We had the good fortune of connecting with Cathy Berggren and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cathy, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
I’ve often heard that you don’t always know how much your kids have learned from you, until they walk through difficult circumstances or have kids themselves. I have four grown and married children, and as they face this pandemic crisis, I am able to see how they are managing. I learned from my parents, who are products of the depression, that you don’t live beyond your means, you work hard, have integrity, you are responsible and your family and others matter more than things, and above all you keep your faith in God. This week I received this text from my 24 year old daughter in law: “I was visiting with my family today and it made me realize that you are the one who taught us how to be financially responsible and debt free and frugal! Even all the way back in high school you were planting those seeds in us which has put us in a good place today. So thank you!” When we teach and model as parents to be responsible, caring adults we have stronger communities and we are influencing the generations to come! 

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I oversee a non profit that not only helps meet immediate needs such as food, financial assistance and clothing during a time of crisis/need (such as job loss, unexpected health or family issues) with the goal of promoting stability; but we also work to invest in the individual and family holistically to help create long term change. We began with the intent to do things differently, offering an ‘hand – up vs a hand-out”. This meant it wasn’t enough to meet immediate needs, but to also equip people to take responsibility for their own lives when possible for long term change. This starts with treating people with value and dignity so they can recognize their own value, which is much needed when taking responsibility for their lives. Our culture shouts out that when you cannot pay your bills you are a failure. It’s much easier to overcome this when you can overcome those messages, and you know you are not alone. In the 20 years we have grown to a staff of 10, with over 300 regular volunteers serving, along with a 4 acre fruit orchard and garden. I’ve learned to follow your calling and don’t be afraid to do things differently, no matter how difficult it can be. If you communicate your vision often and well, it allows others to catch and buy into the vision! Stand firm on following through, leading well with integrity, be genuine and take time to care and value all of your stakeholders. 

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in the South Metro area, I love to take folks to unique and locally owned places. Pine Mountain and Callaway Gardens, along with Sweetwater Creek State Park are some of my favorite outdoor places. Tucked in Peachtree City is Line Creek park, a great place to escape in the middle of everything. If I am taking someone for a good cup of coffee and and a great place to sit outside I would highly recommend Chattahochee Coffee Company. The people, the coffee and the view are well worth the drive! For places for eat, a great place for the family is at one of our Partners Pizza locations in Fayette County. It’s an inexpensive treat for a large crowd or the family with a great potato pizza.( I would say… Their delicious potato pizza is an inexpensive treat for a large crowd or the family.) The City Cafe & Bakery in Fayetteville, theHighland Bakery and Kitchen, Palmers, and Crosstown Grill in Peachtree City are some of my favorites and unique in our area. If it’s in the summer our local amphitheaters have some amazing shows to sit and enjoy. (I would say… Also, our local amphitheaters have some amazing shows to enjoy during summertime.)

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents actually set the stage for who I am today. The shout out goes first to them, and then all the other amazing people that have invested in me, mentored me and prayed for me over the years. I am so very thankful! 

Website: www.reallifecenter.org
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Image Credits
lina Martin