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'Helping to Broaden Horizons' | Local non-profit sponsors fundraiser for tuition-free summer camp program

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Horizons Woodward partners with Arches Brewing to host silent auction for upcoming summer curriculum.

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Although COVID-19 and the pandemic largely put the kibosh on in-person learning this year, one local organization is committed to bringing its own sunshine to local students this summer.  

Since 2012, Horizons Atlanta at Woodward Academy has been offering a six-week, full-day enrichment program during the summer for children from underserved communities. 

The curriculum for the Horizons Atlanta summer learning program was designed with a particular focus on physical activity and social-emotional learning to help eliminate the opportunity gap for its approximately 135+ local scholars grades 1st through 9th.

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“Last year we had to go completely virtual. This is going to be a breath of fresh air for our students,” Horizons Woodard site director, Kristin Jackson shares with Vox Pop ATL.

“We’re really going to go heavy with incorporating even more art into our program.”

What began with barely a baker’s dozen of kindergarteners from Asa G. Hilliard Elementary School, in East Point has become an annual staple for the Tri-Cities community. 

Nearly a decade later, Horizons Atlanta at Woodward Academy services scholars from not only Asa G. Hilliard Elementary, but College Park Elementary, Main Street Academy, and Woodland Middle who have all become feeder schools for the year-long learning program.  

In a concerted effort to mitigate the learning and social trauma endured by students this past school year, Horizons Atlanta is prepping for the return to its dynamic, in-person, summer camp format for Summer 2021.

With an estimated cost of $2,500 per child, Horizons Woodard decided to partner with popular Hapeville watering hole, Arches Brewing to host a community fundraiser to help offset some of those overhead costs. 

After enlisting local artists to donate works for the event, Jackson found the community participation to be, in her words — ‘overwhelming.’ 

“Everybody wants to see the kids have a successful and enrichment summer program,” Jackson praises. 

“Local artists have been donating their art and we’re so grateful for that.” 

To ensure the safety of all involved, the event will be adhering to COVID protocols onsite at Arches Brewing, and all transactions, from beer, artwork to raffles will be processed online via QR-code interfaces.  

That goes for food as well, which will be catered by JenChan’s. Sneak a peek at the menu here

While the official date for the Horizon Woodward silent auction is Saturday, April 17th, 2021, anyone looking to participate can view the artwork at their leisure in the Arches Brewing exhibition space anytime during business hours from Mon. April 12th up to and including the 17th. 

Arches Brewing is located at 3361 Dogwood Dr, Hapeville, GA 30354, just a few blocks away from Historic Downtown Hapeville.

For more information about the Horizons Atlanta at Woodward Academy program, click here, and for information about the Horizons Atlanta network, visit their website for information about their other metro Atlanta programs.

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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‘Something To Remember Him By’ | The community of East Point honors the tragically short life of Ty’Rell Simms

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City officials, non-profits, and local charter school help to celebrate the memory of student with ‘Buddy Bench’, balloon memorial, and new mural. 

EAST POINT, Ga. — On the evening of Friday, November 6th, 2020, 11-year-old Ty’Rell Simms was headed home from his grandmother’s house with a friend. Tragically, he never made it — but his story and his legacy do not end there.

Victim of a drive-by shooting that had absolutely nothing to do with him, Simms left behind a grieving family struggling to cope with their senseless loss and a community left without their classmate, teammate, and friend.

Known for his natural athleticism, generous spirit, warm smile, and overall good nature, Simms touched the lives of many in the Tri-Cities in his brief eleven years. 

During the unpleasant undertaking of finding ways to commemorate Simm’s life, his fellow scholars at KIPP South Fulton Academy (KSFA) envisioned ways to commemorate his life. 

The Beta Club at KIPP Academy, where Simms had just begun his fifth-grade school year under pandemic distance learning approached the faculty and staff about a Buddy Bench.

The ‘Buddy Bench project’ is a relatively new initiative where plastic bottle caps and recyclable plastic items are repurposed into a functional memorial or ‘buddy bench’ in someone’s memory. 

“Our Beta Club scholars came to us wanting to find an outlet for celebration, for grief or just having a way to feel afterward,” recalls KSFA Literacy Coach, Kathryn McClinton.

“They came up with the ‘buddy bench’ idea so we could collect caps in his honor and create a bench where people could actually come and sit, and remember him while also forming bonds with other people.”

The goal of the daunting task of gathering 400-lb of plastics through donations, both local and abroad to create Simms’ memorial bench.

The cap collection process was spearheaded by a fellow athlete and community youth leader, CJ Matthews. While Matthews did not know Simms personally, he was so moved by the news of his passing, he felt compelled to contribute somehow.

