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Biz bits: Drew Charter students design tote bags for Lidl, Emily Saliers highlights Decatur

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Biz bits: Drew Charter students design tote bags for Lidl, Emily Saliers highlights Decatur

Drew Charter School. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — Here’s a look at business news in our community.

 — Students from Drew Charter School unveil artwork on limited-edition Lidl tote bags beginning on Oct. 19.

All sales will benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Healthy Connections program at the East Lake Family YMCA.

The bags are available at the Memorial Drive store for $3.99. The Healthy Connections program helps raise awareness among local East Atlanta youth and their families about how to lead a healthier life through fresh, healthy options.

“Through this impactful partnership with Lidl, our program will continue to educate families about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and encourage individuals to effectively utilize primary and preventive health care services,” said Dedra Ridges, LMSW, program manager of the Healthy Connections program at the East Lake Family YMCA. “We’re dedicated to supporting program members and providing vital health services to improve our community’s health and well-being.”

The three artists are Jiyah Mathis, 12, Amelia K. Vinson, 14, and Tyra Robinson, 14. Their designs depict iconic scenes throughout the Atlanta community, also incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables that are available at the Lidl Memorial Drive store. The students were selected after submitting their designs into a competition at Drew Charter School that was in partnership with Lidl.

“We are grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to work with our young artists daily,” said Dr. Lisa Whittington, Drew Charter School Visual Arts Teacher, “and we are appreciative of the team at Lidl’s willingness to provide our students with an opportunity to highlight their work while impacting our community.”

Here’s what the students said about their work:

“I like my art to have meaning behind it so I use lots of details and colors to express myself,” Mathis said. “Designing this Lidl bag is my first major art achievement. Downtown Atlanta inspired my design because everywhere you go in Atlanta, you will see an ATL sign somewhere.”

“My style of art is bold lines, blocky shapes and lots of shadows,” Vinson said. “This is my first art achievement. I was inspired by the people in my environment to create a design that shows community.”

“I was inspired by looking at fine art paintings of fruit portraits to create a portrait of Eva Davis,” Robinson said. “I wanted to create a portrait of Eva Davis because she was a powerful Black woman and a leader who not only helped to get our school built in East Lake for kids K-12. She was a fearless person who helped make this East Lake community what it is today.”

— Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls shared what she loves about Decatur, her hometown, with Garden and Gun. 

Saliers grew up in Decatur, where she forged a childhood friendship with bandmate Amy Ray, attended Emory University, and lives today with her family.

In the interview, Saliers highlights Legacy Park and many local businesses as she highlights some of her favorite places in Decatur.

“Eat out: Kimball House–that’s our number-one favorite restaurant in Decatur,” Saliers told Garden and Gun. “We like to go to Taqueria del Sol and be bossed around. It’s probably the only place I’ll stand in a line that long. We like Leon’s Full Service; we support No. 246. I’m afraid I’m going to forget some place—oh, Sushi Avenue! That’s our daughter’s favorite restaurant.”

Her favorite place to order in is Butter & Cream. She said she feels artistically inspired at Eddie’s Attic and enjoys picking up new reading material at Brave and Kind Bookshop, Charis and Little Shop of Stories.

“Place to entertain kids: The bowling alley, Suburban Lanes [now Comet Pub & Lanes],” the article states. “That’s not in the city of Decatur; it’s greater Decatur. We like to walk around the square, and the easiest place to feed kids is Raging Burrito—the patio is awesome. Decatur Community Players is a theater group that’s been there for years, run by Shell Ramirez. Our daughter’s involved in that. It’s an absolute gift to the community, a no-pressure way for kids to learn about theater and singing.”

To read the full article, click here.

— Opo Coffee announces Kickstarter campaign. 

Here is the full press release:

October 19, 2022 — Decatur, GA

Opo Coffee is announcing the launch of a three-week-long Kickstarter campaign to partially fund their brick-and-mortar location at 314 E. Howard Avenue, Decatur, GA. This space, formerly Ammazza Pizza, will become a coffee roastery, cafe, and training center with a proposed grand opening in December 2022.

Opo Coffee’s founder and CEO, Jonathan Pascual, has become well known in the Atlanta coffee community over the last 15 years, having assisted in the opening of multiple cafes and coffee programs, and most recently owning and operating Taproom Coffee for the last eight years. Joining Pascual and adding their own coffee industry experience to the team are Chris Avirett (from Thrive Farmers Coffee) and Jenny Burrell (former GM of Taproom Coffee).

Opo Coffee looks forward to becoming a standby cafe destination in downtown Decatur and will bring a new roaster option to the larger Atlanta area. In addition, the training center will offer Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certifications for baristas across the Southeast, as well as community coffee knowledge classes.

Launching on Friday, October 21, the Kickstarter campaign will be the first chance that customers across the country have to sign up for home delivery of Opo Coffee. Other crowdfunding backer rewards include branded merchandise, coffee classes, and tickets to a private pre-opening party.

