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Biz bits: Wellroot collects over 20,000 diapers; Emory University receives $9.2 million grant

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Biz bits: Wellroot collects over 20,000 diapers; Emory University receives $9.2 million grant

North Georgia United Methodist Conference Bishop Robin Dease (left) and Sharon Brewer (right) bring collection of diaper and wipes into Wellroot's Tucker office. Photo courtesy of Wellroot.

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

— Wellroot collected over 20,000 diapers and wipes during a diaper challenge in July and August. 

The “diaper challenge” was spearheaded by North Georgia United Methodist Conference Bishop Robin Dease. She put out the call to help working families and bring awareness to the public of the need for diapers.

In total, the organization collected 21,691 diapers and 29,432 wipes. Individual United Methodist Churches also collected donations during a recent diaper drive. Decatur First UMC donated 12,857 diapers and 24,000 wipes to Wellroot, a spokesperson for Wellroot said.

“I’ve become increasingly aware that the cost of diapers is a hardship on families, so I invited United Methodists across our area to be in service to our communities by helping with this essential need,” Dease said. “I purchased a few boxes of diapers, pull-ups, and wipes for our staff diaper drive for Wellroot and the cost was $200. Just think about $200 bucks for an hourly employee who has two young children in their household. These boxes wouldn’t last a month for that family. United Methodists are called to serve our communities, and it has been a delight to see so many showing our love and concern by holding diaper drives this summer.”

Wellroot Chief Executive Officer Allison Ashe told Decaturish that for some families, buying diapers becomes challenging, and the bishop decided to do a diaper drive for Wellroot and similar organizations to do two things.

“One is to increase our stock and supply of diapers that we can give to our clients, but also to bring attention to the idea of not taxing diapers,” Ashe said. “There are a number of states that do not tax diapers and in the state of Georgia, we do, and just the relief from not taxing diapers can help those families in a big way.”

Ashe added that Wellroot is happy that Dease is looking at these kinds of social justice issues and issues that families face.

“The diapers that organizations like Wellroot are receiving are a big deal,” Ashe said. “But also we want to bring attention to the idea that diaper purchases can be sales tax-exempt, and we would love to see our Legislature take that on as an issue.”

— United States Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-5) announced on Sept. 28 that Emory University was awarded $9.2 million by the National Science Foundation.

Emory Hospital bridge, April 19, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.

The grant will support the expansion of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals Consultants Program, which is dedicated to diversifying the U.S. research ecosystem, according to a press release.

The NORDP Consultants Program provides research development services to minority-serving institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities, and emerging research institution.

“Minority-serving institutions have educated generations of leaders and conducted groundbreaking research while providing economic opportunity to help close the racial wealth gap,” Williams said. “This $9.2 million grant will help Emory University collaborate with MSIs to write the next chapter in their illustrious histories. I am confident MSIs will use this partnership to continue advancing racial justice.”

The NSF award will be used to extend research development support to 16 non-R1 MSIs across four new cohorts for longer engagements. Over the course of two years, each minority-serving institution will receive 600 hours of consulting time from experienced NORDP consultants and gain access to other research development mechanisms for the rest of the project period.

Senator Raphael Warnock said in the press release that the investment stands as a beacon of hope for the state and nation’s future.

“This collaboration empowers communities historically left behind with the vital resources needed to ignite greater research capacity and competitiveness,” Warnock said. “Emory University’s mission to excel as an institution of inclusivity and innovation will have ripple effects extending to every corner of Georgia and the country, affirming the value of MSIs and HBCUs, and fostering a stronger, more diverse research landscape that benefits us all.”

The NORDP Consultants Program award is the first non-conference project funded by NSF’s new program, Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity. GRANTED focuses on addressing systemic barriers within the nation’s research enterprise by improving research support and service capacity at ERIs.

“The GRANTED program is very unique in that it augments existing resources at ERIs with support to strengthen their research infrastructure,” said Deborah Bruner, senior vice president for research at Emory University. “Receiving this award is not only an honor but speaks to Emory’s commitment to fostering equity, inclusion and social justice both locally and nationally.”

Kimberly Eck, Emory’s associate vice president for research, who leads the NORDP Consultants Program added that diversifying the national research ecosystem has increasingly become a core activity of research development professionals.

