RMS Culture of Caring

What is Culture of Caring?

  • The Culture of Caring is a school-wide campaign to promote community service, awareness, and action.  This campaign provides the opportunity for students to learn about ways that community members engage with service organizations to support others.  Every fall, Renfroe hosts a symposium to highlight service organizations.  In addition to this learning symposium all RMS students will engage in a day of service, volunteering for one of many organizations, some represented below:  

    Culture of Caring Participants & Service Organizations


    Jasmine is one of the Education and Outreach Coordinators at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. She loves working in this role because she is able to speak with students and community members about solutions to food security and poverty.


    Decatur-area Emergency Assistance Ministry (DEAM) is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency help for local residents to prevent the suffering that comes when there are not resources to buy food, medication, or pay utility bills. The funds and other donations come from twenty-one local churches in Decatur and Avondale as well as individuals. This allows DEAM to provide emergency food, financial aid for utilities and prescription medication, clothing, and volunteer support to qualifying residents in the Decatur and Avondale area. An average of 260 families each month, including 550 individuals, 170 children, and 70 seniors receive help from DEAM each month .

    I am a retired registered nurse who worked in women's health at the DeKalb County Health Department and at Grant Park Family Health Center until December 2015. In 2000 I began to refer people to DEAM related to their need caused by sudden health issues that prevented them from working and caused financial hardship. On my days off I began to volunteer at DEAM once a month because I had seen first hand that it did help people.

    Piper Hale is a communications specialist for the Task Force for Global Health, where she supports the Public Health Informatics Institute, a program that uses information science to improve global health. In this role, Piper creates written, visual and digital communications.

    Previously to joining the Task Force for Global Health, Piper worked as a writer/editor for the Savannah College of Art and Design, served on the editorial board of the Lullwater Review, worked as the co-editor of the Oxford Review, and interned for Atlanta-based alternative news weekly Creative Loafing. While completing her B.A. in Anthropology and Journalism at Emory University, Piper also served as a staff writer for the Emory Wheel. Her nonprofit work includes a two-year teaching and writing fellowship with the Deep Center, an award-winning Savannah-based organization recently recognized by the White House for its commitment to promoting literacy and creative expression among public school students.

    Piper enjoys distilling complex concepts into clear, easily digestible writing to promote accessibility to information that may serve the public good.

    The Task Force for Global Health

    The Task Force for Global Health is a nonprofit committed to improving the health and well-being of people around the world. Its programs and projects currently reach an estimated 495 million people in 135 countries. Founded in 1984 by Bill Foege, the architect of the smallpox eradication campaign, the Task Force works to end diseases that strike people living in extreme poverty, including river blindness, intestinal worms, polio and cholera. Using donations of essential medicines and vaccines and funding from foundations, governments and pharmaceutical companies, the Task Force collaborates with partners to control and eliminate disease. The Task

    Force also works to ensure countries can recognize and respond to disease outbreaks such as Ebola and to help build strong health information systems for effective healthcare delivery. The Task Force is affiliated with Emory University, headquartered in Decatur, Georgia, and has offices in Guatemala and Ethiopia. The Task Force is the fourth largest nonprofit organization in the United States and the largest in Georgia.

    Wade Lisa Wade - Chairman of the Board of Impact A Village, Inc.

    Lisa brings over 30 years of management and business experience to Impact a Village. Lisa looks for projects around the world that Impact a Village can support, and she connects with leaders that work within their community to improve education and healthcare. Lisa also speaks in schools in the U.S. to build awareness about villages and how to get involved in making a difference. She received a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and worked for 28 years as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Galil Motion Control, a high technology company

    About Impact a Village, Inc.

    Impact a Village is a 501(c)3 non-profit that supports education and healthcare projects in communities around the world. Impact a Village respects local cultures and the environment and works in ways that inspire awareness, collaboration, empowerment and action. Current projects include the building of a primary school in South Sudan, support for education for indigenous communities in the Amazon region of Peru, and the Khmer Hands School in Cambodia. www.ImpactAVillage.org


    As the Executive Director, KATE BALTZELL wears many hats. She oversees day-to-day operations at the Garden; leads the fundraising arm through grant writing and special events; and, coordinates community outreach, along with marketing and educational programs. Though we are a small nonprofit with two staff persons, we offer many types of programs for the public and keep very busy!

