Letter from the President

by FCS Ministries on

September 2015  

We have a wonderful privilege at FCS. We are surrounded by a dynamic group of supporters and volunteers who believe in our work. We also have the opportunity to connect with organizations around the country who share our mission in their neighborhoods. With all these relationships, we’ve noticed two questions that we are often asked.

 

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First, What does “FCS” stand for? If you go way back with FCS, you know Bob Lupton started the organization as Family Consultation Services. When he set up the official non-profit, though, the name had evolved into simply FCS Urban Ministries. As Bob has handed off leadership and mentored young leaders, the initials “FCS” have been reframed to provide a more holistic description of our work: with “Focused Community Strategies”.

 

The second question is, What does FCS do? We partner with under-served neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that produces flourishing communities where God’s Shalom is present. There are four areas of focus that allow us to accomplish this vision: Mixed-income Housing Development, Economic Development, Community Development and Training & Education. We align our programming within this four pillar structure.

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This month, we are rolling out a new logo that expresses our vision with an image demonstrating the strength of a pattern woven from our four areas of focus. Bob has used the idea of reweaving the fabric of community for years, and we are excited to incorporate that image as foundational to our brand. The logo also forms a cross, communicating a clear stance in regard to how our Christian faith motivates our work.

 

Our aim continues to be to reweave the fabric of communities through innovative and holistic development practices. We know the work requires commitment, creativity, and patience. Decades of work at FCS have shown tremendous impact in Atlanta neighborhoods.

 

Thank you for walking with us during this leadership transition over the last year. Our board and staff teams have dreamed big dreams about our direction and strategy for this next season in the life of FCS. We are energized by the strength of our four pillars and the engaging work going on in our current neighborhood of South Atlanta. FCS continues to be an innovator in the field of neighborhood-based community development. Thank you for your ongoing support that makes it possible for us to empower neighborhoods to thrive!

 

Jim Wehner

President, Focused Community Strategies

 

Ben Teague

Chairman, Focused Community Strategies 

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Carver Market: "Guerrilla Grocer" in the News

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp We love to tell Atlantans about the Carver Market, and we are encouraged as local leaders and media outlets are sharing in our enthusiasm. Atlanta's 11Alive news recently came out to South Atlanta to see what we are doing and to spread the word.

 

 

We knew we were changing the game when we opened Carver Market in South Atlanta. For the first time in 50 years, people would be able to walk less than a mile to the store. However, since opening in April, we've learned that while folks don't mind walking to the store, carrying groceries home is less appealing.

 

So we're doing what every good business does - figuring out how to best serve our customers. To that end, we've added the bike delivery you see in the video above.

 

Thanks in part to a grant from the Atlanta Cycling Festival, our bike delivery service employs our young bike mechanics from the South Atlanta Bike Shop to carry goods to our customers' houses after shopping.

 

We're starting with a 1 mile radius from the store, including the communities of Peoplestown, Chosewood Park, South Atlanta, and Villages of Carver. As the program gains momentum, we'll seek to deliver to a greater area and may even offer online or phone ordering!

 

Thanks so much to 11Alive for sharing our story. For more information regarding our bike delivery service, inquire within the store.

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Charis Housing Summer Update

by FCS Ministries on

We have been busy at Charis! Two houses sold this summer, and two more are currently listed. Watching new homeowners close on our houses never gets old, and it’s a joy to welcome more neighbors to our South Atlanta community.  

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In July and August, we hosted Metro Atlanta Project (M.A.P.) and their amazing volunteers. They served 30 Charis families with their skills, time, and enthusiasm.

 

One homeowner commented, “Those young folks were wonderful. I am pleased with their work and wanted to reward them with pizza!” Who could ask for a better thank you?

 

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This fall, we’re completing four more houses that will soon be listed, and we’re in process of buying two more homes. We are working steadily towards our mission to strengthen families and neighborhoods one house at a time. And we couldn’t do it without your help! Thank you so much for your ongoing support.

 

To donate to Charis, click here.

 

Check out our current listings: 

1607 Lakewood Ave SE

61 Dorothy St SE

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We Wish You a Merry... Pride for Parents!

by FCS Ministries on

It’s September and that means… Christmas! Right? For retailers across America and for us at FCS, we’re dreaming and scheming for Christmas 2015. You in? Our Annual Pride for Parents campaign is kicking off!  

