7345 Red Oak Road, Union City, GA 30291 | 770-964-3301 |

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Christian City Announces Honorees for the 2021 Community Champion Awards

ATLANTA- (September 11, 2020)- Christian City announced today its 2021 Community Champion Awards’ honorees, an extraordinary group of philanthropic leaders who have dramatically improved the lives of individuals in our community and beyond. The Community Champion Awards will pay tribute to Dan Cathy in the Individual category, The Home Depot in the Corporate category and 100 Black Men of Atlanta in the Nonprofit category.

The Community Champion Awards was established by Christian City in 2019 to honor individuals and businesses that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment towards the betterment of our Atlanta community. Christian City will recognize each of the 2021 honorees at the gala scheduled for Thursday, April 29, 2021. Guests will be invited to spend a fun evening at the Georgia Aquarium enjoying great entertainment, delicious food and the camaraderie of friends. Renowned broadcast journalist Monica Pearson will serve as emcee.

Proceeds from the Community Champion Awards will support Christian City’s Children and Family programs which include: Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care and Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway and Homeless Youth Program and Thrive Graduate Transition Program.

“The event provides an opportunity to be inspired by those who have made it their purpose to improve the lives of others in the community,” said Christian City CEO Keith Horton. “Each of our 2021 winners have also championed efforts addressing the most pressing issues we face today – public health and racial inequality.”

For more information on ticket and sponsorship opportunities, please visit https://christiancity.org/communitychampion/

 

About Christian City:
Christian City was established 55 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and senior adults, living at Christian City in south metro Atlanta. In addition to four Children & Family Programs (Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, and Thrive Graduate Transition Program), the campus includes 500 retirement homes and apartments for active seniors, a 200-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, a 150-bed assisted living center and two memory care units. For more information or to learn how you can help, call 770-703-2636 or visit christiancity.org.

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For more information, contact:
Chelsea Rosen
crosen@hopebeckham.com
404-604-2603

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Jeff Mellin

CAREGIVER FOR SKILLED NURSING RESIDENT

“It’s the people who work here who make a difference, not the sparkly things that make a place beautiful.”

Bobbie Harper grew up near Callaway Gardens – one of 10 children in the family. They raised hogs, grew vegetables, and attended the Baptist church. They didn’t have a lot of money.

After she married and came to Atlanta, Bobbie worked as a secretary for Eastman Kodak before moving to a secretarial position with the same hotel company where I worked. Bobbie later became my secretary and we worked together for about 20 years and became close friends.

Bobbie was living in an apartment in Atlanta when she developed dementia. She was divorced and didn’t have any children. And she wasn’t close to her siblings or their families, so I became her caregiver.

When she could no longer live in her Atlanta apartment, Bobbie moved to a new assisted living facility in Peachtree City to be closer to our home in Tyrone. My wife and I decorated the room. It was on the 2nd floor, but the doors on the hallway didn’t lock and there was an elevator. She began wandering and the facility advised that she needed to be in a more secure environment for her own safety. So I looked at all of the facilities in Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Newnan before a friend of my wife suggested Christian City.

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When I visited Christian City, it was not the prettiest place, but it was fresh and clean. After I met with Debra Stegall, the manager of the Assisted Living memory care floor, and Hashmia Fields, the nurse manager on the Skilled Nursing 5th floor, the decision was quickly made to move Bobbie to Christian City.

It’s not the place itself that’s most important, it’s the people who take care of the residents. It’s not the painted walls, shiny floors, and places to eat. All the places have that stuff. It’s the people who work here who make a difference, not the sparkly things that make a place beautiful.

Christian City has a lot of staff members who have been here 15-20 years, and some much longer. As Bobbie’s caregiver, I felt an obligation to meet all three shifts of staff taking care of her. More importantly, they needed to know me. I wanted to make sure she was getting the same treatment at night that I saw during the day. And she was!

I get up at 5am every day, so I was able to visit Bobbie at 5:30am. No matter when I visited, she was always in good hands and well taken care of. She always looked good – her hair was always done and her clothes were clean.

I’ll say it again. The staff members are the ones who make a difference. If you want the prettiest place, don’t go to Christian City. If you want people who will take as good care, if not better than you did, go to Christian City.

