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MJCCA Summer Day Camps: Innovative Virtual Camp Lineup in June



MJCCA Virtual Summer Campe

Citing the health and safety of campers and staff amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) has pivoted from its traditional in-person day camp program, a mainstay in the metro Atlanta community for countless years, to an innovative and diverse offering of virtual camps aimed at keeping stay-at-home campers engaged in meaningful physical and social activities throughout June. The MJCCA has leveraged strategic partnerships with area experts throughout Atlanta, including the Alliance Theatre, Bach to Rock, Bob Rathbun, Bricks4Kidz, Kids TV International, Painting with a Twist, and Whiz Kids Learning. The center tentatively plans to resume in-person camp activities at Zaban Park in late June.

According to MJCCA CEO Jared Powers, “We immediately recognized the struggle parents in our community were having in terms of keeping their children safe, involved, and entertained while at home. We knew we were going to have to completely reimagine one of our most popular programs, day camps, and be as creative as possible in order to make this work. If the campers couldn’t come to us just yet, we would bring camp into their home. Creating integral connections between campers — and between the JCC and our families who depend on us — is what we do best, and I am deeply satisfied that we have achieved that goal.”

All virtual camp programs will be held Monday – Friday via ZOOM from 9:30 – 11:30 am; Drama Camp will be held weekdays from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.


Throughout the quarantine, MJCCA Day Camps has kept campers and their families entertained and engaged with weekly online content. They will continue to offer a free Camp Connection program each weekday afternoon from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Here, campers will enjoy a special Camp Connection with their favorite day camp directors who will be leading a fun, creative activity via Zoom. A supply list will be posted weekly on the MJCCA Day Camps Facebook page to give parents plenty of time to gather supplies for different projects. Participants must be registered in advance to participate in these daily, no-cost activities, which include:

  • Mondays: Arts & Crafts
  • Tuesdays: Cooking and Edible Art Projects
  • Wednesdays: Fun Fitness Activities
  • Thursdays: Science and Tinker Projects
  • Fridays: Shabbat Celebration, Challah Making, and Songs

“I am incredibly proud of this amazing virtual day camp experience our team has put together for our campers. From drama to music, LEGO to art, game coding to sports broadcasting, we’ve chosen some of our most popular camps and made them available virtually. While we all agree that nothing can take the place of an in-person camp experience, we think this is the next best thing and are confident that our campers will stay engaged, active, and connected to their friends. During this time of fear and uncertainly, the impact that this creative programming will have on our community is immeasurable,” said MJCCA Day Camps Director Jodi Sonenshine.

Virtual specialty day camp offerings include:


Offered weeks 1 – 4 in June

For: Rising K – 3rd Graders

Instructor/Camper ratio: 1:15

Whether your child is a budding rock-star or an aspiring classical soloist, Rock City Online is the place for them to experience real music education. Through dynamic musical and movement-based activities, exposure to instruments, and musically inspired story-time, budding young musicians will develop the skills needed to read music, play simple rhythms, and develop fine motor control skills that are essential for future success in playing an instrument. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home.


Offered Weeks 1-4
Rising 2nd – 5th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:15

  • Week 1 Theme: Star Wars
  • Week 2 Theme: Amazing Animals
  • Week 3 Theme: STEM Heroes
  • Week 4 Theme: Brick City Engineers

Campers will enjoy building LEGO projects with their very own LEGO kits as they progress through a week-long story. Kids will share their creations, and work in breakout groups to get much-needed socialization and work as a team. Each camp will end with students receiving a diploma via e-mail  during a Zoom-based graduation ceremony. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home and each camper will receive a ‘Camp in a Box’ supply package via curbside pick-up at the MJCCA on the Sunday before each session.


Offered Week 1 and Week 3
Grades: Rising 2nd -8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:12

In this tech camp partnership with Whiz Learning Kids, campers will use the popular Minecraft program

to design and build all sorts of exciting worlds and digital creations. With individual and team-based challenges, campers will learn key technical and problem-solving skills and tap into their creativity as they build their way through the week! Please note: an internet connection, a computer or tablet, and a valid Minecraft license are required at home. 