New to our holiday program? Each year, we offer new toys at greatly reduced prices so that parents in our community receive the joy and delight of purchasing Christmas gifts for their kids. It's a different kind of model that replaced our Adopt-a-Family program many years ago.

 

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We watched as suburban families delivered presents to the homes of needy families. And it wasn't long before we noticed the hurt in eyes of struggling parents as they watched others provide for their children. We knew there had to be a better way, and Pride for Parents was born.

 

Pride for Parents is our bustling, community Christmas store. We welcome neighbors as they get into the spirit of the season and find great deals to delight their family on Christmas. Can you feel a little bit of that spirit already?

 

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We are seeking toy donations for all ages. Gifts that are always a big hit include: bikes and scooters, anything Frozen or Doc McStuffins, and Lego. We also have an Amazon wishlist to help you shop.

 

Finally, please contact us if you want to host a toy drive or volunteer at Pride for Parents. We are looking forward to another cheery season, offering families in our community dignity alongside affordable gifts. Thank you for partnering with us!

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Grapes and Plums: Juicy Street Talk

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp  

I rarely drive to work. I live four blocks from Carver Neighborhood Market, so I typically ride my bike.

 

plums

 

And sometimes people talk to me.

 

Or rather, after 15 years in South Atlanta, I’m used to people shouting at me. Pedestrians, drivers, and other bikers often holler above the noisy streets anything from “hey” to more colorful language I won’t go into here.

 

But more recently, I had a surprising conversation with a man who was also a Carver Market customer.

 

While at the store, he had expressed some concern about our new method of packaging grapes. He was hesitant to purchase without being able to taste the produce.

 

So when I saw him walking down the sidewalk during my bike ride, I stopped and asked him how the grapes had been. He assured me they were just fine, and I rode off.

 

I was a half block away when he shouted, “Mr. Jeff… and those plums! They were AMAZING! Best plums I’ve ever had!”

 

I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve had a conversation in the community about the quality of produce at a local store. Neighbors in South Atlanta now have something new to talk about as they pass in the streets: delicious plums! That’s a food oasis!

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Students Ready to Take on the World!

by katiedelp on

by Katie Delp  

Parents rejoice! Teenagers groan. And kids can’t sleep the night before. School is back in session in Atlanta!

 

And thanks to the generosity of our partners and donors, students in South Atlanta started the school year with chic backpacks loaded with school essentials. Over 100 families came into the Carver Neighborhood Market in the days leading up to school to purchase their school supplies.

 

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Families were able to purchase backpacks at reduced cost, allowing parents the opportunity to provide for their children with dignity. As an added bonus, we even watched as older students bought backpacks with their own hard-earned money.

 

We couldn’t pull off our Back to School drive without our fantastic partners! Special thanks to our backpack providers: Christian Church Buckhead, For the Kid in Us, Crossroads Presbyterian Church, and All Souls Church.  

 

backpacks

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Meet Shawn Duncan, Director of Training and Education

by FCS Ministries on

It's not uncommon for FCS to receive requests for coaching, consulting, and training. Therefore, as part of our strategic plan, we are working to create a learning center that offers education, coaching, and training resources for churches, nonprofits, and others interested in smart charity and community development.  

To lead this effort, we welcome Dr. Shawn Duncan to the team as the Director of Training and Education! Shawn has spent the last 15 years in ministry - as a preacher, teacher, coach, minister, and, most recently, as a co-founder of the nonprofit EIRO.

He finished his MDiv in 2006 from Lipscomb University and in 2014 completed his DMin at Columbia Theological Seminary. He describes his professional and academic pursuits as motivated by one thing: "a driving desire to see the church fully participate with God in God's mission in the world."

Shawn and his wife, Holly, moved to Atlanta in 2005 to join the staff of a local church. Since then they have had two sons, started a nonprofit and discovered more of their calling through the CCDA and FCS. The diversity, opportunities, and new friendships they have encountered in 10 years in Atlanta has transformed their lives. They live in Tucker and are continually shaped and changed by their international neighbors.

Shawn and Holly love wasting hours wandering through used books stores, buying too many books and then spending hours in coffee shops reading those books. If you ask him to choose a favorite, though, he says, "Like choosing a favorite child, this is impossible to answer! So, I will say of the handful of books I am reading right nowmy favoriteis The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. One of the most formative books in my life, though, has been and continues to be The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann."

