  

Latonda Henderson of AMB Sports and Entertainment echoed this as well.

“We want everybody in this room, in this community and in Atlanta to be a part of what we’re creating. Arthur’s overall  vision was to create an inclusive space where everyone can come together and feel a sense of belonging. This is for all of us and we want that to be reflected. Here you will see the best of Atlanta.”

This was evident from the sentiments of Westside native Joshua Dickerson, who is now the executive director of The Salvation Army Bellwood Boys and Girls Club in English Avenue and spoke during Friday’s event.

Dickerson, who spent many of his childhood afternoons at Bellwood, shared his excitement for the opening of the new space, noting it as a full circle moment.

Because of his organization’s partnership with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Mercedes Benz Stadium, coupled with support from the NFL Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), his students at Bellwood will not only be playing on a new state-of-the-art field at their facility but will play games on the grass of The Home Depot Backyard, just feet away from the stadium where some of their professional heroes play.

And this was only possible because of partnership.  Possible because of the collective willingness to see how much farther WE can go when WE go TOGETHER.

And because of this world-class greenspace, WE’VE added another brick in building a community Dr. King would be proud to call home.

For the full recap of the August 17th Transform Westside Summit, including video from the event, visit www.westsidefuturefund.org.

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