Two local women named heroes at Covenant House Georgia
Covenant House International President and CEO, Kevin Ryan, visited Covenant House Georgia in Atlanta to celebrate recent renovations and the opening of the site’s newest residences. While there, Kevin met with two Atlanta women who were dubbed the site’s “local heroes” during the celebratory ribbon-cutting marking the completion of the Gift of Hope apartments. CHGA Shelter Coordinator, Miko Colonel, and corporate donor, Tai A. Roberson, vice president, senior social impact and sustainability specialist within the public affairs division at Wells Fargo, were identified for their work and dedication to the Covenant House mission.
Miko received her Bachelors of Science in behavioral and social science and has held positions in corrections, job training programs, mental health organizations and school systems. She is approaching the five-year mark as a Covenant House Georgia employee, but she has worked with youth for 15 years, coming from a public boarding school in Baltimore, Maryland, prior to her arrival in Atlanta in 2017. After a year and half with Covenant House Georgia, she was promoted to the housing navigator position, at which time she was awarded by the Atlanta Continuum of Care for housing the most youth in the city. She says the reason she received such recognition was because she “just kept working.”
“Because these young people need somewhere to stay and they’re depending on me to do it,” she said. “And I’m always in the mindframe of ‘what if they don’t have anybody else to help them? What if I’m the only one?’ I can’t fail them. And that’s my philosophy.”
Miko says the hardest part of her work is seeing the level of trauma young people facing homelessness have experienced and knowing that the best thing she can do is plant seeds that can help them heal and grow.
“I had to learn later in my career that I’m not here to save everyone, but I can plant seeds; and maybe later they’ll come back around and I’ll get the chance to water them,” she said, but she also emphasized that she learns something everyday from the youth she works with.
“I probably learn from them more than they learn from me.”
When Kevin asked Miko about being called a hero, Miko said she was honored but “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Tai Roberson shares that sentiment. Her commitment to giving back to the community surpasses the official capacity in which she operates. Being familiar with CHGA services, she recently noticed a problem in her community and leveraged her relationship with the executive director of the site, Dr. Alieizoria Redd, known as ‘Dr. A’ by those who work closely with her, to extend help to a “water boy,” as Atlanta locals call them.
In recent years in Atlanta, there has been an influx of young people selling bottled water to drivers waiting at streetlights. The youth have received global attention from recorded interactions posted to social media, especially those with celebrities and rappers from Atlanta. The shared videos haven’t always been positive.
“It became a big political issue because one of the young people got a little aggressive with folks in a car. So I was able to interview one of the water boys and found out that he was selling water because he and his mom were homeless and living in a hotel,” said Tai. “So I called Dr. A, and she immediately jumped in and helped to get him off the street and to get resources, and we were able to help his mom.”
In her role at Wells Fargo, Tai manages philanthropic and community development for metro Atlanta. She is responsible for delivering the company’s community development strategic initiatives, including affordable housing, neighborhood stabilization and revitalization, community lending, service and investments.
“It takes everyone — at the government level, corporations, nonprofits, everyone — to really engage,” she said. “It also requires changes at the policy level. It requires corporations, both public and private, to come together to see what our responsibility is.”
Prior to rejoining Wells Fargo in 2017, Tai spent 10 years as a development executive with Clearpoint (CCCS of Greater Atlanta), one of the Nation’s largest nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies focused on financial capability counseling and education.
Under Tai’s leadership, Wells Fargo has been deeply engaged with CHGA. In addition to regular financial support, the company has also organized well-attended volunteer days to renovate multiple spaces on CHGA’s campus, including the cafeteria, now named The Wells Fargo Cafe.