By Shannon Dominy, For the AJC #atlanta-ga
The Grove Park area has been struggling with a lack of affordable and available fresh food for some time, and when the coronavirus pandemic hit the situation became even more dire. Paradise Atlanta Westside Enrichment center (PAWKids) and its food pantry, Claudia’s House, both started by LaTonya Gates, work to enrich and support the community, focusing on providing food, toiletries, rent assistance and more.
“Our community was a food desert long before COVID, which only made the effects here worse. We now focus on filling that gap, providing food, toiletries, rent assistance and more,” said Anthony Gates, director of operations of PAWKids. “Our mission is to provide families with various resources that will empower and encourage them while promoting Christian values, building stronger communities and developing self-sufficiency.”
PAWKids provides needed services to Grove Park families such as its primary and behavioral health clinic, food pantry, year-round after-school program and resource nights that bring jobs and other resources to the area.
Due to the pandemic, the after-school program is on hold, but the health clinic is now focusing on COVID-19 testing.
“Our primary focus since COVID has been to support the families with rent assistance, food and needed supplies,” said Gates. “We are serving a demographic that is completely forgotten. There are organizations that look to help the community, but not help the lowest of the community.”