Offered Week 2 and Week 4
Grades: Rising 2nd – 8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:12

In this tech camp partnership with Whiz Learning Kids, campers will work in Scratch and other computer

coding programs to learn how to create characters, backgrounds, and stories for a complete gaming experience. Instructors will help the campers use problem-solving to work through programming challenges and use their creativity in an interactive medium. The final games our campers create will be compatible on any PC or Mac computer. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home and software will be provided.


Offered Week 1 and Week 3
Grades: Rising 3rd – 8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:15
Campers will write, film, and edit their very own movies. The experts from KIDS TV International will guide them through the moviemaking process, while allowing them to explore their creativity, develop acting and technical skills, and work quickly and effectively to achieve an excellent finished product in the form of a DVD that will be mailed home within two weeks. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home. 


Offered Week 2
Grades: Rising 3rd– 8th    graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:10
Campers will learn the ins and outs of sports broadcasting.  the Atlanta Hawks’ own Bob Rathbun. With more than 20 years of television and broadcasting experience, Rathbun will teach campers all about editing, writing, producing, and on-air reporting and directing. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home.


Offered Week 2 and Week 4
Grades: Rising 3rd – 8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:20

In this camp led by the experts at Painting with a Twist, campers will create different masterpieces each day and bring their own canvases to life! An artist will lead each class and walk campers through the painting process step-by-step and all supplies will be provided. No experience is needed, just your child’s desire to use their imagination and have fun! Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home and supplies will be provided via curbside pick-up at the MJCCA.


Offered Week 1 and Week 4
Grades: Rising 4th –  8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:15
In this one-of-a-kind virtual experience, Bach to Rock will teach campers how to write chord progressions, song lyrics, construct melodies, and perform their masterpiece! By the end of our week-

long adventure, these future stars will be performing with ease and on their way to their first Grammy!


Offered Week 2 and Week 3
Grades: Rising 4th – Rising 8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:15
Campers will learn the basics of ukulele in an interactive, virtual group setting. Through games, music theory, and performance, campers will start playing songs quickly! Led by Bach to Rock, this week-long camp will culminate in a virtual performance! Students will learn and play together in a team-like atmosphere, motivating and encouraging each other to practice and perform. Please note: a ukulele, an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home. 


Offered Weeks 1-4
Rising K – 8th graders
Instructor/Camper Ratio: 1:12
Options include:

  • Creative Drama Camp (Rising K – 3rd)
  • Musical Theater Camp (Rising K – 8th)
  • Performing Arts Camp (Rising 2nd – 8th graders)

The MJCCA’s signature Drama Camp meets the Alliance Theatre in this singular program second to none. Budding actors will collaborate with other artists, learn about performance, and make lasting memories. Screen time is about 2-4 hours per day and daily activities will include physical and vocal warm-ups, drama games, movement and performance rehearsals, crafts, and self-filmed assignments. Drama Camp will culminate in a final sharing at the conclusion of each week, Friday at 3:00 pm via Zoom. Please note: an internet connection and a computer or tablet are required at home and everything you need for this camp will be shipped to you, including all art supplies, templates for crafts, activity sheets, and books.

More info at mjccadaycamps.org/camps-programs

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Doing Good

Water at Work Ministry Partners with House of Light Orphanage



Water at Work Ministry, an Atlanta-based charitable organization is proud to announce its partnership with House of Light Orphanage.
This is Pastor Lucas who opened the house of light orphanage in 2006 with the goal to care for his own child with disabilities and others who could not receive care elsewhere. Pictured with his is Water at Work’s Executive Director Dan Blevins (a Peachtree Corners resident).

Water at Work Ministry, an Atlanta-based charitable organization dedicated to providing clean water solutions to communities in the Dominican Republic, is proud to announce its partnership with House of Light Orphanage, a haven of care and education to 40 orphans with disabilities.

