Serving Others is a Lifelong investment

Every year, Atlanta’s Agape Youth & Family Center broadens their outreach into the community by providing opportunities for local organizations to enrich the lives of underserved families. Furthering a commitment to serve its local community, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School partnered with Agape for Helping Hands Day – an annually recurring service event held every September 11, dedicated to those who were affected by the 9/11 tragedy.

While partnering with local organizations may begin on September 11 for Mount Vernon, the goal is for our students to find their voice and begin to build relationships with one or more of the partner organizations. By investing in the individuals and the missions of a variety of groups, MV students can begin to make a lifelong investment of volunteering.

The Agape organization is involved in many programs throughout the year, but a favorite is the Extreme Room Makeover, where six families are chosen to benefit from a room redo. This year, Mount Vernon sent a team of students and a faculty member to get to know siblings Gabriella and Gael, and learn about their needs and wants for their newly furnished shared bedroom. Rooms to Go would provide a bed and desk for each child. The MV team was responsible for the rest of the renovation.

Over the course of three weeks, 13 students came together to organize, plan, design, purchase items, assemble furniture, paint, and decorate a single room for two children with big ideas.


Dhailijha Dubique, student
Hannah Hagenau, student
Sid Hall, student
Lauren Hill, student
Lisa Kosmos, student
Jake Lortz, student
Charlotte Morrison, student
Jill Parker, student
Emma Perez Depetris, student
Katie Thompson, student
Lauren Waters, student
Sophia Wise, student
Emmaus Yonas, student
Nikki Rucker, faculty
Dame Dubique, parent
Susan Farrah, parent
Kimberly Riekena, parent
Emily Goldman, administrator
Krista Parker, administrator

Just like on the TV show, it was a mad dash to design the room, request donations of decorative items, assemble the furniture, and paint the room, all for the reveal at 1:00 on Saturday, October 20. Students worked in shifts to ensure all was taken care of for Gabriella and Gael. The delight on their faces was priceless. A very special thank you to all you assisted with the project.

Agape achieves this mission by providing academic support and family services focusing on character development, academic achievement, reading proficiency by third grade, successful high school graduation and post-graduation placement.

Planning and Room Before Makeover

After Makeover

Project Reflection by Katie Thompson, Grade 11

I originally heard about the room makeover project when Agape visited Mount Vernon for Helping Hands Day. I thought the project was really interesting, but I didn’t know they planned to have a group from MV makeover a room. A few weeks later, my friend and Community Outreach Prefect Hannah Hagenau approached me about helping out with the project. I was excited to say yes because I somehow knew that the project would have a tremendous positive impact 

As an avid fan of HGTV, I felt like I got to live out my fantasy of being an interior designer. I sharpened my design skills as I planned what furniture to buy, and what color to paint the walls. I also got a lot better at painting walls and building IKEA furniture – abilities I know I will put to use in the future.

All of our Mount Vernon mindsets and my design thinking training really helped. I had to think creatively to figure out how to satisfy the different wish lists of Gael and Gabriela. Gael wanted lots of bright colors and Gabriela wanted to keep all of the colors really simple and minimalistic. We had to consider the needs of each child, while trying to coordinate a unified space. When we realized that there was not enough storage space in the room, we decided to focus on selecting various types of shelving, first. We also recognized the fact that Gael and Gabriela would be living in their room for several years, and their design tastes would likely change within that time. As a result, we decided to keep the walls neutral so they would not “grow out” of their room design too soon. Gael wanted green accent pieces, while Gabriela preferred rose gold. Luckily those two colors don’t clash, so we were able to work them into the overall scheme. Our design was a great combination of both Gael’s and Gabriela’s wishes. We noticed we employed empathy and creative thinking throughout the project, to complete the design.

There was so much time, effort, and energy put into this project and it was a lot of hard work, so it was incredible to see Gael’s and Gabriela’s faces when they saw their new room. It was incredibly rewarding to see how all of our hard work paid off, and that these two deserving kids would have an amazing room to live in.

Personally, I have never been a part of such a rewarding project. It was amazing to work for such a wonderful cause and to focus on the needs of others. I take a lot of my privileges for granted, and this project made me appreciate what I have, inspiring me to serve others, more.

Thank you for recognizing our project. It was truly one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in high school.

A note from Agape Representative, Neka Harris:

On behalf of our CEO, Nell Benn, our Board of Directors and the entire Agape staff, I would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School for your dedication to making sure Gabriella and Gael received their dream bedroom. You all were incredible, from start to finish, and thanks to your dedication and hard work, the 2018 Extreme Bedroom Makeover was a huge success. Thanks for showing the Varela family Agape love!

Exhibits integrity, honesty, empathy, fairness, and respect

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