By Guest Columnist STEPHANIE STUCKEY, CEO of Stuckey’s Corp. Rocky is one of my favorite movies. In the popular cinematic journey that so engaged millions of fans – and improbably won a Best Picture Oscar – ...
Board Members Cite Parker’s Excellent Leadership and Accomplishments By MARTA The MARTA Board of Directors have voted unanimously to extend the contract of General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker for three years, through 2026. “Jeff has earned this extension, especially for his steady leadership during the pandemic and all its challenges,” said MARTA Board Chair Freda Hardage. “His work negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and the passage of the 15th amendment in our four jurisdictions are among several accomplishments during his tenure.” Parker joined MARTA as General Manager and CEO in March 2018 with a contract that expired in 2023. The board’s decision extends the contract to June 2026. “I am grateful to the Board for their continued support and faith in my ability,” said Parker. “We have accomplished a lot together in two years and I am excited to improve upon that record with our expansion plans and our renewed focus on the customer experience, as well as navigating the post-pandemic world of public transit.” Under Parker’s leadership, MARTA balanced its budget for a ninth consecutive year, and unlike many peer agencies, has been able to provide essential transit service during the pandemic without any layoffs or fare hikes. Parker has also worked closely with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 732 to negotiate a new contract that includes raises for bus and rail operators and to ensure front line workers are receiving additional support, financial and otherwise, during the pandemic. Parker was also at the helm for a successful Super Bowl LIII, when MARTA transported a half-million football fans. His steady leadership was instrumental in the extension of the penny sales tax through 2057 in the City of Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. Under his contract, Parker was eligible for a raise and bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary but expressed to the board that both seemed inappropriate this year. This is sponsored content.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) announced today that the city has won the bid to host the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional, including the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, at State Farm Arena in 2025. The winning proposal was submitted in February and crafted by the ASC in partnership with the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena. Georgia Tech will serve as the host institution for the games. “We are thrilled to work with the NCAA and the city of Atlanta again to bring the Men’s Division I Regional Basketball games back in 2025,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “After the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s Final Four, we are thrilled to bring a key part of the NCAA Tournament back to metro Atlanta. We are thankful for our partners at the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena for assisting us in creating another successful bid to bring a premier sporting event here.” The ASC plans to oversee the execution of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional under the organization’s Championship Hosting Division which has been utilized for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The ASC has partnered with the NCAA on several events in recent years. In 2018, Atlanta hosted the Division I Regional, where basketball fans watched a Cinderella story unfold as No. 11 seed Loyola (Chicago) advanced to the Final Four®. The city was also set to host its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event would have been the first basketball game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta Sports Council hopes to bring another NCAA Men’s Final Four event to the city in the near future and is turning its focus to baseball as the city hosts the 2021 MLB All-Star Game at Truist Park. Additional information about the Men’s Division I Basketball Regional and the MLB All-Star Game will be released as available. About the Atlanta Sports Council The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council. This is sponsored content.
By Ansley Whipple, Woodruff Park Project Manager, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District In a typical year, Woodruff Park, a six-acre greenspace located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta, would be teeming with activity and events, from a spring jazz concert series and summertime Food Truck Fridays to our WoodRUFF Bark pet pageant and fall movie nights on the lawn. While these free public programs took a necessary hiatus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban centers across the world have rediscovered the importance of public space as a critical element of civic infrastructure. People have flocked to parks to safely spend time outside of their homes, connect with nature and with their communities, and seek assistance for basic needs such as food and shelter. Woodruff Park is no exception: we anticipate coming out the other side of this public health crisis with a renewed and lasting appreciation for communal greenspace and the benefits it holds for the community. With events on hold, we at the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID)—which stewards the park through a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Atlanta—have been hard at work behind the scenes. In 2019, ADID embarked on a strategic planning effort to provide a clear and comprehensive guide to long-term operations, management, and maintenance of Woodruff Park. The plan’s numerous recommendations are the culmination of a process that explored how ADID and the surrounding community can help Woodruff Park realize its full potential. We’re excited to share more about the implementation of this plan in 2021. For now, rest assured that the park’s future is bright. And we mean that quite literally: as we head into the winter season, we’re pleased to share that the popular PRISM: Winter Lights at Woodruff Park exhibit will return for its second year, from December 5 to January 31. Curated by Dashboard, the 2-month exhibition will feature light-based, water-inspired works by MaDora Frey, Ellex Swavoni, Jason Sweet, Kris Pilcher, NNEKKAA, Amelia Carley, and Joseph Peragine. Three light-based landmark sculptures will be installed on the park’s main lawn, and Arts & Entertainment Atlanta will pilot a projection mapping spectacle that showcases animated artwork on the park’s International Peace Fountain water wall. Community members are invited to enjoy this free, public light experience day or night during the park’s hours of operation (6am-11pm). Park patrons are reminded that physical distance must be maintained between them and anyone outside of their party and are encouraged to follow the CDC’s guidelines for visiting parks. Complete information about the exhibit can be found at WoodruffPark.com, and you can stay in touch with us all year long by following @WoodruffPark on Facebook and Instagram. This is sponsored content.
