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Reporter’s Notebook: Sen. Warnock speaks to Atlanta Rotary

A snapshot of downtown Atlanta and the famous John Lewis mural. (Photo by Ronny Sison, Unsplash)

The Atlanta Jazz Festival is this weekend, which promises two fun-filled days for any music lover. Whether you want to visit Piedmont Park in person or tune in from your couch, all your listening needs will be covered. Visit their website to check out the schedule, and those who want to attend virtually can stream the performances for free on Qwest TV.

Other news around the metro area:

Raphael Warnock at Rotary Club of Atlanta (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Sen. Warnock speaks to Atlanta Rotary

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Aug. 30th talk to the Rotary Club of Atlanta started out with an appreciation from Rich Kannwischer, senior pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

Warnock and Kannwischer were friend partners through the Atlanta Friendship Initiative.

So, Kannwischer did not hesitate to call the senator when he needed help getting 18 recently-converted Christians out of Afghanistan as the Taliban was taking control of the country. The effort worked, and the 18 Afghans were able to get out just in time.

“We use whatever influence we have to do whatever we can do,” said Warnock, who quickly added that the real credit belongs to the men and women serving in the military.

Warnock also shared a personal tale that Rev. Kannwischer talked to him about joining Atlanta Rotary. Warnock explained that as a pastor (for Ebenezer Baptist Church), the one day he got off was Monday.

“And y’all meet on Mondays,” Warnock said. “But the joke is on me. Now I fly to Washington, D.C. on Mondays.”

During his talk, Warnock spoke of the situation in Afghanistan, the Supreme Court decision making it easier for families to get evicted, the coronavirus and the number of children being hospitalized.

But he spent most of his time talking about the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, which he said would be “transformational” on the state’s roads, bridges and public transportation systems. He also mentioned there would be funding for “the Stitch” (a park to be built over the Downtown Connector) and additional funding for the Atlanta BeltLine.

And Warnock also made a case for the human infrastructure bill, which would increase funding for healthcare and social needs.

“We must work on the infrastructure of our democracy,” Warnock said. “Nationwide, our democracy is under attack. Congress must act to protect access to the ballot box for everyone.”

He then predicted that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would be the first issue the Senate will take up when it returns.

Warnock also explained why he is the junior senator from Georgia even though he was elected the same day as U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, and he is older than the “senior” senator.

“He’s the senior senator because his last name begins with an ‘O,’” said Warnock, who was given two standing ovations from Rotarians.

– Maria Saporta

Robb Pitts

MARTA plans to deposit pandemic relief funds in minority-owned banks

MARTA intends to increase its support of small, disadvantaged and minority-owned financial institutions by depositing some of its federal pandemic relief funds in those institutions.

MARTA’s board is expected to adopt the measure at its Sept. 9 meeting. Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts introduced the concept at the county level, and the Board of Commissioners adopted it in June. The county has since deposited about $10 million in two minority-owned financial institutions, according to a statement from MARTA.

“By taking this step, MARTA showed that it is more committed than ever to supporting minority-owned financial institutions and the communities they serve,” Pitts said in the statement. “This is a great moment for MARTA and all those that will benefit from this momentous decision.” 

“This investment will ultimately benefit the people in the communities MARTA serves by making more money available at minority- owned banks for small business or home loans,” said MARTA GM and CEO Jeffrey Parker.

– David Pendered

Community support for National Suicide Prevention Week

In 2019, according to the CDC, 1,585 Georgians died by suicide. With a particularly difficult year and a half in the throes of a pandemic, focus on mental health needs is paramount. 

Sept. 5 marks the start of National Suicide Prevention Week, a campaign to shed light on mental health needs, available resources and ways to prevent death by suicide.

The Georgia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) will hold a virtual candlelight vigil on Sept. 9 to remember those who have lost their lives and commemorate survivors. 

AFSP will also host a Sept. 10 panel discussion on mental health needs and suicide prevention, streamed on their Facebook page.

If you’re looking to give or receive support in person, join in on an ASFP Georgia Chapter Out of the Darkness Community Walk, starting this month through November. 

  • Macon Walk – Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Amerson River Park (Bluff Pavilion)
  • Savannah Walk – Sept. 25 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Lake Mayer
  • Augusta Walk – Oct.17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pendleton King Park
  • Borrow County Walk – Oct. 24 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at First Christian Church
  • West Georgia Walk – Oct. 24 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Carrollton Green Belt
  • Atlanta Walk – Nov. 17 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Piedmont Park

– Hannah E. Jones

Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation donates $1 million after Hurricane Ida damage

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has pledged $500,000 to both the American Red Cross and the Greater New Orleans Foundation to offer aid to the communities afflicted by Hurricane Ida.

“So many are without power and resources are already stretched thin, so it is not only impacting those who were in the storm’s path but also those who’ve been called upon to help those areas get back on their feet,” Blank said in a press release. “We hope to play a small part in helping those communities recover by supporting two organizations providing relief on the ground. We encourage others to join the effort to lift those impacted by this storm.”