Matthews is the co-founder and CEO of Blankies 4 My Buddies, an award-winning community non-profit that has been behind such community events as The Giving Bowl, and COVID Care Package.

Through its #Tops4Tyrell initiative, Blankies 4 My Buddies has collected donations from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. 

Family-friend and local pastor, Ray Waters solemnly recounts to Vox Pop All, the morning he received the call with the heart-breaking news of Ty’rell’s passing.

“It’s five minutes before church, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to talk about, and I get a call, and it is from Conrad’s (Ty’Rell’s father), brother. Scooter told me that Ty’Rell had been shot the night before and had died,” laments the Village Church pastor to Vox Pop ATL

“My whole life as a pastor, I’ve been called and told that something tragic that had happened — but nothing like that.”

East Point Parks & Recreation also contributed to Simms’ legacy by partnering with KSFA and the newly-founded community beautification program, Art in the Paint to paint the basketball court at Brookdale Park in East Point.

Other local companies that have contributed to the causes involving Ty’Rell are including the following:

Drip-Thru Coffee

Treat Love

Kupcakerie

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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‘One To Grow On’ | Local non-profits join forces to expand food access options to the community

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Wholesome Wave Georgia and Food Well Alliance partner-up to expand SNAP benefits with ‘Georgia Plant 2 Plate’ program

EAST ATLANTA, Ga. — Although general concerns regarding the pandemic have seemed to greatly diminish, the needs of families still dealing with economic hardships and food insecurity have not.  

In an effort to increase the impact of its Georgia Plant 2 Plate food initiative, Wholesome Wave Georgia teamed up with Food Well Alliance to expand the benefits for SNAP households to include free gardening kits to Georgia families using their EBT cards at select local farmers markets. 

The Georgia Plant 2 Plate program was launched shortly after the pandemic shutdowns in April 2020 to ensure that SNAP recipients had reliable food access by offering 50% off fresh, healthy, and locally grown food.

https://vimeo.com/544003441

For 2021, the Plant 2 Plate program has expanded SNAP benefits to include 50% off local fruit and vegetable plant seedlings or ’starts’ to families paying with their EBT cards. 

Along with the purchase of fruit and vegetable starter plants, a free gardening kit including pots, soil, gloves, trowels, and plant care guides were provided to SNAP recipients.

Working in partnership with the Georgia Fresh For Less program at Wholesome Wave Georgia, Food Well Alliance hosted a Georgia Plant 2 Plate pop-up just in time for Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market located at Stokeswood Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30316.

To date, Georgia Plant 2 Plate has hosted pop-up events at:

For more information about the 2021 Georgia Plant 2 Plate program, you can visit their website, and learn more about other programs involving the Food Well Alliance, click here.

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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‘Breathe a Sigh of Relief’ | Community outreach organization provides face-masks to area schools

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IGNITE Resource Center donates over 4,000 much-needed face-masks to Woodland Middle and College Park Elementary schools

EAST POINT, Ga. — The faculty at Woodland Middle School and College Park Elementary School were greeted with a nice surprise Tuesday, April 20th as both schools received free face masks from the staff of the IGNITE Resource Center.

The College Park-based community outreach organization has partnered with four local schools in the Tri-Cities area to provide the students and faculty with PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). 

This initiative has been taking place since the beginning of the 2021 school year according to Jamelle McKenzie, Executive Director for IGNITE College Park Resource Center.

https://vimeo.com/542381473

“We have adopted for schools in the Tri-Cities area, and one of the things we like to do is to provide these schools with the necessary PPE that they need,” Mckenzie tells Vox Pop ATL.

“So, today we actually visited College Park Elementary School and Woodland Middle School, and delivered approximately 5000 face-masks that can be used for students, their families, and the faculty.”

With the number of in-person teaching increasing this year, the need for PPE has definitely increased for the scholars and their teachers. 

IGNITE Resource Center delivered 2,500 face masks to Woodland Middle School and 1,500 to College Park Elementary School. 

Dr. Brown extols her appreciation for IGNITE Resource Center to Vox Pop ATL out front of Woodland Middle School in East Point. 

“Something as simple as masks you would not think would make such a huge impact, but it definitely has here at Woodland Middle,” shares the Woodland Middle School principal.

When asked how did she feel about the face-mask donations and continued support from IGNITE Resource Center, College Park Elementary School principal, Dr. Maisha Otway had this to add:

“Some people think that everyone has masks and that’s not true. We have them until we don’t,” affirms Dr. Otway. “So, on delivery like this is, it’s phenomenal and these are just so awesome and colorful and cute. We love that, too.”

For more information about the IGNITE College Park Resource Center, visit their website

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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