Applications Available for Summer Freedom School

Applications are now available for the summer Freedom School at Emmaus House. The camp is a Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program, open to completed kindergarten through fifth-grade scholars and is free for all eligible campers. The camp offers six weeks of reading enrichment, art, field trips, recreation, breakfast, lunch and snacks. Freedom School takes place June 12-July 21, Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 3 pm and is located at Emmaus House, 1017 Hank Aaron Drive, SW, Atlanta, GA 30315. Parents or guardians are required to attend mandatory parent meetings each week. Applications are available at D.H. Stanton Elementary School and Emmaus House. The application deadline is April 21.

The Emmaus House Freedom School participates in the Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to all eligible children free of charge. Children who are part of households that receive foods stamps, or benefits under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible to receive free meals.

Acceptance and participation requirements for the program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided at Emmaus House, Mondays through Fridays. Breakfast will be served at 8-8:30 am, snacks at 10:30-10:45 am and lunch 12-1 pm.

Mindfulness at Emmaus House

Mindfulness, as a means of stress reduction, has been around for many years. Recently, mindfulness practices have entered the mainstream, providing opportunities for implementation in a variety of settings. Knowing this, in 2016, Emmaus House began to incorporate mindfulness practices into its program. We did this in response to parents who said that dealing with stress is one of the issues with which they need the most help. In partnership with Dr. Andy Roach, Associate Director at the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University we taught simple mindfulness practices to those who attended our Great Start for Parents program. The project was funded by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning,

This pilot program was so successful that we decided to move further with mindfulness as an intentional practice. In 2017, with a grant from Trinity Church, Wall Street, to support social-emotional development, we plan to incorporate mindfulness practices into some of our other programs: Youth on the Move, the Road Episcopal Service Corp, and our Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program.

Susan Kaiser Greenland, mindfulness educator, defines mindfulness as “the capacity to be alert and open to life experience as it occurs in a non-reactive, resilient and compassionate way.” We at Emmaus House are very excited about this latest development in our journey to becoming a more impactful, transformative presence in Peoplestown and beyond.

To facilitate this work, Emmaus House engaged with Mindfulness Without Borders, a leading provider of best practices and evidenced-based programs on secular mindfulness and social-emotional intelligence to youth, educators, health and corporate professionals in communities around the world. On Monday, February 6, 11 members of the Emmaus House staff, along with nine people from Georgia State University, took part in the first of three days of training to become certified facilitators of the Mindfulness Ambassador Council (MAC). The MAC program “offers youth a forum to meet face to face and learn about constructive ways for addressing personal, social and community challenges.”

Stay tuned for updates as we participate in the remaining two days of training and begin to practice greater mindfulness as a staff and with our neighbors in Peoplestown whom we serve.

Ryan’s Reflection

The Road Episcopal Service Corps began in 2011 as a conversation with a diverse and energetic group of people about building a dynamic young adult formation and leadership program in the Diocese of Atlanta. Youth on the Move started in 2003 to provide middle and high school students with opportunities that will prepare them for success as adults. In 2016, Emmaus House had the privilege of taking on and offering leadership to these two programs. We are very excited about the ways in which these two programs enrich our work at Emmaus House.

Ryan Bigg is a second-year fellow of The Road and works with Youth on the Move. He offers his reflections here.

 

 

“Hi, my name is Ryan Bigg. A lot of you might know me or have seen me around at Emmaus House the last year and a half or so. I am a second-year fellow for The Road Episcopal Service Corps and have spent both of those years on site at Emmaus House.

During this time, I have been a catch-all resource for Emmaus House. I have worked at the Lokey Center, the Chapel, Freedom Schools® summer program and the Parent Power literacy program. More recently, my focus has been with the Youth on the Move after school program, which is the newest Emmaus House program.

One of the reasons I am such a catch-all resource and always seem to be around is that The Road Episcopal Service Corp is now a program of Emmaus House, which hosts, offers staff support for and provides housing to the ten fellows who take part each year.

So, I live and work full time here on the campus. By design, the fellows live in community with Peoplestown neighbors. I am an example of how well this can work. I have loved living here, working here and being among the people of Peoplestown.

This experience has been life-altering because it has changed my perspective on how the world works. The relationships I have built here are more fruitful than those I have previously experienced. I think this speaks to the value of the community of Peoplestown. Even though there are not as many resources in this area, the richness of joy and love that I feel here outdoes that of any other place I have experienced.

These characteristics have been clear to me recently in my work with the Youth on the Move program. The goals of Youth on the Move are to educate, enrich and empower middle and high school students in the Peoplestown area through various activities and experiences. In my time being with these students, I have seen growth in each of them, and I have enjoyed the richness of life with them.

One of the activities that we offer is college/career workshops that show the youth some of the possibilities that are available after high school. A few months ago, my mom and sister, both nurses at Emory, held a workshop about being a nurse.

The workshop was very successful. They created four different interactive stations to show the students different aspects of nursing. At the Look and Listen station, they took each other’s blood pressure and listened to heartbeats with a stethoscope. At the Hand Hygiene station, they learned how to put on sterile gloves. They practiced putting bandages on each other at the First-Aid station. Finally, at the Healthy Habits station, they discussed how essential daily exercise and eating healthy are for our bodies. The program concluded with a Having Fun exercise where my mom showed them a favorite dance of hers. In turn, they taught her a favorite dance of theirs. That was the highlight of the day!