    Kate came to Woodlands from Trees Atlanta, where she served as Adult Education Manager since 2011. Prior to joining Trees Atlanta, Kate worked as a horticulturist at Mount Cuba Center in Hockessin, DE and Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. She holds a B.A. in Biology and Secondary Education from Clemson University and a M.S. in Public Horticulture from the Longwood Graduate Program with the University of Delaware. She is a member of several arborist and garden associations and she serves as a Member-at-Large on the Board of the Georgia Native Plant Society.

    Desiree Fowler

    My name is Désirée Fowler and I am Development and Communications Coordinator for Global Growers. I moved from Münster, Germany to Atlanta in May of 2015. Before moving to the United States, I received my M.A. in International Development Studies. My background in development work began with very enriching experiences in post-tsunami Sri Lanka and continued throughout my academic career with graduate research in Metro Manila in the Philippines as well as my M.A. thesis focusing on refugee resettlement in Clarkston, GA. Before joining the Global Growers team, I have been volunteering with World Relief and Friends of Refugees. 

    Global Growers

    Global Growers creates opportunities in sustainable agriculture in Georgia by growing good food, training farmers and providing economic opportunities through that education. We connect local families to land, education, and markets in order to build healthier communities and strengthen our local economy.

    TBartlett Tyler Bartlett began as a volunteer at Trees Atlanta in 2012. Two years later he took over the role as the Youth Education Coordinator. As a youth educator he visits over 40 schools a year and sees thousands of students of all ages who he teaches about Atlanta's urban forest.

    Trees Atlanta

    Founded in 1985, Trees Atlanta works tirelessly to address Atlantaís tree loss, protect its forests, and create new green space. Empowered by its wonderful community of volunteers, Trees Atlanta serves the metro Atlanta area, and has grown to become one of Atlantaís most widely known and supported non-profit organizations. Our mission statement: Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized non-profit citizens' group that protects and improves Atlantaís urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating.

                                             Honduras Outreach Honduras Outreach Honduras Outreach 3 Honduras Outreach

    HOI, formally Honduras Outreach International, is called to strengthen communities through long-term partnerships. We work alongside the people of Honduras and Nicaragua, promoting community directed and integrated spiritual, physical, educational and economic development of men, women and children in the developing world through the promotion of dignity, mutual cooperation and self-sufficiency. To learn more about our unique approach and they way we impact lives visit us at www.HOI.org.

     The presenters will be -

    • Abi Gregory, Student
    • Laurie Willing, HOI Executive Director
    • David Lee Davis, HOI Director of Development
    • Louis Deas, Communications Coordination
    • Morgan Leary, Missions Coordinator

    Jamilah Rashid

    Jamilah Rashid is the Founding Director of My World, a Global Citizenship program for teens in Atlanta. Originally from Gloucester, VA, her youth work began as a camp counselor in rural and urban settings during high school and college and continued with the organizing of various youth programs. She received her Bachelors in History and Secondary Education from Howard University and a Master’s in Youth Development Leadership from Clemson University. Jamilah is passionate about facilitating the acquisition of knowledge and experiences that youth require for success and excellence in today’s global society while creating a safe and nurturing space for their engagement. She is a mom of four, wife to Kofi Rashid and lives in City of Decatur. 

    The My World Program (myworldprogram.org) builds leadership and cultural competency skills with teens in the 8th through 11th grades from a variety of backgrounds. Each Spring semester a select group of students from middle and high schools around Atlanta meet for workshops and local field trips. Additionally, they travel together to Washington, DC to learn about civic engagement, conduct community service and visit embassies, monuments, museums, universities and houses of worship. Each fall the program takes students abroad. This program is for students who are interested in: traveling, community service, learning more about other cultures and building skills in communication, team work and critical thinking. During our Renfroe presentation students will learn what leadership skills are and why they matter.

