The Sheltering Arms

Sheltering Arms nurtures and educates children, strengthens families, and builds communities by providing 1) High quality child care and early education that prepares all young children to succeed in school, regardless of family income; 2) Comprehensive support services for families; 3) Professional development for early education and family services practitioners; 4) Community partnerships and collaborations to improve services for children and families.
Jun 27, 2014

Ephraim's Story

Ephraim and Ely and Edres as toddlers
Ephraim and Ely and Edres as toddlers

Dear Friend,

“I want my boys to have the best education possible. Sheltering Arms is helping my children, and other children throughout the community, to thrive.”

If you ask Ephraim what is most important in life, he will share that the one thing he values most, is being a father. Ephraim’s pride, passion and commitment to fathering his three boys, Ely, Edres and London, shines through when he speaks. He always wanted to be a dad and sought to create a strong foundation for himself early in life. This foundation was critical – he missed having his father in his own life and vowed to give his children a different experience.

The foundation Ephraim created, starting with service in the Army, enabled him to continually transfer his values of faith, family and completing tasks with excellence to his sons. Another vehicle supporting Ephraim’s commitment to excellence has been the quality early education and family support at Sheltering Arms. His two youngest sons, Ely and Edres, attend Sheltering Arms and are doing well. “I have a lot of confidence in Sheltering Arms and we continue to teach and learn at home by talking and reading together.” Ephraim also participated in Sheltering Arms’ Fatherhood Academy. “Sheltering Arms has been great for my family. I like what my sons are being exposed to – they are challenged to think outside of the box and they are up to speed academically. The Fatherhood Academy has been helpful too. It has been great to spend time with other fathers exploring ideas and talking about what it means to be a good dad.”

For Ephraim, part of what it means to be a good dad is starting the day off right. Every morning, he wakes up early to prepare a hot breakfast for his sons and engage them in quality conversation before school, “Breakfast is my favorite meal and my boys like sitting down as a family before we get the day going.” It also means a lot to Ephraim to know that Ely and Edres are safe and learning at Sheltering Arms while he is at work.

Ultimately, Ephraim’s dream for his sons is to do all that he can to make them strong, capable men, “I want them to be in good health, to be comfortable in their skin and to be confident in who they are. I want my boys to be good people and to give and earn the respect of others. Sheltering Arms is helping me to fulfill that dream.”

With your help, Sheltering Arms is helping to make Ephraim's dream and the dreams of thousands of other families a reality. Nearly 90% of our children are from low-income working families. Your support provides tuition scholarships so that parents can afford the quality care and education their little ones need and deserve. And you can be assured that your gift is invested in an efficient, effective program:

• 92¢ of every dollar donated to Sheltering Arms goes to children and families
• 96% is the average score of Sheltering Arms children on developmental assessments
• $1 invested in quality early education returns up to $17 to the community in savings on incarceration, remediation, and public assistance

We are so grateful for all that friends like you have helped our children and families accomplish. We look forward to positively impacting generations of families with quality child care and early learning for years to come. Thank you.

With appreciation,

Ephraim and his son, London
Ephraim and his son, London

Mar 31, 2014

Tilifayea's Story

Tilifayea and Dejan on graduation day.
Tilifayea and Dejan on graduation day.

Dear Friend,

“I know the importance of good early childhood education. Without the proper start, my child could have challenges that he could face for a lifetime.”

Tilifayea understands how much her statement is true, not only because her 2 year old son attends the Dorothy Arkwright Center, but also because Tilifayea is on the cusp of receiving her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University.

Tilifayea has been a scholar since high school! She was one of 1000 teenagers in the nation to receive The Gates Millennium Scholar; a full tuition, books, and housing scholarship funded by Bill and Melinda Gates. Tilifayea achieved this distinguished honor when she was a high school senior at Atlanta’s Fredrick Douglas High School. She knew the challenges of keeping a 3.5 grade point average when she entered Clark Atlanta University would entail a lot of hard work, several late nights, and many early mornings. Tilifayea was determined to keep her head to the grindstone in order to keep her scholarship.

In Tilifayea’s third year at Clark Atlanta, Tilifayea encountered another blessing. Dejan J. Mapson, a 7 pound 11 ounce baby boy was born. This was exciting for a mother that was majoring in Mass Communications. Tilifayea understood the importance of having strong family support as well as a strong child facility where Dejan could go to school and she could continue her studies and stay focused on her education. Tilifayea, leaned on her family to watch Dejan, but after some time, she knew that this was a challenge to her mother. She tried a home day care, but found there to be safety and scheduling issues. Tilifayea had to look into other options for her child. She tried other early learning centers but the cost was absolutely too expensive. She could not afford the fees at many of the locations.

That’s when she heard a friend talking about The Sheltering Arms Educare Center. The first day she walked into Educare she knew from her education experience that this was the place for her child. The bright colors and the greeting she received when she walked in let her know that this was where Dejan would go to school. Tilifayea immediately tried to enroll Dejan, but to her unfortunately, Educare had a waiting list. She left disappointed, however with-in a week she was driving home and noticed the Sheltering Arms Dorothy Arkwright Center. The logo looked familiar and she thought she would give it another try. She walked in and was greeted by Pat Dawson, the Family Support Coordinator. “Mrs. Pat was warm, helpful and made me feel welcome”. This was the start of a great relationship. Mrs. Dawson informed her that the center had a waiting list, but she took her information and promised to stay in contact with her. With-in one week Pat called her back with an open slot and welcomed her to the center.

