Atlantan Bee Nguyen
Location: My Favorite Mechanic on Dekalb Ave.
Date taken: November 13, 2012
Flipping through a Marie Claire magazine one day, Bee Nguyen read an article about local organizations providing prom dresses to high school girls from disadvantaged families. Bee, whose mother made her long black and blue prom dress many years ago, thought to herself, “Atlanta needs an organization like that,” and then she went on to start one.
Athena’s Warehouse, which Bee started in 2009, not only provides prom dresses to high school girls in Atlanta (dresses are donated by Atlantans, and the girls complete three hours of community service before receiving a dress), the organization also provides programs focused on empowerment and building self-esteem.
“Women are inundated with the idea of being a princess and that someone – a prince – will come save them,” said Bee, who grew up in Augusta with four sisters. “It’s important for women, especially young women, to feel that they have personal power – to believe that they have the power to achieve and change things on their own.”
Athena’s Warehouse workshops are taught at Cross Keys High School, a Dekalb County School, where faculty sponsor Diane Gluck has been an important part of the organization’s work with students. Led by professionals who dontate their time, workshops focus on topics such as exercise and confidence, healthy eating, sex education and careers. Many of the girls are second generation immigrants, who face unique challenges of being a minority and often struggle to envision further education or a career for themselves.
“I don’t feel like I grew up wanting, but I was aware of the struggle my parents went through. They immigrated to the United States in 1979 and sacrificed so that their kids could succeed,” said Bee, a graduate of Georgia State University, who works full-time in public relations for the Georgia Budget Policy Institute. “I relate to many of the girls whose families have immigrated here. I can relate to some of the issues they struggle with and have a soft spot for the challenges they face.”
Athena’s Warehouse is currently collecting gently worn formal and cocktail dresses, including bridesmaids’ dresses, through Dec. 21. Like Athena’s Warehouse on Facebook to learn about upcoming events or contact the organization to find out about opportunities to volunteer or provide financial support.
Atlantan Fatimah Abdulah
Location: The Department Store (ASIFA-Atlanta headquarters for the 12n12 competition)
Date taken: October 21, 2012
As soon as she was old enough to draw and sketch, Fatimah Abdulah was enamored with animation. PBS’s show Arthur about a young aardvark contributed to Fatimah’s fascination. She recalls a segment of Arthur called “A Word From Us Kids” where the show’s creators visited a local elementary school, collected drawings from the students and then animated the drawings.
“I remember thinking ‘Wow, kids can do that. I want to do that,” said Fatimah, a native of Marietta, Ga.. “Animators were and still are so impressive to me because not only do they draw something — they also bring it to life. It is completely imagination. There are no limits.”
Fatimah was on track to pursue a career as an animator until one day in college when her dad called to tell her that Disney had laid off a large number of its animators. Instead of animation, Fatimah decided to use her skills and artistic abilities (she’s also a painter) in administration.
Now, the Georgia State graduate manages creative projects for Bark Bark as her day job, but in her free time, she serves as the president of the Atlanta chapter of the International Society for the Animated Film (also known as ASIFA-Atlanta). In this role, Fatimah not only works to provide resources and community for animators, but she is a part of introducing people to animation – from the different styles around the world to letting people see their drawings in animation.
“I love being able to simplify animation for people,” said Fatimah, who occasionally does her own animation projects. “When we lead a workshop and people see what they have drawn come to life on the screen, there’s usually a collective gasp. I love that. I love that people are awed by it. I am too.”
Interested in viewing animated films from around the world? October 28 is the 11th Annual International Animation Day. ASIFA-Atlanta will be hosting a day of animated short films at the Plaza Theatre. Also, check out workshops offered by ASIFA-Atlanta throughout the year – including how to build your own animation stand.
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