Sweetwater Mission’s 2024 Community On The Move

Group photo from Sweetwater Mission's 2024 Community on the Move

Barry Krebs submitted the following report (and the photos) on Sweetwater Mission’s annual Community On The Move:

Sweetwater Mission hosted their annual Community On The Move 2024 with the theme “Together We Stand”. Board Chairman Pastor Tracy led the proceedings and introduced the other Board members and Executive Director, Pat Soden. Pat reminded us that Sweetwater Mission has been in existence for over 50 years. They feed over 1,700 families per week. They are making progress on their Transformation Center already allowing Four Corners Group to have their mentoring meetings at that location. They have big plans for a community center that will have computers for resume writing and educational sessions too. They are in need of donations and volunteers. Please check out their website at https://www.sweetwatermission.org/ .

The first speaker was Lesleigh Knotts from Cobb Collaborative who discussed the topic of mental health. Did you know that one in five people have a mental health issue? Did you know that it takes the average person diagnosed with a mental health issue eleven years to seek help? Since 2022, there is a 988 Crisis Helpline for people facing a mental health issue or addiction issue. The 988 Crisis Hotline is completely confidential. Georgia House Bill 1013 passed and received Governor Kemp’s signature requiring insurance companies to adjust their rules regarding mental health expenses. Lesleigh discussed a toolbox with ways to cope with mental issues. Cobb Collaborative’s goal is to promote “growth through adversity”. She described the Community Resilience Model. The presentation was very interesting to everyone in attendance.

The second presenter at Sweetwater Mission’s 2024 Community On The Move meeting was Donte Philpot who is a Board member and Community Development Committee Member of Community Development from the Austell Community Taskforce. Donte started off by stating “a community is only as strong as it’s level of citizen engagement”. He went over the five barriers to engagement:
1. Lack Of Awareness
2. Community Challenges
3. Resource Constraints
4. Can’t Do It By Myself
5. Social and Economic Constraints

He illustrated his points with a story about a multiuse housing development that was not wanted by the community off Riverside Pkwy. Through political, civic and citizen engagement, the development backed out of it’s plans to build at that location.

Donte talked about the four “C’s” of successful engagement as follows:
1. Commitment
2. Continually share, rotate and prepare for succession planning
3. Collaboration with other groups
4. Conscience

An example of a missed opportunity to gain government resources is the 2020 Census. Our area was only at a 31% participation rate which was 11% below our participation rate in 2010. Northeast Cobb County’s participation rate averages in the high 70% range. The same is true with our voting percentages. Is it any wonder why the NE Cobb area is getting the better funding and nicer retailers? Overall, it was a very compelling presentation that left us with a lot to consider.

The final Sweetwater Mission Community On The Move presentation was given by Charlie H. Ross who is in top management with Georgia Power and also Club Of Hearts Project Manager. The Club Of Hearts is a Georgia Power charity designed to help people in need. The employees can donate to the Club Of Hearts through a payroll deduction. Contributions have dropped significantly over the past couple of years.

Charlie was raised in the projects in Milledgeville, GA. As a child he was headed down the wrong path. He had low self-esteem and thought that his future looked bleak. Although he had many talents, he quit high school athletics and did not concentrate on his studies dropping out of college to become a janitor at Georgia Power. His perspective changed and he began to apply himself. He got his bachelor’s degree and earned several advanced degrees while still working at Georgia Power. His motto became “Be A Light, Change A Life”. He lives out this motto as he instills self-worth into troubled teens during his volunteer time with the Four Corners Group. Charles is a great example of a man who turned his life around to be a huge success. He is inspiring young people to do the same.

We appreciate Sweetwater Mission for inviting us to this terrific event. This evening was true to its theme “Together We Stand”.