    The Atlanta Homeward Choir

    Amy Widener

    Empowering the homeless through music, inspiring the housed to action.  The Homeward Choir works to bring together members from every background and belief system who have ever battled homelessness, using music and performance art as a vessel to uplift, encourage and instill a sense of community in its participants.

    The Atlanta Homeward Choir, a 501(c)(3) organization, was formed in November 2013 by Dónal Noonan, Music Minister at the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located in downtown Atlanta. Dónal was moved by what he saw on his morning commutes through the downtown streets. He noticed the same faces each day, offering a morning greeting as they sat as if they were waiting for something. The native of Kilcock Ireland wanted to help these familiar faces and came to the realization that music was his biggest gift to share. Dónal went to the Central Night shelter, and asked for volunteers to join the choir. What began with a few grew to nearly 20 members. The performersí confidence was lifted and self-worth improved as they felt what it is like to be part of a community again and found some stability in lives that may have otherwise felt unstable. The Atlanta Homeward Choir has received national, and international media attention and continues to grow as it shares its mission to uplift, encourage and instill a sense of community through the music. In addition to performances throughout the Atlanta area, in December The Choir traveled to Washington DC and performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and at The White House.

    El Refugio

    Marilyn McGinnis is a board member and volunteer with El Refugio, a ministry that serves men who are detained at Stewart Detention Center and their families. In this capacity, she spends many weekends each year in Lumpkin, GA, coordinating the work of El Refugio's hospitality house near the detention center, visiting detained men, and educating groups who come to learn how U.S. immigration policies impact individuals, families, and communities. She is also the co-founder and curriculum director of Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm, which engages middle school students in human rights education and activism. Marilyn is the proud mom of four sons, a home schooling parent, and a long-time teacher within Atlanta's home schooling community.

    Jonah McDonald

    Jonah McDonald is an activist, author, teacher, storyteller and adventure guide. Formerly a Montessori teacher, Jonah continues to teach in non-classroom settings and particularly enjoys working with middle schoolers. He is co-founder of Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm, a human rights education camp for ages 11-14 and is also the author of Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests: Intown and Out, a guidebook of Atlanta-area trails. Jonah tells stories, interprets history, leads hikes, and inspires people to work toward justice in the world.

    Kim Parker
    Kimberly J. Parker has degrees from Barton College (BS), the United States Sports Academy (MSS), and Columbia Theological Seminary (MDiv). She worked eight years as an exercise physiologist with the University of South Alabama Cardiac Rehabilitation Program and three years in Presbyterian campus ministry work prior to attending seminary. Upon graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, she was hired for a part-time position with Central Outreach and Advocacy Center in August 2004. The position was increased to full-time in January 2005. Kimberlyís job description has changed three different times during this almost twelve year period with the most recent change of being appointed as the Executive Director in September 2013.

    Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Central Outreach & Advocacy Center helps over 5,000 men, women and children each year to avoid or overcome homelessness and advocates with and for them for positive changes in our community.


    Lewis My name is Catherine Lewis. I was born and raised in Atlanta. I graduated from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) with a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and have since earned my Masters of Arts and Teaching with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education. After college, I worked for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and then as a third grade teaching assistant at Wesleyan School and the Varsity Cheerleading Coach. I brought my cheerleaders to provide breakfast at Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (ARMHC) one morning and fell in love. I have now been the Volunteer Services Manager at ARMHC for a little over a year.

    Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (ARMHC) provides a home away from home for families of sick and injured children receiving care at local hospitals. The mission of ARMHC is to nurture the health and well-being of children and families. Since 1979 our two Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses have been called “home” by more than 46,000 families with ill and injured children receiving medical care nearby. Our Houses are built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest. We believe that when a child is hospitalized, the love and support of family is as powerful as the strongest medicine prescribed. But our services do more than keep families close during a child’s medical crisis. We help: Reduce stress and financial burden, Improve quality of sleep and quality of life, Establish a network of support to help cope, Provide peace of mind knowing that the hospital and their child is nearby, and so much more. As a non-profit the generosity of volunteers and donors make it all possible.

