Unlocking Potential to Change Lives
Intro by John Ahmann, President & CEO of Westside Future Fund:
Thank you to Kathy Colbenson, President & CEO of CHRIS 180 for this week’s column. Westside Future Fund’s partnership with CHRIS 180 is a testament to the “Power of We”. We work closely together to help increase Westside residents’ access to more affordable housing, community health and wellness, as well as safety and security services. I am thankful to Kathy for her friendship and her commitment to transforming the lives of Westside residents for the better. CHRIS 180 was the featured presenter at the May 3rd Transform Westside Summit. If you missed it, you can catch a replay of the Facebook livestream. Don’t forget to register to join us for the next Summit with the featured presenter, Meals on Wheels, this Friday, May 17th.
Unlocking Potential To Change Lives
It is undeniable. The children, teens and adults in the communities we serve are resilient and talented. When you think about all the cards stacked against them and the courage it takes for them to risk trusting organizations like CHRIS 180, they truly are amazing.
They rightfully wonder if we’ll be like the others who came offering help, but who left when the going got tough. At CHRIS 180, we work to meet people where they are with understanding, patience and respect and without judgment, only acceptance. We just keep showing up and by showing up with respect and understanding; we are blessed to be allowed to walk alongside incredible teens and young adults as supporters and cheerleaders on their journey to unlock the potential that was there all along. We are grateful to work alongside the Atlanta Police Foundation, police officers and our partners to see the juvenile crime recidivism rate drop to 2% since opening the At-Promise Youth & Community Center on the Westside. So far this year, nine youth have earned a GED and 32 youth have obtained employment. We are also proud to be a partner in the Washington and Douglas school clusters providing school-based counseling and training in trauma-informed care which have improved school attendance by 33% and reduced disciplinary referrals by 21%. The Atlanta Public Schools and CHRIS 180 are piloting a program at the At-Promise Youth & Community Center that will enable kids to earn school credits by choosing to come to the center to complete their school work while suspended.
Our work also extends to finding both bridge housing and permanent housing for homeless and legacy Westside residents. The CHRIS 180 team works with Partners for Home, Quest Community Development, Westside Future Fund and the Atlanta Housing Authority to make sure families have a safe place to call home. Since the beginning of 2019, 138 children and young adults in 43 families have been safely housed. And, with our Westside Connect partners, we are working hard to increase the coordination of services so that there is no wrong door for people to get the help that they need. To that end, CHRIS 180 is very proud to open the Westside Empowerment Center at 810 Joseph E. Boone Boulevard right next to On the Rise Financial Services. Our hope is that through the Westside Empowerment Center, we can make it easier for adults to obtain counseling that can improve their ability to cope with difficulties and help them navigate life’s challenges. CHRIS 180’s community health workers work alongside community members and counselors to help people become healthier and more resilient. We hope you will join us for an Open House to celebrate the new center, Thursday, May 30th at 4:00 p.m.
Recently, CHRIS 180 was honored to present to a packed house at a Transform Westside Summit hosted by the Westside Future Fund. Our staff was joined by a young mother, Mrs. Hugely and graduating high school senior, Isaac Simpson, who have both been assisted by CHRIS 180.
Isaac spoke of transformation and hope when he talked about how he took advantage of the At-Promise Youth and Community Center and remarked about the consistency of the staff’s presence in his life, as he prepares to go to college. Mrs. Hugely spoke eloquently about how counseling and her CHRIS 180 case manager, Tameka Askew, who would not let her give up, made all the difference as she shared her story of triumph over domestic violence and homelessness with her four children. Their stories are a testimony to the courage and resiliency that too often lies undiscovered, buried under piles of adversity. At CHRIS 180 we believe that it is our job to stick with people to help people discover their strengths and talents so that they can unlock their own potential. We are all in this together – one people, one community. To learn more about our work and how you can help us change lives, visit CHRIS180.org.