There are a lot of terrible stories out there about assisted living and nursing homes. I tell people to go meet the people who are doing the job to know what you’re getting. Christian City is better than home, because there are people here taking care of your loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I made it very clear – as long as Hash is here, she’s not moving off the 5th floor. Bobbie was happy and the nurses knew her. That’s what was important. If anything happened, the nurse called me right away.

Bobbie was happy living at Christian City. She wanted to donate money to help the children who live at Christian City, and that’s what we talked about doing after her death. Now that she is gone, I’m honoring her wishes to help provide for the needs of the children.

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Christian City Names Interim Executive Director of Children & Family Programs

(Union City, Georgia – July 9, 2020) – Newnan resident, Marlond Fyffe, has been named Interim Executive Director of Christian City Children & Family Programs. Fyffe will provide strategic vision and direction for the Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program and Thrive Graduate Transition Program at Christian City.

“I am pleased to promote Marlond Fyffe to Interim Executive Director of our Children & Family Programs,” said Keith Horton, President & CEO of Christian City, Inc. “Marlond’s experience and his passion for at-risk youth have prepared him to successfully lead our Children & Family Programs. His demonstrated commitment to our mission to extend Christ’s call to love your neighbor through housing, health care, and crisis intervention for children, families, and older adults has positioned Marlond well to direct the strategic vision for our Children & Family Programs.”

Fyffe has served in various positions at Christian City over the last 17 years, most recently as Quality Assurance Specialist where he was responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the quality of services provided by Children & Family Programs. Previously he served hundreds of youth as House Parent, Team Lead, and Crisis Manager at the Children’s Village Residential Program. As a college student in 2003, Fyffe joined Graceland Thrift Store, a retail store located on the 500-acre Christian City campus that supports Children & Family Programs through sales profits.
Fyffe’s transition to Interim Executive Director comes at a critical time for the organization. Christian City recently completed a strategic plan that will inform and guide the organization’s focus for the next three years. Fyffe is tasked with leading and implementing initiatives to enhance and expand Children & Family Programs.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as a leader within an organization that extends Christ’s call to love our neighbors,” Fyffe said. “My personal mission in life is to serve God’s purpose in my generation by being an instrument of hope, a conduit of love, a voice to the voiceless, and become the kind of leader my children desire to emulate. I am so grateful to serve at an organization where there is no conflict in my mission and the corporate mission. When this type of synergy and purpose is present, God allows us to bloom where He has planted us.”

As a 20-year not-for-profit specialist, Fyffe lives with a passion for excellence and a desire to leave the world a little better than the way he found it. He believes service excellence is revealed in our language, the questions we ask, the people we surround ourselves with and the way we interact with the most vulnerable populations. More than passion, Fyffe is compelled to lead individuals and organizations to live at their highest and best.

Fyffe sums up his philosophy on service in the following passage from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
Fyffe graduated from Point University with a BS degree in Human Relations. His wife is his best friend, and together they are parents of two children.

About Christian City

Christian City was established 55 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and senior adults, living at Christian City, a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of donors for financial support. The 500-acre campus, located 15 minutes south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and adjacent to the Fayette County border, includes the Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, Thrive Graduate Transition Program, active senior living patio homes and apartments, thrift store, assisted living center, skilled nursing & rehab center, memory care, home health, and hospice care. Christian City’s Children & Family Programs help provide children in crisis a safe home in a loving family environment to grow and thrive. The nonprofit serves the entire metro Atlanta area and beyond from its campus in south Fulton County. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org or call 770-964-3301.

Newnan resident, Marlond Fyffe, has been named Interim Executive Director of Christian City Children & Family Programs.

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$223,304 Raised for Christian City Children & Family Programs

(Union City, Georgia – May 28, 2020) – Faithful support and a successful online auction raised $223,304 for Christian City Children & Family Programs, even though the third annual Drive & Dine event scheduled for March 28 at Porsche Experience Center was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Event co-chairs, Randa and Gil Reese, expressed their gratitude to supporters saying, “Because of support from dedicated Drive & Dine sponsors, volunteers and donors, children are living in safety and love at Christian City’s Children’s Village and in Crossroads foster and adoptive homes. Now more than ever, the children and families at Christian City need our help.”

