I read about the Georgia Works organization on Grantland, a sports and pop-culture site that I frequent. I was reading an article about Tommy Gaines, a former basketball prodigy from a small town in Georgia whose residents are stuck in a terrible self-fulfilling prophechy of crime and drug addiction. His basketball career was sidetracked by drug addiction that ruined his marriage, his relationship with family members, and left him homeless. He was able to turn his life around by entering the Georgia Works program.
Georgia Works was founded in October 2013 by retired investment banker Bill Mcgahan who wanted to end homelessness in Atlanta and around Georgia by employing people who most likely fit the following description: “A middle aged African-American male who has been arrested numerous times. He is likely a felon who has child support obligations and has not held a steady job for nearly two years. He’s been homeless at least a year, and he has a history of substance abuse.” The Georgia Works program requires that those who voluntarily enroll agree to the following:
- Remain Drug Free (continuous testing)
- Work 30 to 35 hours per week
- Get along and respect others
- Agree to end Public Assistance (with the exception of Medicaid).
- Sign documentation allowing staff to identify if they have current child support orders or arrearages.
- Agree to save 20% of income. This “forced savings” will allow clients to have saved approximately $2,000 upon graduation from the program.
Workers are employed in jobs such as picking up trash around Atlanta. As a result of the program, the communities that employ Georgia Works have reported never having seen their parks and public places being cleaner. 42 men and counting have graduated from the Georgia Works program and are completely self-sufficient. To me, it is amazing to see an investment banker realize that he has made an incredible amount of money, and retire from his life work to dedicate his time to a philanthropic cause.
Image and information: http://www.georgiaworks.net/home.html