1382 Peachtree Street NEAtlanta, GA 30309
ASSIGNMENT: Real Estate Advisory
As a 14-year volunteer and former Board Member, Gene Kansas knows first-hand the importance of place when it comes to overwhelming success at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.
With his assistance on the Real Estate Task Force, the organization found a new “home” at 1382 Peachtree that added visibility, pride, and accolades for BBBS.
We sat down with CEO Janice McKenzie-Crayton to talk about the perfect place to house both programming and promise.
Q: In your 21 years as CEO you’ve lead with tremendous accomplishment. Why is “the House” so important in continuing that tradition of success?
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: The House represents a very tangible step forward in our ability to serve the children in our community, in terms of both capacity and quality. The drastically increased square footage over our previous location also enables us to provide numerous additional and expanded workshops, educational sessions and events for our approximately 3,000 Littles, Bigs and their families.
Q: We’re interested in how cultural development builds our city. What does a place to call “home” mean for fostering mentorship in our communities?
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: Having a centrally located home on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta has greatly increased general public awareness of our agency. The location is also very near MARTA bus and rail stops, so ease of access from public transportation has been a significant benefit to our Bigs, Littles and families. These two key aspects—awareness and access—have had a tremendous impact on establishing a literal heart of mentoring in the city of Atlanta, while elevating our ability to efficiently serve the children in each of the twelve major counties in our community.
Q: You made a decision to go LEED. Is there a message there in regard to giving back?
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: I think there is, and I also think it’s representative of our awareness of our responsibility as community members and a team focused on changing the future for children for the better, forever. Our LEED Gold certification, granted in April of 2013, means that the House has a confirmed focus on renewable resources, a decreased carbon footprint, and various approaches to a sustainable, low-energy building presence. It’s a simple matter of doing our part to consume less and produce more, thereby preserving resources for the future of the very children we mentor and the community in which we reside.
Q: Since the organization moved to 1382 Peachtree you all have won Agency of the Year. That’s quite an honor. Coincidence?
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the value and impact the House has had on our agency. While all of the changes I’ve mentioned thus far have had a crucial impact on the scope and methods we are able to employ in our service to the community, which has certainly lead the way to being honored as Agency of the Year, it is the nature of the space that has been the most transformative to our approach. We truly have a home now, a singular location of safety, fun, comfort and belonging. You feel each of these as soon as you walk through the front door into the foyer of the house, and get a sense of optimistic energy as you continue forward and set foot into our very modern events and interview space, bright with color, natural light and airy ceilings. It inspires a sense of freedom and boundless possibility. We take that inspiration to heart just as much as our Bigs and Littles, and continue to serve thousands of children who inspire us as much as we hope to inspire them.
Q: You and the whole organization have done so very much for our community. How can we contribute?
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: We’re always looking for volunteer Bigs to match with the hundreds of children on our waiting list, who are only in need of a friend. Any gift made to the agency directly supports the matches we make, and enables us to continue to provide quality service and programs to each Big & Little. You can make a gift or learn more about volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Every gift, no matter the amount, will change the life of a child for the better, forever.
Q: Clearly, we’ve got to know…what do the kids think?!
Janice McKenzie-Crayton: They love it! Whether it’s gathering together for an arts and crafts event in the main events space, playing a game of foosball, watching an animated movie, learning positive study habits and SAT test preparation, or listening to a health and wellness seminar on healthy eating, the kids are often here and always smiling. We’re just happy that we’re here to make it happen!
LISTEN TO "THE GIFT OF GIVING" EPISODE FEATURING JANICE McKENZIE-CRAYTON