Foundation Updates February 2021

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Recognizes Welcoming Community Fund

Late in 2020, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation received funding from the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to serve alongside Global Ubuntu as healing and restoration coach to 7 local initiatives across the State of Georgia. To learn more, read the article in the GCDD’s quarterly digital magazine Making a Difference.

2021 Night to Shine

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Night to Shine event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, became “Shine Through 2021”. Prom attendees ages 14 and older with special needs were chauffeured through the parking lot at First Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia as they were announced to the cheering crowd by DJ Thurston Clary. Laura Bauer and Jeni Stepanek attended as greeters, and had a wonderful time seeing the love that the community bestowed upon their family, friends and neighbors.

Town Hall/#Toast2Peace Events

On Tuesday, February 9, Mattie’s Foundation hosted a special double event. Beginning at 6:00 p.m., our #Partners4Peace PharmaCentra sponsored a Town Hall conversation for their employees, with CEO Dan Berman chatting with Mama Peace, Jeni Stepanek, about creating a culture of peace in corporate workspaces.

At 7:00 p.m., Guest Toastmaster Sanah Jivani chatted with participants about the International Day of Self Love held each February 13, and her Love Your Natural Self Foundation.

For more information about PharmaCentra and Sanah Jivani, visit the event page HERE.

February #MamaPeaceChats

During February, Jeni Stepanek held several #MamaPeaceChats via Zoom. Foundation #Partners4Peace Main Street Connect had Jeni speak on themes suggested by their community members. Jeni was appointed to the Board of Directors of Main Street Connect in January. Jeni has also been providing sessions on Resilience to the Disability Community since Spring of 2020, these sessions include Tips & Tools for Peace. She has addressed Nationwide groups including Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, National Center on Deaf-Blindness, the NCDB Bereavement Support Group, and school systems and non-profit organizations across the country.

Jimmy Carter LEADS Program

On February 12, Jeni Stepanek addressed the Georgia Southwestern State University students enrolled in the President Jimmy Carter Leadership (LEADS) Program. This program honors the legacy of GSW alumnus and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The program consists of two pathways, an Undergraduate Research Track and a Service Track, that exemplify Carter’s lifetime of leadership in education, politics and community service. Guided by the evidence-based “The Social Change Model of Leadership Development,” the four-year Carter Leadership Program allows students to develop their leadership skills both individually and within a group.

Rotary Club of Americus Food Distribution

On February 19, Executive Director Laura Bauer enjoyed assisting other Rotarians with a USDA Food Distribution event for the local community. A new member of The Rotary Club of Americus, Georgia (District 6900, USA, Club Number 432), Laura appreciates the service opportunities that Rotary offers. She reflected, “Mattie Stepanek taught me that helping to meet the basic needs of others is where peace begins. Rotary is a great example of responding and reaching out in concrete ways to help make peace possible.”

PeaceJam Saturday Session

One of the Foundation’s newest #Partners4Peace is PeaceJam Foundation. PeaceJam is an international education program built around Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody. The goal of PeaceJam is to inspire a new generation of leaders who will transform themselves, their local communities, and the world. Florida State University serves as the headquarters for the Southeast PeaceJam region, with FSU students serving as PeaceJam Scholars who participate in all aspects of the PeaceJam program. On February 20, Jeni Stepanek gave an invited “Saturday Session” that inspired attendees to give voice to their purpose though “I am…” statements they will use as affirmations of their heartsongs. More collaborations are planned, so stay tuned!

Jimmy Carter National Historic Park Education Program

Working through a pandemic requires creative solutions, and the Georgia #PeaceCrew was excited to travel to Byron, Georgia on February 25 to meet with Marle Usry, Director of the Education Program at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Park in Plains, Georgia. Marle has been working closely with Jeni Stepanek for the past year, and the lesson plans they have developed for students visiting the Plains High School and Boyhood Farm will initially be launched virtually with plans to resume in-person sessions post-COVID.

Furlow Charter School

The first Peace Certified school in the south, Furlow Charter School, is preparing to welcome students back to campus the first week of March. JoAnna Arnold, Bridges Dean and Service Learning Coordinator at Furlow, hosted a #MamaPeaceChat welcome session for her new team members to be introduced to the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. Jeni Stepanek, CEO, and Laura Bauer, Executive Director, are looking forward to working with JoAnna Arnold, Natalie Dean, Brandon Mitchell, A. J. Bailey, Bobby Andrews, Rachel Cotton and Judy Parks as Furlow Charter School continues to cultivate peace amongst its scholars and advisors.