As strong pillars of the metro Atlanta area, each of the 545 active and retired members of local law enforcement agencies who make up Fulton County Lodge #64 in East Point, Georgia, are always striving to take their public service to the next level. Their motto, “Doing More With Lodge #64,” perfectly demonstrates the importance the lodge places on actively trying to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community they work so hard to protect.
The lodge, which operates on the principles of “Transparency, Integrity and Proficiency,” strongly believes in being involved in charitable ventures and using the time members spend in the community to raise public safety awareness and educate the public on crime prevention.
One of the best times for members to impact the community comes every holiday season at the annual Cops and Kids service event. This FOP program, which is designed to build relationships between local lodges and their communities, gives underprivileged children the opportunity to choose Christmas gifts while having a chance to see law enforcement through a new lens. This past December, Lodge #64 made the holidays brighter for more than 100 children, who each received a Walmart gift card and were accompanied by lodge members during their shopping adventure. Members gave helpful suggestions along the way and ensured each child had an experience they’d never forget. The local agencies that took part in the event included the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Fulton County Marshal’s Department, East Point Police Department, East Point Lodge #12, East Point Fire Department, City of South Fulton Police Department and Federal Reserve Bank, Atlanta Division.
Another way the lodge gives back to youth is by making an impact in local schools. Lodge #64 members are very involved with the Back to School Project, which helps distribute backpacks, paper, tablets, pens and pencils to elementary, middle and high school students throughout the area who otherwise might not be able to afford the necessary learning tools. The lodge is also a committed partner of Fulton Leadership Academy, Georgia’s first all-male public charter school, with critical donations that help provide key resources such as uniforms and backpacks. Several members volunteer at school functions and work side by side with staff to assist when needed.
While helping children is certainly a huge part of its community efforts, kids aren’t the only group that benefits from the generosity of Lodge #64. The lodge supports and provides assistance to the South Fulton Senior Citizen Group’s Meals on Wheels program by sponsoring cooked meals that promote a healthy lifestyle. The home-cooked meals are then delivered to senior citizens’ residences. Members also donate to and assist the HJC Bowden Senior Multipurpose Facility’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program by providing much-needed school supplies and holiday baskets to elderly caregivers needing extra assistance. The outreach comes at a crucial time, as roughly 2.7 million grandparents nationwide are currently caregivers to their grandchildren, with Georgia among the states with the highest percentage, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition, Lodge #64 offers support to the special-needs community, a group that’s often overlooked and underserved. Members play an active role in the Union City Parks and Recreation Department’s Miracle League, which gives children with special medical needs and physical handicaps a chance to play baseball with other kids like them. In a safe and secure area, such as a gymnasium, lodge members not only teach ballplayers how to hit and catch the ball but give positive encouragement every step of the way.
Lodge #64 members are also passionate about contributing to the Easter Seals of North Georgia, an organization that serves children up to age 5 who are disadvantaged or disabled. Members take part in fundraisers such as golf tournaments and 5K walk/runs to advocate for the need to develop treatment plans and diagnoses for children with special needs.
To support its members in their successful outreach efforts, Lodge #64 believes education is key. By providing monthly POST training classes, the lodge offers an ongoing process to develop officers’ skills and knowledge to make them more effective in community policing.
“Some of my proudest moments have been seeing our members bridge the gap between children and law enforcement,” President Charlene Heard says. “Officers had to learn how to utilize various communication skills to better understand their needs, while the kids learned to trust the officers. It is great to give back to the community when they least expect it. The best advice I can give to my brothers and sisters is to support your community activities, and they will support you.”