Monday, November 7, 2011

10 Years and $10,000

When I moved to Atlanta 10 years ago, I was: carless, homeless, and only had one contact in the whole city.  I say I moved here on faith, others say that I was stupid.  Whichever it was, I believed that I was following God's lead to come and serve in the city.  My desire was to help people living in impoverished neighborhoods to turn their neighborhoods around on their own.  I came up with this idea after reading John Perkins' book Beyond Charity and was ready to impact the world one neighborhood at a time!

Needless to say, God had amazing things in store for my life that had nothing to do with my original desire.  As many of you know, the first person I met helped me start my first job (DOOR).  The second person I met is currently my wife and mother of my children.  She in turn connected me to Bob Lupton and Leroy Barber, and my life has not been the same ever since.  What has transpired over the past 10 years is nothing short of miraculous.  When I left for Atlanta on July 7, 2001, I could not have envisioned a better place to be in my life than where I am today.

Where I am today is leading FCS Community Economic Development.  Remember that desire that I came to Atlanta with 10 years ago, well it fell onto my lap about 2 years ago.  After serving with DOOR & Mission Year since moving to Atlanta, I was asked to lead FCS Community Economic Development (CED).  At the time, CED was struggling to make it financially and they needed someone to come in and try to right the ship.  When I started, there was one store (South Atlanta Marketplace), it created 2 jobs, offered 80 hours of work a week, was $10,000 in debt, and was merely an after-thought in peoples mind in the community.

Today, CED employs 10 part-time and 1 full-time positions through 5 different programs (Refugee Beads, Community Grounds, Pride for Parents, South Atlanta Bike Shop, and South Atlanta Marketplace), offers over 200 hours of employment a week, has sent two employees off to college, and has become the heartbeat of our community.  Two years ago, if the stores closed the loss in the community would have been minimal.  Today, if the stores were to close, there would be a significant loss for our neighborhood to recover from.  

I am proud to say that with God's help, the transformation of the CED is almost complete.  Since I have started with CED, we have operated in the black - meaning we are no more behind than we were the day I started 2 years ago.  But we still maintain the same level of inherited debt and that has impeded our ability to take CED to the next level - sustainability.  

I believe strongly in the value and mission of what we do through each of our programs.  We are empowering individuals and families in South Atlanta to change their neighborhood from within- exactly what I felt called to 10 years ago. In order for us to succeed at this mission and become sustainable in what we do, the time has come to get rid of the "albatross" that hangs around our neck.   

I have made a pledge to raise $10,000 in the next 3 weeks, by November 25th, to help break free from what has been holding us back. Why the 25th?  1) It is my birthday (great birthday present idea) and 2) It is also Black Friday.  Black Friday gets its name because it is the day that retailers traditionally move from the "red" into the "black" for the year.  For us, when we raise $10,000 before November 25, we will eliminate any doubt that we will be able to continue to provide these jobs and services in South Atlanta through 2012 and can call it "Freedom Friday."  It would also be one of the best birthday presents I've ever received.

I am asking you to consider giving a special gift over the next 3 weeks to help propel us forward into 2012.    Please consider supporting us with a special one time gift.  Your gift will help ensure that we can continue with our mission to provide jobs, job training, positive community space, and hope in our neighbors that with their own hard work they can make it in life.

In order to give, you can do one of the following:

1) Give online at and choose FCS Community Economic Development from the drop down menu.

2) Write a check to:

FCS Community Economic Development
PO Box 17628
Atlanta, GA 30316

Thank you for supporting us and partnering with us over the past 2 years.  I would not be here without you.  From all of the people that you have helped impact over the past 2 years, I say thank you.  You have made a lasting difference in someone's life by supporting CED and I hope you will allow CED to continue to do so in 2012 by making a special one time gift!



Sunday, September 18, 2011


Sam...Sam...Sam... We often shake our head and wonder what will become of him in utter amazement!