    MDodson Marissa McCall Dodson joined SCHR in April of 2016 as the Public Policy Director.  Marissa is responsible for developing and advocating for legislation that furthers SCHRís mission, including reforming harsh sentence laws, enhancing alternatives to incarceration, abolishing the death penalty, strengthening the public defender system, and ending the criminalization of poverty. Before joining SCHR, Marissa worked on the American Civil Liberties Unionís (ACLU) Campaign for Smart Justice assisting advocacy efforts to significantly reduce prison populations and improve the quality, scope, availability, and accessibility of services that address the needs of impacted communities in the South. In 2008, Marissa was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to develop the first program in Georgia to address individual and systemic barriers facing people with a criminal history through direct service, education and legislative advocacy at the Georgia Justice Project in Atlanta.

    Marissa received the Commitment to Justice Award in 2012 from the State Bar of Georgiaí Young Lawyer Division for her advocacy of reforms to the stateís expungement law. In 2015, Marissa was named by the Fulton County Daily Report as an “On the Rise Georgia lawyer under 40” and was the recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyerís Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award. 

    Marissa received her B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College in 2005 and her J.D. and Bachelors in Civil Law from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in 2008. She is a member of the Georgia bar.

    Paula Bloom Dr. Paula Bloom is a practicing clinical psychologist, author, speaker and mental health commentator. She has worked in a variety of settings including psychiatric and medical hospitals, community mental health centers and suicide hotlines to help those struggling with depression to find help and hope. She is passionate about using the media as a platform to help destigmatize mental illness and has frequently appeared on CNN, contributed mental health blogs to The Huffington Post and has been featured in a variety of national magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Men's Health. Paula currently works as a staff psychologist at Agnes Scott College.

    Jennifer Brooks

    Jennifer C. Brooks, MPH

    Emergency Management Specialist

    Division of Emergency Operations

    Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Ms. Brooks received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education in 1987 and her Master of Public Health in 1988 from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN.  She first joined CDC as a Technical Information Specialist in the AIDS Program in 1988 after a brief internship at CDC.  In the first 11 years of her CDC career, Ms. Brooks worked primarily in the areas of health education and communication on issues of access to information about HIV and AIDS.

    In 1999, Ms. Brooks transitioned to a career in policy when she moved to the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID). In the Office of Policy, Planning, and Legislation, Ms. Brooks worked on a variety of policy and legislative issues including bioterrorism preparedness, West Nile Virus, anthrax, SARS, and monkeypox.

    In particular, her work with quarantine issuesóespecially domestic and foreign quarantine regulationsóled Ms. Brooks to a position in the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. She held several positions while in DGMQ, including Senior Policy Analyst, Officer in Charge of the Honolulu Quarantine Station, and Regional Officer in Charge of the Western region, which included Anchorage, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu Quarantine Stations.

    In 2011, Ms. Brooks accepted a position in OPHPR working in policy. While serving as the OPHPR Deputy Associate Director for Policy, she had the opportunity to work on a wide array of public health preparedness and response issues, including coordinating OPHPR support for global health security issues in partnership with CGH. This global health security work led Ms. Brooks to her current position in DEO in March 2013.

    Currently, Ms. Brooks serves as the Deputy Branch Chief for the Global Emergency Management Capacity Development Branch at CDC. She oversees a team of public health emergency management technical advisors, health scientists, public health advisors and emergency management specialists who are responsible for developing capacity in public health emergency management through bilateral and multilateral partner engagements. These include providing technical support to Objective 8 (Develop a global network of interconnected EOCs) under the GHSA Respond pillar.

    Ms. Brooksí professional interests include regulatory policy as it relates to current political climates, forces and events that shape and define government regulation; privacy laws and how they intersect with public health needs for personal information; and low literacy communications in health information delivery.