Their two boys (9 & 7) have picked up on this love of reading as well as their mom's love for the beach and their dad's love for backpacking. Shawn loves any excuse to get outside and into the wilderness!

FCS is delighted to welcome Shawn and his family to the team. And we expect great things to come as we develop a learning center. If you are interested in setting up a training workshop or consulting services, please contact shawn{at}fcsministries{dot}org.

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Carver Neighborhood Market Launches Grocery Bike Delivery Service, August 3

by FCS Ministries on

New offering extends food access across Historic South Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods  

ATLANTA – July 28, 2015 – The Carver Neighborhood Market, empowered by Focused Community Strategies (FCS), will begin its grocery bike delivery service on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. This joint effort with the South Atlanta Bike Shop, also empowered by FCS, will continue to increase access to fresh, healthy and affordable food across Historic South Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods.

Generously funded by the Atlanta Cycling Festival, the grocery bike delivery service for the Carver Neighborhood Market will have a fleet of bikers who deliver groceries within a one-mile radius of the market during store hours. In addition to serving Historic South Atlanta, the grocery bike delivery service extends to surrounding neighborhoods including Chosewood Park, High Point Estates, Lakewood Heights, Peoplestown and Villages of Carver.

“One of our learning lessons within the first few months is that our shoppers who walk to and from the market limit themselves to buying only what they’re able to comfortably carry,” said FCS Director of Economic Development and long-time neighborhood resident Jeff Delp. “By offering the home delivery service, what may have been purchased across three separate trips to the market can now be purchased in just one. Our goal has always been to provide convenient access to the market’s healthy food options, and the grocery bike delivery service is one more way we’re fulfilling that.”

Since the grand opening of the market on Saturday, May 16, 2015, the store has sold more than 25,000 goods and welcomed more than 6,000 shoppers to the store. This initiative is a stepping stone to a larger vision for the Carver Neighborhood Market – one where online ordering and delivery will be a reality.

The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit www.carvermarket.com, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.

About Focused Community Strategies

Focused Community Strategies (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit: www.fcsministries.org.

Media Contact

Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225

ashley.biondich@phase3mc.com

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The Family that Bikes Together

by FCS Ministries on

by Andrej Ciho, Director of the South Atlanta Bike Shop  

Youth at the South Atlanta Bike Shop earn points for their work, which they can use to purchase a bike. It’s been quite a successful and empowering setup, and over the years, we’ve watched teens proudly purchase their own set of wheels.

 

It didn’t take long for youth to realize they can use their points for acquiring bicycles not just for themselves. One fun outcome to watch has been how they started to purchase bikes for family members and friends.

 

Below is a photo of Kiwadi, whose work in the Bike Shop allowed him to purchase a bike for his mother, so they could ride together. What a gift!

 

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When you invest in youth, you are automatically connected into their network of family and friends. And this is a really good thing. Of course we work hard for our youth development program to create meaningful, mentoring relationships. But programs or staff will not and should not replace parents. Our desire is to support parents in their role in their children’s lives.

 

This moment - watching a young man purchase a bike so he and his mom can be active together - is a beautiful picture. We hope the South Atlanta Bike Shop can support deeper relationships and active lifestyles for families in our community. In this case, the empowerment to earn and purchase a bicycle helped to do just that.

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A Summer to Remember!

by FCS Ministries on

The thermometer may seem stuck in the 90’s, but it hasn’t slowed down the youth of South Atlanta this summer! June and July have been action-packed and memorable thanks to enthusiastic volunteers and generous donors.  

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What are some of the highlights from this summer? Pool parties, basketball tournaments, in-depth Bible Studies, bike rides, and more! Youth have been able to bond with each other, connect with staff, and make active, healthy choices this summer.

 

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A great source of joy for the kids has been trips outside of the city. With partners like Camp Grace and God’s Farm, South Atlanta youth have experienced camp life filled with lake swimming, canoeing, mosquitoes, campfires, and starry nights.

 

CampCollage2

 

We’re giving a big shout out to all our committed youth workers, ministry partners, and faithful donors who have made this summer possible. Thank you for creating a safe place for our youth to explore, learn, and experience summer in new ways.

 

camp

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Watch Our Story on PBS!

by FCS Ministries on

We recently had the honor to share our story on PBS. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly featured Bob Lupton and FCS in July 2015. It was a joy to work with their team and to share an inside peak into our community, businesses, and housing programs.  

