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From On Fire to Fired Up: Carl Rowland Chairs Newly Founded GPNA Legacy Committee 

By Deedee Abbott

In the early stages of Covid-19 shutdowns and chaos, James and Lillian Rowland’s home caught on fire. The Rowlands, Grant Park residents for more than fifty years, were left with a damaged house and nowhere to live during its repair. Fortunately, their son, Carl Rowland, swooped in to help. It wasn’t easy. Even Carl, a retired Captain of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, found it tough to cut through the red tape and secure assistance available from the City of Atlanta. Adhering to the regulations required by Grant Park’s historic district designation called for special attention to detail. Still, Carl persevered. Today, the Rowlands’ house is repaired, and they are safely back in the home they began together more than fifty years ago. 

Carl’s parents’ misfortune and resulting challenges prompted him to think about other community elders. He explained, “My parents don’t have email or know how to Zoom or use the other technology…I knew if they were having problems [locating resources], then other people their age were, too.” Thus, Carl spearheaded a new committee within the Grant Park Neighborhood Association: The Legacy Committee. The Legacy Committee advocates for senior adults who have lived in our community for more than twenty-five years by communicating information about resources that can help them stay in their homes, protect their dignity, and preserve their quality of life.

On November 21, the Legacy Committee hosted its first event. Approximately twenty legacy neighbors gathered in the Grant Park Recreation Center for a Thanksgiving luncheon and Safety and Resource Fair. Attendees received guidance about staying safe and warm over the winter months from representatives of the Zone 6 police and fire departments. Legacy neighbors were also given turkeys and other food items donated from neighbors. In all, 125 turkeys were distributed. One attendee, Glenda Brown, has lived in the area for seventy-two years. She was one of the original volunteers for Hosea Feed the Hungry’s efforts to help Atlantans in need. Mrs. Brown spoke of the comradery she experienced through volunteering and expressed the need for “more love within the community” today. “We’re supposed to be the city too busy to hate,” she said, “things like this [event for legacy neighbors] helps us get back there.”  

It’s true. Many Legacy neighbors like Glenda Brown may feel disconnected from the community that they helped to build. Fortunately, Carl Rowland and GPNA’s Legacy Committee intend to change that.

Help us grow the Legacy Member network. If you or someone you know has been a resident of the Grant Park area for twenty-five years or more, reach out to join our list and learn about events and resources. Contact Carl Rowland at 404-312-5293 (text) or medicfire5005@yahoo.com. If you need assistance texting or emailing, ask a neighbor. 

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