    Mia Gallegos, MDP 

    Program Associate

    Mia is a public health program associate for the Center for Global Safe Water at Emory University. Currently Mia manages a project funded by the GE Foundation that aims to promote, monitor, and evaluate the environments that enable sustained provision and use of safe water in health facilities in Ghana. Mia is also the program coordinator of the CGSW Graduate Certificate in WASH program, with Dr. Joanne McGriff.  Before working for the CGSW Mia worked as a teacher and youth program coordinator in the greater Atlanta area, Save the Children (Kenya), CARE International (Ethiopia), Habitat for Humanity (Honduras), and the Juvenile Justice Fund in Atlanta. Mia received her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and her Masters in Development Practice from Emory University. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Milagros Aldeco

    Research Specialist Lead

    Milagros is a Research Specialist Lead at Christine Moe’s lab.  Dr. Christine Moe is the Director of the Center for Global Health Sanitation and Hygiene.  Milagros is responsible of the handling and analysis of samples coming from different sources.           

    Milagros is a Biochemist, specialized in Biotechnology. 

    The Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

    The mission of the CGSW is to enable organizations and communities to provide safe, effective, and sustainable drinking water and effective and sustainable sanitation and hygiene improvements by:

    • Contributing to the evidence base of scientific and practical information
    • Identifying and promoting innovative approaches and partnerships that address the world’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenges
    • Evaluating interventions and disseminating lessons learned
    • Training future generations of water, sanitation, and global health experts and building capacity of developing country institution

    Carter Center

    The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care;

    The Carter Center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. The Center emphasizes action and measurable results. Based on careful research and analysis, it is prepared to take timely action on important and pressing issues.  The Center seeks to break new ground and not duplicate the effective efforts of others. The Center is nonpartisan, actively seeks complementary partnerships and works collaboratively with other organizations from the highest levels of government to local communities. The Center believes that people can improve their own lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.

    Gregory White

    • Director Decatur Active Living
    • 2011 Thomas O. Davis Public Servant Award
    • City of Decatur Staff Member for 22 years
    • Married, three children- Noah, Jordyn and Jewel
    • Basketball Announcer for Southwest DeKalb High School
    • Board Member- Sports DeKalb, Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame and DeKalb Junior League 

    Decatur Active Living- promotes a healthy and active lifestyle through holistic services and programming. Recreational and educational activities, offered by division staff and community partners, enhance the quality of life for all Decatur residents.  From traditional recreation activities- soccer, lacrosse, swimming pools, tennis, adult softball to pickleball, Walk with Doc, biking and Safe Routes to school.    

    Stephanie Van Parys Stephanie Van Parys spent 8 years of her youth living in Germany, where she spent many hours roaming the pastoral landscape and food gardens around her grandfather’s house. When it came time to choose a field of study, the gardening trait that runs throughout her family could not be denied and she studied horticulture at the University of Georgia. Joining the Wylde staff in 2005 as the executive director, Stephanie is just as committed as she was on her first day in providing environmental education programs and creating spaces for the community to discover the wonders of nature. Never one to keep her nails dirt free, you will find Stephanie in her own garden each weekend.

    About the Wylde Center

    In 1997, an idea took root in the Oakhurst area of Decatur, Ga.  Neighbors Sally Wylde and Louise Jackson envisioned a community garden where children could learn about the natural world and enjoy hands-on gardening activities.  With the purchase of a half-acre of property at the corner of South McDonough St. and Oakview Road, the Oakhurst Community Garden was born.  Today, supported by members, foundations, corporations and donors, the non-profit has been re-named the Wylde Center to honor its co-founder and to better encompass its expanded range of properties and programs.  The Wylde Center oversees four distinctive greenspaces, directs a year-round educational program for all ages, hosts social events and directs the Decatur City Schools’ Farm to School Program.  Staff and volunteers engage children, families and individuals in activities designed to develop creative skills in sustainable urban living, organic gardening, health and nutrition.  Despite its robust growth, the Wylde Center has stayed true to its original mission of cultivating vibrant greenspaces for everyone to enjoy and inspiring communities of environmental stewards.  www.wyldecenter.org