YouthUSA National Director Yvonne Griswold, an economist for the federal government, met with Acworth Youth Achiever Mariasonniah Smith (center) and her sisters to talk about Money-n-the-Bank goals.
By Stephanie and Eric Stradford
AMWS, August 26, 2012, Acworth, GA - Economists for a national public charity are “paying attention” to new market investment opportunities for Our Street, USA.
Mariquel E. Smith, 11 and Desiree L. Moore, 20 of Acworth are attracting national attention to their hometown through their vision for “fellowship” with “a whole village” of caring adults. The latest candidates for THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS are local residents who “believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.” Last year, Mariasonniah Smith, 13 of Acworth, leveraged her Money-n-the-Bank goals to a $1000 fellowship commitment from Youth Achievers USA Institute. Mary-Pat Hector, 15, a youth activist from Jonesboro also qualified for benefits in 2011.
New candidates and recent winners visited Acworth’s historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for an “Open House” event. YouthUSA Director Yvonne R. Griswold, an economist for the federal government, joined asset managers and mentors to add value to vision for the Acworth community. “Any inclusive vision for America’s future must consider economic needs where Americans live, learn, work and worship,” said Griswold.
The Reverend Leela Brown Waller, pastor for the Bethel congregation, kicked off a season of "Discovering God's New Possibilities." Ironically, the congregation worships at the intersection of Bell and School Streets, a metaphorically significant crossroad marker for church (Bell) and state (School). “I’m so glad you’re here to see our Acworth community during construction so that you can witness the new possibilities after God completes His plan," said Waller.
GAME ON! The Reverend Leela Brown Waller, Historic Bethel AME Church’s new pastor is also a former cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons.
Established in 1864, The Bethel AME Church congregation originally shared a church building with the Zion Hill Baptist Church. Members built the current structure between 1871 and 1882.
Registers of Historic Places promote Bethel and Zion Hill as “home to small African American congregations.” The Cobb County Landmarks and Historical Society reports, “this church structure is threatened by lack of funding for repairs.”
Waller’s commitment to "Discovering God's New Possibilities" sets a positive tone for local kingdom building at a time of global economic uncertainty. Her “cheerleader spirit” may prove to be just the right prescription for economic healing on Main Street, USA. Just across the tracks from Bethel’s historical community, Acworth City officials are at work on a vision of the city’s future.
Road construction at Bell and School Streets offer evidence of “new possibilities” on the way. Bell and School Streets are at the heart of future enterprise. The State of Georgia has designated the City of Acworth’s Redevelopment Area as an “Opportunity Zone.” The designation allows any existing business or a business that locates into zone to apply to the State for a $3,500 job tax credit.
Local job creation is at heart of this community’s vision of its own future. Church and State working together is already adding value to vision for Acworth. Up the road from Historic Bethel is the Roberts School Community Education Center where YouthUSA is “discovering” common vision for Positive Youth Development. The Acworth Achievers after-school youth program primarily serves low income youth from the surrounding community. The program, run by the city’s parks and recreation department, partners with local schools to improve learning outcomes. At the same time, schools as well as churches struggle to meet needs with declining assets. Financial services professionals say that while lingering economic downturns can generate investor concern, they can also generate investment opportunities.
YouthUSA has been mapping assets in Acworth seeking answers to economic issues. Acworth’s youth are like buried treasure for the region’s economic. BB&T.com posted, “When the economy is in a slow-growth or no-growth mode and the stock market shifts dramatically up or down with little warning, what’s the best plan of action? The answer, in most cases, is “It depends…”
The most effective approach to economic inclusion is learning to earn. YouthUSA’s approach starts with financial literacy and integrates diverse components—endowments, investments, insurance, savings for education, home, and small business ownership. Cross generational wisdom invested by caring adults offer insight on retirement, credit, charitable giving, tax and estate planning for a unified, coordinated strategy.
YouthUSA beneficiaries depend on partnering banks, charitable foundations and friends to value their futures as assets for economic recovery. Each qualifying youth commits to a vision of his or her own future as an asset and, therefore, not a liability to their community. YouthUSA’s expanded definition of community considers needs beyond geographic boundaries, connecting local needs to a wealth of resources. To partner with this new market for community reinvestment, contact YouthUSA at www.YouthUSA.net.