The Georgia Avenue Community Ministry continues to be an organization that provides individual and families with support that empowers and reminds members of their intrinsic worth. The programs of GACM create partnerships between volunteers, staff, and members that highlights the gifts, strenghts and talents of every individual involved and creates a mutually supportive environment where everyone has something to offer. No only have the organization faithfully served the Atlanta community for well over 20 years, but is now having an increased impact around the country as organizations are beginning to learn of their work and replicate the GACM Model. I look forward to seeing the ways the influence of the organization continues to tranform the way many individuals and organizations serve their communities.
I was introduced to the work of Georgia Avenue Community Ministry while working as a social worker in Atlanta. It was immediately evident to me that this organization used a model of support extremely unique in regards to addressing hunger. The Food Cooperative model of GACM provides food security, community building, and participant empowerment and dignity through a process that holistically supports individuals and families. The members of GACM are not only provided with food, but are also provided space to use their gifts, talents, and resources for the betterment of other participants, the group at large, and the organization. This model breaks down the helper/helped paradigm and allows everyone to give and everyone to receive.
I find Georgia Avenue Community Ministry to be the most inspiring nonprofit organization that I have encountered. I know how hard it is to provide help and at the same time empower the people you serve since I spent seven years as an executive director of a nonprofit organization. Georgia Avenue Community Ministry accomplishes this balance in a remarkable way. This organization gives encouragement as well as food security in a joyful and respectful manner.
I have stopped by the Georgia Avenue Community Ministry on a few occasions and I follow its ministry closely through contacts with its leadership. I am impressed both with the organization, character, and purpose of this organization. Food security is exactly the sort of radical re-focus that is demanded by the gospel. Teaching brothers and sisters to fish is just not possible in this metropolis. But providing a place and support for brothers and sisters to organize a community to distribute food and other necessities at almost no cost is possible. GACM is proof positive. The Spirit moves freely. The joy of thanks is evident and constant. And the discipline of community is clear. The shareholders have each other in mind and they support one another with all the things that people need from community - hope, encouragement, mutual aid, and gracious discipline. I strongly recommend this organization.
I'm proud to have been on an initial Advisory Board that helped the Georgia Avenue Church to launch the co-op 19 years ago. Since then I've served on the Board (including as Chair), invited other caring community members with needed skills to support the program as volunteers, consultants, funders, and board members. Given the overwhelming success of the project in utilizing the well-researched principles of "Asset Based Community Develoopment" to REALLY transfor the lives of its members/clients....this is a way of serving food insecure neighbors that NEEDS to be replicated all over town and around the country.
Georgia Avenue Community Ministry is unique in the field of food security. GACM food cooperatives provide members with much more than nutritious food. Members gain skills, confidence and faith as they come together to sort and pack food in a joyful and caring environment. Through 5 food co-ops low-income 250 families gain housing security, find purpose, validation and support one another in community. GACM has a long history of stability and consistency. They have a model that honors and empowers those members of our society who are often marginalized and dismissed. GACM also has the experience, knowledge and talent to grow and expand food security for all Americans.
I have been involved with the Georgia Avenue Cooperative Ministry's Food Coop program through my work at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which provides much of its food. The Food Coop's five cooperatives each provide essential food and other donated items to over 250 families. Many of these families have children. For as little as $5 every two weeks, each family receives an abundance of basic food items, including meat, bread, fruit and vegetables. For most of these families, this food is the difference between eating regularly and going hungry. Not only that, but the Food Coop reinforces the dignity of its members and helps them improve their lives. Coop members are expected to contribute not only money but their time and cooperation to make the Coop run. This builds confidence, involvement and community. Many Coop members report that belonging to the Coop has helped them in ways that go far beyond the food. The GACM operates a very small and lean organization. Operating on a shoestring budget, Chad Hale and his staff make an enormous difference in the lives of many families in some of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods.
The Georgia Avenue Community Ministry and food co-ops are a sign of hope for our Atlanta region. The co-ops are a way for low-income residents to organize themselves into strategic communities which then provide food and care to one another. Through these co-ops, people discover the gifts and beauty in their neighbors, often in people they had discounted. With their vision and hope, with their hard work, with their care for one another, communities are being transformed while people are being fed. -Rev. Dr. David Jenkins, Candler School of Theology, Emory University