A Special Visit in Atlanta, Georgia by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Most tourists enjoy the various attractions in Atlanta, Georgia, such at Cyclorama (the three dimensional portrayal of the Civil War Battle of Atlanta), the fun shopping and nightlife and restaurants of The Underground, and the lovely Stone Mountain (famous for the bigger than life carved figures of Confederate Generals of the Civil War), and Atlanta Braves Games and much more, developed specifically as tourist attractions and family fun. We have enjoyed all these in the past, and we found a grand campground for RVers at Stone Mountain, where entertainment for the whole family abounds. We also discovered the convenient Jones RV Park at Norcross, just outside the #285 By-Pass Northeast of the city, near the beautiful Forum Shopping Center.
But on this visit we were there for a quite different purpose, the 30th anniversary of the Open Door Community, a haven for the homeless people in Atlanta. Ed Loring and Murphy Davis and Nelia and Calvin Kimbrough and other volunteers are in charge of the most inviting guesthome for those who have no welcome elsewhere. This sparkling clean, large old apartment building at 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue is one of the most peaceful and loving atmospheres we have ever entered. The temporary guests are the down and out people who are given refuge here and whatever aid they need: a telephone so as to find a job, a mailbox so as to receive letters and checks, clean clothes, hot meals, and a sympathetic ear for psychological needs. They serve three meals a week at Open Door, have a Soup Kitchen, showers, clothes closet every Tuesday and Wednesday. Every other Tuesday night doctors have a women’s medical clinic and every Wednesday night they have medical clinic and a foot clinic for sore feet which have trodden miles without care. Some guests they host stay on living there on a voluntary serving basis, helping share the work in this hospitable and welcoming community.
The center prepares breakfast and and hot soup lunches for about 250 people at Open Door. They publish a monthly newspaper, Hospitality which has a large worldwide circulation, with articles that create awareness of the poverty everywhere and how we can help alleviate the suffering of those near us. The Open Door Community also is a training center for volunteers from all over the United States and the world who wish to learn how to run a center for the homeless. The Open Door has operated on a tight and efficient budget for three decades meeting all these needs and so much more by faith and have always received just what they need when they need it. Murphy Davis leads the ministry on death row, and many other community members visit and correspond with condemned prisoners, offering friendship and hope. All of the members of the community participate in actions opposing the Death Penalty, which makes murderers of us all.

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

The nearby Carter Center is a totally different environment, serving other kinds of needs the world over. Housing the Library of President Jimmy Carter, the beautiful state of the arts Conference center and exquisite park grounds were built and developed by President and Mrs. Carter after he left the White House. The focus of their amazing work for over three decades has been to treat diseases which are not addressed by other charity organizations but which have dessimated millions of people in the poorest countries of the world. The work of the Carter center doctors and scientists has succeeded in almost completely erradicating the Guinea worm worldwide by teaching people how to have clean water to drink by using specially developed straw filters for villages where no pure water is available, by building sanitary latrines, and by educating people with other sanitation habits. Treatments and prevention for these crippling and devastating diseases have alleviated the pain of millions of people, whom President and Mrs. Carter personally visit in the most heart-breaking conditions around the world. The Carter Center also focuses on monitoring free elections for countries which ask for their help in striving for freedom from dictators. And President Carter meets with important figures in many countries, at their request, as an ambassador for peaceful solutions to the most difficult controversies of our times. He also writes a book each year, the proceeds of which help support the Carter Center initiatives.

Nearby also is Ebeneezer Baptist Church, the home church of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his family. Visitors are welcome for services and to honor and remember this great pioneer for social equality in the United States.
When you visit Atlanta, take time to have your spirit lifted and be awakened and inspired by visiting these places: The Open Door Community, The Carter Center, and Ebeneezer Baptist Church. You will be very glad you did, and you will take with you a greater feeling of deep satisfaction than any typical tourist attraction can give you. And your donations through the websites listed are most welcome and will be used with utmost care to make them 100 percent of help for those who need it most.