CA 2017 Year in Review



After a successful community wide launch in 2014

and with the support of a challenge grant from the

Griffith Theological Research Foundation awarded in

2015, Compassionate Atlanta (CA) began to build a

sustainable movement around the idea of

compassionate action. CA’s work is done in

community. We are founded on the International

Charter for Compassion, with the call to action to

honor our common humanity. CA is a grassroots

movement that engages local individuals, schools,

businesses, organizations, congregations and cities

around the idea of compassionate action. Our work

focuses on providing training, facilitating

conversations, providing resources and bringing

greater compassion into our world, in turn creating

healthier, safer and more vibrant communities.

Compassion and Our Youth

Team Lead: Travis Wright and Candace Apple

This past year, CA has engaged several schools around the topic of compassion. Our Education and Youth

Initiative Team Leads have put together a curriculum to share with teachers around the topics of social

emotional learning and compassion. CA worked with the school counselor at Esther Jackson Elementary

School to develop a plan for the school. Based on their needs, CA provided a new Buddy Bench for the

school and provided books that focus on issues of respect, kindness, generosity and compassion to be used

in the school library. Thanks to Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore for the generous donation of books!

Compassion and Our Youth

Additionally, earlier this year, CA was invited to show the

Charter for Compassion to the faculty and students at the

Weber School. This led to a half day program on compassion

that was offered during their weekend gathering this fall. CA

has also been invited to work with the Student Government

Association (SGA) at the Latin College Prep Charter school in

South Atlanta. The SGA wants to work on issues around antibullying,

building positive relationships and increasing cultural

sensitivity. We welcome more schools who want to bring the

message of compassion to their students, faculty,

administration and parents. The beauty of this work is that CA

listens to the needs of the schools and their students and can

tailor our support to meet those needs.

Compassion and Mindfulness

Team Lead: Pam Glustrom

The Mindfulness Team facilitated a variety of workshops in 2017. This included a series of

workshops for Cause for Hope, a 12-Step Narcotics Anonymous program in downtown

Atlanta. These 90-minute workshops took place once a month for 12 months and focused

on skills related to concentration, mindfulness and compassion. They were attended by an

average of 60 persons each session. In the fall, a series of 4 advanced workshops were

offered to 16 members of the same Cause for Hope group. Additionally, with the growing

awareness about the benefits of mindfulness, CA was invited to present “Mindfulness in the

Workplace” to employees of PNC Bank.

In December, three members of the CA team attended a 20-hour “Compassion Integrity

Training” at Life University. CA plans to continue to work with the Center for Compassion,

Integrity and Secular Ethics (CCISE) in 2018 to offer training to a wider audience. This

collaborative work includes offering a series of 10 workshops to be conducted at Phillips

State Prison.

Compassion and Homelessness

Team Leads: Rob Johnson and Shelly Fine

In 2017 CA began hosting meetings with local clergy, homeless service providers, DeKalb

County representatives and concerned citizens in the hope of accelerating services for

the homeless in Decatur and DeKalb county. This group, "The Decatur/DeKalb Homeless

Services Acceleration Group” began its work by gathering information about the current

state of affairs in homeless services in Dekalb County. Next steps were to compare the

Continuum of Care collaboration (coordinated by the DeKalb County Community

Development Department) to the Continuum of Care in Atlanta to house most of the

homeless over the next 5 years. Another step has been the work to bring together more

of the relevant DeKalb County faith-based organizations and non-profit agencies to

engage in dialogue and cooperation with the hope that a much stronger and

effective future collaboration can take place. In 2018, this outreach will expand to wider

segments of the community so that more voices and ideas can be brought to the table

and a best path forward discerned.

Raising the Voice of Compassion

The cornerstone of Compassionate Atlanta is to create community conversations. Teaching listening skills,

empathy, asking open ended questions and being curious are all parts of having an authentic conversation. CA

Community Engagement Team Member, Shelly Fine, coordinates a monthly CA meetup. These conversations

range from how can I be more compassionate with myself to how to have difficult conversations with those we

love. We have had several speakers who share their wisdom with the group.