Two weeks prior to the scheduled Drive & Dine event, the rise of the novel coronavirus caused cancellations of all large gatherings of people and “sheltering in place” ordinances went into effect. Christian City made the decision to pivot from the planned in-person event with silent and live auctions to an online auction. Communications went out to sponsors, table hosts and ticket holders about the cancellation. Most event supporters responded positively by allowing Christian City to retain their donations and helping to spread the word about the online auction. Due to the generosity of Christian City donors, over $23,000 was raised in the online auction.

“Drive & Dine has been an important part of our fundraising efforts. I was amazed to see our staff and donors come together to ensure the event was successful despite the unusual circumstances,” said Keith Horton, Christian City’s CEO. “These proceeds will go a long way in supporting our Children and Family programs.”

Drive & Dine event proceeds help children from families in crisis. Thanks to the programs of Christian City, those children are now able to thrive in a safe home and loving family environment. Christian City serves the entire metro Atlanta area and beyond from its 500-acre campus in south Fulton County.

About Christian City

Christian City was established 55 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day, 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and older adults, living at Christian City, a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of donors for financial support. The 500-acre campus, located 15 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, includes the Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, Thrive Transitional Living Program, active senior living patio homes and apartments, thrift store, assisted living center, skilled nursing center, memory care, home health and hospice care. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org or call 770-703-AMEN.

Randa and Gil Reese served as chairs of the 2020 Drive & Dine event. (Photo by Larry Regier)

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Jennifer & Peter Barnett

ADOPTIVE PARENTS OF SIX SIBLINGS

Q&A with Jennifer & Peter Barnett

Tell us about your biological family first.

Peter: We have 4 biological children, ages 24, 22, 19, and 15. The oldest is in the Navy; the middle two are in college; and the youngest is in high school and at home with us.

When did you get the idea to adopt and how did you know you were ready?

Jennifer: When I was 18, I read the book, “A Child Called ‘It’,” by David Pelzer. It was one of those defining moments for me. I knew then that I wanted to adopt one day. When I married my husband, he felt the same way. We wanted to have a big family and give love to kids who needed it.

As a child, I was sad that I had just one brother. I complained to my parents that I wanted a big family, and they always told me I would have to make my own. My husband Peter was the opposite; he was one of seven kids. Throughout our marriage, even though we had our own biological children, we knew that someday we were going to adopt more children, because we knew the need was out there.

When my husband was in the military and later in his civilian job as an air traffic controller, we moved around the country, which made adopting difficult. We started the process to be certified for adoption a few times; even completing a home study in Ohio. As soon as the study was done, however, we relocated to Arkansas. With each move, we would have to start the process all over again, because each state has their own adoption rules.

Out of the nine states we have called home, Georgia has been our favorite. It was a more permanent move, and we could finally settle down to go through the whole adoption process. We were more than ready by then!

 

How did you decide to adopt a large sibling group?

Jennifer: When we were almost done with our home study, we were out to dinner one night. Peter was looking at one of those adoption websites with photo listings of the “available” kids to adopt. I kept telling him to stop looking at the website, because we had reached out to them in the past, and the children we had selected were not available for various reasons. I didn’t want to get our hopes up again.

Peter: We have always looked for a sibling set. Our goal was to keep kids together, because so many kids in the foster care system are split apart from their siblings. Many foster parents don’t have the space and time for more than one or two children. As they integrated into our family, we wanted our adopted children to have their siblings with them, to not be split apart. We thought a sibling set of three or four would be good, and we had space for them now that three of our four kids were out of the house.

Jennifer: While we were sitting at dinner that night, my husband shoved his phone in front of me and said, “I found them! They are the ones.” At first, I wouldn’t look at them, because I refused to get caught in that disappointment again, but he was persistent, and I gave in. I looked, and I saw what he saw. They were our missing pieces. The only thing that might be a little concerning was that there were six of them!

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How did the Crossroads team help you through the process of fostering and adopting?