– Hannah E. Jones

The most common way dogs express separation anxiety is to howl or bark, according to a survey by CertaPet. (Image courtesy of certapet.com)

Dogs in Georgia lead nation in separation anxiety

Georgia dogs rank sixth on the national list in terms of separation anxiety from their companion people, a new national survey conducted by a pet mental health care company shows.

Peach State dogs are reported to have anxiety levels 4 percent higher than the national average, the survey showed. Colorado dogs topped the list – 5.58 percent higher anxiety levels than the national average.

CertaPet conducted the survey as part of its work connecting emotional support animals with humans with mental health conditions. Some individuals benefit from a companion animal. As CertaPet notes in the report:

  • “If our canine pals could talk, we’re certain they would say that 2020 was the best year ever. Skyrocketing rates of pet adoptions, a seemingly endless amount of walks, and their humans at home 24/7? Sounds like a puppy paradise!
  • “Dogs quickly became accustomed to having their owners nearby. But, as the world slowly returns to normalcy this year, will it be man or ‘man’s best friend’ that suffers from separation anxiety most?”

The survey of 2,651 U.S. dog parents was conducted in all 50 states from June 23 to July 14.

– David Pendered

Grove Park

Wendy Stewart and Debra Edelson at the Grove Park offices (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Grove Park Foundation and Debra Edelson

The Grove Park Foundation bid farewell on Aug. 31 to its founding executive director – Debra Edelson. The Foundation’s mission is to revitalize the Grove Park neighborhood that’s part of Atlanta’s Westside. Its goals include improving the quality of life of its residents by working on equitable access to health, education, housing and other amenities.

The Foundation was formed in 2017, and it became Atlanta’s second Purpose Built Community in 2019. Edelson led the efforts to engage with the Grove Park community as well as corporate and civic partners to create a more equitable neighborhood.

She led a partnership effort to bring the Woodson Park Campus with a K-8 neighborhood school, health center and early childhood development center to completion, and another major partnership to construct 110 units of affordable multi-family housing at Canopy at Grove Park.
“We are so grateful for the education, experience and expertise she brought to this role and to serving the Grove Park community, and humbly recognize the lasting legacy that comes with her departure,” the Foundation wrote in an email sent on Edelson’s last day.

When asked about her plans, Edelson said she’ll be staying in Atlanta and taking a breather. She plans to do some consulting work with Purpose Built Communities through the end of the year, before deciding on her next “fulltime gig.”

News of her successor is expected shortly.

– Maria Saporta

Oliver Gorf

Goethe celebrates 45 years in Atlanta

The Goethe Zentrum Atlanta, the German cultural center, held a picnic on Aug. 28 at Grant Park to celebrate its 45th anniversary as a presence in Atlanta.

It also celebrated the 272nd birthday of its namesake – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman critic – who was born Aug. 28, 1749.

Goethe Atlanta was first established in 1976 as a branch of Germany’s Goethe-Institut, the premier German culture and language organization. It was later incorporated as Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta, and it has continued to serve as the preeminent non-profit source for German language instruction, heritage and cultural exposure in the southeastern United States.

“After so many months in the virtual space, we are eager to follow Goethe the poet’s example, and enjoy nature together with you, your family, your loved ones, your friends, and your dogs,” Oliver Gorf, Goethe Atlanta’s executive director, wrote as part of the invite. The gathering included German music, Goethe quotes and anecdotes of the nonprofit’s 45 years in Atlanta.

– Maria Saporta

The legendary baseball star Hank Aaron pictured the night before his 80th birthday in 2014. (Photo by Curtis Compton/[email protected], courtesy of Truist Financial Corporation)

Truist pledges at least $1 million to “Homers for Hank,” new program to support HBCU students

The Truist Financial Corporation has debuted Homers for Hank, a program that pledges to donate $755 to the Henry Louis Aaron Fund for every home run hit by the Atlanta Braves over the next five years, for a total of up to $1 million. The donations will be used to support scholarships for HBCU students and career development programs.

The Henry Louis Aaron Fund was created by the Atlanta Braves Foundation to honor the legendary baseball player and to foster diversity within the sport, on and off the field.

The $755 donation amount represents the number of home runs that Aaron hit throughout his career. 

Truist will also fund two Henry Aaron Fellowships, offering a full-time position with the Atlanta Braves organization through 2025. 

“Supporting HBCU students and graduates will have a lasting impact, and this investment is a way to advance equity for the future,” Chief Digital & Client Experience Officer Dontá Wilson said in a press release. “Hank Aaron proved that diversity makes us stronger, on and off the field. At Truist, we share this belief, and this commitment will commemorate and celebrate his life and legacy.”

– Hannah E. Jones 

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native who recently graduated from Georgia State University, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah is excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Atlanta and its people. Hannah can be reached at [email protected]



  1. Charles September 3, 2021 9:41 am

    You reference the “Bipartisan” Infrastructure bill. Zero Republicans support it, therefore it is anything but bipartisan.Report

    1. Jerry September 3, 2021 10:27 am

      19 Senate Republicans supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure BillReport


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