On August 29, 2005, Darlene P. and her nine-year-old son, Christien, took a bus from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia for a fresh start. She had a savings account that she estimated would last her six months while she found a job, a daycare facility for Christien and a place the two could call home.
"As soon as I got to Atlanta, I noticed there were a lot of other people new to the city,” says Darlene. “I didn’t realize until later that refugees from Hurricane Katrina had come to Atlanta for the same fresh start and new opportunity I was looking for. There were a lot of us in the same place at the same time looking for the same thing."
It was a year after Darlene and Christien moved that she found her first job in the city. She started working full time, using Atlanta’s public transportation system to travel back and forth between the shelter she and Christien were staying in and her job. For the next decade, Darlene moved her family between shelters, affordable housing options and apartments inside the same school district so Christien could attend middle and high school without interruption. She encouraged him to participate fully in his community by joining school clubs, volunteering and making the most of his opportunities.
"I wanted to give my son stability and consistency, and I wanted him to have the opportunity to interact with diverse groups of people and work as part of a community or team," she explained.
Today, Christien P. is a college sophomore at Fayetteville State University where he studies mass communications and political science, and Darlene P. is a support service worker at the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services. And, in 2016, they purchased their first home through Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, built with the help of employees from Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
"Darlene and Christien’s story is incredible,” says Tyler DeWitt, Senior Trade Operations Analyst at Intercontinental Exchange. “I got to hear it first-hand when we were building their house at the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity site, and what immediately stood out to me was their belief in the power of community and teamwork. Teamwork and problem-solving are two of our core values at ICE, and knowing the new homeowner shared those values made me even more proud to participate and work as part of the team building her house."
Over a series of six Saturdays, the ICE team was one of 11 companies that helped build the framework for the homeowners new house, install siding and windows, sand and stain doors, lay roofing, spackle and paint walls, and perform other tasks related to home-building.
"I'm very glad I was able to participate in the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity build for Ms. P’s home,” says Teja Yalamanchali, Risk Business Analyst. “I’m fortunate to work for a company that believes in investing in the local communities throughout the world, and helping Ms. P was one of those investments. Seeing Ms. P and her son own their first home was an incredible experience."
Yalamanchali, like many of the other ICE employees who participated in the Atlanta Habitat build, attended more than one of the build sessions.
"It was the least we could do to give back to the community," he said.
Atlanta Habitat for Humanity is one of many partners ICE works with in effort to serve in the communities in which we operate around the world.
Our Efforts to Support Global Communities