Promise the Children is a community of activists for children within the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. We are a unifying voice for our faith community to speak and act on behalf of children. We advocate for a public agenda that ensures the well-being of all of Georgia’s children. And we put our faith into action through direct service, working with organizations that serve children in need.

We are committed to a world where children are safe, healthy, educated, employable, and connected to their family and community.

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Filed under About Promise the Children

Family Nights Begin May 8

UUCA and CHRIS Kids (foster care support) host Family Nights series starting May 8.    Join in!

For those who enjoy short term, meaningful, family-friendly (age 12+) community service opportunities, we have one for you!

WHAT is the opportunity?
UUCA’s Promise the Children group (PtC) is organizing twice-monthly Family Nights with vulnerable young mothers and their children, including dinner and fun activities.

Beginning May 8th, and each 2nd and 4th Thursday for a trial period of six months, we will coordinate small teams to join a few families at CHRIS Kids for 2 hours of cooking, dining, fellowship and play.

WHY is Promise the Children embarking on this project?
It grew out of the interest of some PtC members in the well-being of Georgia’s children aging out of foster care, and with the bigger picture of food insecurity and nutrition.

600 Georgia youth “age out” of foster care each year without resources for self-sufficiency. While the children in “our” group of CHRIS Kids residents are with birth mothers, they, the mothers, are products of foster care, formerly homeless and seeking the tools to succeed on their own.

WHAT is CHRIS Kids? (
Since 1981, it is one of the leading nonprofit organizations that works with foster children in Atlanta, providing interim housing, health and counseling services, and support systems – their name an acronym for “Creativity, Honor, Respect, Integrity and Safety”.

HOW will Family Nights work?
UUCA volunteers will spend the time building positive relationships with resident mothers and their children (likely 4-6 families on average), primarily through:
i) cooking easy recipes and eating together, demonstrating nutritional enhancements to foods they already know; and,
ii) engaging the children in fun activities such as crafts, reading, games and outdoor play.

First Date: Thursday, May 8th

Time: 3:30-4:30 Intro to CHRIS Kids, training by staff (required)
5:00-7:00 dinner and family activities

Location: CHRIS Kids
1017 Fayetteville Rd., Atlanta 30316

Volunteers: 4-6, in 2 teams working/bonding with residents on:
-Meal prep: recipes and ingredients provided
-Child activity: reading, crafts, games, outside play

WHERE can I get more details and sign up?


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April 17, 2014 · 5:00 pm

Math Volunteers Needed at Operation P.E.A.C.E.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays UUCA volunteers operate a 5th grade math club at Operation P.E.A.C.E.’s afterschool program, located at 542 Boulevard. We need one more volunteer to help us on Tuesdays, and either the same or a different volunteer to help on Thursdays. These at-risk children–many of whom have big problems with their math–live in the Old Fourth Ward, attend the Hope-Hill Elementary School (where UUCA has partnered for over 20 years), and are among the poorest children attending Hope-Hill. Can you help?

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete this form. In the “How Frequently Can You Help?” field please say whether you can come most weeks, or whether you can only come from time to time.

For more information, please contact Beth Davis ( or 404-687-8641).

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Filed under Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence

Volunteer on Saturdays to Work with At-Risk Inner City Children

Our friends at Big Bethel A.M.E. Church in downtown Atlanta are reaching out on Saturdays to at-risk and neglected children. Their Saturday school aims to promote academic achievement, good character, and self esteem. Big Bethel–one of our partners in the Interfaith Children’s Movement–has asked us to roll up our sleeves and join in this important effort.

Many of the children Big Bethel serves live in the Old Fourth Ward, where UUCA partners with Hope-Hill Elementary and Operation P.E.A.C.E.. Those of us who have seen Big Bethel’s program in action can attest to the value of the work the church is doing on Saturdays with children of all faiths.

Big Bethel’s Saturday program runs from 10 to 3 at the church’s recreational center located at 208 Auburn Avenue. Volunteer reading classroom helpers are needed from 10:30 a.m. to noon each Saturday. Volunteer math classroom helpers are needed from 1 p.m. to approximately 2:30 p.m. No experience is required for classroom helper volunteers.

Math, reading and writing tutors also are needed to work in 50 minute sessions with small groups of students or one-on-one. We are especially interested in experienced tutors who can establish an individualized curriculum for an at-risk student; volunteer tutors who are current, former, or retired teachers are especially welcome.

If you can help, please fill out this form and submit it. If you would prefer to work with children at a certain grade level or range of grade levels, please let us know in Grade Level Preferences; if you don’t have a grade preference, you may leave that field blank. In the “how many Saturdays” field please indicate whether you can come most or all Saturdays every month, or only certain Saturdays, for example, the second and fourth Saturdays. If you have a special interest or talent you would like to share with the children, there is a field for that, too.

