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“I remember being happy,” Heather said of her time as a student at ECC. She is a volunteer now, but more than that a conversational spirit that everyone at ECC knows. She is a teacher’s aide and in recent years followed the now Hummingbirds as they turned two, then three, and soon four.

Heather was around their age when her family packed up Florida life for Atlanta in the early 70s. Because she was so young, the details are hazy, but she remembers how school felt happy. Her sister Michelle, one year Heather’s senior, can't recall much either but now knows the family moved so Heather could attend ECC.

"There weren't a lot of options back then," Michelle said. "It was the institution or the Elaine Clark Center."

Once she was of age, Heather went to public school, but a few years after earning her diploma she returned to the center as a volunteer. Over the years, her mother also cooked at ECC, and her father did yardwork. The center remained a fixture for the family, especially Heather.

When we asked Heather her favorite responsibilities, she said putting away the cots and cleaning the trays. While her students play outside, she proudly hangs back to take care of the classroom. It isn’t the tasks themselves she enjoys, though. She likes to help.

“When I’m at home, I don’t do much. I have some activities…but I miss being with the teachers.”

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