Jennifer: We selected Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption as our agency, because of the relationship with Christian City. I am so glad we did! We would have never been able to go through this process without them. Not only did they give us the support and knowledge we needed along the way, they became our friends and are now like family.

Once we found the kids, we immediately contacted Michaela Guthrie, the director at Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption. That started the year and a half process of fostering and finally being able to adopt the six siblings. They were two hours away, so we had long drives to pick them up and take them back home on the weekends. It seemed like we would just get the kids home and settled when we would have to turn around and take them back.

We have been very grateful that people donate to support the Crossroads program and Christian City. Thanks to some of those donations, our family has been able to go to Zoo Atlanta and Stone Mountain. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to do some of those things. Even taking ten people to a movie is something we save for. Tutors and services like dance classes are also a blessing.

We were amazed at what the kids had never experienced or didn’t know about. They had never been to a shopping mall or to a zoo. It has been a blessing to experience a lot of “firsts” for them. We have a long-term goal for Disney. Now that’s going to blow their minds!

 

Describe adoption day. What will you remember the most about that day?

Jennifer:  The adoption was 3-1/2 hours away from our home, so we didn’t think anyone would be there with us. We thought it was just going to be us and the kids. We were really surprised when everyone from Crossroads showed up to support us. The kids’ primary foster parents were there. All the people from the Heart Gallery were there. The thing I remember most about adoption day was that the courtroom was full of people who loved on these children. It was amazing!

 

Tell us about the six siblings you have adopted.

Peter: The six siblings fit in so well with our biological family because the oldest adopted sibling is only one year younger than our youngest biological son. It was like they were meant to be with us, and they perfectly completed our family. 

Jennifer: We adopted a sibling group of three boys and three girls. They are 14, 13, 11, 8, 7 and 6. They have suffered a lot of trauma and abuse and will be in counselling for many years. Despite that background, they are happy kids and are very loving.

Our 14-year-old son is a regular teenager who enjoys video games and riding his bike. He is slow to make friends, but when he opens up, he is the life of the party.

Our 13-year-old son is on the autism spectrum and is very smart. He loves playing with Legos and with his younger brother outdoors.

Our 11-year-old daughter is all about animals. She takes care of all the animals in the house. She wants to learn to do tumbling, so she can become a cheerleader. Everyone who meets her loves her; and she is the most outgoing, loving person I have met.

Our 8-year-old son is very shy, but he loves playing lacrosse and wants to try other sports. Pokémon is his favorite game to play with his brother and other siblings. The most fearless of the group, he will go on any ride or try anything new.

Our 7-year-old daughter is adventurous and always getting into something new. She loves to draw or do anything art related.

Our youngest daughter is 6 and likes to be babied. We don’t mind giving her lots of hugs and kisses.

 

Talk about some changes you have witnessed among the children since the adoption.

Peter: Before they went into the foster care system, they had been abused, neglected and were malnourished. They had no idea what it was like to live in a normal home and in normal society, because they had lived in the wilderness before being removed from their biological parents. The children were born in four different states, because their family constantly moved to avoid DFCS taking the kids into custody.

They were finally removed from their biological parents, and the six siblings were in four different foster homes before coming to live with us. Two of the boys had been placed in psychiatric facilities, and they were heavily medicated when they came to us. They were wild, because that was the only life they knew.

Because of the trauma they have experienced, the kids were having nightmares and other behavioral issues when they came to live with us. Just by giving them the love and care they need, and getting them the right treatment and getting medications adjusted, they have really grown since they have been in our home. They are now doing so much better and living a normal life.

 

Jennifer: Love heals. In just in the two years we have had our kids, they have come such a long way. Having love and attention and being together again has made all the difference.

 

You are now the parents of 10 children, with seven of them under 16! How do you do it?

Jennifer: We both work full time, have a 15-year-old biological child still at home, and our extended families live in Buffalo, NY, where Peter and I were both raised. When we inquired about adopting the six kids, the social worker was probably looking for a family where both parents didn’t work, didn’t have other kids in the house, had a lot of help, etc. We didn’t think they were going to consider us for this big sibling group.

