"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 adamseeley@emmaushouse.org 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

The Episcopal Community Foundation helps strengthen families at Emmaus House

In 2017, the Episcopal Community Foundation (ECF) awarded Emmaus House a grant to launch the Parent Café program to help strengthen families in our neighborhood. The Parent Café was parent-driven, using a process for continual and ongoing connections for parents. The Parent Café brought parents together to engage in peer-to-peer conversation around five research-based protective factors that mitigate the negative impact of generational poverty: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and social and emotional competence of children.

After completing Parent Café, one parent shared, “I hope that Emmaus House will help continue to hold the community accountable to do their part in making our community safer, cleaner, and positive for our children.” 

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In addition to building protective factors, participants built empathy and connection with parents facing similar challenges. These organic and powerful moments created an environment where all participants felt comfortable sharing their own experiences. 

As a result, Emmaus House searched for appropriate programs to build on the skills participants developed through the Parent Café. Through our partnership with United Way, the Parent Café has evolved in 2018 into a hub for fostering family leaders at home and in the community. This parent-lead program helps participants learn how to engage in restorative and protective peer-to-peer mentoring outside of Emmaus House. Funding from the Episcopal Community Foundation helped prepare neighborhood parents to grow their leadership skills and progress toward this next stage of development.

Stay tuned for an announcement regarding our continued partnership with the Episcopal Community Foundation in the May newsletter!

State of America's Children Fact Sheet: Georgia

The Children’s Defense Fund’s The State of America’s Children® 2017 report places a spotlight on child hunger and nutrition, healthcare, education, and more to increase awareness in each of the 50 states. Each day, the staff at Emmaus House works alongside our many neighborhood partners to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors, children, and youth. See what the numbers say about children living in Georgia. 

2017 Success: Because of YOU

Thank you for standing with us in 2017. With your prayers and support, we were able to have another exceptional year partnering with our neighbors on their path to a better life. Thanks to your support, we know 2018 will bring even greater blessings to Peoplestown. Below are a few of the achievements that you help to make possible:

  • 31 families in intensive case management via Peoplestown Family Initiative

  • Delivering 6,000 services via Lokey help Center

  • 658 families visiting our Client Choice Food Pantry

  • Distributing 24,000 lbs of food

  • 400 families receiving crisis, medical, and financial aid

  • 94% of children tested maintaining or increasing their reading level during our CDF Freedom Schools® Program

Welcome Kristie Parker, Client Choice Food Pantry Coordinator
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Over the last two years, our Client Choice Food Pantry has grown from a back room in the Lokey Help Center, to our two car garage space with extended weekend shopping hours. We are thrilled to welcome Kristie Parker to the Emmaus House family as our new Food Pantry coordinator. Kristie will help meet the increased demand for food services as well as coordinate activities for our Stabilizing Lives program, made possible by the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Kristie brings to her role exceptional customer service skills that are sure to offer an efficient and friendly experience for our patrons and partners. Welcome, Kristie!

A Thank You to Emmaus House
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It has been a long time since I stood here. I was 21 and was about to leave after two years as a part of the staff here – from what Father Ford called my other home.

He asked me to come up and say a few words at the service. I remember standing in my choir robe and didn’t know what to say, but then again it was impossible to say no to Father Ford. So I cried. And said there was a lot I wanted to say to you, but it was too difficult at that time.

What I did want to say back then was: Thank you. Thank you for letting me into your community of love, prayer, work, laughs, sadness and more love. Love of your family, friends, neighbors, and kids like me that came to you to achieve some kind of new knowledge of the world that we couldn’t get through books in school. To grow up in a new setting. I learned a lot about love back then 30 years ago.

I wanted to say thank you for teaching me some of the values in life that I wouldn’t be able to comprehend without being a part of your community. The value of sharing. The value of giving. The value of welcoming your neighbor to your house or your front porch. The true meaning of loving your neighbor. I wanted to say that I was going to miss you. That I was so sorry to leave. But that I had to, to be able to go on in a life far, far away. I had to go back to my family and a girl I loved.

You must think it is kind of odd to say this because I didn't hold on to you through letters, phone calls, or whatever we used to get in touch with back then. It has been a mixture of being afraid to miss you too much, getting into a new life again, and in the end feeling ashamed for taking so long to reach out. I am truly sorry for that. Some I have reached on Facebook, and lately, we have communicated a lot to be able to meet this weekend. I hope to keep in touch more now.

Now I am here. With my son, who has the same hair and beard as I had 30 years ago. Whom I am so happy to travel with and share some experiences with. Whom I have wanted for a long time to show what I have been talking about when I said I lived here for two years. Because those two years have formed my life and my life choices more than I knew when I left you.

First of all, I had to change all my political views. I had seen that what may be an American Dream for many, is not to the benefit for all. There has to be some kind of support for a lot of people to be able to be a part of the progress in the country.

Secondly, I had to open my doors to whoever needed my help. Even though I was not able to help, I could do something for them helping their way through.

Finally, I now know the value of being there. Facing whatever is coming toward you even though it scares you. Embracing the love you can get, and give, to your loved ones. But most of all being there even though you don’t know if anybody needs you. Care for them anyhow. Care for the ones that you don’t even relate to, but want to create a better life for. That is some of the very important impacts it had on me staying at Emmaus House. That is something I can never repay you for. That is something that I am truly grateful for.

So, thank you for having me here. Thank you for letting me grow up a little here. Thank you for letting me get to know your children. Thank you for you.

– Anders Wang Maarbjerg

Food Pantry Volunteer Training Feb. 10
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We are looking to expand our food pantry services and need volunteers to assist on Saturday mornings. If you are interested in volunteering in our client choice food pantry, we will hold a training day on February 10 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

We need courteous, skilled, and devoted volunteers to help our neighbors navigate our food pantry services and provide helpful support. Each volunteer will receive training and will be expected to maintain a schedule of at least two Saturdays per month.

Possible duties of a volunteer include the following:

  • Answer phones and assist clients as they check in
  • Assist with logging information into the computer database management system Oasis
  • Clean pantry to create a safe, welcoming space
  • Prep bags/boxes for clients to place selected food
  • Welcome clients to the pantry and provide excellent customer service
  • Guide clients through the choice pantry
  • Assist in restocking shelves and keeping food organized

If you are interested please contact Adam Seeley at 404-525- 5948 or send an email to