WOW! Our 2012 Has Started With A Blast!!! – Part II

. . . And here’s how this week is played out (Jan 15-22d)

Jan 16.  Hands On Atlanta/NEXT Steps MLK Day of Service.   Talk about special!  We managed to pull off a wonderful volunteer experience for the NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program, the Sadie G. Mays Rehabilitation Center, the Jack & Jill Atlanta Chapter and Morehouse University College Students.  We had 19 college students and 14 third graders interview elders at the Sadie G. Mays Rehabilitation Center. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous getting three generations together to do arts and crafts but it worked out beautifully.

Each mentor and mentee group first worked together to design their own scrapbook page as an ice-breaker for them to discuss their hobbies, interests and future aspirations.  Then, after our elders finished breakfast, our youth mentor/mentee groups began their interviews.  We learned about some of the most exciting past careers and groundbreaking activities that made them who they are.  Students interviewed elders that played football and went to school with Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and Dr. Benjamin Mays.  They also interviewed a senior that was the first Black female (and first Black anything for that matter) to break  color barriers in the corporate workplace during the Civil Rights Movement. Our other elders were professional dancers, artists, librarians and cooks and many were born and raised right here in Atlanta, Ga.

The students helped the elders either decorate scrapbook pages or stuff eggs with their “quotes to live by”.  They took pictures with their Living Legend — adding one photo to their scrap book pages that our elders autographed and leaving a copy behind for each elder to keep.  We will mount the scrapbook pages and type their bios to present to them at a later time (perhaps in a auction/fundraiser).  The eggs will be used in our first Sankofa Ashe egg hunt at Atwood Community Gardens for Easter.   Learn more about the Sankofa Ashe Cultural Heritage Program.
Jan 18.  The New 5/3rd Bank (West End Branch) Makes A Donation To NEXT Steps  As if this week couldn’t get any better, NEXT Steps is recognized by the new 5/3rd Bank during its grand opening ceremony at the Kroger Citi-Center in West End Atlanta.  NEXT Steps Mentors John & Pat Perdew were the recipients of a $500 donation that will go towards taking care of some of the immediate expenses of the 28 children they current provide supplemental care for.  In January 2011, The Perdews moved into the Westview Community to be closer to the city of Atlanta.  The neighborhood’s charming homes and historical importance coupled with the proximity to the Atlanta University Center, interstates, the downtown business district was inviting.  However, it was unknown at the time, that Westview was a USDA, nationally recognized food desert and a home to poverty, crime, blight and many at-risk children. Even though the Perdews endured thefts of their home twice before they moved in, it was the plight of these children that touched their hearts.  They immediately founded the Youth of Westview as an extension of the NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program at Atwood Community Gardens.  As a recipient of their kindness and mentorship, the Perdews have talked and trained many NEXT Steps Program alumni and has extended the invitation to become a “child of the Perdew family.”
Jan 20.  NEXT Steps Receives Anonymous Car Donation!  Just when I thought the week couldn’t get better, I discover that someone heard my plea for a new vehicle.  Last year, students created this presentation (!NSYEP Presentation 07.18.11) to document their experience  from the 2011 Herb & Farm Summer Internship Program at Atwood Community Gardens.  To poke fun, the document mentioned how I needed to retire my 11 year old 2001  Honda Civic (Saundra) and replace her with a passenger van or a vehicle that could hold more bodies.  Needless to say we were excited and truly appreciative of the fact someone thought enough of us to make the anonymous donation.  Even though it was a very nice running 2001 Saturn, it had very visible signs of a “good run” and, unfortunately, was the same size as my Honda. So, we’ll probably end up selling  it in hopes of getting enough money to put a deposit on a larger vehicle that can meet our needs.
Jan 21. ALFI/Georgia Organics Tree Sale/Boys & Girls Club Keystone Leadership Club  Today was a very rainy day full of thunderstorms and volunteer activity.   First, NEXT Steps volunteered to  help out at the 2nd Annual Fruit Tree Sale.  It was hosted by the Atlanta Local Food Initiative and Georgia Organics at the Atlanta Community Food Bank . Last year, more than 2,000 fruit trees, vines and berries were planted as a result of the sale. The goal of the tree sale is to spread edible landscapes throughout the city and state. All proceeds benefit the Atlanta Local Food Initiative to further its work to build healthy, local food communities.  NEXT Steps purchased four fruit trees to plant at the Atwood-White Street Triangle we adopted last year as part of the Adopt-A-Park Initiative of the Atlanta Beltline.  We’ll be planting our fruit trees next weekend with students from our Outdoor Nation Atlanta Campus Club.
     I left the tree sale and immediately went over to the American Intercontinental University Dunwoody Campus to volunteer as a guest speaker for the 2012 Boys & Girls Club Keystone Conference.  The theme of the conference was “Take A Stand”.   They labeled my lecture series as “Who Wants To Be A Millionare” — where entrepreneurs will learn how to start their own business with a community service lens.  I thought that was pretty cool!  But, of course, after waking up at 6:00am on a rainy, lazy Saturday morning and spending the majority of the morning doing Zumba, interactive dance then yoga, a cooking class, going swimming, playing a 3 on 3 basketball tournament and three point shoot out, and filming a short promotional video, imagine the level of energy the kids had by the time they came to “talk” to me.  I try to keep things exciting in my class but after learning what the kids’ day entailed, I kept it simple.  The half that could hang with me, we had excellent conversation.  As for the other half, I just let them get in a much needed power nap.  🙂
Jan 22.  CIGS To The Rescue!  This kind of consultation activity is what I live for.  I was invited to meet with some local specialists in Atlanta’s urban agriculture movement to help them develop their strategic plan for their new consulting and management venture.  Of course, I used our signature Community Involvement Growth Strategy (C.I.G.S.) Organizational Management Model to set them on the right track to success.  Within 30 minutes, I was able to help them realize the feasibility of their dream and document a plan that clearly mapped out their development and growth strategy. We definitely had a breakthrough moment and fantastically productive learning experience.  Pat on the back for another small CIGS success.
I guess it’s safe to say, this was yet another great week.

2 thoughts on “WOW! Our 2012 Has Started With A Blast!!! – Part II

  1. You’re doing a great job NEXT STEP! I offer a rhymes, raps and rhythms academic program (math, science, social studies and language arts) for kids. I’m looking for a home in which to conduct the workshops. Please feel free to view my facebook page. Thanks

    • Greetings Starlite! I would love to include your workshops in our Lyrical Concert series this Spring/Summer. Do you have a brochure or any information you can send me so we can have a productive meeting when we speak? Also, I’d like to invite you out for a site tour at Atwood Community Gardens so we can determine how best to facilitate your workshop and curriculum. The best tour times are Tues-Thursday between 10:30am-1pm. Atwood Community Gardens is located at 779 Atwood Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310. Soon, Dana Jewel

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