A few months ago, Sam was given the "street name" Oatmeal from our neighbors (this is his Oatmeal shirt given to him by Leroy).  For those that don't know, many kids in our neighborhood have a street name, something their friends call them on the street.  There are many neighborhood kids that we only know by their street name.  It is amazing to go with Sam anywhere in the neighborhood because you will hear people call him Oatmeal. If we are in the Marketplace, at the YMCA, on a bike ride or walk, at the bank, wherever, someone is bound to recognize Sam and call him Oatmeal!

Four years ago, Sam was known for being pushed in a double stroller all around the neighborhood by a goofy bearded man.  Today he is becoming to be known for himself and who he is.  There is a reason that people know Oatmeal and it is not just because of his nickname.  Sam really does navigate his world well and is comfortable in many situations.  We are absolutely in love with the fact that he can navigate this world that we have placed him in.  As he gets older and begins to move around the neighborhood on his own, we can have the confidence that he will be OK and best of all, will be known by his neighbors around him!

Pictures of Maya Biking

It did not take long for Maya to migrate from the back deck to the street out front on her bike.  In terms of trying things new, she has a little more of a thrill gene than many of her Delp counterparts.  With the lone exception of being able to stop (something that is pretty vital in the grand scheme of things) Maya did great on her bike.  When I tried to teach her how to stop, I would say "peddle backwards" or "peddle the other way" and she would just turn her bike around.  Smart move on her part, but not really what I was going for!

I do believe that Sam and Maya are going to have many great adventures on their bikes together.  As their age difference becomes less and less significant, it is beautiful to watch their friendship and fondness for each other grow.    I think Sam was just as happy for Maya to have a bike as any of us were!

I like this next picture because I love the idea of training Sam and Maya to one day go beyond this stop sign!  There is a huge world out there for them and it is an exciting thing as a parent to prepare your child for it.  I often wonder what this world will hold for them and what they will become and I am excited to see what that is!

Here is our very proud new bike rider Maya!  We like to say: "you never know what you are going to get with Maya."  But the truth is, she has brings an amazing amount of joy, laughter, creativity, and spontaneity to the Delp family (with a little bit of sass to go with it also)!   We love you Maya!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Maya Biking

The Delp family has turned into a biking family! Maya has decided she needed an upgrade from the tricycle which was entirely too slow! The other day when we were riding bikes at Stanton Park, Maya hopped on a friends bike and off she went. You'd think she had ridden a bike before. She has not wanted to go back since.

We had a bike donated to the Marketplace this week, so I decided to purchase it for her (yes, there are some perks to working at a Thrift Store). After she helped me make it Maya sized, she was off and biking on our back porch!

I can't wait to have biking days with the entire family!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First day of Pre-School

The kids have already been back in pre-school for a month already, but here they are on their first day.  Sam is in pre-K this year.  He is really enjoying it, and we are amazed at how much he is learning.  Maya is loving the 2 year old class and talks about the "babies" in the one year old class that she was in last year.

Labor Day Road Trip

For Labor Day weekend the Delp's hit the road.  We head to Kansas for my (Katie's) grandfather's birthday and some time with my aunties and cousins.  We had a fun celebration and it was great to catch up with family.  Then we headed to Kansas City to spend the weekend with our dear friends, the Tramel's.  It was a great time with great friends and the kids played non-stop. 

Sam and Jaelyn are such good buddies and instantly reunited their sweet friendship.  

A train ride at the farmer's market

The kids experienced their first carnival.  They absolutely loved the rides!

Day at the Aquarium

We scored some free tickets to the Georgia Aquarium, so we enjoyed a day of being tourist in our own city.  The kids loved the aquarium, and we had a great day as a family.

Summer Catch Up

This summer flew by as always, and I just realized that we barely blogged!  For the few of you who follow our blog, here are a few pictures from the summer.

We had lots of fun with friends in the backyard with the pool until it got just too darn hot!

Once it was too hot outside, we built many, many forts.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Baseball Season is Over

A year in the making, Sam and the South Atlanta Tigers season is now over.  We had a lot of fun and Sam really loved playing all season long.  Every day during the week Sam would ask to practice outside so he could get better for the game on Saturday (we moved practice inside the past few weeks due to it being crazy hot outside:

(and yes, that is Maya playing catcher!  She loved her role!)

