Driving through the expansive Christian City campus, one may think of a city within a city – the 500 acre community has its own facilities, housing and activities for senior adults and the children who call it home.
But the nonprofit, housed within Union City, is not a gated community closed off to their neighbors. More than ever before, Christian City is incorporating and inviting the surrounding south Fulton community to take advantage of some of their newest programs as well as work together to bring some of the goals and visions new CEO Keith Horton has to the forefront.
Horton officially joined the organization on July 17 and will be responsible for the implementation of all operational strategies on the Christian City campus. His experience working in child welfare services, including working at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Atlanta, are influential in where he sees the organization developing and growing.
“I first had the chance to get to know more about Christian City through working with a partnership the organization had with the Department of Juvenile Justice. From my experiences, it was clear that Christian City was the best residential care program for children on the southside,” he said. Since Christian City’s start in 1965, the organization has been home to neglected and abused children. Today, each children’s village home is staffed by full-time house parents who provide a nurturing family environment.
Now, Horton would like to see more emphasis put on two of Christian City’s newest programs for youth – A Safe Place and Thrive.
Through a partnership with QuikTrip gas stations and some fire stations in Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb, and Cobb counties, youth are able to walk into a location where they see the yellow Safe Place signage and text for help. Teens can also text the word “safe” and their current address to 4HELP (44357) or call 770-964-3301 for immediate assistance. A building on Christian City’s campus was recently upgraded and repurposed to house runaways and children in crisis from the Safe Place program.
The Thrive Graduate Transition Program is designed for young adults who have completed their high school education or equivalent while in the care of Christian City Family and Children Programs. The program includes applied supervision to assist these young adults in making quality career and life decisions and provide assistance with developmental milestones. As Horton pointed out, his experience in the Department of Juvenile Justice exposed him to many children who aged out of the foster care system with little to no support once they became legal adults. “Our goal is expand the Thrive program so that not only residents of Christian City can utilize it, but many other youth who need it as well,” he stated.
While the organization has their sights set on an expansion of youth services, Christian City also wants to feel like home and provide new services for senior citizens.
Most recently, a Farmers Market has opened on the campus to provide both residents and the surrounding communities that may be in food deserts options for healthy produce.
The market operates on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will run through November. It is scheduled to run the first and third Thursdays of each month but is open to expanding to every week as residents and vendors demand.
Repurposing of existing facilities on campus will continue, but officials said Christian City is also looking into expanding homes for senior citizens.
“Being good stewards of what we have is important,” said Rhonda Silvis, Director of Marketing and Communications for Christian City. “We do have undeveloped acreage and with that we want to provide opportunities to do new things while continuing to expand our services for the community at large.”
For more information, visit www.christiancity.org.