Together, these faith-based organizations are inaugurating a sustainable water production business to ensure access to safe water for the orphanage residents and the surrounding communities in Ciudad Juan Bosch.

This business will help sustain House of Light’s mission to provide nurture and education to children, many of whom have experienced physical and cognitive challenges since birth and abandonment by their families. 

A dedication and grand opening ceremony for the water plant was held on Tuesday, May 14, with representatives attending from Water at Work Ministries, Rotary International, Be an Angel Foundation, the local Bella Vista Rotary Club, House of Light Orphanage and the local community.  

With the opening of Water at Work’s new sustainable water plant, the House of Light Orphanage will have a consistent and reliable source of clean water to meet the needs of the orphans and the surrounding community, ensuring access to water that is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

The plant has a production capacity of 5,500 gallons per day, and is designed to be a sustainable business that will generate revenue through water sales. Clean water will be produced and affordably sold in five-gallon bottles in the surrounding communities.

Profits generated by the water business will defray the orphanage’s expenses, thereby contributing to its continued viability and moving it toward financial independence. 

This project is just one more example of how this Atlanta-based nonprofit organization is working to empower and elevate local economies in the Dominican Republic.

Over the past decade, Water at Work has established eight fully-functioning water plant businesses across the DR. Each partners with local churches with the goal of meeting people’s physical needs through water and their spiritual needs through the Living Water of Jesus. 

While many people think of the DR’s pristine beaches and resorts, locals know that poverty is rampant in many parts of the country and countless people have limited access to basic needs, including clean water. With the ongoing crisis in neighboring Haiti, ministries like Water at Work are more needed now than ever before. 

“The partnership between House of Light Orphanage and Water at Work represents a significant step forward in addressing the critical need for clean water in underserved communities,” says Water at Work Executive Director, Dan Blevins, resident of Peachtree Corners. 

“By leveraging sustainable technology and innovative solutions, both organizations will make a tangible, life-giving difference,” he added. 

Water at Work Ministry 
Email: audrie@wateratworkministry.org 
Phone: 404-465-1447

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Georgia United Methodist Foundation Announces Changes to Finance Team



he Georgia United Methodist Foundation announced that Carol Johnston will succeed Russell Jones as SVP, CFO and treasurer.

The Georgia United Methodist Foundation announced Carol Johnston as its senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer. Johnston, who currently serves as associate vice president and controller for the Foundation, will succeed Russell Jones upon his retirement on June 30, 2024.

The Foundation is working to fill the controller position and further enhance its financial expertise.

Johnston will assume responsibilities currently held by Jones on July 1, 2024. In addition to 13 years of experience as the Foundation’s associate vice president and controller, Johnston is a former CPA and brings more than 35 years of experience in non-profit work and a distinguished background in banking to the CFO role. 

As tenured members of the Foundation’s finance team, Johnston and Jones have worked together for more than a decade.  As of April 1, the Foundation has 234.7 million dollars under management due in large part to the partnership between Jones and Johnston.

“Russell Jones has served as the financial backbone of the Foundation for 25 years. He has shared his financial talent and business acumen as a steadfast leader of the Foundation. His deep knowledge of software, systems, and financial instruments has served the Foundation well during his tenure. He has helped shepherd the Foundation through many significant changes and his counsel will be greatly missed.” Katrina Voegtlin, Chairperson of the GUMF Audit/Finance Committee. 

Under Jones’ leadership, the Foundation introduced its loan program which currently has over 42 million in loans throughout the state of Georgia.

“In addition to 25 years with the Foundation, Russell served seven years as assistant treasurer of the NGA Conference.

“We hope that they will enjoy may years together in the North Georgia mountains!” said Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley, President and CEO of the Foundation.

For more information about the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, contact Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley at elizabethch@gumf.org

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Changes at Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries Help Further Community Mission



Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries vegetable truck

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries has been battling poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, among other crisis events, in southwest Gwinnett, for 27 years. In total, NCM served more than 25,000 individuals in 2023, through direct support and personal empowerment programs.

Over time, the county’s demographics have changed, meaning the organization has needed to adapt to serve the community.

