An organization started by retired Atlanta Falcons star and Dunwoody resident Tommy Nobis, who just turned 70, has had a great impact on one east Cobb man’s son.
Mike Pavlac said his 22-year-old son, Chris Pavlac, began job training 18 months ago at Nobis Works, a Marietta-based organization that helps people with disabilities find work. Nobis started the foundation in 1977 after he retired from playing professional football with the Atlanta team for 11 years.
“Both my wife and I feel like everybody has benefitted from this,” Mike Pavlac said about the opportunities Nobis Works and Nobis have created for his son.
Chris Pavlac, who was previously diagnosed with a form of autism, now works at Nalley Lexus in Roswell as a barista in the dealership’s coffee shop while he is earning his degree in digital animation at Chattahoochee Technical College.
“(Chris) is not the most outgoing person, but he’s gotten his driver’s license, he commutes to work, he’s working 25 to 30 hours a week, is taking two classes at Chattahoochee Tech and is involved in the Skills for Life group,” Mike Pavlac said. “He’s a whole lot more comfortable around people, now. His confidence is amazing.”
Chris Pavlac is one of more than 24,000 people who have been helped since Nobis Works started 36 years ago.
The organization, formerly known as The Tommy Nobis Center until 2012 when it was renamed, opened in May 1977, with a lot of support from Nobis.
“When I think of Atlanta, I think of Nobis Works first and the impact it’s had on so many different lives,” Nobis said. “People work here because they love it and believe in what they’re doing. I saw that from day one, and that’s why I’m here. I believe in it too, and I love y’all.”
Nobis, who was nicknamed “Mr. Falcon” in the 1960s and 1970s after being the first-ever drafted Atlanta Falcons player in 1966, celebrated his 70th birthday at the Nobis Works location at 1480 Bells Ferry Road on Friday with a pizza party.
“I’ve worked with (Tommy Nobis) for 37 years and I’ve never been disappointed in him, not one single time,” said Nobis Works President and CEO Connie Kirk. “I’ve laughed because he was so mean and aggressive on the football field but as a leader on our board, he listens and he believes that the board team is wiser than one person.”
Karen Carlisle, the organization’s vice president, joined the staff at Nobis Works seven years ago and before that served on the board for five years.
“So many times, he’s said that this center is his legacy and what his life is all about,” she said. “And it’s so true, because look at all the lives he’s changed. He’s really been a great guy to work with.”
Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard, who has served on the Board of Directors since 2007, said Tommy Nobis’ vision and desire to give back to the community has benefitted everyone.
“By providing vocational rehabilitation and job training, Nobis Works turns people who would ordinarily be a drain on our tax dollars through public assistance and converts them to taxpayers,” he said.
“That’s a win-win situation for everybody because the clients feel so much better about themselves when they can achieve that independence.”