“Supporting MSIs in securing more resources will advance science through their innovative work and lead to more students engaged in the conduct of research, a high-impact practice for retaining students in STEM,” Eck said. “With this support, we can expand on the great work the program has done thus far. It has been deeply rewarding to work with the NORDP Consultants and the MSIs and ERIs with whom we’ve partnered. As excited as I am about the progress we’ve made to date, I’m even more excited about the potential of this grant to expand our work.”

— Georgia Piedmont Technical College broke ground on the Regional Transportation Training Center in August.

Georgia State Sen. Emanual Jones (D – Senate District 10) (left) and DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond (right) attended the groundbreaking of the Regional Transportation Training Center at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Senate Press Office.

Georgia Sen. Emanuel Jones (D–Senate District 10) joined Georgia Piedmont Technical College staff and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond for the groundbreaking of the new Regional Transportation Training Center (RTTC) located in Stonecrest on Aug. 31, according to a press release.

“Stonecrest is proud to welcome the state-of-the-art Regional Transportation Training Center,” Jones said. “This cutting-edge training facility is an important step in further growing and supporting Georgia’s transportation and logistics sector. Additionally, the new RTTC will be critical in mending the worker shortages afflicting the truck driving industry. Breaking ground on the construction of this center is the culmination of many years of hard work and planning and I am eager to see this project come to fruition.”

The original $5.8 million budget for the project was allocated in the $27.2 billion FY 2022 Budget. The budget for the center has since increased to $12 million. The 28,000-square-foot facility is projected to open to students in the fall of 2024.

United States Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) also attended the groundbreaking of the Regional Transportation Training Center at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, which is in Georgia’s Fourth District in South DeKalb, according to a press release.

“The investments and efforts that are being put into bringing this project to fruition are a testament to what we can do when we put people over politics and get to work for the American people and our constituents,” Johnson said.

He pointed to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and his Community Funding Project program as highlights of the work to invest in the American people and create better-paying jobs.

Once completed in the summer of 2024, the Regional Transportation Training Center will be the largest of its kind in the Southeast.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in Georgia earn an average salary of over $52,000 a year, and employment in this industry is projected to grow four percent over the next eight years. Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers truck-driving courses through its traditional credit route as well as the economic development division; the college also trains MARTA bus drivers. Successful completion of the CDL course can get students on the road in just a few months.

— United States Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) honored several nonprofits throughout Georgia’s Fourth District and a local student with a Congressional Award in August. 

Congressman Johnson presents the Women’s Resources Center to End Violence Against Women with a HOPE Award at his Ceremony of HOPE at Legacy Park in Decatur, Ga., on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Photo courtesy of Rep. Johnson’s Office.

Here is the full press release:

DECATUR, GA – On Saturday, August 19 at Legacy Park in Decatur, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) held his Ceremony of HOPE honoring the work of six local nonprofits.

It was the culmination of a week of HOPE – Helping Other People Elevate – in which the Congressman held a four-day grants workshop series for nonprofits and visited a community center and homeless shelter in Covington to speak with homeless constituents to hear from their perspective of what their life is like and how the community center is helping them get back on their feet.

The Congressman also bestowed the Congressional Award on Thea Winckler of St. Pius Catholic High School. She earned the award for voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, expedition/exploration.

The Congressman recognized Catholic Charities of Atlanta, Friends of Disabled Adults & Children (FODAC), the Women’s Resources Center to End Violence Against Women, the Rockdale Coalition for Children & Families, Newton Mentoring, Inc., and Newton County Historical Committee on Black Preservation with HOPE Awards.

“I have dedicated my life to the service of others, and while I made a career as a lawyer, a judge, a commissioner, and now as a congressman of this great district, let me be clear that it has always been a fight,” Rep. Johnson said. “A fight for the betterment of mankind and womankind, a fight for justice; a fight to make this world a better place. We have all witnessed some of the darkest times in American history; from the tragic loss of innocent teachers and students in Uvalde, Texas, to the murder of Eric Gardner and George Floyd, to the January 6 insurrection, to the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It is my personal convictions that brought me to Washington, D.C. to continue the fight. I stand with our young people as they engage politically to ensure that all people have a right at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s an honor tonight to recognize all these wonderful organizations for the good they do and the joy they bring in Georgia’s Fourth District.”

