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July 8, 2002

A&E award bestowed on Carson

By Alicia Sands Lurry

Donna Carson, a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine recently received the 2002 Biography Community Hero award, as part of The Biography Community Heroes Exhibit. The award recognizes the achievements and contributions to the community by 10 individuals from the Atlanta area who exemplify inspirational leadership.

Carson, who has spent 25 years as a social worker and as an Emory faculty member, received the award on behalf of her work as founder of My House, an emergency shelter that provides a home for newborns with special medical problems. My House is a nonprofit organization operating under the auspices of Project Prevent within the pediatrics department.

The awards were presented on June 7, at Lenox Square. Recipients were recognized for their contributions in the arts, community service, philanthropy, athletics, and public service.

The ceremony was part of “The Biography 15 Years Celebration Tour,” which is visiting 10 cities nationwide from mid-April through mid-July, honoring a total of 100 community heroes across the country. The multimedia exhibit is touring to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Emmy-award-winning A&E Network program "Biography."

Other notable award recipients in Atlanta included Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and widow of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General and director of the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Carson said it was an honor to be recognized for her efforts.

“The award was so unexpected,” she said. “Receiving recognition like this moves My House into an arena where we’re recognized not just nationally, but also in our own community. It shows us that what we’re doing makes a difference.”

My House was founded in 1999 as a companion piece to Project Prevent, which has been a model program for community intervention for more than a decade. Project Prevent, which Carson created, uses information from sources as varied as law enforcement, hospitals and women’s shelters, to find drug-addicted pregnant women and coax them into treatment.

With My House, Carson takes community involvement one step further. It is a home for children who a termed “boarder babies.” They are babies who are healthy enough to leave the hospital, but often need more medical attention than can be given in foster care (many are born addicted to drugs). Often, these babies have nowhere else to go. Their parents could be on the streets, addicted to drugs or simply long gone.

The children, who are placed at My House, a Victorian-era home in Midtown that was renovated by volunteers, can be reunited with their parents within a year if the family is deemed fit and the child healthy. If not, after a year, the children can be made available for adoption.

Carson’s work with My House previously has been recognized by Atlanta’s WXIA-TV, which honored her with an 11 Alive Community Service Award. The American Institute of Public Service has given Carson a Jefferson Award for Public Service, and she has received a “Use Your Life Award” from the Angel Network of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Accompanying that award was a $100,000 donation.