By Shannon Lee For the past two decades, The Conservation Fund has protected and enhanced public natural lands here in Atlanta. Like you, we live, work, and play in and around the metro area. Now more than ever, we need time outside to reconnect with nature and recharge our spirits. But we also want to be safe and limit our travel and exposure. So, we thought what better way to celebrate 20 years of working in Atlanta than to share a little bit about the more than 3,270 acres of critically important urban and suburban landscapes that we’ve helped to protect across all metro Atlanta. Please read along as we highlight some of the beautiful places that are all within a few minutes’ drive of downtown Atlanta. We protected them for you, so we hope that you get out there and enjoy them! Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area In December 2000, the Fund secured it’s very first property in metro Atlanta – a 10 acre tract of land that would eventually join more than 1,700 acres we’ve added to the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Just 20 minutes east of downtown Atlanta in DeKalb and Rockdale Counties, the National Heritage Area offers historical, cultural, and environmental marvels for the entire family. Like Stone Mountain, the area includes two massive rock outcrops—Arabia-Davidson Mountain and Panola Mountain—both of which look more like another planet than Atlanta. The park includes miles of trails and spectacular views! Every spring, the mountains roll out a red carpet of diamorpha smallii plants to welcome visitors. These plants are endemic to the mountains, which means they don’t grow anywhere else in the world! Connally Nature Park In 2002, we partnered with the Fulton County School Board and the City of East Point to secure nearly 30 acres of land for the Connally Nature Park. The forest includes several “Champion Oaks” estimated to be more than 300 years old and is home to rare pink lady’s slipper orchids. Utoy Boulder Park In 2004, we made our first purchase on behalf of the City of Atlanta Parks Department, securing 100 acres for the Utoy Boulder Park and Herbert Greene Nature Preserve in west Atlanta. This park preserve provides one of the largest stands of old growth forest in the city and includes a beautiful stretch of Utoy Creek filled with abundant wildlife. Blue Heron Nature Preserve In 2007, we helped to expand the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in north Atlanta. This forest and wetland habitat is home to beavers, salamanders, frogs, muskrat, deer and countless other urban wildlife. The nonprofit that manages the Preserve offers a variety of environmental education activities for all ages. Yellow River Park In 2014, we worked with Gwinnett County to secure more than 140 acres that were incorporated into the Yellow River Park. The park includes miles of hiking, running, equestrian and mountain biking trails, all set in a beautiful forest along a meandering river, just outside the city where greenspaces are under severe threat of development and sprawl. Atlanta Beltline In 2015, we began working with Atlanta Beltline Inc. and secured a 1.7-acre property along DeKalb Avenue. This small tract was a key link in connecting the north and south sections of the Eastside Trail segment and allowed for the development of affordable housing units on the site. We continue to work with Beltline partners to complete the full loop and recently purchased a six-acre trail segment that is a key link in connecting downtown Atlanta into a broader trail system that goes all the way to Anniston, Alabama. Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill In 2016, we protected seven acres of land for the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill in south Atlanta. In partnership with the City of Atlanta Office of Resilience, the U.S. Forest Service, and Trees Atlanta, residents have helped transform this one-of-a-kind park into an edible landscape, open to all. More than 2,000 edible trees, bushes, and groundcovers have been planted and over time will provide thousands of pounds of produce in a community that lacks access to fresh foods. Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park In 2019, we celebrated the opening of Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park, the latest Parks with Purpose project. This new 3.5-acre park in the English Avenue neighborhood includes a new playground and fitness equipment for all ages. This park was developed through a community-driven visioning process led by residents, and in partnership with Park Pride, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and other partners. The park features native plantings and rain gardens that capture up to 3.5 million gallons of stormwater annually, reducing historic flooding in this neighborhood. Coming Soon! While these last two sites aren’t open to the public just yet, we couldn’t help but share a little bit about our latest projects! Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve In 2019, the Fund made its largest acquisition within City of Atlanta limits securing over 200 acres of old growth forest in the heart of Atlanta, including an impressive stand of shag bark hickories. The Fund transferred this property to the City in the summer of 2020, and it open to the public as the Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve in 2021. The greenspace also houses extensive Native American soapstone quarries and workshops dating back to 3000 B.C. Mud Creek In 2020, The Clayton County Water Authority Board approved the Fund’s purchase of 12 acres of wetlands along Mud Creek. This tract is important for protecting Clayton County’s water supply and will also allow for a trailhead and passive nature-based trails that will connect community members into the broader Aero Greenways trail system. While this property isn’t open to the public just yet, this acquisition is a milestone for our collaborative Finding the Flint initiative as a first step in uncovering the hidden headwaters of Georgia’s second longest river for the benefit of local communities. 2021 and Beyond Looking forward to the next decade, Atlanta is expected to see continued growth, putting ever increasing pressure on …
