Panel offers perspective on social challenges and solutions in Atlanta

By: Brad Rowland

Annual luncheons are familiar across The Salvation Army world and, on Friday, Nov. 8, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta played host to the 2019 Doing the Most Good Luncheon. The setting was intimate inside the Delta Sky360 Club and, after a multi-year run at the Georgia Aquarium, this represented a venue change for Metro Atlanta’s largest annual fundraiser. Beyond that, however, there was a shift in programming that was both intriguing and effective.

While many luncheons in this format feature a prominent guest speaker, Atlanta’s gathering centered on a panel discussion. Christina Faine, development director, indicated the format change reflected the area’s three pillars of homelessness services, youth enrichment and anti-human trafficking. Cathryn Marchman, executive director of Partners for Home, was joined by Ouleye Warnock, senior human trafficking fellow for the City of Atlanta, and Ron Clark, co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy. Faine said that the Army “wanted to bring subject matter experts in these areas and share with our partners the challenges our great city faces and how together we can fight poverty in our community.”

“We worked really hard to be innovative and invite key Atlanta policymakers and influencers to join the conversation,” Faine said. “In a city like Atlanta, we are surrounded by other wonderful organizations, and often times people know we do great work, but they don’t necessarily know all that The Salvation Army is able to do across metro Atlanta. We are already seeing those influencers share and encourage their network to donate and support The Salvation Army. This is helping to bring more awareness of the Army’s work in Atlanta. We cannot fight poverty alone.”

The panel, moderated by Jovita Moore, news anchor of Atlanta’s WSB-TV, was informative to the attendees, with the mission of the Army in the center of the day’s events. The Salvation Army also recognized three of its partners in Georgia Power, Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association and Passion City Church.

“Much progress has been made and yet, there is much more work to be done,” said Major Bob Parker, Metro Atlanta area commander. “As Christians, we are called to advocate for the underserved. My prayer is that we will all leave here today not only more informed, but more inspired and energized to find ways that we — as people of faith and influence in our community — can partner to effect even more change and progress in these areas. Our faith compels us to act.

“As people of faith, our belief compels us to not only speak, but to act, whenever we see inequities. As we leave here today, let us do so with the knowledge that alone, each of us can do something. Together, we can do even more. Working together in faith, we can change the world.”