Remembering Father Austin Ford, Founder of Emmaus House

All of us at Emmaus House are saddened by the news that our founder, Fr. Austin Ford, passed away this weekend. Fr. Ford was a fervent champion of the residents of Peoplestown and the south side of Atlanta. He was an instrumental figure in the struggle for civil rights, advocating that all people, regardless of economic or racial status, deserved fair and dignified treatment. Fr. Ford established The Poverty Rights Office at Emmaus House – a powerful reminder that all people have rights, but that some people have to work harder to benefit from them. Fr. Ford worked tirelessly to give voice to those who often went unheard.

Today, Fr. Ford’s legacy lives on in all that we do. The Poverty Rights Office, now the Muriel Lokey Help Center at Emmaus House, continues to serve all comers with a variety of services, helping people to move toward economic stability. Our education programs help children and youth to succeed in school. None of this would have been possible without the courage, compassion, and vision of Fr. Ford. All of us at Emmaus House owe a debt of gratitude to him for teaching us what it means to translate the Gospel into tangible, transformational action.

We ask God’s blessing on all those who grieve Fr. Ford’s loss, especially the members of the Peoplestown community and all those who worked side-by-side with him to make the world a better place. May he rest in peace.

Fr. Ford will be cremated, and a memorial service will be held on September 22, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305.

Read the articles below for more more information about Fr. Ford's life, work, and legacy.

Walk the Road to End Gun Violence September 16, 2018 - Save the Date!

We invite you to rally your friends, families, youth leaders, and church communities to “Walk the Road” with us on September 16, 2018. Walk The Road is an opportunity to learn, serve, and walk with our neighbors in Peoplestown as we explore the community’s experience living in the neighborhoods south of downtown Atlanta. This year, our theme is gun safety. 

Please save the date for an afternoon of service projects and a guided tour of our neighborhood. Before we march to the Capitol Building Plaza, clergy and advocates will share perspectives on gun safety and legislation. The afternoon will conclude with a community meal. We look forward to walking the road with you in September!

Freedom School Campaign Raises $21,185!

Thank you for pulling together for children in Peoplestown! The Emmaus House Freedom Schools® program at the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy provides a safe place for children to learn, grow, and discover ways that they can make an impact on themselves, their community, and the world. Our program was strengthened this year by dedicated BaMO teachers and staff who worked with our Emmaus House staff, including our education director, Ann Fowler, and our parent engagement manager, Tavon Betts!

We are incredibly thankful to our community of supporters who rallied together to make our campaign a success. A generous donor will match these donations, thereby doubling their impact! 

A special thank you to the following individuals and organizations who created fundraising pages to help us surpass our goal:
Bishop Robert C. Wright, Katherine Branch, Kei Breedlove, Christian Carrera, Claiborne Jones, Adam Seeley, In-Home Tutors, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, and St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church.

Fostering Family Leaders VIP

In 2017, we launched the Fostering Family Leaders (FFL) program with the support of the United Way of Greater Atlanta. This series of workshops focuses on strengthening leadership skills in our parents and families so that they can become leaders in their communities. Our first year of programming was a wonderful success and parents are excited to continue to build their leadership skills as peer mentors in the fall.

The United Way, in partnership with Sheltering Arms, found a special way to recognize FFL participants as V.I.P. Parents (Very Important Parent) for their leadership efforts throughout the year. A celebration in honor of our parents took place during the annual United Way and Sheltering Arms VIP Recognition Celebration hosted at the Loudermilk Center this month. Join us in celebrating the hard work of our parent leaders in Peoplestown! You can view more event photos here.

Top 5 Things to Know About our Freedom School Program

1. Why Freedom School?

There are many stellar summer curriculums to choose from, so why did Emmaus House choose Freedom School? The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program is a proven curriculum that has served more than 137,000 children nationwide since 1990.

High-quality summer programs provide critical enrichment that helps to increase a student's reading ability. In fact, children from low-income neighborhoods, like Peoplestown, lose two to three months of learning ability compared to their higher-income peers who tend to make slight gains. Freedom School helps our students increase their academic achievement with the goal of ultimately breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

2. What’s that word I see everywhere…Harambee?

Harambee (pronounced ha-rahm-bay) means “all pull together.” Each morning, our students gather to channel their energy for the day and to empower each other to reach their full potential. The students focus on one of the following principles each week: 

  • I can make a difference in myself;
  • I can make a difference in my family;
  • I can make a difference in my community;
  • I can make a difference in the country and;
  • I can make a difference in the world with hope, education, and action!

Harambee at Freedom School is known especially for the motivating and creative cheers that these principles inspire. We’re also known for our volume–it gets pretty loud!

3. Do kids read ALL day long for SIX WEEKS?!

Each day at Freedom School starts with breakfast. When Harambee is complete, students separate into their leveled reading classes to begin the morning lessons using the Integrated Reading Curriculum developed by the Children’s Defense Fund. D.E.A.R. Time (Drop Everything and Read) is 15 minutes that is dedicated to free reading before heading off to Lunch.

The afternoon activities are diverse and change each week. For students who need it, Barack and Michelle Obama Academy teachers are on hand to help with math. Emmaus House’s own Charlotte Cameron leads the art class. Students even visit our local YMCA for swim lessons. We reserve Friday afternoons for field trips, and so far our students have visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center as well as Noah’s Ark in Locust Grove, GA. Students are looking forward to the remaining Friday field trips, of course! 