By: John Hope Bryant Disasters are unpredictable. Even with prior warning, we are rarely, if ever, prepared for the mental and emotional tax excised on us individually and collectively as a community. Right now, we find ourselves in the middle of a global health crisis, an economic shift felt by millions, and in the throes of battling a series of back-to-back natural disasters. Amidst these trying times, we must remember – disasters do not stop, and we cannot sit by idly, becoming victims of circumstance. The best way to fight back against the unknown is by being prepared. Devastation strikes without discrimination and it is never clear when it will impact you and your community. It is often said that the best offense is a good defense, preparedness is just that. Financial preparation for emergencies can save you and your family tremendous heartache and stress after disaster strikes. The simple actions you take, or do not take, today can greatly affect your future and way of life. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recorded that more than 25 million Americans were impacted by a natural disaster in 2017; and, in the past three years alone, natural disasters have accounted for nearly $500 billion in damage and losses. While it is not possible to control the disruptions that nature can sometimes bring into our lives, we can control our response to them through financial literacy. Financial literacy is the cornerstone of preparedness; the two go together. When you understand the mechanics of money and resources – and how it can be leveraged to bring you to your desired future – you attain a sense of control and empowerment you may not have had before. Many times, individuals can tend to focus on what they do not have as a reason for delaying emergency preparations. Rather than focusing on what you do not have, think about shifting your focus on what you do have and maximizing its output and potential. Remember, consistently taking small actions yields big results over time. Here are a few things that you can do to be prepared for any kind of financial emergency you may find yourself in: Make saving a priority. It is important to understand that federal disaster assistance will not make you whole after disaster strikes – you must make saving and proper insurance a priority. For your savings, consider creating an additional “cash-on-demand” savings account that you add to periodically that you can take with you in case you are required to evacuate in a hurry. Maintain insurance. After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the average flood insurance payout to homeowners who flooded was $120,000. Conversely, homeowners who took on water and applied for FEMA for federal financial assistance through FEMA received $4,000 to 7,000 on average. Therefore, it is important to understand your risks and ensure your assets have the proper level of coverage. Review your policy options, policies, and other relevant paperwork consistently to ensure that information is up to date. Have a written plan. A comprehensive financial plan serves as your road map reminding you of your desired destination and the actions required to get there. Make copies of all important financial and legal documents. Many times, when disasters strike, property is severely damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, for many, they lose access to important documents like mortgage information and birth certificates which are helpful in applying for recovery assistance. Additionally, in today’s technological environment, make sure your important documents are available digitally by storing them in the cloud, email, or mobile device. If you need assistance in this process, Operation HOPE may be able to help. For nearly three decades, Operation HOPE has been empowering Americans through financial literacy with a standing commitment to prepare individuals and families for financial disasters, of any kind, and seeing them through to recovery. Through HOPE Coalition America (HCA), the organization provides preparation coaching, at no cost to clients, to help them get back on their feet should they be adversely affected by disaster – be it natural or manmade. Additionally, their financial wellbeing coaches are trained to walk alongside clients in their most vulnerable times to help them regain a sense of dignity and normalcy in their lives. They can help clients build emergency financial plans, negotiate their mortgage payments, apply for eligible post-disaster FEMA assistance, speak to lenders concerning the terms and condition of their loans, and more. Life is an adventure, plan for it and be ready for the unexpected. September is National Preparedness Month and it is the perfect time to make a commitment to ensure you and your family are financially prepared – by doing so, you are investing in your future. For more resources, visit the Ready Campaign and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
