HOPE Atlanta honored two outstanding corporate citizens during its annual Heroes for HOPE Gala on Nov. 17, held at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. Bentina Terry, Georgia Power’s Senior Vice President of Customer Strategy & Solutions, and Chick-fil-A, Inc. received Heroes for HOPE Awards for their work combating homelessness and hunger in Georgia.
This year’s event, which returned in person for the first time in three years, comes during a time when inflation and rising housing costs are pushing countless Georgians into housing and food insecurity. HOPE Atlanta has recently seen an influx of people seeking assistance — including families, fixed-income seniors and veterans.
“The average rent in the city is about $1,700 a month, which is unreasonable for many people,” said Nigel Dawson, a HOPE Atlanta program supervisor who works one-on-one with clients experiencing or at risk of homelessness. “Rental inflation is up 18% in the last year, with an average of 2% over the last ten years. We are facing a crisis.”
The event’s special guests included former HOPE Atlanta clients who shared accounts of their struggles and how they overcame homelessness and housing insecurity, thanks to HOPE Atlanta and its supporters.
Chantel Lewis, a young woman who came to HOPE Atlanta after experiencing periods of homelessness through college and into her 20s, shared how her case manager helped her break the cycle — and how it feels to have a stable home once again.
“Some days, I put my keys in the door, and I’m like, ‘This is really my home. I’m going to go in here and sleep in the same spot,'” Lewis said. “The apartment looks so much better than what I imagined for myself.”
Freda Forrest also recounted her family’s experience with housing insecurity after her husband Nick, a veteran, was laid off just months after their son’s birth. With some assistance from HOPE Atlanta’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families team, the Forrest family could remain housed and begin saving money.
“I don’t think we’d be where we are right now without HOPE Atlanta,” said Forrest.
The event was co-chaired by Ashley Northcutt, tax partner at Tidwell Group and Chris Sizemore, CEO of INCISIVE. Northside Hospital returned for the 9th year as Title Sponsor, and other major sponsors included CARROLL, Berkadia, Chick-fil-A, Georgia Power, Berckmans Spirits, LLC, Creative Realities, EY, Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, J.P. Morgan, Perennial Properties, PPD Investments, The Home Depot Foundation, Tidwell Group, Truist and Wells Fargo.
HOPE Atlanta requests the broader community’s support to meet the growing need for homelessness and hunger services, particularly as plunging temperatures and viral outbreaks create harsh and dangerous conditions for unsheltered people.
“This work requires collaboration,” said Julio Carrillo, CEO of HOPE Atlanta. “More than ever, it’s so important that everybody in the community gets involved. Everybody has a role in helping us fight homelessness and hunger. We’re stronger together.”
Those interested in contributing or learning more about HOPE Atlanta and its services are invited to visit HOPEAtlanta.org.
About 100 Days of HOPE
100 Days of HOPE aims to raise funds and awareness to further HOPE Atlanta’s mission to end homelessness and hunger for every Georgian. The campaign ran for 100 days, culminating in the annual Heroes for HOPE gala.
HOPE Atlanta founded in 1900, is a nonprofit agency dedicated to preventing and fighting homelessness and hunger. Its mission is to help Georgians avoid homelessness and hunger through a comprehensive approach that equips them with the tools for lifelong stability.