4. What’s an SLI?

Servant Leader Interns (SLI) are college students who lead each class of students to succeed. Their one-week training takes place at the Children’s Defense Fund Haley Farm in Tennessee. They also train with Emmaus House staff for an additional week. This year, we have "Junior" SLIs who are high school students and community members. We support our strategic priority of leadership development through the training and employment of our SLIs.

We are truly blessed to partner with Barack and Michelle Obama Academy this summer. 

5. You can get Involved!

There are three weeks left of Freedom School, and we invite you to join in on the fun. 

We are 77% to our goal! With your help, we can surpass our goal of raising $10,000 for Freedom School by July 20. 

All donations made by July 20 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a generous donor.

The Episcopal Community Foundation and Emmaus House

We are thrilled to announce that the Episcopal Community Foundation will support the Road Fellows Program in 2018! The $15,000 grant will support the development of an extensive training program for the fellows to equip them for ministry during and after their year of service. This program will create a viable ministry leadership pipeline for future outreach ministries. We are so thankful to the Episcopal Community Foundation for their continued support! You can read the full press release here.

"All Pull Together" at Freedom School

Harambee, Swahili for “All pull together,” is the name of the opening session of each day of our Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. We asked our Advisory Board Chair, Ward Bondurant, to reflect on his first experience at Harambee.

“As I sat in a pew in the back of the Chapel waiting to be introduced as a reader for early morning Harambee during Freedom School, I was scanning through the book that I’d picked out to read aloud that morning. As I flipped the big, color-filled pages to get a sense of the story and how I might want to read it, I noticed that one of the young “Scholars” was slowly moving back, away from the crowd of children at the front of the room, towards me. Coming to my pew, he started looking over my shoulder as I flipped the pages and then smoothly scooted into my row, sliding me over a bit and making a place for himself at the end of the pew. He then took control of the page turning and ultimately started over at the beginning of the book, asking me to help him read it. Smiling, I started from the beginning, and we read together quietly while the rest of the room occasionally erupted in the spasmodic chaos that is Harambee.

Our lives had very little in common. We live in different worlds. But for the moment, we were just two people wrapped up in the joy of reading, appreciating (without necessarily realizing it) the power that reading has to transport us to another world - in this particular story, the inside of a fishbowl! That’s Freedom School. That’s Emmaus House.”


Harambee is critical to the success of our Freedom Schools® program. It is an opportunity to harness the energy and excitement of our students before powering through our reading-intensive program each day. The students express their love for learning, each other, and their community through song, dance, and reflection. It is also just plain fun! 

This summer, we are excited to launch “Harambee for Emmaus House,” a campaign to support student achievement at our Freedom Schools program. Next month, you will learn more about how you can help stop summer learning loss. You can even sign up to join us for Harambee on a Wednesday morning in July. Stay tuned for more details.

Staff Spotlight: Kenya Thompson, Director of Leadership Development

I began working with youth and young adults 18 years ago, and I am blessed to continue this work at Emmaus House. As Director of Leadership Development, I primarily work with two programs: Youth on the Move and The Road Episcopal Service Corps. Both programs foster the development of leadership skills and qualities.

Youth on the Move is an out-of-school time program that serves middle and high school students in Peoplestown. It is amazing to see the growth of our young people as they set goals and dream of their futures. 

The Road Episcopal Service Corps is a leadership development program for college students and recent graduates. Road fellows work in nonprofits and church missions in metropolitan Atlanta. They also spend time developing their spirituality and discerning their vocation in life. It is a great joy to guide the Road fellows on their spiritual journeys and to help equip them for lives of service.

I believe that our youth and young adults are our present and our future. I am thankful that Emmaus House continues to focus on the growth and development of young people.

Food Pantry Donation List

For many years, Emmaus House has responded to inadequate access to healthy food options in Peoplestown and neighboring areas. Since 2016, our Client Choice Food Pantry has distributed more than 60,000 lbs of food.

Food Pantry donations are greatly appreciated to help us meet the growing needs of families who live within the 30315 zip code. Below is a list of items you can donate to our food pantry. Check back often as this list will be regularly updated as our needs change.

Food donations are only accepted on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 - 2:30pm and on Fridays from 9:00am - 12:00pm. The Food Pantry is located at 27 Haygood Ave, Atlanta, GA 30315. For ease of delivery, you may drive your vehicle up the driveway between the Lokey Center and Emmaus House and park in front of our two-bay garage doors. 

Food Pantry Donation List

PLEASE NOTE: all items needs to be able to survive long periods on our shelves without spoiling. 

  • Meal kits that don’t require extra ingredients
  • Kits that include canned meat, canned sauce and pasta all in one box are great choices
  • Canned soups and pasta meals
  • Canned meat:
    • Tuna
    • Chicken
    • Salmon
    • Potted meat blends
    • Sardines
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Basic staple pantry items
    • Flour, sugar, cornmeal, rice, dry beans, oil, shortening, baking soda and powder, vanilla extract and seasonings of all kinds (garlic, pepper, salt, chili powder, etc.)
  • 100% juice
  • Household cleaning supplies and paper products
    • Toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, sanitizing solutions, sanitizing wipes and basic cleaning supplies are very welcomed by those in need.
    • Hygiene products
    • Deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, maxi pads, tampons, panty liners and even feminine wipes.

Contact Adam at 404-525-5948 ext. 25 or at for more information or questions.


Don’t have any food to donate?

Every $10 you donate can buy groceries for one family from our Food Pantry. 

Donate Here