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Organizations: Ivy Community Foundation

 

The Ivy Community Foundation (ICF) strives to “help the very old and the very young” on Atlanta’s southwest side, and, in the process, enhance the quality of life for everyone else there, says president Willieboyd McNeil-Saddler.

The nonprofit started in 1980 as a coterie of friends who had belonged to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and eventually expanded to include other civic-minded women, most of whom are retired teachers. They throw their considerable energy and muscle into volunteer work at senior centers and daycare facilities in underserved areas.

Each foundation member pays dues of $140 per year, and the group holds several creatively themed charity balls (such as the “Pink Cultured Pearls Debutante Cotillion,” and the less formal “Jeans & Jewels Caba-ret”) to “raise money just to give away,” says McNeil-Saddler, a straight-talking great-grandmother who goes by the nickname “Mac” and wears a hot-pink baseball cap.

“Everybody complains about young people’s behavior, but nobody gets them by the hand and says, ‘Let me help you,’” McNeil-Saddler says. “We try to take that action in little and big ways that make a difference for our city.”

The foundation provides college scholarships, holds holiday celebrations for low-income families and fights homelessness.

“It’s come to our attention that there are people with infants and no place to live – babies sleeping under bridges! – so we are financing nursery school and shelter for two families,” she says.

The ICF also refurbished a venue on Stone Road for concerts, health fairs and other cultural events.

This autumn it will host the locally written opera about entrepreneur and philanthropist Madame C.J. Walker, the country’s first female African-American millionaire. “We try to present good role models,” McNeil-Saddler says.

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