By The Task Force for Global Health The Task Force for Global Health and the Lab for Social Machines (LSM) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab are collaborating to develop and test a health campaign against COVID-19 in Atlanta, GA, where The Task Force is based. The Task Force and LSM are also working closely with Susan Blumenthal, MD, Director of the Health Innovations Lab at New America; Cortico, a non-profit affiliated with the MIT Media Lab whose work fosters constructive public conversations; and the Institute for Local Innovations, Inc. (Atlanta office), which helps community development organizations build economically and socially healthier communities. The MIT Media Lab is one of the world’s leading research and academic organizations where designers, engineers, artists, and scientists strive to create technologies and experiences that enable people to understand and transform their lives, communities, and environments. Researchers from across the Media Lab have tapped into their creativity and expertise to find ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, LSM researchers and Blumenthal developed a national #BeatTheVirus campaign to raise awareness of the behaviors that would help defeat COVID-19. Seeking the support of public health experts and wanting to focus geographically, they are now collaborating with The Task Force to pilot a local COVID-19 effort, based in Atlanta. The campaign is focused on a predominantly African-American area in south Atlanta, as people of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19; nationally, African Americans get infected and die from COVID-19 at rates more than 1.5 times their share of the population. The initiative is being co-designed and carried out with trusted local influencers with a deep understanding of the population’s experience and context and is also informed by four additional methods: monitoring Twitter, listening to local radio, conducting polls, and facilitating deep local conversations. Together, this information will help researchers to better understand and respond to areas of concern and help protect the public, particularly African-Americans, initially in the pilot area of south Atlanta. “We are applying state-of-the-art social media practices and media analytics to target essential information to specific populations,” explains MIT Professor Deb Roy, PhD, who heads LSM. “Working closely with The Task Force’s dedicated team of experts, our goal is to set a precedent and build a model for future health campaigns that facilitate our connection with, and understanding of, underserved populations.” Also See Adapting Public Health Efforts to a COVID-19 World Using Cell Phones for Contact Tracing: Partnering with Google, Apple and CDC Foundation, Q&A with Task Force Public Health Informatics Expert This is sponsored content.
*Originally published on November 7, 2020 By Dentons While the states of Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina have not yet been called, and President Trump has not conceded the election’s outcome, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is expected to be the next President of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris the Vice President-elect, and the first woman and person of color to serve in that role. After being declared the winner in Pennsylvania by many media organizations, President-elect Biden has won states with 290 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 votes required to be elected, while President Trump has won states with 213 Electoral College votes. With over 13 million votes nationwide still to be counted, Biden holds a majority of the national popular vote, with a lead of about 4.1 million votes (about 2.8%) that is anticipated to expand as more votes from the West Coast, especially California, are counted. This is the seventh time in the last eight presidential elections that the Democratic candidate has won the popular vote. President Trump and his supporters have initiated multiple lawsuits seeking to dispute and overturn these election results. However, unless these legal actions ultimately persuade the courts to disqualify sufficient ballots in states that have been called for Biden in a manner that would alter the Electoral College result, an outcome that appears highly unlikely, the presidential race is over. Control of the Senate Will Be Determined by Two Georgia Runoff Elections on January 5, 2021 In the Senate, at this writing Republicans and Democrats each have secured 48 seats. Democrats have achieved a net gain of only one seat to date, with 4 races uncalled: two of which are expected to remain Republican (Alaska and North Carolina) and two seats in Georgia. With a Democratic White House, Democrats need to pick up two more seats in order to capture the Senate. Under Georgia law, US Senate candidates must receive 50% of the total votes cast or face a runoff election. As none of the candidates reached the 50% threshold, there will be two runoff Senate elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021. If Republicans win at least one of these two races, Senator Mitch McConnell will remain the Majority Leader, while Democrats will control the chamber if they win both runoffs. Democrats will continue to have the majority in the House of Representatives, but with a narrowed margin, to the surprise of many Democrats who were expecting at least modest gains to their House majority. Thus far, Republicans have achieved a net pick-up of about five seats. Click here to see our Election Results on One Page, our preview of the Biden Transition Team members and a look ahead to potential Biden Cabinet members. This is sponsored content.
