CARE, the global poverty-fighting organization celebrated its 20th anniversary of moving its headquarters to Atlanta last Friday night at the Atlanta History Center.
“You name a challenge that is being faced in a developing part of the world and typically CARE is there,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a video tribute that premiered at the event. “And, by extension, the city of Atlanta is there.”
Before a crowd of more than 400 people, Mayor Reed presented CARE with the distinguished Phoenix Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the city. Ceasar C. Mitchell, president of the Atlanta City Council, read aloud a proclamation declaring Oct. 11 as CARE Day in Atlanta.
CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle noted that the day is particularly significant to CARE, which works to fight poverty by empowering women and girls, because Oct. 11 is also International Day of the Girl.
Since moving to Atlanta in 1993, CARE has expanded its operations from 71 countries to 84 countries. The number of people around the world the organization reaches every year has grown from 30 million then to 83 million last year.
Gayle said Atlanta is the perfect base for transformative work, given that the city is home to global leaders such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, CNN and the Carter Presidential Center.
“It has truly been great to be part of bringing the world to Atlanta,” said Gayle, who spent 20 years at the CDC, most of it in Atlanta. “For me personally, it is also a great source of pride to see CARE becoming ever more part of the fabric of Atlanta.”
The audience at the Atlanta History Center also heard from Muhtar Kent, chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, as well as Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation.
Emceed by CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, the gala featured entertainment by the Burundi Drummers of Atlanta, Harmony: Atlanta’s International Youth Chorus, and musicians Jill Dexter and Zap Mama. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Rep. John Lewis and Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, were among the distinguished guests in attendance.
Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE and (RED), said in a video tribute that CARE’s move to the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was meant to be.
“It is no accident that you’re in Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement,” Bono said. “This is the same journey. This is about equality and justice. On the 20th anniversary of that move it’s fitting that we have the 50th Anniversary of King’s talk of a dream.”
Former First Lady Laura Bush echoed those sentiments. “CARE and Atlanta are a great match, sharing a commitment to social justice, human rights and the dignity of people worldwide,” she said in the video.
Maria Esther Landa Chiroque, who grew up poor on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, told those gathered for Friday’s celebration about a CARE program that trained her and other young women in vocational skills normally the domain of men and boys. Launched shortly after CARE moved to Atlanta, the program taught Landa how to weld. Later, through a CARE microfinance program, she received a small loan to start her business. Today her welding and metal scaffolding company employs 10 people. Landa recently built her own factory, where she mentors other young entrepreneurs.
“With the support of organizations like CARE we are reducing poverty in our country,” she said. “I know that CARE will continue with this extraordinary work in the next 20 years and beyond.”
Atlanta-area corporations joined CARE’s celebration as sponsors, includingThe Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines and UPS.
To learn more, visit www.care.org
(Photo: Dr. Helene Gayle welcomes guests to the 20th anniversary celebration of CARE being headquartered in Atlanta on Oct. 17 at the Atlanta History Center. By Areya Simmons)