Peter then wrote a long email explaining our lives – that I work from home a few days a week and both our jobs are flexible. He explained that we would have the support of Christian City, a community that has more than five decades of experience with children and trauma. We had houseparents we could go to if we needed advice, and emotional and spiritual help from the staff and chaplains. It’s a village that we count on and call our friends and family.

After his email, we got a call from the social worker the next day saying we were exactly what they were looking for and that the support of Christian City was what really convinced them to move forward with the adoption process. That support is exactly what allows us to do this successfully!

 

What advice do you have for a couple who may be considering adopting a large sibling group?

Jennifer: Be persistent and expect to put in the work. It’s not easy to be a parent, especially to kids with trauma, and many foster children have trauma. Join some Facebook groups before you decide to go through the process. Ask questions. If you do have the passion and determination to get past the hurdles and emotion to help these kids, please do it. They need you!

This was one of the most challenging things we have ever done. However, it’s one of the most rewarding too. That big family I always wanted, I finally found. Everyone always says, “Thank goodness those kids have you.” I say, “Thank goodness God’s plan let them be a part of our lives. We are the ones who are blessed.”

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Michael Scherer

17-YEAR RESIDENT OF HOME FOR CHILDREN

“Christian City helped me develop into the man I am today. If I had been raised with my ‘real’ family, the path that I would have followed would not have led me to this same place in my life!”

As a pastor, I find it easy to talk to others of God’s purpose and plan – showing people how God has moved with intent to help direct their path. However, for a time, it was not so easy for me! I came to Christian City in August of 1973. I was six years old.

I did not know what divorce was back then, but I do remember being shuffled back and forth each weekend from one household to the other. I later found out that I ended up at Christian City because my mom was initially trying to hide me from my father.

After it was all said and done, I ended up a ward of the state and Christian City became my official guardian. All I knew at that time is that I no longer lived with my Mom or Dad, and that I was not sure I would ever see them again. My world was turned upside down. But, it was all part of God’s plan!

When people find out I was raised at a children’s home, I get many questions on my life there, but I get two questions the most: “Do I ever wish I was raised with my “real” family? And

“How do you think you would have turned out if you had not been raised at Christian City?”

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Although there are things about being raised with my biological family that I missed, like spending time and watching my brother and sister grow up, spending holidays with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., I would not change a single moment of my life that I spent at Christian City!

Christian City helped me develop into the man I am today. If I had been raised with my “real” family, the path that I would have followed would not have led me to this same place in my life!

Since hindsight is 20/20, I can now see how God moved and worked things out for my good, and Christian City was that vessel used to work His plan for me! Christian City is so different now than when I first came in 1973. My first house parents were Fred and Anita Parks. They had two young daughters, Angela and April, that were close to my age. I even remember their dog, Toby!

Our cottage had both boys and girls, and I remember that we were all young and we were all strangers. And even though this was all new and overwhelming, some of the new things I got to experience for the first time were not so bad. The Parks were the first people that I remember ever showing me unconditional love – love with no strings attached. I was not used to that. I thought that if you loved someone, you had to prove it! This unconditional love “thing” was awesome!

As time went on, I had several different house parents, but God saved the best for last in Lois McGhee! I am the associate Pastor at the church in Nashville that Lois attends, and I introduce Lois to others as my Mom. I can honestly say that Lois’ example of Christ in her life put the finishing touches on my personal development. Christian City provided that! One of my life verses came as a result of Lois’ wonderful example. It comes from 1 Corinthians 11:1. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Each house parent left their impression on me. Each brought something new to the table that helped to train me or remind me that I was someone special. And not just house parents! People on the administrative side were intimately involved in the ministry of Christian City. People like Sandra Walker, Dr. Cocker, Mr. Pew, Bob Puckett, Ruth Groover and Normer Adams! They all were used by God through Christian City!

The 17 years I lived at Christian City provided so many wonderful things: family, friends for a lifetime, unconditional love, self-worth, how to be an overcomer, to be a servant, and most importantly, they introduced me to Christ.

I followed up by graduating from Point University. Then I traveled in a Christian rock band and met my amazing wife Amy to whom I have been married to for 24 years (at this writing in November 2019). I have three incredible kids. Our oldest son is 24 and pursuing a career in music. Our second son is 20 and plays football and rugby. And our 14-year-old daughter loves basketball and Bible Bowl.