By United Way of Greater Atlanta Editor’s Note: This story’s featured image is from Housing Justice League’s Facebook page. Atlanta is a community full of champions—people who work each day to improve the quality of life for every single person in that community. Greater Atlanta needs even more champions, though, if we’re going to change our standing as the “Capital of Inequality” in America—a title we’ve carried for the second-straight year. But first, in order to do that, we have to address the facts. Today, news and researchers have brought to light the facts around racial wealth disparities that exist and have for some time. White families have substantially more wealth than Black families. According to a report from the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, the median household income in Atlanta for white families is $83,722 compared to $28,105 for Black families. The average African American-owned business is valued at roughly $58,000. Whereas the average white-owned business is valued at $658,000. Homeownership can be another key component of wealth building, and we see the same trend here. After rebuilding from the 2008 recession, in Greater Atlanta about 70 percent of white families are homeowners compared to 46 percent of Black families. It’s a trend not only here in Atlanta and in the South, but across the United States. These disparities arise from a system steeped in racism and founded upon it. Families living in neighboring zip codes don’t have the same opportunities as those just down the road. Think of your community as a forest of trees—they represent our health system, education system, financial system and even our housing system. While a tree may appear healthy, sometimes it takes looking beneath its surface and examining its roots and groundwater to find that it’s a root system in decay. Our community, similarly to this forest, can only thrive from the ground up, and it becomes our challenge to address the unseen ideologies—the groundwater— that feed policies and investments into the roots of our communities. The groundwater that should provide essential nutrition and make a system strong is tainted by systemic racism. Weather the storm Housing policies from the 1940s determined where banks, developers and government would or would not invest in Atlanta. Neighborhoods that were predominantly Black were marked as not eligible or worthy of investment. They were outlined on maps and ultimately this practice was called “redlining.” United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Map shows that despite the fact discriminatory redlining practices officially ended in 1967, the disinvestment and its after-affects continue. Black and Brown Atlantans have suffered despite their individual efforts. Home values, education investments and opportunities to accumulate wealth were limited. We need champions to call out these problems—champions like Alison Johnson. Alison is the executive director of Housing Justice League, a community-led grassroots organization. Housing Justice League’s mission is to work with tenants and renters to stimulate their power and drive positive impact in organizing for fair housing and tenant rights. Housing Justice League also uses this position to provide education and support to tenants and renters while informing policy that can help reverse this inequity in housing. Alison said in a Housing Justice Webinar hosted by Black Futures Lab that she was “born and raised” in the community of Peoplestown in Atlanta. She’s lived there all of her life, “leading the fight to mitigate the harm” caused by issues around redlining. While she lives in Peoplestown, her family’s journey began with her grandfather in the old Atlanta community of Buttermilk Bottoms. She said her grandfather worked as a chef in a neighboring community, but Buttermilk Bottoms was where he would come home after those long days at work. She said the family was forced out of his community after the city’s “urban renewal” program came in to “clear away the slums.” They moved to what is now Old Fourth Ward, and after settling there, they were once again forced out of the community with the building of a new highway system. The family moved then to Summerhill. This was where her parents met and married, her father a city employee and mother a stay-at-home mom who was a community volunteer that spent much of her time caring for Alison and her sister, who was deaf. Her mother and father were forced out of a rental home once again and into the Peoplestown community. It took several years, Alison said, for her family to finally secure homeownership. It wasn’t much, but they “made it a home.” So, Alison continues to be champion for those in Atlanta with similar stories, displaced by longstanding racist systems. She has become a champion to fight and mitigate the harm and displacement so many renters face. “I want to make sure people who are living in these communities know exactly how important family is and how grateful we are for our culture…and how many storms we’ve been able to weather in order to remain and sustain in the communities where we are living,” she said in the video. Address Groundwater Problems In order to create the thriving community we aspire to—to create a housing system that can thrive—we must address the groundwater problems. We must end