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Filed under Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence

Atlanta: US Capital City of Inequality

A March 5 editorial by Jay Bookman in the AJC calls attention to data showing that Atlanta suffers from the largest disparity in income between rich and poor of any other large US city.

“The questions are why that gap exists, and how it might be closed,” Bookman writes. Having asked the questions, he does not pretend to provide definitive answers. But he observes that extreme inequality is closely associated with isolation and de facto segregation–and that the relevant data prove that positions at the bottom of the income scale are in essence hereditary.

Bookman concludes by observing that

what we see around us today are the results of patterns both in individual lives and in the life of a city that have proved stubbornly resistant to change. And the best catalyst for that change remains a strong teacher in a classroom, opening doors and opening minds, who is supported by a larger community that finds the status quo unacceptable.

That’s us. We find the status quo unacceptable. And that’s why we work with kids at Hope=Hill, Operation P.E.A.C.E., and Big Bethel AME Church. It isn’t always easy. But it’s work that must be done.

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Filed under Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence, The Informed Advocate

Join the Hunger Walk/Run, in person or vicariously!

This past Sunday, in conjunction with Rev. Makar’s sermon on poverty, UUCA Give-Away-the-Plate went to the Atlanta Community Food Bank

UUCA is involved with the food bank in several hands-on ways in the “Old Fourth Ward” community of downtown Atlanta. 

This coming Sunday, the 2014 Hunger Walk/Run takes place at Turner Field.  UUCA is not fielding a “team” this year, but you can participate in one of two ways….

1)    Walk or Run yourself!  .  As the Food Bank representative described it, it’s a carnival and run/walk at the same time.  Much fun for individuals and families.  Here’s the link:

2)    Support the Operation PEACE team with an online donation.  UUCA is very active with OPEACE and if you donate to that team, they, too, will get some food/financial benefits.  See below:

The WORD From Operation Peace!

I can’t wait to get outdoors, get moving, and have fun, all for a great cause — to help raise much-needed funds for hunger relief in the Old Fourth Ward, and help Operation PEACE continue our work in the community.

I am asking you to help by making a donation. My goal is to raise $1,000 this year so that Operation PEACE can provide our children with healthy and nutritious meals, and make sure no child goes to bed hungry. The youth in our program, like more than 1 in 4 Georgia kids, live in homes where hunger is a regular worry. I want to change that, but I need your help, give today no donation is too small, and the Atlanta Food Bank will match all donations from the Hunger Walk.

It’s fast and easy to make a tax-deductible gift on my behalf. Just click on the link at the bottom of this message to go to my personal fundraising page.  Whatever you can give will help – it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

Sincerely, Marcel Benoit, Program Director

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:


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Filed under Help for Homeless and Struggling Families

Pimps and “John” of 14-year-old girls sentenced in Atlanta this week

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“The last of three men charged with trafficking, prostituting and sexually abusing two teenage girls was convicted by a Fulton County jury and sentenced to life without parole on Thursday, February 27…..”

Read this article from YouthSpark!, one of the most-effective advocacy organizations in Atlanta.  (Get on their email list…

Remember!  Similar stories will be told in the “Facing Sex Trafficking of Children in Atlanta” free theatrical performance at UUCA on Thursday, March 6, at 7 PM.

Join us for a compelling performance of the stories you’ve never heard…until now.  Theater, mime, dance and song… Atlanta artists use their voices to tell true stories of girls who have been victims of sex trafficking in our city.

The event was developed by an Atlanta group and is supported by UUCA’s Promise the Children advocacy and action group.

Pimps and “Johns”  Sentenced in Atlanta This Week

 Atlanta- The last of three men charged with trafficking, prostituting and sexually abusing two teenage girls has been convicted by a Fulton County jury. Jurors returned guilty verdicts Thursday against 34-year-old Derek Spencer on charges of Human Trafficking, Statutory Rape, Aggravated Child Molestation, Pimping, Pandering, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in connection with the case.  


The charges against Spencer date back to October 2012. The defendant approached the victims, 14-year-old runaway girls, as they were walking away from a Southwest Atlanta convenience store. Spencer offered the teens a place to stay in his Fletcher Street home. Soon after, Spencer and 33-year-old Kynne Shuler, his previously convicted co-defendant, began supplying the victims with drugs and alcohol and arranging paid ‘dates’ with various men either at the defendant’s house or a local hotel. The victims were forced to turn over their money in exchange for clothes, food and personal hygiene products. When they were not being forced to service ‘clients,’ Spencer also took turns having sex with each girl.