I have been in the ministry for almost 34 years now. I am presently at Lakeshore Christian Church in Nashville where I have been for the last 23 years! My desire for ministry came out of being at Christian City. I was a witness to all the different kids that came through, their stories and their situations. They all needed something different, and in every circumstance, Christian City was able to provide.

Christian City started with a vision. That vision took root and the ministry continues to bear much fruit! I may not always understand God’s plan and purpose for my life. But, I know now that Christian City was that instrument being used by God for me; and I believe that Christian City, as part of God’s purpose and plan, is still being used today!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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75 Veterans Honored at Christian City

75 veterans who live at Christian City were honored with daily events and activities during the week of Veterans Day. Individuals and groups from surrounding communities joined in the celebration to honor the men and women of Christian City who served in World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

On Monday morning, the Creekside High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors at the Veterans Day ceremony, and Kristie Kenney, Christian City’s Director of Annual Giving, beautifully sang the National Anthem. The Monday program also included live music by the Hillbilly Band, which included a 96-year-old World War II veteran, Lofton Hill, on guitar and vocals.

President and CEO, Keith Horton, called each veteran’s name and presented a commemorative pin to each veteran. Horton served in the United States military for 20 years, including his position as deputy director of the Combat Arms Force Management Division for the Pentagon. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2006. Horton joined Christian City as President and CEO in July 2019.

The commander of Creekside High JROTC, Col. Ret. George Fields, returned to the campus on Tuesday evening with several members of VFW 6649 in Fairburn for an evening of fellowship with the veterans who currently reside at Christian City in active senior homes, the assisted living center or skilled nursing & rehabilitation center.

Thanks to Newnan High School’s history department, a Wednesday Student-Vet Connect event allowed the juniors and seniors who are enrolled in an advanced elective Military History class at NHS to talk one-on-one with a 100-year-old World War II veteran, William Muckenfuss, a current resident of the Christian City Skilled Nursing Center. The 55 students who visited also talked one-on-one with several veterans about their experience during the Vietnam War.

Student-Vet Connect events started at Newnan High in 1995 with the 50th anniversary of World War II. Twice a year, 60-80 veterans participate in the event at the Armory in Newnan. “Over the last 25 years, we have introduced about 10,000 students to veterans through this program,” said Stephen Quesinberry, NHS History Department Chair.

Approximately 40 – 50 NHS students are also involved in the “Adopt a Vet” program, a student idea that came out of the History Club. The vets and students meet a few times a year and some have formed lasting relationships beyond high school graduation. “One of the goals of the program is to have the kids become comfortable talking with people other than their peers,” Quesinberry said.

The week-long celebration continued Thursday afternoon with a visit from Dale Barnett, US Army Ret., and National Commander of the American Legion from 2015-2016. Barnett spoke at “A Patriotic People’s Club” event in the Christian City auditorium.

On Friday afternoon, a Wall of Honor featuring portraits of many of the veterans who currently reside at Christian City was unveiled at the Recreation Center. As he welcomed the veterans and their family and friends to the vent, CEO Keith Horton stood before two World War II veterans, Albert Sessoms and Bill Muckenfuss, as he reflected on his desire to do something spectacular for our vets. “We stand on the shoulders of those who served in all conflicts. If not for those who served, we would not be where we are today,” Horton said.

“I’m grateful for the work of Tyler Garcia, our Director of Campus Recreation, in organizing a full week of events to honor our veterans,” Horton said. He also recognized Myrna Johnson, Christian City’s Director of Life Enrichment and a veteran who served five years in the U.S. Marines. Johnson presented “The Missing Man Table” in remembrance of POW and MIA veterans. Following the ceremony, attendees enjoyed refreshments and fellowship with the veterans of Christian City.

About Christian City

Christian City was established 54 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and senior adults, living at Christian City, a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of donors for financial support. The 500-acre campus, located 15 minutes south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and adjacent to the border with Fayette County, includes the Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, Thrive Graduate Transition Program, active senior living patio homes and apartments, thrift store, assisted living center, skilled nursing & rehab center, memory care, home health and hospice care. The nonprofit serves the entire metro Atlanta area and beyond from its campus in south Fulton County. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org or call 770-703-AMEN.