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If you missed the live version, check out the video below!

 

 

If you'd like to hear more from Bob Lupton, check out his new book: Charity Detox.

To support the work of FCS, please consider a donation. You can give here.

 

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Our Biggest Surprises Running a Grocery Store

by FCS Ministries on

by Jeff Delp  

Launching Carver Neighborhood Market was an experiment filled with risk and anticipation. Food desserts have long plagued poor communities, and FCS was eager to find a solution. Could a local, community market survive? Could we provide affordable, healthy food to residents in South Atlanta?

 

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Of course, it will be a while before I can really address those questions. We’ve been open a couple months now and are still learning so much every day. Here’s a few  surprises I’ve encountered along the way.

 

“You’re so  cheap!”

 

One of my biggest concerns launching the market was our price point.

 

I knew we could not compete with the big boys – Kroger, Wal-Mart, etc. - but I also knew we wouldn’t have to. Those retailers are too far away to be direct competition. Still, I was nervous, knowing our prices would be higher than the places where I normally shop.

 

At the same time, research and fifteen years of work in South Atlanta meant I knew we would be cheaper than the convenience stores around us. Still, I was nervous about the neighborhood’s reaction to our prices.

 

What surprised me was how excited our neighbors have been about our prices. Customers were thrilled: “Oh, you’re so cheap!” was heard many a times during the opening weeks. I wasn’t prepared for how excited our neighbors would be - it was a very pleasant surprise!

 

Produce is our top selling item.

 

When we started out, I knew a lot of residents wanted the store to offer produce. But I wasn’t convinced that, when it came time, customers would follow-through on their requests. After all, we all want to eat better, but many of us (including myself!) still make less-than-stellar choices around food.

 

But produce is our top selling category! Yes, you heard that right. A grocery store in a food desert sells more produce than anything else on its shelves!

 

Thanks to a great partnership with Georgia Tech, we have a wonderful summer intern who is categorizing all of our products in the store.  Thanks to his work, we’re continuing to gain better data on how products are performing in the store. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the volume of produce we’ve been able to sell.

 

Refrigeration is harder than we thought.

 

It hasn’t all been rosy in terms of surprises. While we’ve been encouraged by the things that have turned out better than we expected, refrigeration has been much harder than we anticipated.

 

It’s been a huge learning curve to figure out how to best care for our products that need to be kept cool. From installation difficulties to multiple  breakdowns to storage shortage, we’ve faced some challenges here.

 

Thankfully, we’ve been able to meet most of our in-store challenges thanks to the hard work of our staff and a great refrigeration service company. And we’re currently working on a plan for refrigeration in our back room to better store our produce. Remember how we said it was our top seller? Well, it’s pretty important to keep your top seller properly maintained for display and sale!

 

Who are our shoppers?

 

We knew we’d have plenty of shoppers at the Carver Market.  But we wondered what kind of shopper we’d have.

 

Our fourth surprise has been all our daily shoppers at the store. Residents are stopping in to buy something for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.

 

Many seniors in our community have a scheduled, weekly ride to the grocery store lined up with a family member. Now, we’re hearing how they are able to supplement that trip during the week when they previously would have gone without. Of course, we hope that they (and other neighbors) will eventually transition the majority of their shopping to Carver Neighborhood Market, but that takes time.

 

It’s been a whirlwind first few months as we launched the market and have gotten started providing affordable, healthy food options to the neighborhood. We have a lot more to learn as we keep going, but we’re grateful for the good surprises (and the challenges) that have already pushed us forward in this endeavor.

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The Accidental Success of a Third Space

by FCS Ministries on

by Jeff Delp

Where do you spend your time when you’re not at work or home? For many of us, our responses would fall into a category that sociologists would call “third places.” These third spaces can include diners, bookstores, coffee shops, barber shops, and more.

According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, third places typically share the following characteristics:

  • free or inexpensive
  • often food and drink are involved
  • close by and highly accessible
  • “regulars” - or folks who gather their frequently
  • welcoming and comfortable
  • a place for both new and old friends

When we opened Community Grounds Coffee Shop, we hoped it would be a place in the neighborhood where people could interact and gather. We hoped it would serve as a “third space” in our target community of Historic South Atlanta.

