For Scott Gray, helping families become self-sufficient through Tallatoona Community Action Partnership’s services is a rewarding endeavor.
“Tallatoona celebrated its 52nd anniversary this past Saturday, March 16, 2019,” said Gray, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 2015. “We had a five-time Grammy Award gospel recording artist, Yolanda Adams, as our musical guest along with our local group Ahmad [Hall] & Friends. We had over 600 people join us at Crosspoint [City] Church for the celebration.
“Reaching a milestone of 52 years is a major accomplishment. Tallatoona was started around a kitchen table in Haralson County and today it is a multi-county, multi-service organization that over 17,000 children and families rely on annually.”
Assisting low-income families in eight Georgia counties, the nonprofit offers numerous programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start Child Care Partnership, Community Services, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Weatherization.
“Our mission is to help families become self-sufficient and that is not an easy task but it very rewarding when a family can say that they are in a better position because of the work of Tallatoona,” Gray said. “Being able to help families for 52 years is a great accomplishment, but we want to make sure that we will be around as long as families need our support.”
Name: Scott Gray
Occupation (title): Executive director of Tallatoona CAP
City of residence: Kennesaw
Family: Wife, Latisha; two sons, Jordan and Isaiah
Education: Master of Science at Goddard College and undergraduate in Political Science at the University of Southern Mississippi
The Daily Tribune News: When did you become the executive director Tallatoona CAP, and why did you want to help lead this organization?
SG: I was selected as the executive director of Tallatoona in June 2015. I lead this organization because I believe that underserved communities can be our great assets if we empower the children and families that live in these communities.
DTN: Provide some details about your professional background, and what drew you to this line of work.
SG: I have been a nonprofit professional for 25-plus years. I started my work as a community organizer working in a neighborhood that I grew up in [to] help … combat housing challenges and that led me to take on other roles in nonprofit [development] that included job creation and economic development. I see myself as a [multifaceted] nonprofit practitioner [who] brings stakeholders together to create social and economic impact in underserved communities. I’ve have been fortunate to work and learn from a number of great organizations that include Habitat for Humanity, Urban League and the YMCA. I feel like each organization has taught what I know about empowering people.
DTN: Provide an overview of Tallatoona CAP’s services and the number of people it impacts, especially in Bartow.
SG: First and foremost Tallatoona has a partnership with many local community organizations, particularly in Bartow County. There is a strong network of nonprofit providers that are helping us address challenges in this community.
We serve roughly 3,000 [to] 4,000 children and families in Bartow County annually and another 14,000 annually across our other counties that include Cobb, Douglas, Gordon, Floyd, Haralson, Paulding and Polk. Our major programs are Community Services, Energy Assistance, Head Start and Weatherization.
DTN: What are some of your short- and long-term goals for Tallatoona CAP?
SG: In [the] short term, we want to make sure 700 kids are ready for kindergarten next school year; assist 15,000 families with their heating bills; winterize over 100; and help 200 individuals get the help they need to find a family supporting job and/or get help with training that will afford them the opportunity to secure a career.
In the long term, I would like to see Tallatoona do more around job creation and helping employers find qualified employees. We would also like to diversify our funding streams and become more entrepreneurial, which in the nonprofit world is called social enterprise. Agencies, like Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity, are leading the way in these areas and by diversifying their income are able to create more jobs and training for individuals seeking better opportunities.
DTN: Share some of your favorite/ most memorable moments with Tallatoona CAP.
SG: My most memorable moments include the first time I heard a recipient of Tallatoona tell her story to the Board of Commissioners in Haralson County and she received a standing ovation.
The second was during the concert and I looked from the stage and saw all the people … that showed up to support Tallatoona at its 52nd [anniversary].
The third is securing funding to replace a 50-year-old building that was on its last leg. Knowing that kids and parents will be able to walk into this facility and know that there are no barriers preventing a child from achieving at the highest level was confirmation that Tallatoona is really making a difference in the lives of our families.
DTN: What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?
SG: Helping support the largest Habitat for Humanity – Jimmy Carter build in the United States in the state of Michigan [and] witnessing my oldest son walking across the stage to get his college diploma.
DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?
SG: On the move!
DTN: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
SG: That I am an excellent cook.
DTN: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SG: I love watching my youngest son play soccer and compete in chess.
DTN: Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
SG: The new Kroger.