The Journey To PAWKids Mobilize
In Spring 2020, Shawn, a PAWKids parent, had a calling to help her neighbors that were living in the Rolling Bends Apartment complex on Atlanta's Westside. This apartment community holds Section 8 housing and 375 total units. When Atlanta Public Schools (APS) closed due to COVID, roughly 400 children from Boyd Elementary were bound to their homes. Not only were they missing out on valuable education time, they were no longer receiving two meals a day.
Shawn was aware that PAWKids' had recently started a food pantry called Claudia's House. She began driving over to PAWKids on occasions to stock up on snacks, meals, and hygiene kits that were given to the organization by generous donors and neighbors. She helped to disperse these meals and treats to children and families within the Rolling Bends complex.
After a few months, her car was not functioning properly. The generous gifts given to the PAWKids Mercy Fund made it possible for her car to get fixed so that she could continue serving the community. When car troubles persisted, PAWKids began to use the sprinter van that was generously donated to continue delivering food to the Rolling Bends apartment complex. These deliveries included your in-kind donations of meals, snack bags, and hygiene products.
At the same time, there were other developments in the works! The Engagement Specialist at Boyd Elementary had established partnerships with Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church and Christ Covenant Church. These churches stepped up to donate backpacks that were filled with school supplies to the families in Rolling Bends. At this point, APS had enacted virtual learning. Shawn began to plan PE classes outside for students in the community. Other volunteer groups were channeling resources to conduct lessons for community children to ensure that they were continuing to understand the things that they were learning.
During this season, the PAWKids Executive Director, LaTonya Gates-Johnston, was beginning to recognize that the ministry needed to mobilize due to the displacement that was occurring because of gentrification. LaTonya began to mull the idea of creating a mobile food pantry with staff, volunteers and board members. Coincidentally, a board member introduced a woman named Libby from Perimeter Church in Johns Creek to our ministry. Libby was looking for ministries that she could support with the help of the foundation of her late grandmother, Beverly. Through generous donations from her family and other PAWKids supporters, the idea of PAWKids Mobilize began to formulate.
Today, PAWKids Mobilize is up and running. Inspired by LaTonya's grandmother, Claudia Bell Kemp, and funded by generous community members like Beverly, this mobile pantry is already connecting legacies that may have never been introduced due to socioeconomic and race differences. As we move forward, the Boyd Elementary staff has asked that we continue to support the children that live in Rolling Bends. With your support, PAWKids will continue to support this community by scheduling regular times to deliver food and connect with the mobile food pantry. Please prayerfully consider giving a financial or in-kind donation to continue supporting this effort!