Member Story Bonus Content: Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta

Five years ago, Karen Harris knew next to nothing about food allergies. Today, she’s Georgia’s most dedicated advocate for children with food allergies, championing the cause in schools, the media, and the General Assembly. 

This month, I had the opportunity to learn more about Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta (FAKA) to write our monthly GCN member story, a forum for us to highlight the impact of our member organizations, discuss successes and challenges, and find common threads for nonprofit peer learning.  In the past, I've interviewed and written about large and small organizations doing great things in our community.  To prepare, I'll visit their websites, review organizational documents, and research them online, and it was obvious a lot of time and professionalism had been spent building this organization.  (You can read our profile on FAKA here.)


Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta President and Founder Karen Harris (kneeling) takes part in their annual food-free Halloween program. 

When I called Karen Harris for our interview, we spent the first few minutes discussing her daughter, who managed multiple life-threatening food allergies, and how that drove her down the road to become such a fierce and vocal advocate for these children.  Knowing her nonprofit had only been organized for a few years, I was impressed as she started down the list of their accomplishments – 700 members, support groups, Auburn University research partner, national media coverage, school advocates, shifting statewide public policy, solid strategic planning, etc.  But when she told me that she accomplished this with sporadic funding, no full-time staff, only 12 (very passionate) volunteers...all while concurrently working full-time to support her own family...it was amazing to imagine her organization growing from two brightly colored fliers to major player in such a short time.

Below, you'll find some more of the pictures and content that just wouldn't fit into our story. 

 

Great American Heroes

Last year, Harris was nominated and selected as an Atlanta representative for country singer Trace Adkins' television show that criss-crosses the US looking for heroes.  FAKA hit especially close to home for Adkins, whose daughter Brianna also manages food allergies.  The production crew filmed FAKA for a week and Trace Adkins and family came for a day, taking part in Harris' daily activities.  View a clip of the show.

 

2013 Food Allergy Awareness Week in Georgia


Gov. Nathan Deal along with Harris (left of Deal.)

Harris and FAKA recently celebrated 2013 Food Allergy Awareness Week in Georgia, as proclaimed by Gov. Nathan Deal.  The week presents the opportunity to educate about food allergies through programs, schools, and increased media attention.  Read the official proclamation.

 

More on Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta

In addition to our main article, visit FAKA's website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  

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