However, we could never have imagined all the unique ways that this space has been used by a neighborhood that has virtually no other third spaces available. Here are just a few examples of the accidental success of this gathering place.

#1 - High School Date Spot

Our proximity to the local high school has led to an uptick in after school coffee dates. Youth can come in, buy a smoothie, and flirt with each other in a safe and public community space.

#2 - Coffee with a Cop

Local police decided to host a community meeting at the coffee shop. It offers space that groups can come together to talk and build relationships in a location where everyone feels comfortable.

#3 - Neighborhood Civic League

The coffee shop has become a prime space for meetings, including the neighborhood association. It’s a familiar place for the community where everyone can come and participate in the life of the neighborhood.

#4 -  Political Engagement

The coffee shop is on the radar of local politicians and can serve as a perfect place to connect with voters. Our Board of Education Representative hosted “First Saturday Community Coffee” gatherings to open conversations with local residents.

Creating a space where neighbors can meet up with each other, work or get online, or simply drink a great cup of coffee has all been wonderful. But the real beauty of our coffee shop has been in the unexpected ways it has served the neighborhood by providing a clean, safe, and valuable third space for everyone to engage more deeply.

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Join Our Back To School Drive!

by FCS Ministries on

Education is one of the most powerful resources available to a young person. Nearly all parents want their kids to get a good one, and they desire to equip their students with everything they need to be successful.  

For families in our community, though, that lengthy list of school supplies distributed on the first day can be intimidating. When you’re counting dollars and cents to pay the electric bill and buy food, where will you get the cash for a new backpack, fresh notebooks, and pens?

 

backpacks

 

Many South Atlanta residents have come to count on FCS to provide high quality, low cost school supplies. We believe passionately that parents should receive the dignity of providing for their own children. So we will stock our Carver Neighborhood Market with backpacks full of supplies that parents can purchase at a reduced, affordable rate.

 

Your support of our Back To School Drive allows us to offer this valuable exchange to our local families. We continue to serve our neighbors in this unique fashion, and families look forward to coming to our store each year and buying the supplies they need. Your support ensures that every parent leaves with more than just a backpack - they will also maintain their pride and dignity as they provide for their children.

 

How to get involved:

Participating is easy! Buy a backpack and fill it with the following items:

  • pens
  • pencils
  • notebook paper
  • rulers
  • markers
  • spiral notebooks
  • composition notebooks
  • folders
  • crayons
  • erasers
  • scissors
  • glue

 

Backpacks are always our greatest need. We support five neighborhood schools. We’ve created this list above based on the most requested items from those schools. Your donations are greatly appreciated and a valuable contribution to make our Back To School drive a success!

 

Donations can be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 9am to 5pm at the FCS Office at 750 Glenwood Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30316. To drop off after hours or for pick up, please contact Katie Delp at 404.627.4304 to set up an appointment.

 

Monetary donations can be made on our website HERE. Please select “Pride for Parents.” Donations can also be mailed to FCS Urban Ministries, Pride for Parents, PO Box 17628, Atlanta, GA 30316.

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The Carver Neighborhood Market Grand Opening!

by FCS Ministries on

The Grand Opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market was a smashing success! Neighborhood residents, partners, and friends gathered together to celebrate the transformation of South Atlanta into a food oasis. Everyone had a great time exploring the new store, tasting yummy samples, and participating in the ceremony. We're grateful to everyone who came out to support the launching of the market. It is truly an innovative solution to a national issue of food deserts, and we're excited to see the impact in our South Atlanta Community! Here are some of the amazing photos of the day from photographer Terence Rushin. (Note: Keep an eye out for the bicycle that blended smoothies - it was a big hit!)

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

 

Photo by Terence Rushin

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South Atlanta Community Showed Full Support for Carver Neighborhood Market Grand Opening, May 16

by FCS Ministries on

Latest venture by Focused Community Strategies celebrated access to fresh, healthy and affordable food  

ATLANTA – May 19, 2015 – Focused Community Strategies (FCS), the Atlanta-based nonprofit transforming underserved neighborhoods to flourishing communities, hosted a successful grand opening event for the Carver Neighborhood Market on Saturday, May 16, 2015. The Carver Neighborhood Market, empowered by FCS, welcomed more than 100 people who joined in the afternoon’s festivities.