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Public Invited to Events Honoring Veterans at Christian City

UNION CITY, Ga. October 29, 2019 – Christian City has announced a week-long slate of events and activities to honor the 62 veterans who currently reside at Christian City in active senior homes, the assisted living center or skilled nursing & rehabilitation center. The public is invited to attend all events.

Monday, Nov. 11, 10am-11am
Salute to Veterans
Christian City Auditorium – 7290 Lester Road

Join us as we salute the veterans who live at Christian City! The Creekside High School JROTC Color Guard will present the colors in the opening ceremony, followed by a musical program and recognition of Christian City’s veterans by branch of service. President and CEO, Keith Horton, will present a commemorative pin to each veteran. Horton served in the United States military for 20 years, including his position as deputy director of the Combat Arms Force Management Division for the Pentagon. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2006. Horton joined Christian City as President and CEO in July 2019.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6pm-8pm
Evening of Fellowship with VFW 6649
Christian City Auditorium – 7290 Lester Road

VFW 6449 will host an evening of fellowship, including a meet-and-greet and discussion of veteran benefits. The guest speaker is District 3 Commander, Wilbert Jordan.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 9:30 am-noon
Student-Vet Connect
Christian City Auditorium – 7290 Lester Road

50 students from the history department at Newnan High School will visit Christian City for one-on-one visitations and Q&A with veterans. Veterans are encouraged to contact Tyler Wright at 770-703-2730 to participate. Stephen Quisenberry, Newnan High’s History Chair, will also present about various opportunities for veterans to interact with the NHS history department.

Thursday, Nov. 14, 3pm-4pm
A Patriotic People’s Club
Christian City Auditorium – 7290 Lester Road
Presentation by Dale Barnett, US Army Ret., and National Commander of the American Legion from 2015-2016.

Friday, Nov. 15, 2pm-3:30pm
Veterans Wall of Honor Portrait Reveal
Christian City Recreation Center – Park at 7345 Red Oak Road
(shuttle service provided from parking to Rec Center)

Join us for an afternoon celebrating the men and women who have served our country in the military. A Wall of Honor featuring portraits of more than 50 veterans who currently reside at Christian City will be unveiled. A reception with light refreshments will follow.

About Christian City

Christian City was established 54 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and senior adults, living at Christian City, a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of donors for financial support. The 500-acre campus, located 15 minutes south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and adjacent to the border with Fayette County, includes the Children’s Village Residential Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, Thrive Graduate Transition Program, active senior living patio homes and apartments, thrift store, assisted living center, skilled nursing & rehab center, memory care, home health and hospice care. The nonprofit serves the entire metro Atlanta area and beyond from its campus in south Fulton County. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org or call 770-703-AMEN.

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Shavonda & Roc

A FAMILY REUNIFICATION STORY

Shavonda & Roc share their family’s journey to reunification with help from the Children’s Village Residential Program; along with comments from Jill & Kelvin Thompson, Human Services Professionals at Christian City for more than three decades.

Roc (Dad):
We met at Marietta High School in 10th grade.

Shavonda (Mom):
I was a teen parent in high school, but he was always there for us, since day one.

Roc:
We started struggling about three or four years ago,

and we did a lot of shuffling around back-and-forth from Union City to Rome to Cedartown to Douglasville, Georgia, just moving around and getting a temporary roof here and there. The idea of dropping your kids off somewhere while you go off and try to get started was a little much for me. I couldn’t come to terms with the idea, but Shavonda told me that it really wasn’t worth the way we were struggling. She took the big step by coming to Christian City and asking for help.

Shavonda:
I learned that not everybody is going to help when you need help. Not everybody is going to be there like you would think. I was cornered at that time, so I decided after that last weekend I spent with my kids in a hotel room that I would come and visit Christian City and at least just see the place. I didn’t have any more money. They needed food.