“When we ran a Kickstarter for Taproom in 2014, our most enthusiastic backers came from the surrounding neighborhoods,” says Pascual. “That short campaign really helped jumpstart our first year of operations to help us become one of Atlanta’s long-term, tried-and-true coffee shops. I’m hoping the same happens for Opo’s campaign.”

For launch day of their Kickstarter campaign, the Opo Coffee team will be at Taproom Coffee from 8am-noon on Friday, October 21, sampling coffee and doing giveaways to backers of the campaign. Taproom Coffee is currently Opo’s only wholesale account until the permanent roastery commences full operations in December.

Opo’s Kickstarter campaign goal is $40,000 and is live October 21 through November 11, 2022.

— Sole Play Decatur partnered with Microsoft to create a workshop introducing students to The Dream Lab curriculum. 

The Day Dream workshop was created to give a select amount of students from Decatur High School, with an interest in fashion design and gaming, a chance to preview what will be coming to their Career Pathways curriculum in the Spring, according to a press release.

Teachers, designers and industry professionals developed this pilot program to allow students to explore the footwear design and customization process from inspiration to production. The workshop was held on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 at Sole Play Decatur.

The Dream Lab programming focuses on fashion design through the lens of technology.

The actual curriculum, The Dream Lab, will teach students how to create digital fashion pieces that can be worn in games such as FIFA, Call of Duty, Fornite, etc., while also being able to be converted into an actual cut and sew piece by a clothing manufacturer and placed in store.

— Mustafa’s Boxing Gym is working to provide boxing to at-risk youth. 

Here is the full press release:

Decatur, Georgia (Oct. 23, 2022) — Mustafa’s Boxing Gym, a small and unique boxing gym in Decatur that is known for producing professional boxers, is giving back to help at-risk youth and teen amateur fighters through a new non-profit foundation. According to Founder & Head Trainer, Coach Mustafa, “We’re excited that the gym recently established its 501(c)(3) sister organization in August 2022, although Mustafa’s Boxing Gym has been giving back to the community since its start in 2020.”

When asked whether this new foundation grew organically out of the gym’s current work with professional and amateur boxers Mustafa replied, “Yes, it did! I have big goals to open up as many small gyms as I can. [To] get as many people and youngsters as we can off the streets and into a gym, doing something positive and learning life skills. Slowly but surely that is exactly what I intend to do.”

In December 2021, Mustafa’s Boxing Gym, Foot Locker-Atlanta & Kidd Kong Association teamed up to hold an event for the Decatur Community at the gym. According to Mustafa, “The event provided underprivileged youth in the community a chance to not only be in a positive environment for a moment, but also to get involved in games and activities sponsored by the team, and to enjoy some good food.“ One parent attending with her son and daughter commented that “We need to have more of these events.”

One amateur youth fighter currently benefiting from the gym’s work, had this to say, “I don’t know where I would be without Coach and the gym..probably in the streets.”

When asked what makes Mustafa’s Boxing Gym unique in Decatur, Coach Mustafa points

— “A focus on developing competitive talent at the professional and amateur levels.

— A focus on building character, leadership, and personal life skills.

— A commitment to remaining in a community that has a need.

— Providing Community & Youth Benefits such as — violence prevention, anti-bullying benefits, providing a safe space for everyone, growing leaders, building healthy community, and more.

— And, is a Minority and Black owned business.”

— Truist donates former Tucker branch to Operation HOPE. 

Here is the press release:

ATLANTA, November 1, 2022/PRNewswire/–Operation HOPE announced today that it is receiving the donation of Truist Financial Corporation’s former Tucker, Georgia, branch. This donation is part of Truist’s $20 million investment to Operation HOPE for financial education and support of significant initiatives.

The location will serve as a community hub, which will include offices, conference rooms and open spaces for educational discussions and presentations. HOPE Inside coaches will have space to provide clients with financial counseling on everyday financial questions to assist them on their financial journeys.

“We’ve accomplished significant impact through our partnership with Truist. The donation of this Tucker location will allow us to expand our footprint and provide much-needed financial literacy programs to more communities, more families and more individuals,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant. I’m proud of the work we’ve already achieved with Truist as our partner and look forward to continuing to bring lasting, positive changes to the financial wellbeing of every client who walks through the doors of our new Operation HOPE site.”

The former Truist branch, built on 1.619 acres of land, will be functional for Operation HOPE in 2023 and will be a state-of-the-art facility.

“At Truist, we deliver on our purpose to build better lives and communities through partnerships like Operation HOPE,” said Chief Retail and Small Business Banking Officer Dontá Wilson. “We’re proud this location can now take on a new life by providing financial coaching and resources to change lives for the better and help those in our communities achieve financial happiness.”

Operation HOPE’s partnership with Truist also includes a series of collaborative programs such as HOPE Inside coaching, digital access that connects to education and banking solutions, including Truist, and the creation of 1 million Black-owned businesses (1MBB) by 2030 through the Operation HOPE 1MBB initiative.

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