— DeKalb Roads and Drainage is offering flood map information services to county residents. 

Here is the full press release from the county:

DECATUR, Ga.– The DeKalb County Roads and Drainage Floodplain Management Office offers residents general floodplain management information on flood hazards, planning, prevention, and mitigation free of charge. This is part of activities under the Community Rating System Program (CRS) of the county.

The service provides useful information on the following:

1. Flood zone determination and flood risk assessment.

2. Information on the Flood Insurance Rate Map and the Flood Insurance Study.

3. Access to previous Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

4. Information on Special Flood Hazard Areas and other High hazard flood areas such as the floodways and high velocity zones.

5. Flood depths around structures and on adjacent land area.

6. Historical flood information about past flooding at or near any area.

7. Current and old copies of Elevation certificates on file.

8. Information on flood-proofing techniques for Buildings and other structures.

9. Publications on flood hazards and damage reduction techniques.

10. Onsite visits by an Engineer experienced in floodplain management.

11. Information about protections for Floodplains.

12. Other flood problems that cannot be provided on the Flood Insurance Rate Map.

The current flood map can be viewed online utilizing the following websites and the property location address:

– FEMA Map Service Center – https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home

– Georgia Flood MAP – Flood Risk Viewer – https://map.georgiadfirm.com/

 – DeKalb County Parcel Viewer – https://qrgo.page.link/qJrtk

For additional information, contact the Floodplain Management Office at 404-297-2567 or 404-297-4518, send an email to [email protected], or visit www.dekalbcountyga.gov/roads-drainage/floodplain-management.

— Fernbank Museum is hosting its annual fundraiser, A Timeless Affair: Nordic Night, on Oct. 21. 

Here is the press release:

On Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, Fernbank Museum will host its signature fundraiser, A Timeless Affair: Nordic Night. The evening will highlight Fernbank’s fascinating new exhibit, “Vikings: Warriors of the Sea” and raise funds that enable Fernbank to present world-class exhibitions, impressive giant screen movies, enriching family activities and immersive nature programs.

The night is set with an air of elegance among the backdrop of Fernbank’s “Giants of the Mesozoic” dinosaurs. Poised as a gala-style fundraising event, the luxurious affair will include creative cuisine, decadent desserts and live music to ease guests into the lavish, but charitable exuberance of the evening. The purpose of this event is first-and-foremost to help fund programming for the museum, which allows Fernbank to continue its mission is to ignite a
passion for science, nature and human culture through exploration and discovery.

The evening commences with a sunset cocktail hour outside on the Dinosaur Plaza, followed by a fast-paced live auction and Fund-A-Need paddle raise to benefit Fernbank’s Scholarship Fund. Guests will then move on to enjoy the evening’s festivities, which will include a private viewing of the new fall exhibit, “Vikings: Warriors of the Sea” and live entertainment from the Shimmer Band. This unforgettable event will feature cuisine by Bold Catering & Design with Décor by Tony Brewer & Co.

A Timeless Affair: Nordic Night is chaired by Michelle Davis and Hon. Walter W. Davis (Ret.), and Drs. Kalinda and Kevin whom generously support Fernbank’s mission to ignite a passion for science, nature and human culture through exploration and discovery. The Planning Committee includes Patron Chairs, Bettina and Geoff Drake, Christa Huffstickler and Steve Baile, Walkitria and Hassan Smith, and Mishon and Brandon Williams, as well as scholarship efforts are Shelley and Leonte Benton, and Jenny and Kevin Lyman.

“I’ve watched my children grow up here Walt and I owe so much to this incredible institution,” said Michelle Davis, chair of A Timeless Affair: Nordic Night. “As long-time patrons of the A Timeless Affair gala, we want everyone to know how much fun it can be to dance under the dinosaurs for such an important cause. The success of the gala is imperative to keep our beloved museum alive and thriving. Our community is blessed to have a place like Fernbank for our youth to learn and dream.”

Signature Sponsors include Delta Air Lines, Genuine Parts, Novelis and Romanoff Renovations. For more information, visit FernbankMuseum.org

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