systemic racism and invest in solutions that address these root causes. Homeownership in Atlanta has created this gap that has widened between white families and Black families. Private banking policies and national policies have created obstacles for Black families. By not addressing these racial gaps, it has cost the United States $16 trillion. United Way of Greater Atlanta announced the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund in July 2020 to tackle the systemic issues underlying the correlation between race and zip codes, place and equity. Others were taking on this challenge, too, but it was time to unite and heal together. This is why United Way has partnered with and reached out to organizations involved in work addressing these housing gaps—organizations like Housing Justice League. Do you want to become a champion for your community? Join United Way as we work to create a more just, equitable and inclusive Greater Atlanta. Donate today to the United for …
By Emory University The Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP), which is celebrating its five-year anniversary during November’s National Veterans & Military Families Month, is expanding its virtual telemedicine services to include 13 states across the country. EHVP psychologists are now credentialed through the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), allowing them to provide telemedicine services to warriors (post-9/11 veterans and active duty service members) living in states that have joined PSYPACT. The PSYPACT was developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards to allow approved professionals from a PSYPACT state to legally practice over state lines in any one of the other member states. In addition to Georgia, EHVP psychologists can practice via telemedicine in Texas, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Pennsylvania. EHVP psychologists will be able to practice in additional PSYPACT states in the near future. As one of four academic medical centers in the United States supported by Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network, the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program provides expert, collaborative care for post-9/11 veterans and service members at no cost to the warrior. Since EHVP launched in 2015, it has treated more than 2,300 warriors with a variety of mental health concerns, including post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, depression and anxiety. Treatment options include outpatient and intensive outpatient programs which integrate care in multiple areas including psychiatry, neurology, sleep, rehabilitative medicine, wellness and family support. EHVP is part of the Emory Brain Health Center. “Veterans are strong and resilient members of our society, but even the strongest need support. We are incredibly grateful to celebrate the five-year anniversary of our program and continue our work to help even more veterans across the country heal and move forward,” says EHVP executive director Barbara O. Rothbaum, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine. A major component of EHVP’s treatment efforts includes its two-week intensive outpatient program (IOP), offering customizable, results- and evidence-based treatment and wellness guidance for warriors to optimize their chances for success. Results show the program is highly effective and leads to large reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms, including suicidal thoughts and actions. During the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, EHVP leaders pivoted to meet the needs of the warriors it serves by developing a remote IOP that delivers care in the comfort and privacy of the warrior’s home. The PSYPACT telemedicine expansion covers warriors participating in the IOP. “Our veterans and active service members struggling with invisible wounds have seen transformative improvements in their emotional health and well-being through treatment provided via our telemedicine services,” says Sheila Rauch, PhD, deputy director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and the Mark and Barbara Klein Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine. “Joining PSYPACT is an incredible opportunity for us to reach even more of America’s warriors and reinforce our commitment to finding new and innovative ways to help them on their journey to recovery,” says Rauch. “We hope to expand telemedicine care even further to more states in the future. Access is key.” Rauch, who also serves as director of research and program evaluation at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is working with colleagues to develop and test telemedicine and primary care treatment models for PTSD so that warriors can receive quality, evidence-based care without having to seek out a specialty mental health office. Current telemedicine services offered through EHVP include: daily individual and group therapy, wellness coaching such as yoga and physical fitness training, family services to enhance relationships, care management to connect warriors to local resources, medication education, and the opportunity to connect with other warriors. For more information or if you are a post-9/11 warrior struggling with invisible wounds, call 888-514-5345 to speak with a veteran care coordinator. This is sponsored content.
