Center celebrates 50 years, Grant’s tenure

Rev. Charles W. Grant

Rev. Charles W. Grant

FOREST PARK — Rev. Charles W. Grant died in April but his spirit, legacy and memories live on at the center he manned for 50 years.

Clayton County Community Service Authority Center, which serves residents in need in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties, will celebrate its 50th anniversary Wednesday.

May is National Community Action Month.

Authority Comptroller Beechie Yates said Grant may not be there to celebrate but he is expected to be a focus of the event.

“Oh, yes, we’re going to pay tribute to him,” she said. “This will be the first annual event that he’s not with us. He did so much for the communities we served and is greatly missed.”

In addition to Grant, the center is expected to present awards to community partners, which have included AmeriGroup, city of Forest Park, Clayton County health, police and fire departments, and senior services; NAACP, WellCare and U.S. Rep. David Scott.

Grant, 87, died April 3 after a short illness. He was executive director of Clayton County Community Services Authority for more than 50 years — the building on Main Street in Forest Park is named for Grant.

The Authority provides Meals on Wheels, assistance with rent, food, utility bills and legal services; day care and Head Start programs.

But Grant’s contributions extended far beyond the Authority, as was evidenced in the re-naming of a portion of Aviation Boulevard near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for him in 2004 — while he was still around to enjoy the accolades.

In accepting that honor 10 years ago, Grant was light-hearted but appreciative of the attention shown at the dedication ceremony.

“It’s my first street sign,” he said, “and it’s the first time I’ve ever been nervous. I’m deeply proud, deeply honored, humbled that the commissioners gave us this type of recognition.”

Grant and his wife, Patsy, lived in Forest Park for most of their 65 years together. They raised nine children and eventually welcomed 26 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren

Grant was lauded by former and current elected officials during funeral services, held at the largest church in Clayton County to accommodate hundreds of mourners.

Yates worked beside Grant at the Authority for more than 40 years. She said he was her boss but also her best friend.

“He worked tirelessly to help less fortunate families,” she said. “He treated everyone the same and definitely believed in equal opportunity for all human beings. He demanded the staff treat everyone the same.”

Yates said Grant enjoyed visiting Head Start classes. The students called him “Granddaddy,” she said.

“He loved to dress up as Santa at Christmas,” said Yates. “Even through the beard and mustache and red suit, some of the kids still knew it was ‘Granddaddy.’ And he loved to play the piano at the Adult Day Rehabilitation Center.”

Grant was also pastor emeritus of Mount Welcome MBC of Decatur where he led the congregation for 46 years. Grant was past president of Clayton County Ministerial Alliance and former vice-president of the 100 Black Men of South Metro Inc.

He was active in the community, the NAACP and was a civil rights advocate.

In a photo tribute to Grant on the Authority website, there is expressed hope that others will pick up where he left off: “His journey is not in vain. He has made room for you to join him on setting benchmarks against poverty.”