For 50 years, Emmaus House has stood with the residents of Peoplestown in their quest to build better lives for themselves and their children. From our early days during the Civil Rights Movement to the uncertainty of today, we have loved and learned, prayed and mobilized, and laughed and cried with the incredibly resilient people of this historic neighborhood.
As we look forward to the next 50 years, we are clearer than ever about the work before us.
At Emmaus House, we stand for justice and equity. Justice and equity rooted in faith and a deep respect for the dignity of every human being.
At Emmaus House, we harness the power of community, education, hope and love to dismantle poverty, racism, and other barriers to opportunity in the lives and communities we serve.
In neighborhoods like Peoplestown, we see too many displaced families, shuttered local businesses, and kids kept indoors for fear of violence. We watch our neighbors confront challenges like limited access to affordable housing and underfunded schools. We see the barriers that limit the opportunities that many of us take for granted. And we recognize that our work is as necessary and important now as it was when Fr. Ford moved to Peoplestown in 1967.
In response to these threats, Emmaus House offers academic and social enrichment programs during the week, on Saturdays, and during the summer for children and youth.
But, we know that supporting children is only half of the solution.
We can best serve families through a two-generation approach. One that addresses the needs of the entire family — children and parents together — so that they can experience academic achievement and sustained economic success.
I hope you’ll read the story of La ‘Tasha, and her son Micah, below — an example of our two-generation approach in action.
Through your generous support, we can help remove those barriers to opportunity that so many families on the south side of Atlanta face. Thank you for continuing to walk this journey with us at Emmaus House and in Peoplestown.
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.
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.