Having to travel 45 minutes north of their home to attend birthday parties for neighborhood children inspired Yunice and Paul Patrick to form a nonprofit organization that would meet the need for recreation, learning opportunities and an event venue not prevalent on the west side of Atlanta.
Motivated to make a difference, the Patricks launched JJ’s Playhouse & Children’s Museum based in Lithia Springs. The playhouse and museum was not only a new place for local families to go to, but the nonprofit opened up free educational programs to expose children to various career fields.
“There was no facility like this around our neighborhood,” said Yunice. “So we opened JJ’s Playhouse with the mission to positively stimulate a child’s mind, body, and spirit through interactive learning exhibits and educational programs that are fun, healthy, safe and inspirational.”
The venue extends programs in architecture, engineering and the arts to expose children to different fields and understand their gifts and capabilities. They are accomplishing this with the help of community volunteers who can participate as career coaches.
“We want to be able to show children what a successful engineer, architect, artist, lawyer or whatever profession looks like,” added Yunice. “We want them to connect a skill with a profession and enhance their education. And hopefully, they find something they are passionate about.”
Working with career coaches, the nonprofit puts on programs like Engineers R’Us, a free event for children ages 3-13 that promoted engineering as one of America’s traditional professions for learning innovation and problem solving skills. In May, the nonprofit will host an architecture design and build event at Mercer University’s Douglas Regional Academic Center.
When asked why this mission was important to her, Yunice said, “my mother was an educator, and she exposed us to so many things so we knew what the world had to offer us. Our children need to know that they can do and be anything they want to be.”
In other news: The nonprofit Enduring Hearts hosted the Bourbon Gala and Auction at the Stave Room of American Spirit Works in the Sweetwater District on March 31. The event raised almost $50,000 towards the nonprofit’s mission to fund research to increase the longevity of pediatric heart transplants and improve the quality of life for transplant recipients.
Who’s doing good?Each Tuesday, we write about charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To suggest an event for us to cover, contact Devika Rao at doing.goodAJC@gmail.com