Amy Sacks Zeide, founder, president and executive director, Creating Connected Communities
Zeide created Amy’s Holiday Party as a bat mitzvah project in 1995. The party’s mission was to provide Christmas gifts to poor children.
The party now serves over 800 children a year from 40 homeless shelters across Atlanta and engages more than 350 teen volunteers.
Amy’s Holiday Party is the culmination of a year of community service and leadership building provided by Creating Connected Communities, the nonprofit Zeide started to host her party.
CCC also offers a leadership training program to Jewish eighth- and 12th-graders to teach the teens how to operate a nonprofit by soliciting donations, planning logistics and advocating for a cause.
The training helps the youths build their own careers in the nonprofit sphere.
The Jewish teens also are educated about the homeless population in Atlanta and how to assess needs in the community.
Teen volunteers are largely responsible for planning the yearly programming of CCC.
One of the programs is designed for homeless teens. CCC works with shelters to provide fun opportunities to homeless teens, such as playing Whirlyball and laser tag at Jimmy’s Mad Mad Whirled in Marietta.
Teen volunteers at CCC also run spring and fall festivals for homeless youths. Both feature outdoor field games, bounce houses and a DJ.
In throwing a holiday party for homeless children as a 13-year-old and in creating her own nonprofit to host the party and expand into other programs, Zeide has provided practical leadership experience to hundreds of Jewish teens, many of whom receive scholarships for their work. She has done much for Atlanta’s homeless community as well as its Jewish community.
“The way to empower someone to get involved and be passionate is to show them,” Zeide said. “So we take them through the full cycle. We go through the planning, fundraising, the implementation, and they get to see the entire process of giving and outreach with our organization.”