HFI Online Workshop Registration

HFI Online Workshop RegistrationWe are excited to offer online workshops designed to help you grow in your relationships! Welcome to the E-learning workshops. We appreciate your interest in HFI workshops, and we’re currently working to improve our workshop...
National Marriage Week – Celebrating the Indispensable Institution

National Marriage Week – Celebrating the Indispensable Institution

National Marriage Week will be celebrated next week, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The celebration is now in its eighth year and seeks to foster collaboration around the country to “strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a culture that fosters strong marriages.”

The Marriage Week campaign website cites to tons of research on the many benefits of marriage and they have provided a list of events taking place in Georgia next week to celebrate marriage.

At GCO, we believe marriage is indispensable to the creation of healthy families and a stable society. That’s why we encourage you to love your family, teach your children to value marriage and the commitment it requires, and to take part in next week’s celebration.

If you want to strengthen your own marriage, check our Healthy Families Initiative and the resources we offer there.

If You Believe Families Need Help and You Pray, Please Pray for This

I may be dating myself, but there used to be a radio show that I enjoyed entitled “Calling all Cars.” The title of the show was based on a saying used in the show that was merely an order given to all available units that there was something wrong – like a crime in progress – and help was needed immediately. There were two reasons that I liked that show. First, the episodes were based on real-life stories. Secondly, and most importantly, I liked the idea of having a mantra or a call to action that brought people together to help others.

Today there are a lot of families who need help because they are struggling – to form, to remain healthy, or stay together. And the causes for the struggles families face are many – lack of education, unstable employment, communication problems, or misplaced government assistance. Georgia Center of Opportunity is currently working with community partners through the Healthy Families Initiative to remove many of these barriers with the goal of helping all Georgians enjoy a healthy family life.

The Healthy Families Initiative kicked off this month in the Norcross and Peachtree Corners communities as a means to combat the issues in life that keep families from forming and thriving. Through the initiative, we are providing tools to individuals, couples, and partner organizations that will allow them champion and experience healthy relationships and strong marriages.

The collaboration of the community is extremely vital to this program. The community can engage in fostering the growth of this program in a number of ways, including by offering prayer for this initiative, as well as prayer for those teaching and participating in the classes. When this program is successful, the entire community will reap the rewards of more children being born to their married parents, growing up in homes characterized by healthy relationships, and living lives free of poverty and deprivation.

We’re asking for prayer teams to become our partners in prayer for one month. If we can have a church every month praying for those in the Norcross and Peachtree Corners area, think of how many families that can be helped! We really need your prayers, and can provide a detailed prayer list. If you or your organization would like to find out more, please email me at joyce.whitted@georgiaopportunity.org or call @ 770-242-0001 x707. We really need your help!

Yule log, Stockings, Santa Claus: What Role do Holiday Traditions Play?

With the Christmas season upon us, we find ourselves spending more time with family and reminiscing about holiday traditions we started as children. Today there is sufficient evidence to show these traditions play a positive role in families and will have a lasting influence.

Whether the traditions are for the holidays or carried out all year long, traditions provide security, strengthen family relationships, and teach children family values.

In the late 90s when researchers first looked at the importance of traditions, they found that families believed traditions improved the strength of their family. Families recognize the importance of spending quality time with the people they love and how this time fosters family stability.

When families have traditions, they create an environment which enables all family members to feel secure. Traditions give children something to look forward to. It is important for parents to begin traditions that will continue through their child’s early years. Parents provide family unity when they understand and emphasize the importance of family traditions.

When families join together to celebrate milestones, holidays and allow for traditions not only are memories being created, but the emotional health of the family is being improved. When families continue traditions, children have been found to have better emotional health. In a New York Times article, Dr. Steven J. Wolin, a psychiatrist at George Washington University, found that individuals who grew up in a family with traditions, were “more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

Family traditions are more than just joining together once a year at the holidays. They can be carried out all year long, and help families to prosper.

If your family does not have traditions, I encourage you to look for opportunities that can be turned into traditions. It could be having dinner as a family, reading to your child before bed, or visiting your favorite store on a special day every year as my family does. Whatever traditions you choose, know that you are giving your family the most precious gift, your time.

On behalf of everyone here at GCO, I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

A Lesson in ESAs

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) have dominated the school choice policy conversations as of late. However, many people are still unsure what ESAs truly offer, and some of the terminology can be confusing.

ESAs are similar to an Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or a Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in terms of the flexibility they provide but are used to pay for education expenses. A portion of the state’s allocated dollars that are already designated for each child’s public education are instead loaded onto a debit card that parents use to customize their child’s education. This money can be used for any educational resources including tutors, textbooks, private-school, homeschooling curriculum, and virtual learning.

Often these programs are confused with Coverdell Education Savings Accounts which are instead set up with personal money invested into tax-free accounts. These Funds can be used at any eligible educational institution whether that be elementary, secondary, or postsecondary. With a regular ESA, funds are coming from “legislative appropriations, local districts, and the federal government.

Several states have already implemented ESA programs. For example, Arizona offers ESAs to children with special needs, attending failing public schools, in the foster care system, or children of active-duty military. Nevada offers a universal ESA program, allowing all public school students the opportunity to obtain quality education in the environment that best fits his or her learning needs.

Parents know their child’s learning needs best, so they are best equipped to decide how these resources should be spent to ensure their child obtains a quality education. By having control over the money the state is already spending on their child, parents who were previously limited by income or geography, now have access to more educational options for their children. Parents can keep their child in their school if they’re happy with it, but ESAs give more options to parents who feel that their child’s current school environment isn’t meeting their needs.

You can learn even more about ESAs at esaga.org.