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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

‘Unity for a Difference:’ A Celebration of Community and Equity

Hosted by Atlanta’s CBS46 Meteorologist Ella Dorsey, Unity for a Difference was an ambitious event that recognized distinguished contributors to Families First’s mission of building resilient families so all children can thrive. 

Honorees included: 

  • CEO of Leadership Atlanta Pat Upshaw-Monteith with The Community Impact Award. 
  • UPS CEO Carol Tomé with The Social Equity Award.
  • President of AT&T Georgia, Venessa Harrison with The Making a Difference Community Service Award
  • Jim and Ann Curry who received The Montag Family Volunteerism Award. 

Significant moments were in abundance at Families First’s Unity for a Difference event as all of the honorees shared insights into the invaluable work Families First provides within the Atlanta community. 

“Families First appreciates the transition to a more equitable world. While challenging in the end, it is achievable,” said honoree Venessa Harrison. 

“I have spent my entire career in the non-profit sector. In my position at Leadership Atlanta, it has allowed me to meet and work with some of the most transformative leaders with the brightest smiles, and the biggest hearts in the city of Atlanta,” fondly reflected honoree Pat Upshaw-Monteith.

“Working alongside organizations like Families First, we are driving progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion so that all people have a chance to reach their highest potential,” shared honoree Carol Tomé. 

“We understand that the family unit, in whatever way you define that, is the key to opening the door for a better future for children. And our personal mission is to open as many of those doors for children as can possibly be opened,” shared honorees Jim and Ann Curry. 

Beyond the honorees, there were also many testimonials as to what unity is to each person as well as how people in disadvantaged positions were able to build resilience and persevere through the obstacles in their way. 

Notably, Ebony Williams, with some help from Families First, found her and her children’s pathway to resilience and shared some of the insights she gleaned from her experiences with Families First. 

When I got with Families First, it was epic. They opened so many doors for me, they allowed me to have a home, they allowed me to have my own independence. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I am thankful. I am just thankful.”

 Williams continued to expound upon the importance of building resilience and how it continues to be an integral part of her and her family’s lives. 

“Setbacks can be difficult for a person, especially when you’re achieving so many different things. But you just have to be resilient, keep your head up, and keep moving forward.”  

And what began with a bang, thanks to Kennesaw State University’s College of the Arts drum performance and included a dynamic dance performance, Runway, ended just as triumphantly and resoundingly as Atlanta Drum Academy closed out the ceremonies for Families First and their Unity for a Difference event with an inspiring performance. 

If you happened to miss the event or would like to watch it again, Unity for a Difference 2021 is available for free on Unity For A Difference 2021 – YouTube. Remember, every view helps raise awareness about Families First and the amazing work it carries out in the Atlanta community.

It must also be emphasized the significant amount of gratitude Families First holds for its many sponsors. As Tori Forbes-Roberts, Unity for a Difference Co-Chair and Senior Vice-President at Delta Airlines said, “Together, our sponsors are uniting with Families First to bring social equity and unity to the forefront.” Families First is very grateful for all of the help and support its sponsors provide. 

Without the incredible support and help from our sponsors, none of this would have been possible. Thank you. 

Georgia Power, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Jabian Consulting, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, PNC, Publix Super Markets Charities, BlackRock, Phillip and Laura Law, AT&T, Montag Wealth Management, The Home Depot Foundation, United Healthcare, UPS, Lucy Carpenter Vance, Starbucks, The David & Lynne Homrich Family Fund, Courtney & Jaclyn Showell, Georgia-Pacific, Truist, Charlie & Mary Yates, Sheila Weidman-Farley, SHERPA Global, Julio Carrillo and Shane Cannady, Kirk Rich, Megan Davies, Vish Narendra, Marcia Nuffer, Bernadette Hartfield, Justice David Nahmias, Coxe Curry & Associates, Wellspring Nonprofit Resource, & Ashish and Kavita Mistry

By: Grant T. Michelle, Families First Summer Intern 

Grant T. Mitchell is a Knoxville based writer with experience contributing to The Daily Beacon with a weekly column since Spring of 2020. He has been a co-host on WUTK 90.3 FM since Fall of 2020. Grant attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and has experience writing for film review articles as well as non-profit and public relations professional writings.


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