Organizations: Carrie Steele-Pitts Home
Carrie Steele was working as a maid at the Union Railroad Station in downtown Atlanta during the late 1800s when she discovered that babies were being abandoned at the station. She took care of them, placing them in an empty boxcar during the day and taking them home with her at night.
In 1888, Steele chartered her organization as the “Carrie Steele Orphan Home,” and it became one of the oldest and most venerable institutions of its kind in the country. Many children have found hope and a home there, including golf legend Bobby Jones, who lived there for a time in his youth.
Since then, the organization has moved to Fairburn Road and been renamed the Carrie Steele-Pitts Home Inc. It’s remained a residential shelter while diversifying to address the changing needs of at-risk children in the Atlanta area.
“We have expanded our services to reach transitional youths who are 18 to 21 and often have low graduation rates,” says Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Lavizzo. “We have a 100 percent graduation rate, and we see them through to postsecondary education, breaking the cycles of poverty. We also have an after-school program for children whose parents are at work from 3 to 6 o’clock, and we hold a summer camp with an emphasis on STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art and math] activities.”
A staff of 17 serves an estimated 100 young people a year, including 30 children who are full-time residents.
“Each residence hall has two on-duty house parents who are well-trained, compassionate, skilled and loving,” Lavizzo says. “We have a long tradition of high-quality care that enables children to thrive and pursue their dreams, and we are always evolving to meet their current needs.”