Spencer and co-defendant Shuler were arrested on October 20, 2012 inside an Old National Highway hotel following an anonymous tip that underage females were involved in suspicious activity inside one of the rooms. Police rescued the victims from the hotel bathtub where they were hiding.


Following his conviction, Spencer was sentenced to life without parole by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter who presided over the case. Co-defendant Kynne Shuler, who entered a guilty plea prior to trial, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.


A third defendant, Hossein Sharifi, the ‘John’ who paid to have sex with the victims, also pleaded guilty to Human Trafficking charges in connection with the case. His plea is significant because he is believed to be the first ‘John’ convicted of Human Trafficking in the State of Georgia. Sharifi was sentenced to five years in prison and an additional five years on probation.


The case was prosecuted by the Human Trafficking Unit led by ADA Camilla Wright with assistance from DA Investigator Amanda Pritchett. The DA’s Office also worked closely with Special Agent Joe Fonseca, head of the FBI’s MATCH Task Force to identify Defendant Sharifi and bring him to justice.



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February 28, 2014 · 2:33 pm

Good Food, Good Conversation: Volunteers Meet with HHES Principal and Assistant Principal

Ms. Maureen Wheeler (right) and Ms. Leah Goodwin-Black (left)

Maureen Wheeler (right) and Leah Goodwin-Black (left)

Good food and good conversation are a winning combination in promoting good relationships. With this in mind, the Hope-Hill Advisory Team recently sponsored a Potluck Supper for UUCA members/ friends who volunteer at the school. In addition, Maureen T. Wheeler, Hope-Hill Principal and Leah Goodwin-Black, Assistant Principal were invited guests.

Our hardy and hungry group of 17 converged at the historic Inman Park home of Oren Mann on Feb. 21st. (Thanks Oren for your generous hospitality.) The agenda for the evening was to enjoy each others company and to get to know one another better. And as you’d imagine, much conversation revolved around our shared interest…that of the education and well-being of the children, teachers, and staff of Hope-Hill School and how the UUCA/Hope-Hill Partnership could be strengthened. 


Leah Goodwin-Black (right) Radine Robinson (middle) Judy Shaklee (left)

Leah Goodwin-Black (right) Radine Robinson (middle) Judy Shaklee (left)

Principal Wheeler expressed her deep appreciation for the work of UUCA volunteers and for our commitment to the children at Hope-Hill. She know many of us by name and by sight due to the frequency with which she encounters us in the hallways and classrooms. Our one-on-one tutoring and our after-school math and science clubs are an invaluable support to the children and teachers.

While acknowledging that much more needs to be done, Ms. Wheeler noted the following accomplishments during her first six (6) months as principal.

  • Implementation of Eagle Expectations, the school’s code of conduct for students, teachers, and staff. The Standards have contributed to a more positive, caring, and supportive atmosphere and culture.
  • Adoption of a token/reward program to recognize and reinforce positive actions and behaviors. The program is wildly popular with the kids. “Lunch with the Principal or Assistant Principal” is one of the hottest tokens to be earned.
  • Qualification and placement of six (6) children in special education services.
  • Creation of working relationships with Old Fourth Ward neighborhood organizations who care for and about Hope-Hill children and their families.
  • Selection of Ms. Goodwin-Black as Assistant Principal whose special talent is data analysis. She’s expert at identifying gaps and trends in student and teacher performance. Her work in this area has enabled Ms. Wheeler and the teachers to make important, data driven decision that benefit the children.

Ms. Wheeler and Ms. Goodwin-Black shared with us their “wish list” of services and programs that UUCA and other volunteers could offer.

  • More tutors to work with children one-on-one and in small groups. Many children are in need of individual help in math and reading.
  • Additional after-school academic enrichment clubs, such as art, music, dance, dramatics, photography, writing, chess, sewing, sports, etc. Many children and their families have few or no resources for life enrichment experiences like these.
  • Support for parents who need help with gaining employment and career advancement, such as resume preparation, computer job search skills, employment interviewing, and GED preparation. Helping parents be successful is a direct, positive benefit to their children.

    UUCA volunteers enjoyed hearing from with Ms. Wheeler and Ms. Goodwin-Black and in sharing their experiences working with the kids, teachers, and staff. Most enjoyable for all was the opportunity to “break bread together” and celebrate our work on behalf of the children at HHES. It’s highly likely there will be future Potlucks as we continue to build the UUCA/Hope-Hill Partnership.

    Maureen Wheeler (right) Barbara Burnham (middle) Beth Davis (left)

    Maureen Wheeler (right) Barbara Burnham (middle) Beth Davis (left)



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Filed under Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence, Our Stories