Ms. James and the "Don't Count Me Out Team" organized the "Atlanta Father's Day Bailout." She developed a system with the cooperation of the Atlanta Corrections Department, senior member of Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Terrinee L. Gundy, their staff and the Atlanta Public Defenders office, that streamlined the process to bailout fathers jailed on "Quality of Life" charges. Judge Gundy decided to release the men on signature bond, eliminating the need for bail money.
Judge Gundy's decision made provisions so that all fathers could participate in the personal development services. This served as a precursor to new Atlanta legislation and municipal court procedures eliminating bail money. Fourteen men were released at the same time, taken to eat by Pastor Christopher Waller of Butler Street CME Church, and reunited with their families for Father's Day. The qualified participants attended the Don't Count Me Out 3-day and 2-night Survival & Empowerment Retreat. Upon return to Atlanta, the men were provided with employment, transportation and communication services.
Monique James, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and currently co-owner of a transportation logistics company, is our Executive Director. As the founder of Don't Count Me Out, Inc. Monique is extending her many years of volunteerism and community service to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our state and their parents get a "seat at the table."
Ms. James began her career in Public Relations & Community Affairs with the American Greetings Corporation in Osceola, AR as a Community Affairs Officer with a staff of two specialists. Four years later, Ms. James was invited back to Cincinnati in 1991 to begin a Public Relations & Community Affairs company that would target urban community participation and support corporate minority interest. Along with two partners, Ms. James directed projects sponsored by public and private companies through Gibraltar Public Relations & Community Affairs located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
Over the years, Monique has become well known for creating favorable attitudes among various organizations, special interest groups, and the public through effective communication. She has managed more than 16 staff specialists on a given project.
Since 2010, Ms. James has consulted with Time Wise Management Systems (TWMS) located in Celebration, Florida as a Legislative Agent for the executive and legislative branch of government in the State of Kentucky. Monique was also assigned to build public private partnerships along with serving as the communications and public relations state director for TWMS.
Secularly, Ms. James is a supply chain logistics and transportation management Co-Owner Operator supporting U.S. Veterans under FedEx Custom Critical. As Executive Director of the non-profit Don’t Count Me Out, she gets to fulfill her life long goal of serving children and families.
Ms. Patricia McCollum directs our trauma training and other such programs that support children who have left 'high control groups.' We find that many of these children, albeit 2 to 3 generations out suffer even more trauma than the first generations exiting these high control groups. In addition to these children, those in foster care have experienced childhood trauma as well and are in need of life changing services.
As a Graduate from the University of Cincinnati, Ms. McCollum has received an undergraduate in Human Services and Social Work (BSSW, LSW), a masters degree in Community Health Planning Administration (MS), and she has been an early childhood trauma expert and trainer for twenty-seven years. The team of professionals supporting Ms. McCollum are subject matter experts in mentoring, public relations, marketing, police/community relations, diversity awareness and strategic planning.
Ms. McCollum has designed mentoring and advocate programs for birth parents that are in danger of losing their children to out-of-home care and foster care; all while under contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Job & Family Services contracts from the years 1996 to 2015. She has designed state wide protocols for juvenile detention centers in Ohio and foster care training programs.
Ms. McCollum has a keen sense of what will produce the best results for children,community and police relations. She has trained mentors and new police recruits in regards to dealing with the trauma experienced by high risk youth. Her expertise is evidenced by her servitude on the board of The Ohio Family Care Association (OFCA), and of Job & Family Children's Services committee. In addition to these qualifications she has served at The University of Cincinnati as an adjunct professor, an MSW social worker and a certified trainer of the Cincinnati Police on Trauma program.
Maurice Sessoms has over 18 years with an extraordinary record of serving state and local government representing, public speaking at meetings and on committees, local boards and task forces to discuss issues, resources, programs and procedures, and chair board meetings on the Local Coordinating Council and the State Coordinating Council and community development. In addition, he has a strong executive management background with the following expertise:
-Thorough strategic planning and plan execution
-Develop, implement, and design programs that identify best practice and trends
-Ability to achieve financial solvency and continued financial independence
-Proven methods for program development and growth, agency effectiveness, and success rates
-Community collaboration and partnership building
-Strong budgetary control system
He is a leader with strong organizational and interpersonal skills—one that is able to integrate receptive changes in order to realize current and future goals, the ability to create financial stability, and enhances your reputation in the community.
Deborah Brock-Blanks is a registered nurse, black belt in Karate and our lead empowerment facilitator. Her holistic, earthy approach to life makes her the best motivator for those who have experienced trauma.
Don't Count Me Out offers a personal development
Empowerment/Survival retreat called Kaleidoscope to help anyone make a positive lifestyle change. The project is modeled after a Proctor & Gamble executive training series and began in 1996. Groups of 10 at a time receive the personal development services which include a 3-day, 2-night retreat followed-up by emotional, physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being empowerment training over a 6-month period.
Kaleidoscope is a 3-day, 2-night Empowerment/Survival retreat helps the participants take a hard look at self. It stretches them mentally and physically. The purpose is to break the cycle of incarceration, help them heal from the experience and be better and stronger for their children.