 

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The event marked the highest in-store traffic volume to date since the soft opening on April 22, 2015. Influencers with FCS, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and the Atlanta Board of Education attended and shared remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony. Long-standing community member Jacqueline Walker had the honor of joining the ceremony and cutting the ribbon.

 

“After more than a year of planning and preparation for the market’s grand opening, we received a tremendously positive response from the community – affirming that we are doing the right thing for the neighborhood,” said Jim Wehner, president of FCS. “We are shifting the conversation from ‘what isn’t’ to ‘what could be,’ and from what we’ve seen so far in South Atlanta, the possibilities are endless.”

 

After following the growing crisis around food deserts, FCS identified the opportunity to create the Carver Neighborhood Market and began planning in 2014. Through the grand opening of the market, FCS has fulfilled not only a need for the neighborhood, but also its mission at large – transforming Historic South Atlanta from a food desert to a food oasis.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines urban food deserts as low income communities where a third of the community lives more than a mile from a grocery store. In the Atlanta area, more than half a million people live in what the USDA would identify as food deserts, and in the South Atlanta community specifically, the closest national chain grocery to the Carver Neighborhood Market is approximately 3.5 miles away.

 

The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit www.carvermarket.com, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Click here to see photos from the Grand Opening.

 

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About Focused Community Strategies

 

Focused Community Strategies (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit: www.fcsministries.org.

 

Media Contacts

 

Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225

ashley.biondich@phase3mc.com

 

Elyse Hammett, APR

Office: 404-949-3772

Cell: 404-376-5563

elyse.hammett@phase3mc.com

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Make a Child's Summer!

by FCS Ministries on

By Bob Lupton  

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

 

That’s what grandma used to say. And in a rural/small town environment there were many useful (necessary) tasks to fill children’s hours when they weren’t in school.

 

bikers

 

Urban life today is very different. Fathers may be absent. Mothers depart early for work. Jobs for kids are scarce.

 

Long unsupervised days of hanging around on front porches and street corners can lead to mischief – or worse. That’s one reason why crime stats spike during the summer.

 

But the South Atlanta neighborhood is different. Here “idle hands” become “active hands.” Working on bikes in our South Atlanta Bike Shop, getting ready for challenging summer bike rides. Adventuring on God’s Farm, tending farm animals, riding go-carts, going on hay rides, catching fish.

 

Participating in an exciting menu of daily summer camp activities in the neighborhood and day trips to explore life beyond the ‘hood. And perhaps most important of all, a 10-week leadership development course for high school leaders in the community who are becoming positive influencers among their peers and younger admirers.

 

South Atlanta is different from other inner-city neighborhoods. Very different. That’s because we continue to invest heavily in the youth and families here.

 

And that’s also because we are blessed with committed partners like you who give generously to support a host of life-giving activities that make this community a healthy place for children to grow up.

 

A camp sponsorship of $100 will enable a child to attend an entire summer of stimulating activities. Of course, others will be sharing in the actual cost – volunteers, staff, in-kind donors, and the kids and families themselves.

 

Your sponsorship makes up the difference. It makes all the difference! Perhaps your company or Sunday School class might like to sponsor several children. Thanks for helping to make this a great summer for our kids.

DONATE TO SUMMER CAMP

 

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Bike Shop Staff: Meet Remahn

by FCS Ministries on

The South Atlanta Bike Shop is a fantastic youth development program that connects with youth around one neighborhood favorite: bicycles! While the relationships with kids in the bike shop are incredibly valuable, the program also seeks to provide job opportunities and training to young adults.

 

We want to introduce you to one of our South Atlanta Bike Shop staff members, Remahn. He started working several years ago and has continued since he graduated from high school last year.

 

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Q: How long have you worked at the bike shop?

A: As a student, I worked for 4 years, as a volunteer for 1 year, and as an employee, I've worked at the bike shop for 1 1/2 years.

 

Q: What's your favorite thing about working at the bike shop?

A: Teaching and passing on knowledge to younger kids.

 

Q: What do you like about biking?

A: I like that bikes are an easy, fun, and healthy form of transportation.

 

Q: What's been one of your favorite rides?

A: My favorite ride was the ride from the South Atlanta Bike Shop to Stone Mountain.

 

Q: What are your 3 favorite things outside of work?

A: Basketball, music, and writing.

 

To learn more about our bike shop program, you can visit their website.