This year has been difficult for everyone, especially our youngest children, their caregivers, and Georgia’s educators. And Thanksgiving, along with so many other holidays and milestone commemorations, looked a lot different in 2020. One thing that this pandemic has taught me, however, is to never miss a chance for a celebration. And it is with much gratitude and pride that I share that GEEARS is celebrating its tenth year of service! From our founding as a successor to the United Way’s Early Education Commission, GEEARS has advocated for high-quality early learning and healthy development for Georgia’s youngest children, from birth to five. This year alone, we successfully led the effort to stop budget cuts to Georgia’s Pre-K, secured extended Medicaid benefits for new mothers through coordinated action with state partners, and ensured more early care and learning advocates made their voices heard in the 2020 election. As we look ahead while also honoring 10 Years of GEEARS, we plan to reflect on our accomplishments, share our plans for the future, and celebrate this milestone year with a series of events both virtual and, hopefully, in person. In the meantime, I want to celebrate and thank those who have helped us make change for Georgia’s youngest children and their families. In this season of gratitude, I thank: Past and current Board members of GEEARS including our board chair and my friend and collaborator in this work, Stephanie Blank; Our brilliant and dedicated staff members who have supported each other and not missed a beat while working remotely since March; and Our funders, who have not only supported us financially, but also been stalwart partners and advisors. As importantly, I celebrate: Each and every parent of a young child who has struggled to juggle the challenges of caregiving during a pandemic with their roles as a spouse, an employee or employer, a student, a jobseeker, or as a single adult; Those legislators and public officials at all levels of government who have supported investments in child care or Pre-K, and policies that advance family leave or address infant and toddler social and emotional health; Business, civic and religious leaders who have stepped up to be champions for early education; Our early education ambassadors who have helped deliver food and school supplies, enroll families in Pre-K and share vital information about community services; The early educators who have worked throughout the pandemic to lovingly care for our youngest children and the owners of child care programs who struggle daily to keep their doors open; and Our coalition members, summer reading club partners, and the other organizations throughout our State that work each day to improve outcomes for children birth to five. You can help GEEARS officially kick off our 10th anniversary celebrations on #GivingTuesday, a global day of generosity taking place on December 1st, with GEEARS at a virtual film screening event. We will watch “Starting at Zero,” a documentary that brings together the voices of policymakers, educators, academics, business leaders, pediatricians, parents, and children to highlight the importance of investing in high-quality early education. This is a powerful film that will leave you inspired to keep working. (RSVP here.) With the help of our partner organizations, your ongoing support will allow us to continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of Georgia’s babies, young children, and those who care for our kids. GEEARS wishes all of you a happy holiday season of big joys, small celebrations, and good health. To many more decades of this important work! This is sponsored content.
By Wendy Stewart, Atlanta Market President for Bank of America The gap between the richest and poorest U.S. households is the largest it has been in 50 years, and wealth challenges have compounded for Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino populations- especially during the pandemic- renewing an urgency to bridge the gap for racial equity and economic prosperity. As we look for solutions, education is a crucial component of our nation’s recovery strategy for lower-income families. However, coronavirus-related challenges have caused many students and young people to rethink pursuing higher education due to lack of funds. At Bank of America, we are launching a jobs initiative to support the educational needs and career goals of Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students. This program will support community colleges, public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to connect institutions with employers and provide clear and defined career pathways to employment. This $1 million initiative in Atlanta builds on Bank of America’s ongoing work here to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis. Locally we are partnering with Atlanta Technical College (ATC) to help students successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce. These careers in aviation, information technology and skilled trades will help students embark on a path to success in Atlanta. Community colleges like ATC offer unique opportunities and alternatives to four-year universities; and although there is great potential to provide students with viable pathways to sustainable jobs and careers, more work can be done to improve student outcomes. While there is a considerable need for creating jobs, we cannot ignore the importance of taking action to train and prepare the workforce of tomorrow, especially individuals from underserved communities. With this approach, we can accelerate the closing of the wealth gap by seizing the opportunity to link skills training to business demand via public-private partnerships. This is sponsored content.