Summit Rewind: Recap from our July 20 Transform Westside Summit
On Friday, July 20th, Westside Future Fund hosted its 13th Summit of 2018!
The Summit featured an opening devotion from Historic Westside community member and Chick-fil-A service team member Henry Charles Plumber (pictured below). Plumber talked about his history on the Westside and his excitement for this moment of transition for the community. He stressed the importance of hard work in his life how his commitment to his spirituality has benefited him.
Westside Future Fund’s executive director, John Ahmann, then led attendees in self-introductions, followed by a Westside Future Fund impact update and community announcements:
- Westside Volunteer Corps’ August Day of Service
- Burgers & Backpacks Event – Saturday, July 21
- National Night Out – Tuesday, August 7
- Atlanta Police Foundation’s At-Promise Youth Center Anniversary Block Party – Saturday, August 4
- Upcoming Summit: Atlanta Police Foundation – Friday, August 3
John Barrow of A Better Way Ministries, Inc. delivered the featured presentation, which included a video, a panel discussion and personal testimonies from Barrow and several men at different stages of the program.
A Better Way is a place of refuge for men struggling with life-controlling issues, such as drug and alcohol addictions, and was started by Barrow to help provide a pathway for change. Barrow detailed his powerful personal journey that led him to start A Better Way, including incarceration, drug addiction and personal/family tragedies, while the panelists talked about their personal growth and the impact that the program has had on their lives.
Included on the panel was 43-year-old Briant McElderry, who just successfully graduated from the program on July 8th after a more than 20-year stint in prison for drug trafficking.
McElderry, who was born and raised on Atlanta’s Historic Westside, gave a compelling testimony on his new vision for his life. After having first learned of A Better Way Ministries through the Fulton County jail, McElderry says the most important thing he gained during his time in the program was “to trust the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” During the panel discussion, McElderry said he hopes to bring his positive attitude and his energy back to the Westside community he loves so much.
While he doesn’t necessarily see himself as a role model, he does see himself as a changed man who was just like many other young men in the community, and believes that if he can change, so can they. However, McElderry did particularly enjoy the opportunity to address the audience at Friday’s Summit.
His biggest takeaway from that moment, he says was, “the love and respect for what we have done in our lives and the compassion that the people of the community support us with.”
He continued, “It was amazing to watch the people embrace my testimony.”