Kevin Abel may have been a political novice when he entered the congressional election in Georgia’s 6th District two years ago, but the Sandy Springs resident is putting all the skills he’s learned since then to help others during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Earlier this month Abel, who lost a runoff election for the Democratic nomination to Lucy McBath in July 2018, was the driving force behind a fundraiser, called Corona-Aid. The hour-long fundraiser on Facebook April 5 featured his 20-year-old son, Eric, a student of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, who’s been at home since the school closed because of the virus in mid-March.
“I was listening to him playing this beautiful song he had just written right after he got home,” Abel recalled, “and I told him, why don’t you get some of your buddies from school to do an online concert. I’ll do all the fundraising. We can raise 25 grand.”
And that’s just what this father-son partnership did. Kevin Abel tapped into the network of contributors he’s maintained contact with since the election campaign. His son reached out to a half-dozen of his friends from school, including one in Peru. In two weeks, the family partnership put together a campaign that at last count had raised 89 percent or about $22,000 toward its $25,000 goal.
“My dad is an unbelievable person and I could talk about his perspective on things for days and days,” Eric Abel said. “We may butt heads about politics and stuff like that, but he’s been an incredible influence on me.”
Kevin Abel, who retired after selling a thriving computer software business five years ago at the age of 50, has served on the boards of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and The Davis Academy.
Much of his time in recent years has been spent as an advocate for Georgia’s immigrant community as a board member of New American Pathways. At 14, Abel came to America with his family from South Africa.
His work with the nonprofit has largely centered on lobbying before the Georgia legislature. He also sits on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s board.
The district he represents includes the massive $800 million rebuilding project of the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange in Sandy Springs. He believes his recent efforts are the result of the political exposure he gained running for office two years, ago. At that time, he was hoping to be the first Jewish congressman from the area since Elliott Levitas represented the 4th District between 1975 and 1985.
“The whole experience then propelled me into a world that I really learned that I loved and wanted to be a part of,” he said. “You know, one doesn’t have to be elected to Congress to do what one can do in terms of advocacy and policy. While I obviously was bitterly disappointed that I lost, there were tremendous opportunities and doors that opened as a result of my engagement in that race.”
Running for office also helped him get over his reluctance to ask complete strangers to make a political contribution. He’s now putting those fundraising skills to work as a part of the national finance committee for the Biden for President campaign.
So asking for money during his son’s Corona-Aid campaign just seemed to come naturally, particularly when the money, which was raised, was for the Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs. The organization provides food, clothing, education and financial assistance to families and individuals in need. In recent weeks the CAC has seen requests for assistance quadruple and its food pantry besieged by those who have lost their jobs and have been left destitute.
“We got to take care of our community. We must help people who are isolated, people who are struggling, who can’t pay rent and put food on their table everywhere. I think we’ve got to recognize that our problems here in Sandy Springs, as devastating there as they, are not as bad as million of others across the country and across the world. It’s such a big problem that it’s difficult for me, right now, to begin to wrap my head around.”
To contribute to Corona-Aid, visit www. ttps://secure.qgiv.com/for/coro/