The Heavy Lift

Credit Creative Loafing

A four-part series in which WABE News and Creative Loafing look at metro Atlanta's vibrant and vital nonprofit community.

The Historical Heavy Hitters

Nov 2, 2013
Robert Woodruff used his Coca-Cola fortune to strengthen the Atlanta region. Eighty years later, his influence is still evident.
Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

WABE and Creative Loafing have partnered for "The Heavy Lift," a series on Atlanta's vibrant and vital non-profit community.

The series concludes with this “Ode to the Patrons,” a profile of two people whose names will forever frame Atlanta’s philanthropic community. 

Reporter's Notebook: The Shock of Compassion

Oct 27, 2013
Jim Burress / WABE News

The Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, in addition to other outreach services, operates the state’s only needle exchange.

In Georgia, that’s illegal.  

That, coupled with the stigma of its mission, means the non-profit is struggling.  It has just a few months worth of funding on hand, and workers fear they may have to close their doors at the end of the year.

Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

This is part of a partnership between WABE and Creative Loafing looking at Atlanta's non-profit sector entitled "The Heavy Lift." Claude's story is part of a feature in that series on the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center's needle exchange program.  

Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

“In the best of times, we’re a hard sell,” is how Mona Bennett, one of the founders of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, puts it.

The AHRC provides many services for clients—but its needle exchange program seems to attract the most attention.  

Used to be an IV drug user could walk up with 700 dirty needles, deposit them into one of these red, biohazard tubs the size of a dorm refrigerator, and leave with 700 clean ones. 

Not anymore, says Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition outreach coordinator Verna Gaines. 

WABE's Rose Scott (left) speaks with CARE CEO Dr. Helene Gayle in Amman, Jordan.  The non-profit is aiding Syrian refugees fleeing to the neighboring country.
Courtesy: Rose Scott / WABE News

In this second installment of "The Heavy Lift", a partnership between WABE News and Creative Loafing, WABE’s Jim Burress profiles two non-profits:  One’s mission is to provide tools to those in need.  The other’s is to provide tools to those in need. 

For the humanitarian relief agency CARE, people are its tools.  More than 10,000 of them work all over the world on everything from disaster relief to global health crises to women’s empowerment to finding safe places for displaced refugees. 

Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

Vignettes of some of the men living at the  Atlanta Recovery Center.

Dwain Smallwood

At age 55, Dwain Smallwood’s choice was The Recovery Center on Trinity Ave., or the downtown Atlanta sidewalk outside. 

At the time, he didn’t think walking through those doors would save his life.

You have to lean in to hear Dwain’s scratchy whisper of a voice. The rewarded is slow, deliberate, and honest. 

He admits cigarettes were his longtime best friends. But Dwian didn’t want to think that friendship was the cause of his chest pain.  

The Atlanta Recovery Center sustains itself on the $9/night residents pay.  Security guard Dwain Smallwood makes sure things stay calm.
Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

Five years ago, the reality of the Great Recession started to sink in.  And in the non-profit sector, a great irony emerged on both the national and local scale.

The economic downturn meant giving fell off sharply, leaving non-profits with fewer resources.  This, even as more people were turning to them for help.

“Our mission is to help Atlanta’s men help themselves," says Derek Boyd, executive director of the Atlanta Recovery Center, a 165-bed shelter on Trinity Ave. 

Creative Loafing has rolled out a series of articles looking at metro Atlanta’s non-profit community. The project -- titled “The Heavy Lift” -- is a collaboration between the weekly paper and WABE. We spoke to the two journalists behind the series: from Creative Loafing, News Editor Thomas Wheatley, and from WABE, reporter Jim Burress.