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Recognizing the good in our communities

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Our society, it seems, is used to hearing about the bad things happening in our lives, our communities, our nation and our world. It is becoming more common to hear people say they don't want to watch the news because it depresses them to constantly hear about crime, disease, war, unemployment.

But we have to realize that we are also surrounded by good – good people, good deeds, good programs. It is there, it just might be harder for some to find since the bad seems to speak louder than the good.

For the twelfth year, Allstate sponsored the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion, demonstrating a commitment to proudly supporting initiatives that are important to the African-American community. As part of that commitment, last year, Allstate launched the Give It Up For Good initiative – a program created to spotlight the good in local communities.

This campaign urges people to share their stories about the good people who may otherwise go unnoticed. It helps us to understand that there are many who dedicate their lives to helping others.

The Give It Up For Good campaign, along with the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion partnered with celebrity Chef Gerry “G” Garvin, the creator of the One Bite Foundation, gathered at Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center to award four “Champions for Good” from around the country, for contributions they have made to helping their communities.

The One Bite Foundation works with children in the culinary arts and helps them to understand issues like child obesity, domestic violence, homelessness and hunger. Chef Gerry developed the Chef G. Garvin Culinary Boot Camp, a program for youth and at-risk inner city young adults.

Chef Gerry hosted interactive cooking demonstrations sharing some his favorite family-friendly recipes and he also told his story of giving back on-site at the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion.

The “Champions for Good” included:

Lydell Henry – Baltimore, MD
Baltimore resident Lydell Henry founded Beat the Streets, a nonprofit program that uses wrestling as the "hook" to get students involved in academics and pushes students to tutoring and mentoring programs.
"The goal is to springboard them into college, to develop their characteristics, such as discipline," Henry said. "You start to see them perform better in class. They can transfer the energy they put into wrestling and carry that over to the classroom. [Wrestling develops] a whole myriad of different characteristics that impact them and it teaches so many life lessons."
Through a partnership with Loyola Maryland, graduate students tutor the high school athletes in Algebra I and Algebra II after school on Thursdays. Henry hopes to expand the tutoring program to every area elementary/middle school in the future.

Anthony Delgado – Atlanta, GA
Anthony Delgado founded I Care Atlanta , a non-profit organization devoted to ending homelessness by providing resources and emergency assistance to the working poor and homeless men, women, and children in Metro Atlanta and surrounding communities.
From living in the streets of Atlanta to founding I Care Atlanta, Anthony's life has truly come full circle, giving back to the community where he knows it is needed most.
Every day, Delgado leaves his Dunwoody apartment around 5 a.m. and visits metro Atlanta Kroger and Fresh Market grocery stores. He collects the food that is about to be thrown away, but is still fit for human consumption, and takes it to I Care Atlanta. He then prepares meals and either loads everything back into the van and takes it downtown to be distributed, or invites Atlanta’s homeless to visit I Care Atlanta to pick up meals.

LaRita Francois-Flotte – New Orleans, LA
After growing up homeless with absent parents, LaRita Francois-Flotte was determined to turn her life around. She attended college, married and had children, but wanted to find a way to give back and help kids who are growing up in the same situation she went through.
LaRita founded the Take The Lead Foundation, an organization focused on providing enhanced motivation and educational programs to youth in the City of New Orleans that build self-esteem, promote leadership and enhance communication and social skills. The foundation offers a variety of workshops and programs that LaRita presents to area schools that are committed to raising social awareness with specific focus on anger management, teen pregnancy, substance abuse among youth, sexual assault, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.
The Take the Lead Foundation works with any and all schools throughout the New Orleans area, but the programs cater specifically to at-risk youth.

Lamont Robinson – Chicago
In addition to serving as an Allstate agent for the Chicago community, Lamont Robinson acts as a mentor for disadvantaged young men in grades 9-12 through the Kappa Leadership Institute. The program’s mission is to prepare economically disadvantaged youth with the necessary leadership skills required to excel in college.
As a mentor, Robinson provides youth with college readiness, tutoring and study skills and leadership development programs to help them achieve their goals.

Another aspect to the 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion was a community service breakfast where attendees had the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind super hero capes benefitting the Florida Hospital for Children and Orlando-based charity Kids Beating Cancer. The 2014 Allstate Champions For Good created capes alongside Orlando Magic star Victor Oladipo who joined Allstate for the community service project and later delivered more than 200 capes to Florida Hospital for Children, putting a smile on both children and staff this Labor Day weekend.

“What it means to me, it’s simple,” Chef Gerry explained. “It’s God’s planet and we’re all visitors. We all have a responsibility to not just support a campaign in Give It Up For Good, but a lifestyle – it really is a way of life. It’s important to me because in my life there were people that gave me opportunities to be where I am and it’s important for me to do the same for others.”

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