This work at Emmaus House has been crucial for my personal development and growth. Instead of trying to describe how it changed my life, I want to encourage everyone to find a way to get involved. Being able to bring my family into the Youth on the Move programs and intersect my two worlds for a moment brought so much life into the space. I would love to see more of that around here. After all, that is what Emmaus House and The Road is about – meeting someone on a path, intersecting and interacting with them and having your life and theirs be different afterwards.”

our two-generation approach in action

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WHEN WE FIRST MET MICAH* at our Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program in the summer of 2015, he was a rising fourth grader at D.H. Stanton Elementary School. Micah was hard to miss. He had a way of lighting up a room with just his smile. His intellectual curiosity inspired the tutors who worked with him.

But at home, Micah experienced some serious challenges. His mother, La ‘Tasha, was suffering from significant health challenges that threatened them with homelessness.

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One weeknight in July, Micah’s mom attended one of our weekly meetings for parents of Freedom Schools scholars. There, La ‘Tasha learned about the other services available at Emmaus House. And when our team realized the crisis La ‘Tasha and Micah faced, we invited them to become one of the first families to enroll in our Peoplestown Family Initiative (PFI). PFI is a new case management program that seeks to help families to overcome the barriers that often lead to poverty.

La ‘Tasha embodies all that we admire about the strength of a mother’s love. That love compels her to never give up as she works to care for Micah. Still, she found herself struggling to help her son with the newer approaches to reading and math, now taught at D.H. Stanton, and schools across the state. And she was not the only parent to struggle in this way. More and more parents in Peoplestown communicated similar challenges.

Emmaus House responded by launching Parent Power! (formerly called Homework Relief Bootcamp) Through a partnership with Literacy Action, we began teaching parents how to help their children with their reading. We also taught them tools and strategies so they could help with other subjects as well.

By implementing La ‘Tasha’s new skills, Micah caught up in grade-level reading, regaining 19 months of instructional level in just 16 weeks!

*The real names of our clients have been changed to respect their privacy.

As our relationship with La ‘Tasha grew, we learned that she and Micah were about to lose their home. The owner of the apartment building they lived in had stopped taking Section 8 subsidies.

That’s when our team sprang into action. We found another property in the final phases of construction that would keep La ‘Tasha and Micah in safe, affordable housing.

However, in an all-too-common turn of events, the developer halted construction just days before La ‘Tasha and Micah were to move in.

Upon learning the news, Adam, our director of social services, went directly to the developer's office where he refused to leave until they resolved the situation. And under threat of arrest, Adam’s advocacy went all the way to the owner of the company in Nashville.

Within days, the developer completed the unit, and La ‘Tasha and Micah had a beautiful new home.

If Micah had simply attended the CDF Freedom Schools program for six weeks one summer and gone home, he and his mother could have ended up homeless. But because of our deep commitment to embracing the whole family, we met La ‘Tasha.

A two-generation approach allowed us to harness the power of community, education, hope and love so that La ‘Tasha and Micah can work toward a better life for themselves. Now, this remarkable family is stronger and more stable than ever.

EMMAUS HOUSE PROGRAMS 

PEOPLESTOWN FAMILY INITIATIVE
The primary goal of the Peoplestown Family Initiative is to help clients increase their income levels, to teach financial management skills, to address health related issues and promote healthy living, and to secure or improve proper housing. Clients work with a case manager to create a customized service plan.

CHILDRENS DEFENSE FUND FREEDOM SCHOOLS®
Our CDF Freedom Schools program aims to shape children’s futures by developing strong, literate, and empowered children through six weeks of summer reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books or the environmental structure necessary to do summer reading.

PARENT POWER! Formerly Homework Relief Bootcamp
Parent Power! is an eight-week program designed to increase the literacy skills of parents and their children. Working in partnership with Literacy Action, we teach parents specific skills an• strategies for helping their children with homework and reading.

SATURDAY STE(A)M New in 2016
In partnership with Community Guilds, Inc., our redesigned Saturday program features the award-winning STE(A)M truck and uses project-based learning to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) along with our existing arts program.

YOUTH ON THE MOVE New to Emmaus House in 2016
Youth on the Move strives to provide middle and high school students with opportunities that will prepare them for success as adults through enrichment, education, empowering experiences, and peer support.

Staff Transition at Emmaus House

Emmaus House Executive Director Joseph Mole says goodbye.

It is bittersweet for us at Emmaus House to announce that Executive Director Joseph Mole has tendered his resignation to pursue an opportunity in his hometown Chicago area. We are grateful for the incredible growth Emmaus House has seen over the last two and a half years under his leadership.

In the interim, Emmaus House Director of Development and Communications Greg Cole will serve as Deputy Director providing senior leadership during the transition and beyond. 

Along with the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, we wish Joseph the very best.


Both Joseph and Bishop Wright wrote letters about the transition and what’s next for Emmaus House.

An excerpt from Joseph Mole's letter
"There are stops along life’s journey that leave marks on our heart that remain for a lifetime. For me, Emmaus House has been one of those stops. From the moment I heard about this special place founded by Father Austin Ford during the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, it captivated my activist imagination for what a community could do for itself when organized for justice."

An excerpt from the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta's letter
"There is a time and season for everything. So it is with gratitude that on behalf of the Diocese of Atlanta, I wish to thank Joseph Mole for his service as Executive Director of Emmaus House. His work as leader of this critical mission, in one of Atlanta’s important neighborhoods, has had a significant impact."