CARE celebrates 20 years in Atlanta - CBS46 News

CARE celebrates 20 years in Atlanta

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

It's what some call Atlanta's best kept secret: CARE.

The nonprofit is a leading humanitarian organization aimed at eliminating global poverty. This week, they are celebrating 20 years in Atlanta.

"I've seen the power that our work does to change lives," CARE CEO Helene Gayle said.

That history of healing began after World War II, when CARE started sending CARE packages overseas.

"I think it's a sense of generosity, American generosity, and caring about the rest of the world. That, in many ways, it was part of peace building," Gayle said.

CARE built upon that legacy, which continues today with Gayle at the helm. The nonprofit grew into an organization dedicated to eliminating extreme poverty around the world, with a special focus on empowering girls and women, those that make up the majority of people living in squalor.

"If you can change the life of a girl, you really can create a virtuous cycle of change that goes well beyond that individual and really helps to change the shape of poverty for generations to come," Gayle said.

While much of CARE's work is done in countries around the world, in 1993, CARE made the decision to call Atlanta home. The Woodruff Foundation made the headquarters' move from New York possible with a $2.5 million grant.

"They really thought this notion of CARE, with the global capacity, would really be an asset in a city that was increasingly looking at building an image as a global community," Gayle said.

And CARE felt a city grounded in the Civil Rights Movement, a place where major corporations, academic institutions, the CDC and Carter Center are based, would be a powerful ally, helping leverage their work through partnerships.

"CARE has continued to evolve as the city of Atlanta has continued to evolve as a global city," Gayle said.

During its 20 years in Atlanta, CARE has grown its budget by $200 million, from $400 million to $600 million. Its staff grew by 3,000, from 7,000 to 10,000, and perhaps most importantly, CARE expanded its reach from 30 million to now touching the lives of more than 80 million people each year in 84 countries.

"We all have incredible potential. But we don't always have equal opportunity to realize that, so in some ways, I see ourselves as being in the business of giving people the opportunity to realize their full potential," Gayle said.

CARE is also on the ground in times of natural disaster or war. They deliver emergency aid and items necessary to help rebuild lives.

CARE will celebrate 20 years in Atlanta Friday, Oct. 11 with an art exhibit celebrating the International Day of the Girl at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Click here to learn more and to purchase tickets.

To look at CARE and Atlanta then and now, click here.

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