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Johns Creek Volunteer Talks About HomeStretch

Darlene McDonald discusses organization's mission, community challenges.

HomeStretch, a North Fulton non-profit that provides temporary shelter to homeless families, is in the midst of its busy season, having just held its annual golf tournament and gearing up for the Atlanta Marathon.

Darlene McDonald, a Johns Creek resident, serves on the HomeStretch Board of Directors. "I accrue some miles, traveling back and forth from Johns Creek to Roswell, but it is well worth it," says McDonald, who talks to Patch about HomeStretch and its mission below:

Patch: Tell us a little about yourself.

[Darlene] I moved to the north Fulton area in 1985 while pregnant with my first child. I always have had an Alpharetta address until I could proudly claim Johns Creek as my city. One of my first volunteer efforts was to work on a few local houses that could be occupied by homeless families. (I still have the checkbook from that small nonprofit entity.) That organization somewhat fizzled and somewhat morphed into a 501(c)(3) organization called HomeStretch, a.k.a. Housing Initiative of North Fulton.

My oldest son graduated from Northview High in its inaugural year — he now supervises ticketing and lessons for Vail Resorts. My second son will graduate this December from UGA with three degrees, making me one proud mother. My husband travels extensively for business and I accompany him when I can (when HomeStretch meetings don’t interfere). 

Patch: How long have you been involved in the Johns Creek/North Fulton community?

[Darlene] From the beginning. Earliest volunteer projects including supporting my sons at their schools and getting very involved at my church, Northminster Presbyterian in Roswell. My association with HomeStretch began in 2001 when my church decided to financially support the nonprofit and to identify a team to serve as volunteer mentors/supporters of a HomeStretch family. I served as team leader for a number of years.

Then I started working on HomeStretch’s marketing/public relations activities, and still work on projects in that arena. I joined the board of directors in 2008 and was re-elected to the board in 2011. 

Patch: What is the scope of your work in the community?

[Darlene] Beginning July 1, I now serve as president of the board of directors. We have a large board — 23 members — representing a varied cross-section of corporate, volunteer, small business, former HomeStretch clients and nonprofit experience. There are quarterly board meetings, monthly executive committee meetings, a variety of committee meetings, and a multitude of e-mails to keep me busy.

Patch: What are some challenges facing North Fulton/Johns Creek?

[Darlene] The city of Johns Creek encompasses such a large area. Maintaining a city identity across the various “pockets” will continue to be a challenge. How to continue to improve traffic and roads now that TSPLOST was defeated. Maintaining the integrity of zoning decisions. One of my real hot spots is for local government officials to work for the better good of the north metro area, which means cooperation and not contention. In a continued era of reduced government spending, what might Johns Creek have to do that the state will no longer do?

Patch: Tell us anything else about HomeStretch you would like folks to know.

[Darlene] Our Executive Director at HomeStretch is the cream of the crop. Rose J. Burton has been with us for three years now and is leading the organization and the board to ever-greater heights. Staff love her. Donors love her. The board loves her. Our clients think the world of her.

We are busy. The 11th Annual Golf Tournament took place on Aug. 27 at The Manor Golf & Country Club in Alpharetta. We board members will meet in late September for a strategic planning retreat. Many of us will become cheerleaders on a very early Sunday morning in October to support the Atlanta Marathon. Every Saturday, there are volunteers working onsite at our properties. Committee members already are quite busy in their planning for next year’s Peachtree Tea (set for Feb. 19 at Country Club of the South, and for the Choate Construction Run the River 5K/10K set for April 20 along the Chattahoochee River in Roswell. And we are always looking for volunteers—reach out to Terrie Bloodworth at tbloodworth@homestretch.org or to me at redheadlassie@gmail.com. Our website is www.homestretch.org. We are on Facebook at facebook.com/HomeStretch.org.

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