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I just wanted to make sure that whatever I could provide they would have. Long story short…..we came to Christian City and I was scared and devastated. I have to admit that! I came to Christian City looking for any reason to say “No, I can’t leave my kids there; no, I can’t do this; and no, this is not the right thing.” But, when I got here, it was gorgeous and beautiful. Kids were outside playing everywhere.

I got to meet with the social worker, Kelvin, and talk to him and cry to him like a big baby, and I felt terrible. I felt like I was giving my kids away. I felt horrible. I don’t know if it was Jill, but somebody came in the room and they just comforted me, handed me tissues and water, and told me “You know, we’re not trying to take your kids from you. We’re simply trying to be your hands and feet until you can get back on your feet.” That helped me feel so much better. I don’t know what it was about that statement, but that is really what made me stop and realize “I can do this.”

Kelvin (Human Services Professional – Children’s Village):
When Shavonda approached us about placing her children here, it was an emotional struggle for her. I remember that she would have emotional ups and downs and she would walk away at times feeling confident that this was the right decision and then second-guess herself, because she’s a mother and she doesn’t want to leave her children unattended someplace where she’s not present herself.

In the struggles that I experienced with Shavonda, there were times when I could listen to her and talk to her about those emotional struggles, and then offer a spiritual solution. I think that was very helpful at the time. It seemed to bring a lot of relief to her whenever we would sit down and talk and then also pray, oftentimes over the telephone, just to help her know she was on the right track and making the right decision and then she was re-motivated again.

One of the things that we try to hold onto at the Children’s Village is a wholistic approach to what children need. We are not just a place to house the children and provide for the physical needs, but also the spiritual needs, the emotional needs, the social needs, and the vocational needs. We look at all of it and try to address everything that’s needed for the child while they are here.

Jill (Human Services Professional – Children’s Village):
Family is one of the core parts of our program. We serve families and we want to give the children placed with us a family to be in, which is the house parent mom and dad family figure. They run their home much as any other family would. Kids come home from school. They have dinner time. They might play basketball. They have a bedtime. Meal times are in the dining room and everybody’s in one place sharing that meal together.

The model for Christian City is “it takes a village,” and it does. It’s not just Kelvin and me. It’s not just the birth mom or the house parents. It’s not just the kids. It really takes that team of people working together to bring the family together to bring them home. That’s our goal.

Kelvin:
We work extensively with these families to get them back together again and to give them the services and resources that they need in order to come back together again in a healthier manner.

Jill:
Mom was able to put her children’s needs first. Even though she wanted the kids to be home, she was able to say, “Let’s wait till school is out and then let me come and get them.” So we planned for that. The kids were aware of that plan, and mom worked toward that plan, and it worked out really well. We worked toward increasing visitations so the kids could become acclimated to their new home environment as well as ours. So it worked out really well.

Shavonda:
When I called Christian City, I actually got genuine, honest help. I could show people I was serious. I wanted to take this opportunity to get on my feet, get my kids, and get my home in order. I was serious and they took me seriously. I really appreciated that. I’m going to school to get my degree, my bachelor’s degree. it’s a dream come true. A year ago, I was living in my car. I would have never guessed I would be at this point today. That’s amazing.

Jill:
Shavonda was always invested in coming to the care plan meetings. Sometimes parents are not able to make it to the meetings for different reasons. She made it a point to be at the meetings so we could discuss the goals of her children while they were here. I just appreciated her always being there for her kids. They might’ve been with us, but she was always there for them.

Shavonda:
They made sure the kids were learning and developing. When my son got here, he would barely talk, and he had issues with reading. And math he didn’t understand all together. He’s at a point now where he’s better with communicating; his reading is improving; and he even understands math. He hasn’t caught up entirely, but he’s made significant progress, which I can honestly say was because of Christian City. They were amazing.

Jill:
it was very important to Shavonda to supply the needs she could for her children. She didn’t leave it all up to us. From the beginning, she was self-motivated and really invested in her children and in wanting to get them back home. We saw that by her attending school. She went back to school to get a degree. She established an apartment for them, so that they had a place to go when they started going home every weekend. Each child had a room. She fixed their rooms up and took pictures. It was a really fun process to have them make that return in the last few months.

Saniyah (daughter):
I’m happy to have my family back.

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