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What A Grocery Store Means to My Neighborhood

by FCS Ministries on

By Sarah Quezada

Last night was one of those special, “glow-y” community moments. I walked into the new Carver Neighborhood Market and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic team of current and new employees. Then, I took in shelves upon shelves of diverse food options. “Amazing!” was my first thought.

As I chatted with other neighbors, many of us shared a similar sentiment. I mean, we knew it would be a grocery store, but it’s like a GROCERY STORE! We were genuinely delighted by the availability of produce, staples, snacks, and household items. In our community, it was truly a unique sight to behold.

My husband and I relocated to South Atlanta in 2009. It’s a challenge, sometimes, to explain to friends outside our neighborhood how we can live in a major city and still feel relatively cut off from basic businesses and services. But we do.

Still, last night as I looked around the new grocery store so close to my house, I felt almost emotional. It surprised me. After nearly a decade living in urban neighborhoods, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have beautiful, clean retail space nearby. I’d forgotten that feeling of convenience and community that these valuable “third spaces” provide.

I was also touched to see so many faces I didn’t recognize: people from outside our community who have invested their time, energy, and resources to open this store. There was a season when anything new happening in the neighborhood was dreamed, planned, and executed by the same residents and friends, staying up late at night to make something happen.

While those are fond memories, Carver Neighborhood Market is a powerful witness to how outside partnerships can support and catapult an idea into an innovative, and (hopefully) sustainable project in ways we couldn’t do alone.

Finally, I watched as my two year old dutifully lifted rolls of toilet paper off the shelves and handed them to me. “Good practice,” I told him. “Working here may very well be your first job one day!”

There’s a sense of hope with the opening of the market that just probably isn’t true everywhere a grocery store opens. Hope that young people can find local jobs to learn how to work hard and gain important experience. Hope that new businesses will follow the market’s lead and open in our community. Hope that as more good things happen, more neighbors will move in and the momentum will roll forward.

It was truly a memorable night in South Atlanta. I’m thrilled about the opening of Carver Market and grateful for the work that’s gone on behind-the-scenes at Focused Community Strategies (FCS) to make this dream a reality.

Sarah Quezada is a South Atlanta resident and part of our founding member’s crew at Carver Neighborhood Market.

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Grand Opening of Carver Neighborhood Market Transforms Food Desert to Food Oasis

by FCS Ministries on

Latest venture by FCS Urban Ministries targets change for South Atlanta community  

ATLANTA – April 8, 2015 – FCS Urban Ministries (FCS), the Atlanta-based nonprofit transforming underserved neighborhoods to flourishing communities, announces the grand opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market for Saturday, May 16, 2015. The Carver Neighborhood Market, a program of FCS, will provide access to fresh, healthy and affordable food for the South Atlanta community.

carver

 

The soft opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market, scheduled for Wednesday, April 22, 2015, will welcome founding members for a first look at the completely renovated space, which will feature a full line of grocery products including fresh, locally-sourced produce. FCS Director of Economic Development Jeff Delp, a long-time neighborhood resident, has led the planning process for the future market and will oversee its day-to-day operations when it opens.

 

“Previously, the 2,000-square-foot space was home to a community thrift store, another initiative by FCS that served the South Atlanta neighborhood from September 2003 to January 2015,” said Delp. “Over time, we saw the community had less of a need for the thrift store but a growing need for access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. That’s when our plans for the market began in March 2014.”

 

“We have followed the growing crisis around food deserts and identified the opportunity for FCS to convert the thrift store into a food market that would thereby help to transform the neighborhood into a food oasis,” said Jim Wehner, president of FCS. “The Carver Neighborhood Market fulfills not only a need for the neighborhood, but also our mission at large, and that’s a win for everyone.”

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines urban food deserts as low income communities where a third of the community lives more than a mile from a grocery store. In the Atlanta area, more than half a million people live in what the USDA would identify as food deserts, and in the South Atlanta community specifically, the closest national chain grocery to the Carver Neighborhood Market is approximately 3.5 miles away.

 

The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit www.carvermarket.com, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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About FCS Urban Ministries

 

FCS Urban Ministries (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit: www.fcsministries.org.

 

Media Contacts

Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225

ashley.biondich@phase3mc.com

 

Elyse Hammett, APR

Office: 404-949-3772

Cell: 404-376-5563

elyse.hammett@phase3mc.com

 

The Carver Market was featured in Creative Loafing!

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