“Dorothy Arkwright is like a second family to me; I know that Dejan is safe, learning and happy while I am hard at work or at school”. This is Tilifayea and Dejan’s third year at Dorothy Arkwright. She has grown so close to the staff, that they posted her graduation announcement when she graduated from Clark Atlanta University. As Dejan continues to grow-up at Dorothy Arkwright, Tilifayea has noticed that Dejan “recognizes numbers, can count to twenty and also has incredible word association”. “The experience here at Dorothy Arkwright is amazing. They have helped me with career objectives up to the point of offering me employment, ensured that Dejan will be prepared for kindergarten, and have provided strong support for me and my child to ensure that I can afford the before, and after school program just in case I have to work late or study early.” Not only that, Tilifayea now serves on the Parent Leadership Organization (PLO) at the center and she has moved into the community so that she can be a larger part of the growth at Dorothy Arkwright.

As Tilifayea and Dejan continue to grow, one of the biggest moments in her life, is deciding on if she will continue to maximize her Gates Millennium Scholarship and receive her doctorate in Educational Policy. Tilifayea is on schedule to receive her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University in 2014!  

You have helped.   It is happening. Your support provided a tuition scholarship for Dejan so that Tilifayea and parents in her position could pursue their education while providing the best education for children like Dejan. Your gift is invested in an efficient, effective program that assures that:

•92¢ of every dollar donated to Sheltering Arms goes to children and families.

•On average, every Sheltering Arms child met or exceeded 96% of the developmental milestones for his or her age and stage of development by the end of the school year.

•95% of four-year-olds met or exceeded kindergarten readiness requirements.

•$1 invested in quality early education returns up to $17 to the community in savings on remediation, public assistance and incarceration.

We are so grateful for all the friends like you who have helped our children and families get off to a great start this year. We are excited about the growth at Sheltering Arms and we look forward to providing high quality early childhood education and family support services for more children and families this year. Thank you!

With appreciation,

Dejan and Tilifayea.
Dejan and Tilifayea.
Tilifayea and Dejan enjoy graduation.
Tilifayea and Dejan enjoy graduation.
Jan 2, 2014

Penny's Story

Penny and her class
Penny and her class

Dear Friend,

“If we want to live in a safe, thriving community, we need to give our children a strong foundation from the start.” 

Penny believes this with all her heart and soul. Read her story, and you’ll see why.  

More than 30 years ago, Penny’s mother brought her two little girls to Sheltering Arms. Their family lived in public housing near the Georgia state capitol. Penny’s mother cleaned houses for a living. She needed child care she could afford, and her precocious toddlers needed to learn.

“While I was safe and learning at Sheltering Arms, my mother worked hard to provide for us,” Penny remembers. “The help my mother got in those early years allowed her to work and save enough to eventually open her own business.”

Penny’s early start at Sheltering Arms paid off. She graduated high school with honors, went to Albany State, and was a retail manager before becoming a stay-at-home mom with baby Nolyn. 

“You should be a teacher and make other kids smart like me.” 

That’s what Nolyn told his mom after he started school and was quickly placed in the gifted program. Penny heard that her old alma mater, Sheltering Arms, offered training to help teachers become credentialed in early education. She jumped at the chance. Over the next few years, Penny earned her credential, came to work at Sheltering Arms, and with the help of Sheltering Arms returned to college to earn a degree in early education.

But that’s not the end of Penny’s Sheltering Arms story.  When Sheltering Arms opened a new center near her old neighborhood, she knew that’s where she needed to teach. The community still struggled with poverty, crime, substance abuse, and lack of opportunity. She had a chance to share her story and to give others hope.  “If I can do it,” she tells parents now, “you can do it, too.”

“You can’t let your present dictate your future.”

That’s what Penny tells her students and their parents. “When we opened the new Sheltering Arms school, we saw children and parents who were very angry. To reach them, we showed them a different kind of love.

“It started with the children. With our help, they began using words to express themselves and solve problems. I was so proud when one little boy learned to step away and direct his anger to a pillow, not his friends. 

“Parents started changing, too. There was one parent I knew from growing up in the neighborhood. She was often angry and rough with her child. I talked with her, helped her through a crisis, and invited her to come into the classroom and participate in our parent services. Now, she’s so much calmer and happier, and she’s one of our most active parent volunteers.”

Since 1888, almost 50,000 children have started life ready to succeed in metro Atlanta, thanks to Sheltering Arms. 

Penny is one of those 50,000…and now her new baby Wesley is, too! 

Today Wesley and almost 2,400 other infants, toddlers, and preschoolers attend one of Sheltering Arms’ fifteen early education centers--all with highly trained, compassionate educators like Penny, and all with a broad range of services that build strong families and communities. 

Imagine if each of the 2,400 children Sheltering Arms serves today grows up to be a Penny, giving back to make our community a better place for all of us. 

With your help, it is happening. 90% of our children are from low-income working families. Your support provides tuition scholarships so parents can afford the good care and education their little ones need and deserve. And you can be assured that your gift is invested in an efficient, effective program: 

  • 92¢ of every dollar donated to Sheltering Arms goes to children and families
  • 97% is the average score of Sheltering Arms children on developmental assessments
  • $1 invested in quality early education returns up to $17 to the community in savings on incarceration, remediation, and public assistance

We are so grateful for all that friends like you helped our children and families accomplish in 2013, and are hopeful as we look to the promise of 2014. Thank you so much.

With appreciation,


Penny and her baby Wesley
Penny and her baby Wesley
Penny and her class
Penny and her class


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