He did get better all season long and so did the other players.  We definitely think we found something that Sam really enjoys and is good at.

Sam was convinced that he was going to hit a home run during his last game.  He was so convinced that he struck out in his first at bat because he was swinging for the fences.  So after I talked him down in his second at bat and encouraged him to just hit the ball, this is what happened:

The last week of the season, we went to a Braves game with the entire team.  After the game, Sam proclaimed that he was a Braves fan (doh!) but don't worry, he still loves the Phillies and asked to watch baseball with me most nights.  Here is a pic with Sam's best friend John at the game together:

All in all it was a fun season.  Sam is already looking forward to playing soccer in the fall!  Let's hope it is just as good!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Wonderful Father's Day

What a wonderful father's it was this past weekend.  The kids and Katie made me feel really special.  I loved spending time with Sam and Maya and on Father's day as we got to play some of my favorite indoor activities.  Here are Sam and Maya lined up to play baseball.  And yes, that is Maya down in a catcher's stance:

Here are Sam and I playing air hockey on a little something I picked up from the Marketplace, one of the perks of my job!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Colorado Vacation

Here is a sampling of our vacation to Colorado last week. It was a wonderful time together as a family and relaxing. We were so happy to see Shawn, Shelva, Symeon, and Marin, as well as get some time with our Atlanta friends in a different setting.

We'll post some more details of the trip later, including horse riding, but have fun looking at the pics.

Click here to view these pictures larger

Acting Crazy

It is safe to say that Maya and Sam enjoyed their time in Colorado! One thing they enjoyed was the "stage" that they made in our cabin. Katie and I were treated to nightly displays of entertainment from Sam and Maya. It is nice to know that Sam and Maya can entertain themselves (and us) without TV and the like. Here is a sampling of their "finest" work:

Maya Reading

Not to be out done by Sam, Maya is convinced that she is reading also.  It only takes her about 2-3 times before she has a book memorized and can then "read" the book back to us.  Her favorite books that she has memorized are Go Dog Go and Are You My Mother?

Here she is reading Go Dog Go back to us while in the mountains:

Sam Reading

I just posted on all of the amazing things that Sam and Maya have done over the past few weeks.  However, this one deserves a post all by itself!

Sam has read his first book!  Mommy and Sam sat down together and sounded out the words in the book and Sam made it all of the way through!  It has long been a tradition of the Delp children to memorize books (as you will see later with Maya) but this was a legitimate sounding out of words and reading!

It is so amazing to watch as Sam and Maya both continue to learn and grow and get into new things.  Reading opens up Sam's world to so much and I cannot wait to explore that world with him.

Here is Sam showing off his reading to Mandy:

New Heights

Over the past few weeks, it seems like Sam and Maya have both grown up a ton.  It is amazing how at certain times you just notice that things click on inside a child's head and they just get stuff.  It has been so amazing to watch both Sam and Maya learn and grow is so many ways over the past few weeks.

What Sam is doing now:

Hitting home runs - literally.  Playing baseball in back yard has been a fun past time for Sam and I over the past year.  However, that may be coming to an end, at least for hitting.  Ever since Sam hit the baseball over Symeon's house in Denver, he has been a hitting machine (well, that may be an exageration, but he has improved).  Sam wants to practice hitting so much and he has been getting better and better.   I promised him if he hit the ball over the fence in our backyard, I'd get him an ice cream cone.  Yesterday, he hit the ball over the fence not once, but 6 times.  I guess it is time to start throwing over hand or move locations!

Swimming - Sam has always had a love for water and was never scared of it which we appreciated a lot.  Now that the summer heat is upon us, we have been going to the pool again.  Yesterday Sam completely surprised Katie and I by actually swimming for a little bit.  Legitimately swimming!  Now, it will be a long time before Sam starts swimming laps at the YMCA, but still the fact that everything just clicked in his body and he was able to figure it out was so awesome to watch.

