New event venue 42West launches with Atlanta Angels fundraiserChristie Simons, Executive Director of Atlanta Angels. Photo by Sara Amis
By Sara Amis, contributor
Atlanta, GA — Decatur resident Lauren Pelissier came up with the idea for her new event venue 42West, which she co-owns with former NBA star Kevin Willis, during the pandemic.
Pelessier said that she had an event company when her family moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles and that most of her original clients had been based in Los Angeles. “And then the pandemic hit. I had this kind of moment of…what do I do?” said Pelissier.
The answer, for Pelissier, was to focus on a part of the industry that she knew well from her 25 years of event planning, and open a new venue. The official “grand opening” isn’t planned until January 2022, but Pelissier said that word got out and her phone immediately started ringing.
Part of her approach is to look for ways for her business to contribute to the community.
“We give the venue to charities at no cost to them, no fees at all, and we do it on prime nights. We already have three non-profits that we are contracted with,” said Pelissier. Her goal is to open the venue to charities once a month.
42West is located at 1088 Huff Rd., Atlanta, Georgia. More information about the venue can be found here.
The very first event at 42West was a fundraiser for Atlanta Angels, a non-profit which supports foster families and children in the foster system. Christie Simons, the Executive Director of Atlanta Angels, says that the program aims to improve outcomes for children in the foster system and also to make sure that foster families are able to continue opening their homes to children in need.
The organization provides a monthly “Love Box” aimed at the specific needs of the children, and children who are at risk of aging out of foster care are matched with a mentor who can provide a consistent adult presence. Volunteers also provide support for foster families in the form of driving children to extracurricular activities, providing child care for other children in the home when a foster child has a court date, and also being a consistent presence. Fifty percent of foster families close their homes within six months, and Simons said that is partially because the experience of fostering children can be very isolating.
Children in the foster system are far less likely to go to college, and much more likely to be sex trafficked or to be homeless in the future. Fifty percent of the adult homeless population were in foster care at some point. “Georgia State did a study in 2018, and they attempted to speak to every single homeless youth up to the age of 24. Involvement with the foster system was the number one predictor for being at risk of sex trafficking and homelessness, more than anything else like race and gender,” said Simons.
In addition, Simons stated that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be in foster care and at higher risk for being homeless or trafficked.
“We want to provide the support that we’re providing anyway but we also want to be intentional, so if they identify as transgender and want a mentor who also identifies that way, we really want to be intentional in how we’re matching so it will be the best relationship, and that really goes across every single demographic,” said Simons. She added that race, gender, culture, and goals are all considered when matching a child to a mentor.
Atlanta Angels is currently in the middle of their “Until Every Child is Reached” fundraising campaign. More information about the organization can be found on their website.
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