CA meets with partners on a regular basis and works to create new

collaborations among partners. CA also presented at several festivals

talking to adults and working with kids to create flowers of compassion

to share the message of kindness. This year, along with our partners,

we hosted a series of talks around the dynamics of money and compassion.

Nearly 300 individuals attended to discover how compassion can be an

integral part of our personal financial decisions.

As we know, social media has become a common way to reach out to the community. CA has successfully

increased our social media reach by 25%, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our pages get much traffic and

our posts are often shared, thus amplifying the positive stories and examples of compassionate action.

Compassionate Atlanta has been highlighted on AIB TV, Sagal Radio, WRFG, and WSB-TV and Atlanta Intown


Living Compassionately in a Diverse World

This year, Compassionate Atlanta has become a go-to organizer for several events and coalitions around

racial and social justice. CA is a committed team member on the Create Community 4 Decatur – Black Lives

Matter Steering Committee, as well as the New Sanctuary Movement Steering Committee and the Standing

Silence planning team. CA has worked on issues of refugee resettlement and immigration to creating a

dialogue about common sense gun laws to fighting Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia.

CA has presented on several panels about the benefits of compassionate action – welcoming our neighbor,

learning about our biases, reaching out to meet the ‘other’ in our lives.

Building a Compassionate Network

Compassionate Atlanta’s charter partners increased by 25% this year, to

over 100 partners. Along with small business partners and nonprofits, the

Fulton County Commission voted to sign the Charter for Compassion. CA

staff and volunteers also participated in Atlanta City Council meetings, as

well as conversations with the cities of Clarkston and Decatur.

This November CA partnered with Theatrical Outfit for a performance of

Under My Hood directed by Coleman G. Howard. This night brought

together 10 individuals to share their stories of vulnerability and resilience

in the face of racism, hate, bigotry, and homophobia with a shared story

of commonality, hope, resilience and love.

Organizational Development

Compassionate Atlanta has a very dedicated 12-member

Board of Directors and an active Community Engagement

Team (CET). This fall, Compassionate Atlanta Board, CET

members and staff participated in a 3-year strategic planning

process led by Sheila Virani. During this process the board

revisited mission and vision statements, programmatic

priorities and organizational structure.

CA’s funding comes from generous individual donors, grants,

partner support and corporate giving. Our goal is to grow

each of these categories as we mature as an


CA was thrilled to get a $5,000

matching grant for year end giving and we

met our goal by December 31, 2017!

2017 Compassionate Atlanta Board of Directors


Candace Apple

Pam Glustrom

Coleman Howard

Rob Johnson

Rena Marroquin

Felicia McCrary

Jessica Morgan

Bob Thompson

Sheila Virani

Anre Washington

Travis Wright

Gareth Young


Compassionate Atlanta Staff

Leanne Rubenstein, Executive Director

Gunawork Wondimneh, Communications Coordinator

In our polarized world, now more than ever, we

need compassionate action. This stretches from

self-compassion to compassion for our families

and neighbors all the way to our global place in

the world. We are looking at new ways to

measure our impact, but the reaction from our

participants and volunteers gives us our greatest

feedback. One volunteer said she felt lost after

moving to Atlanta with her two children, until she

found Compassionate Atlanta. She was filled with

hope that there were like-minded individuals in

her new city. She said, “Compassionate Atlanta

has made all the difference in the world to my


What is your act?

What is YOUR latest act of compassion? Have you

been kind? Made an uncommon friendship? Loved

fiercely? Forgiven someone?

There are many ways to strengthen your

compassionate muscles. This year, Compassionate

Atlanta engaged over 2,500 kids, adults and families

around the benefits of compassionate action.

Now its your turn.

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