Food Bank’s Bolling, First Step’s Block to be honored for their work at CAP Annual Meeting
By Maria Saporta
Central Atlanta Progress will shine the spotlight on two community leaders – Bill Bolling and Greg Block – at its annual breakfast meeting on March 31.
Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, will receive the prestigious Dan Sweat Award, given to leaders who have shown the ability to become "larger than self" in helping improve the community and downtown.
Bolling has led the Food Bank since 1979, and today oversees the annual distribution of more than 50 million pounds of food and grocery products through a network of 600 local and regional nonprofit partners that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties.
In addition to his role at the Food Bank, Bolling has been an active community leader on a host of regional issues, including affordable housing and civic leadership.
Block, who will receive the Turner Broadcasting Downtown Community Leadership Award, founded First Step, a nonprofit that works with homeless men and women to help them find employment, in 2007.
The former business executive who was CEO of American Pacific Enterprise, now has been devoting his career to building First Staffing, a jobs program for the homeless.
For those who are too mentally or physically disabled, First Step also has a benefits program that represents clients with the federal and state government so they can receive disability and Medicaid coverage as well as safe and affordable housing.
Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta who served on the nominating committee, couldn't have been more pleased with this year's choices.
"Let's start with Greg. He is really helping homeless people get back into the workforce," she said. "He is addressing one of the critical needs in the downtown community, and I'm excited he's getting the award."
Bolling getting the Dan Sweat Award is particularly meaningful for Philipp, who was a protegé of Sweat, the longtime president of downtown business organization–Central Atlanta Progress.
"Dan and Bill used to go at it," she said. "They had very strong differences of opinion, and yet they both respected each other so much. They cared about the community. They listened. They had empathy, and they learned from each other. Their relationship made each of them stronger leaders. For many of us today, that is a lost art."
But it is an art that Bolling has continued to practice throughout his tenure, and he has been a master at convening people with differing views around a community table. That's why the Dan Sweat Award is such a fitting honor, Philipp said.
Dave Stockert, CEO of Post Properties who is chairing CAP, called Bolling "one of the great leaders of the Atlanta community" in an e-mail.
"He built an organization that supports countless Atlantans in need, and that inspires countless others to serve," Stockert said. "He is a tireless supporter of our city and always encourages us to be our best selves. I cannot think of a more deserving honoree."
The annual CAP breakfast will be held at the Sidney Marcus Auditorium at the Georgia World Congress Center on March 31.