The At-Promise Center, located in the historic English Avenue neighborhood on Atlanta’s Westside, just celebrated its first anniversary on August 1st. In its first year, the Center projected to provide specialized support services for some 150 youth and young adults ranging from 12 to 24 years, but it has already served 344 people. Under the leadership of the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Police Department, its goal is to reduce crime, provide services that help youth realize their full potential, lift up families, and strengthen the community.
“Our young people are At-Promise, not At-Risk,” says Lakeisha Walker, Operations Manager. “We offer child, family, and group counseling, GED preparation, tutoring, character and leadership development, career readiness, as well as food assistance along with health and wellness programs.”
“Partnerships with a variety of organizations and companies throughout the City are extremely important to the success of the Center, and our relationship with Second Helpings Atlanta has made quite a difference already since they started regular deliveries of fresh, nutritious food in April of this year,” notes Walker.
Second Helpings Atlanta currently delivers to At-Promise some 900 pounds of surplus healthy, prepared foods per month from organizations like nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Ernst & Young’s corporate office downtown, as well as from NaanStop’s downtown location on Broad Street and its Buckhead store on Piedmont Road. This quantity provides up to two healthy lunches or dinners for 75 young people per week.
“We are lucky that our Chef Amber is very creative and always knows how to transform the bounty of food that is rescued into a special, nourishing meal. She should be on “Chopped!” smiles Walker. The At-Promise Center has four refrigerators and a freezer to accommodate the wide variety of donated foods. “It’s simple. When we don’t have to spend money on buying food, we are able to stretch our resources further – and that benefits everyone,” says Walker.
“With a healthy meal in you, it’s much easier to learn and participate. Being able to serve regular meals, especially during the summer months when schools are out and some kids may not get breakfast or lunch, improves our chances to create pathways to success.”
Walker, who describes herself as a servant leader, strongly believes in the model that sets the At-Promise Center apart. “Here, each person receives a customized treatment plan based on a careful personal evaluation and assessment. We make sure that what we give is truly what is needed.”
As a mother of three who calls herself a disciplinarian, she is “always a mother first, even to other people’s children,” and sees working at At-Promise as her calling, “I’m passionate about everybody’s success, and even though it can sometimes be stressful, there is nothing better to me than to see progress, every day.”
“That first time, you see youth coming through the front door, and you can sense their resistance. Then, in a bit, through the efforts of our staff, you see a new child emerge, and that’s super-exciting. It takes love, support, and consistency – and a good meal, too!” smiles Walker.
The At-Promise Center is an initiative of the Atlanta Police Foundation which created a collaboration between Atlanta organizations committed to addressing the growing concern of juvenile crime: CHRIS 180, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Street Smart Youth Project, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. The efforts of these organizations are further enhanced by a partnership of Atlanta’s corporate and philanthropic community, the Atlanta Hawks Foundation, Brasfield & Gorrie, Carter, Chick-fil-A Foundation, Chris M. Carlos, City of Atlanta, Coca-Cola Foundation, English Avenue Neighborhood Association, GE, Georgia Power, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Westside Future Fund.