Adding - Sam is super excited to be in the oldest class at pre-school this summer and next year.  He is taking it serious and he knows / expects to be able to read at the end of this year.  However, one thing that we stumbled upon in the last few days was Sam adding.  Being a lover of math myself, I can't believe that I didn't start this sooner, but Sam has really taken to want to learn and adding has been his thing of late.

Maya has also developed and picked things up a ton lately.

First off, her ridiculous potty training.  Katie and I knew she was getting close to potty training and had discussed training Maya during the two week break between school and when their summer camp started at the end of May.  However, when we were in PA visiting my family, Maya began to show signs that she was uber close to getting it.  I made a trip to Wal-Mart (yes, Jeff went to Wal-Mart) and picked up some pull-ups.  That next morning, we put her in pull ups to make it easier for her to go.  She went potty first thing in the morning and literrally has not looked back since.  Sure she has had her share of accidents.  But since that first potty run on that Monday morning at Mom-Mom's house, she has essentially been potty trained.

Maya has been a little reluctant in the water lately for reasons we cannot figure out.  The other day when we were going to the pool, she literally cried the entire 45 minutes from when I mentioned it until we got into the pool.  However, after she got over herself and decided to like the water, she really pushed herself.  We have always pushed Sam and Maya both to put their faces in the water to get used to it.  We figured it they were comfortable enough to put their faces in the water, that would help them learn how to swim when the time came.  Well, on this morning Maya decided that she could put her face in water.  Ever since the first time she did it, she has not looked back (seeing a theme in Maya's development here?) She was so excited and proud of herself when she did it.  It was amazing to watch!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maya Playing the Harmonica

In case you haven't seen Maya in a while, here is one example of how you might find her on any given afternoon:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rite of Passage

Earlier this month, Sam embarked on his first rite of passage: A road trip without Mom and Dad.  Our good friends were traveling to Houston to see their family and so we sent Sam along to see his Grammy and Grandpa.  Sam has always been a great traveler, but we were anxious to see how he would do without us.  Needless to say, he was just fine and discovered that he gets to eat Fruit Loops every time he stays at a hotel.

Once he got to Texas, Sam had a blast with Grammy and Grandpa.  These are a few picture highlights of his trip to the Blue Bell Factory, his Uncle Steve's house, Texas Blue Bonnets, his first cowboy hat, and a fishing trip with Grandpa:

The highlight of the trip for Sam was a trip to Sheppard's Barbershop in downtown Conroe, TX.  This is a man's place and Sam loved his guy time.  A sheriff came in and showed Sam his badge and he loved it. We found out later that this was the first time Sam had bubble gum.  Out of all the stories we heard from his trip, we heard the most about Sheppard's.

On a side note, Sam came home from the trip with a "street" name.  For those unfamiliar with growing up in urban communities, most kids are given a street name while they are growing up.  For those of us that have gotten to know kids in South Atlanta, we often have to sift through what are street names and what are given names.  Well, Sam got his street name given to him by Leroy on this trip.  His street name is now "Oatmeal."  Next time you see Sam call him Oatmeal and he will give you a pretty good laugh.


Sam and Maya are blessed to have many friends in their lives from church and from the neighborhood.  We are excited for the group of kids that they will get a chance to grow up around.  They have already started creating some great memories together.  Here is the our young ones on Easter morning getting ready for some breakfast:

Maya and her friend Abby have developed a wonderful friendship together.  Maya loves "her" Abby (she also refers to Sam and "her Sammy D").  Something tells me that Maya and Abby are going to get along just fine for a long time to come.

What we love most though are how great friends Sam and Maya are turning out to be.  They really do love each other.  If they go to bed without the other, the one that went to bed usually comes out upset because they want to go to bed together.   The other night, they spent the better part of an hour talking to each other in bed before they fell asleep.  Maya must have a hug from her Sammy when he comes down in the morning (Maya is usually for about an hour or two before Sammy).  

We are grateful for their relationship and don't take it for granted.  Both Katie and I love our siblings and are grateful for the relationships that we have with them and are thankful that it looks like Sam and Maya will share that special bond together.