Organizations: Agape Youth and Family Center
The Agape Youth and Family Center is celebrating its 20th year of strengthening its community in northwest Atlanta.
“We take a holistic approach in serving children, families and seniors,” says Nell Benn, executive director. “Our goal is to end the cycle of generational poverty.”
Agape tackles its objectives in several ways. It provides a day program for seniors along with in school, after-school and summer school programs that emphasize academic achievement for 200 kindergarten-through-12th grade students.
“Our goal is reading proficiency by third grade,” Benn says, “and we try to see the kids through graduation and into post-graduation placement.”
Every year, the organization provides backpacks full of school supplies to 2,000 children; 500 turkeys for the holidays; and 500 food baskets. A seasonal gift store allows families to purchase toys and other inexpensive Christmas gifts for each other.
The organization also helps with a basic need that is sometimes overlooked: getting a good night’s sleep. “One of our most exciting projects is the ‘extreme bedroom makeovers’ we do,” Benn says. “Some of the children in our community are sleeping on the floor or on a sofa. We come in and provide a bed and remodel a bedroom with all new furnishings.”
Agape, which is funded by donations, has a staff of 25 employees and an army of around 200 volunteers who serve as tutors and mentors.
“The average high school youth we serve has typically been part of our program for at least seven years, and you see a dramatic improvement with that duration of time,” Benn says. “The growth is amazing.”