It is increasingly clear that attempts to empower and mentor children without the cooperation of their parents is nearly impossible.
Under the guidance of empowerment specialists Deborah Brock-Blanks, the parents and children we serve will attend our Empowerment/Survival retreats. Ms. Brock-
Blanks is a subject matter expert who currently addresses issues of the a feelings of isolation, self-esteem, and trauma.
Teresa Watson is an owner of TRJ's Transport Lines, Inc. (TRJ), an Atlanta, Georgia based trucking company whose mission is to become one of the largest trucking companies servicing the United States.
Teresa's vision to start her own trucking company began after the untimely death of her father, TRJ Watson. Mr. Watson had been a truck driver for over 30 years, and always wanted to own his own trucking company. The problem was he didn't ever have the resources. Since his death, God has placed the same spirit into Teresa and the new vision of TRJ’s Transport Lines, Inc.
Teresa's success as a business owner and giving spirit has led her to give back to the community. She demonstrates her commitment by volunteering as a Community Coordinator for Don't Count Me Out. She heard about Don't Count Me Out from founder, Monique James, who also works as a contractor for FedEx Custom Critical. The volunteers from the family of Custom Critical is growing.
Ms. Watson was very instrumental in the Atlanta Father's Day Bailout created by Monique James and Judge Terrinee L. Gundy. She helped garner the support of the court system and public defenders office. She interviewed the fathers who participated and connected with their families. Later, at the Empowerment/Survival retreat, Teresa made sure the father's had work and housing upon returning to the city of Atlanta. The release of these father's was due in a large part to Teresa's efforts. Her 12 years of working with the Atlanta municipal court system before she started her trucking business, was an invaluable asset to the bailout project.
As a follow-up, Ms. Watson is a member of the Don't Count Me Out design team to provide a systematic housing and work system for the participants of the Kaleidoscope Empowerment/Survival retreat.
Survivors exiting High Control groups often need support in ways like counseling, housing and transportation. Being abruptly separated from ones support system due to activities like shunning puts the person in emergent need. Leaving a High Control group could mean losing your family, job, friends and other resources. It's like leaving or being put out of a cult. Our coalition is comprised of former High Control group members who have dedicated their lives to assist other survivors. DCMO has organized a collaborative of non-profit organizations to build a model so all in need can be helped.
We have exciting ways to build resources to support our model of care such as a bike ride, 5k walk and other fundraisers. If you are a former member of a High Control group and would like to help others in need, please sign up below to offer your special gifts and talents.
Louis White came to Atlanta, Georgia from Dayton, Ohio in 1981 to attend college at Morehouse College with the desire to pursue studies in Architecture and Urban Planning. Upon completion of his studies, he worked for several Architectural firms in the Metropolitan Atlanta area.
In 1994, White stepped out on his own to embark upon a career in establishing his own company in design/build construction. With his extensive knowledge in the field of architecture, White not only had the capabilities to design the structure, but to build it as well. He and his wife Tracy have designed and built projects ranging from commercial facilities as large as 400,000 S.F., to custom built luxury homes sized from 9,000 S.F. to 16,000 S.F. and up. Several YDG design’s projects include a 20,000 S.F. Annex for Flagg Chapel Baptist Church in Milledgeville, Ga., which is also one of this Country’s oldest churches founded by former African slaves in the early 1800s. As a team, Mr. White does the architectural design and construction and his wife Tracy does the interior design work. Some of their homes have received such notoriety as appearing in local magazines (Atlanta Tribune), appearing also on B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Network), PBS featuring Dr. Henry Gates, African American Heritage, and the national news show “60 Minutes”.
Communities in which Mr. and Mrs. White have designed and built homes are those of Sandstone Estates(5 units); a million dollar and up luxury home community in Lithonia, Ga., River walk Estates in Stone Mountain, The Tripp Estate, Lake Oconee ,Ga., NelmsCourt community, and various private locations in Atlanta. Mr. White is currently the Architect and Builder of record for a new custom designed and built home in the Atlanta Nationals Golf Community (a community in which R&B recording artist Akon is currently building his home) in Alpharetta, Ga., The Palisades at Eden Park, Legacy Estates Stone Mountain, Belair Estates, The Enclave at Blue Creek, Legacy Hills Estates, Le Jordan (South Fulton County) and a future development, Watercrest Estates. These customize (1million +) communities have displayed a vast array of his creative talents and quality in construction expertise.
Mr. White has previously designed and constructed the Hosea Williams historical home (museum) in Atlanta, Ga. and is currently Architect of record and builder for various clients throughout the Atlanta Metropolitan area including River Oaks community which recently hosted 2007s’ Street of Dreams showcasing custom homes. Some current projects include: Legacy Estates in Stone Mountain, Ga., Complete Renovations at various locations in Inman Park, Custom design home in Peachtree City, Designs for church in Conyers, Ga., Law office in Edgewood corridor, Atlanta. In addition YDG currently has partnered with RHESA HOLDINGS LLC. to perform all architectural re-designs and upscale renovations on all investment properties.