Column: Arthritis Foundation reintroducing itself to Atlanta

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on April 1, 2016

Back in the 1970s, the Arthritis Foundation was one of the first national nonprofits to move it headquarters from New York City to Atlanta.

Now – four decades later – the Arthritis Foundation wants to become much better known in the Atlanta community. The Foundation recently sold its building on West Peachtree Street and moved a couple of blocks away to 1355 Peachtree St., where it is leasing one floor.

On the right side of history — how a modest experiment in interracial community leaves a lasting impression on Habitat for Humanity

Clarence Jordan, from a distinguished Georgia family of politicians and community leaders, began a career in the 1930s as a Baptist minister. A rising star, he had a reputation for distinction that was spreading throughout the state and the South. With time, any pulpit or university appointment could be his.

Photo of VOX founder Rachel Alterman Wallack

Gutsy voices of teen writers help VOX survive

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that schools could censor student newspapers, teenagers responded by creating their own uncensored and independent newspapers. Atlanta became home to VOX—Latin for “voice.”

Many of these papers folded in an era of massive cutbacks in professional journalism. But against those odds, VOX Teen Communications celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday. Through VOX, many students launched successful college and professional careers in fields beyond journalism, earning the Gates Millenium scholarship among other awards.

In those short hours and on the weekends, VOX attracted students from all over the metro Atlanta area, who were mentored by professional journalists and other advisers. They reported, edited, photographed and designed a newspaper that publishes five times a year and a website, that updates continuously, filled with work not likely to be deemed suitable by most high school administrators. Some of it is truly groundbreaking.

Coke meets with human rights advocates who seek new practices for giving, diversity in Brazil

The Coca-Cola Co. has agreed to continue discussions with an Atlanta-based human rights group, led by veteran advocate Joe Beasley, to consider expanding Coke’s philanthropic and diversity practices in Brazil, advocates said Sunday.

Top Coke officials met with the advocates Friday and agreed to convene a tele-conference this week, advocates said Sunday. The Coke representatives who attended Friday’s meeting reportedly included Alexander Cummings, chief administrative officer, and Lisa Borders, chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation. Coke did not respond to a request for comment that was submitted Friday.

“We’re calling for Coke to have a reciprocal relationship with its most loyal consumers in Brazil,” Beasley said in a statement, referring to Brazil’s population of nearly 100 million Afro-descendants.

PATH Foundation named in Ga. 400 trail, latest of its $55 million projects

After building more than 180 miles of trails in Georgia, the PATH Foundation is now memorialized in the name of a future trail in Atlanta – PATH400 is the name of the trail that’s to run alongside and beneath Ga. 400.

When the trail’s complete, it will join a trail network valued at $55.5 million that PATH has completed and transferred to local governments, according to PATH’s most recent Form 990, the IRS tax return filed by non-profit organizations.

Despite the size of this contribution to public greenways, or perhaps because of it, the PATH Foundation has become such a fixture in metro Atlanta since it was formed in 1991 that it’s possible to forget that it is still a relatively small organization in the big world of non-profits.


Attorney Andy Cash, incoming JDRF Georgia board president, had his Moment when his sons were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

As a personal and catastrophic injury attorney, Andy Cash had grown accustomed to hearing sudden, life-changing events from his clients. His law firm represents individuals and families who have experienced devastating injuries in accidents. Despite his well-developed professional empathy, the news he learned in July 2004 about his own three-year old son, Gavin, was very difficult to bear.

Then, in October 2011, at age eight, Andy’s youngest son, Liam, was diagnosed with T1D – just as his brother had been seven years before. The news was once again shocking and life-altering for the entire family.


Standing up for DeKalb’s homeless animals, they wear and see red

Fritz the rescue dog got shooed from last week’s DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting, marking yet another bad day for homeless animals in DeKalb and the humans who are rabid for an $8 million new county shelter.

Fritz was rescued by a group that helps find homes for animals from the existing shelter near I-285 and Memorial Drive.  A citizens task force in early 2012 called the facility a filthy, smelly, bug- and rat-infested, understaffed “chamber of horrors.” Out of every ten animals that go there, seven die. It has the highest “kill rate” of any animal shelter in metro Atlanta, the task force reported.

“Animals are suffering and dying in a horrible, horrible condition in our shelter,” said activist Heidi Pollyea to the board. “If you have a minute to go down there I think you’d say, ‘Let’s get busy. Let’s get this approved.” We have the opportunity today to make a difference. Please do not delay. This cannot wait.”


In Africa, former Atlantan helps kids One World Futbol at a time

For a couple of weeks in 1996, Sandra Cress helped bring the world of soccer to Atlanta. Today she lives in Nairobi and is helping children around the world live healthier lives through one tough soccer ball that stays round when they kick it.

The standard soccer balls used across Atlanta suburbs don’t stand a chance in the thorns, glass and barbed wire of the developing world. There, kids create makeshift balls of rags or whatever they can find. Cress said she saw kids kicking a ball made of old fruit taped together.

The virtually indestructible One World Futbol, made of a hard foam similar to that in Crocs sandals, has already transformed Cress’ world and should inspire anyone with deep knowledge, contacts and enthusiasm that do not seem to fit in the present job market. The indestructible ball offered Cress an opportunity to come full circle in her passion for soccer and expertise in humanitarian aid.

Atlanta BeltLine a path for private entities to partner for public good

By Guest Columnist VALARIE WILSON, executive director of the BeltLine Partnership, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering support for Atlanta’s BeltLine

Standing on the playground at Historic Fourth Ward Park on a weekend afternoon, surrounded by young families, you look down into the park, past the amphitheater toward the water and see others walking their dogs and generally moving at the sort of leisurely pace inspired by such havens within a city.

You’re in the shadow of hundreds of new apartment and condominiums built in the midst of the worst economy in a generation, filled with residents who want to live in proximity to the park and the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail on the horizon.

The Wexel family of Lilburn

Georgia family with 14 children gives back through basketball fundraiser

On Saturday at 7 pm at St. Pius X Catholic High School gymnasium, you can see a team of local lawyers show up on a different court against a squad of Atlanta doctors with a prescription for winning.

The game, billed as “Jawbones vs. Sawbones,” will be played the weekend before the ACC college basketball tournament in Philips Arena. March Madness kicks off with a bit of March Malpractice.

“I hope their cardiologist brings his paddles,” one lawyer joked in an email.

The game benefits Side by Side Clubhouse, a day program for people who have experienced traumatic brain injury – a population that has swelled with returning troops. Brain injuries have also become more publicized through athletic concussions.