Welcome back from your MLK holiday weekend! I hope you continue to be inspired by Dr. King’s commitment to social justice and the sacrifices he made to pave the way for many of us and inspire us to dedicate our lives to the service of others and in creating a “Beloved Community.”
Through his teachings of love in action, Dr. King has given us six steps to social and interpersonal change as articulated by the King Center here in Atlanta (I shared these on my previous blog), and one of those steps is direct action.
Watching developments regarding the federal shutdown over the past month, you cannot help but feel empathy for the more than 800,000 federal employees who have missed one paycheck and are on the verge of missing another one.
Your heart goes out to my colleagues wondering if they can make their mortgage and rent payments this month or even continue putting food on the table without dipping deep into savings or scurrying for short-term loans.
As our Human Resources team led by Skye Duckett, Chief Human Resources Officer, and our Deputy General Counsel, Laurance Warco, looked at the effect of the shutdown on our own employees, we found that among our more than 6,000 full-time and 1,500 part-time colleagues, as many as 500 would be directly impacted by the shutdown through the employment of their spouse, partner or household member in a federal agency that is closed due to the partial government shutdown.
As a district with a mission that starts “with a caring culture,” I knew APS had to assist. I met with our HR team and got the ball rolling but that made it become a reality.
Working with Atlanta Partners for Education, we announced today a new district initiative that identifies ways in which we can help our own. I encourage everyone to find a way to assist.
We have set a goal to raise $25,000 for the Atlanta Partners for Education to assist employees with necessities during this time. Employees, community members and partners can join me and make a tax-deductible donation to APS’ crowd funding campaign through Go Fund Me. The total amount collected will be distributed through Atlanta Partners for Education to eligible employees.
There are other resources available to employees and ways the community can assist, for example:
- Consider setting up Meal Train accounts for employees whose families are impacted by the shutdown.
- Drop off food items to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Families in need may visit the website where there is a list of Atlanta area resources and support.
- Ask furloughed spouses to work as substitute teachers for the District, which would allow them to return to work as soon as the shutdown ends. Those interested may visit the APS substitute teaching website to learn more or contact APS Substitute Supervisor Angela Williams (Angela.Williams@atlanta.k12.ga.us).
- Take advantage of APS’ employee discount program on goods and services, Sparkfly. Available only to APS employees, they can visit the Sparkfly Perks site to learn more.
- Use APS’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provides crisis counseling and legal/financial consultation services free of charge to APS employees.
- Seek resources such as the Georgia Power Foundation, which recently announced a $50,000 donation to St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, a faith-based nonprofit, to help provide support to furloughed and unpaid federal workers and contractors in the state. Through the fund, impacted families can ask for assistance by submitting a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our charge is to live the APS mission every day, and so a “caring culture” starts with us. Thank you for all that you do to help our deserving colleagues affected by the shutdown bridge the gap between their paychecks.