Families now face long-term needs due to fixed incomes, homelessness, abuse, language barriers, single-parent homes and many other circumstances, according to the NCM website.

NCM now serves 50 to 70 families each day from a 12,000-square-foot facility. In addition to a food pantry, NCM offers job readiness classes, on-site hiring events, money management courses and regular health fairs.

A new course of leadership

Perhaps one of the biggest changes took effect this January. After almost 30 years of service to NCM, Executive Director Shirley Cabe will now give her primary focus to what she loves the most, the organization’s clients.

Cabe has been with NCM since its inception and has helped grow the organization tremendously as needs in this service area have drastically changed.

NCM’s Board of Directors supported Cabe’s request and developed a new role specifically for her. She will now serve as Director of Client Operations, allowing her to use her exceptional gifts and talents to serve those in need.

Additionally, Cabe will lead the expansion of the food program as refrigerated products will be added to client food offerings. Healthier food options such as protein, produce, reclaimed food and more will also be added.

“Healthier intake directly correlates to improved health and more productivity,” said Cabe in a news release. “This new initiative is huge for the clients we serve. We want to positively contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty. I am excited about the opportunities ahead for NCM and grateful to transition into this new role, focusing on more impactful service to our clients.”

With Cabe’s new role, former Director of Community Relations Ryan Jones will take over as Executive Director.

Jones has been with NCM for three years. Under Jones’ leadership, the organization held its most successful fundraising event to date, bringing in over $519,000 to continue its mission of making a difference one family at a time.

“Building out our team and people is the next step in the process,” said Jones. The big thing with the staffing change is just honoring Shirley and her years at this organization and allowing her to serve people, which is the heartbeat of our organization; that’s how she best serves–interacting with our clients in our community.”

Cabe’s larger role in the food program will help keep it running smoothly, he added.

There is already an established pickup schedule from Publix and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Jones explained that about 40% of food in the United States is wasted.

With new resources in place to access surpluses from supermarkets, restaurants, distributors, farmers and more, NCM can put a sizeable dent in southwest Gwinnett county’s share of the waste.

“We hope to use food as a resource, as we have more touch points with families that we see. So, as things come up in their lives, they’re seeing us more often, and we can step in when unexpected emergencies happen and try to address kind of the issues that have brought them to us in the first place,” Jones explained. “And with that comes just a lot more work.”

Dedicated board members

Les Harper, who succeeded Elizabeth Gross, has taken over as chairman of the board of directors to help with the vision for that work.

“My wife and I have been involved with Neighborhood Coop for a long time, volunteered through the church, and supported financially through the church over the years,” said Harper.

When I retired from working a couple of years ago and was looking for opportunities to give back to the community … one thing led to another, and I had the opportunity to join the board,” he added. “I started on the board a couple of years ago, and then last year, I was asked if I would consider stepping into the board chair role [this year], which I was excited to do.”

Harper’s experience on the board and working closely with Gross for an entire year allowed him to step in almost seamlessly into the new position.

“Elizabeth and I had a chance to work together in some leadership roles at church over the years. So, we have chaired and co-chaired a number of things over the years,” he said.

“For the past 12 months, she’s been great at including me in everything and making sure that I was up to speed on everything, fully involved, and ready to go,” he said.

Anyone involved in large-scale non-profit activities appreciates the time, energy, and resources that go into community organizing. To be good stewards of community trust, funds and well-being, NCM has focused on making operations run smoothly.

“NCM is definitely a feet-washing ministry, especially with the food. … A lot of times it’s heavy, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it,” Jones said. “I’m moving from strictly fundraising to overseeing all aspects of the organization and strategic oversight of all the initiatives that we have going on. … I was born in Gwinnett County. “So, really, the big reasons that I left my corporate job to come to NCM is how impressed I was with the board and the staff when I met them before coming on and the fact that it serves an area where I grew up that has a lot of need,” he commented.

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries
500 Pinnacle Ct
Norcross, GA 30071

Catch more non-profit news here!

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