Our VP’s Unique Holiday Experience
When I first became involved with Georgia Works! in 2014, I didn’t quite understand the impact it would have on me. A friend and client, Chip Patterson, first introduced me to the organization. He told me how he had been involved with several different efforts to help homeless men in Atlanta and was excited to discover Georgia Works! where he felt his involvement could make a real impact. Georgia Works! is a completely private non-profit that receives no government assistance. Since the organization doesn’t receive assistance, they insist neither do the men who are a part of the program. The men must work on their own. I was intrigued.
Georgia Works! also has social workers who work with each individual to try to help them through the very issues that may have caused them to become homeless in the first place. They set up savings accounts and teach the men important life skills to function on their own. They provide them with the opportunity to work and a stable home environment, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
I believe in work (hard work), so I embraced the program for our unskilled labor needs on job sites. It was a natural fit. Since becoming involved, I have seen the transformation of the graduates’ lives and am proud to be a small part in these changes. The tagline for Georgia Works! really summarizes it best “Where Work Works!”
While I now serve as a board member, this year I was also especially thankful to serve in a different capacity: serving a meal on Thanksgiving day. That morning, my wife, daughter, and I arrived at 10:00 AM to be ready to serve. Many of the men had plans to work that day or visit with family, so they start the meal early. Plus, beginning early allowed ample leftovers for snacking throughout the remainder of the day.
Of course, much of the preparation happened well before we ever arrived. Georgia Works! spent the night before warming the meals in their commercial kitchen. All of your typical Thanksgiving favorites were there including turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, marshmallow delight, and beverages. With the help of community partners like Publix, we served about 200 men for Thanksgiving.
Serving as a family was really rewarding. Together, we were able to spend some time investing in others and realizing how much we have to be thankful for. Our version of Thanksgiving is very different from the experiences of many of the men at Georgia Works!. We wanted to take a moment to remind these men that they are important, they add value, and that we are thankful for them. We had the easy job. We just showed up and helped pass out food. After we served the plates, we had an opportunity for fellowship with the residents. It was a good reminder that it’s always easier to sit back and not take action, but easy tends to be far less rewarding. It was a great way to get in the right frame of mind for this holiday season.
Georgia Works! is really working to improve homelessness in Atlanta (you can read more about all of the wonderful things they’re doing here). I am pleased to be part of this fine organization and do a little to help improve men who may not otherwise have an opportunity to pick themselves up.