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Faces of the 4th | Mia McDonough

If I could work for 24 years as a sales representative for a food distributor, sell just under $40 million worth of product in the last year, and then quit my job and spend seven weeks traveling across the States, and also visit Ireland and Punta Cana like Mia McDonough did, I would.

“It’s been kind of fun, I haven’t worked!”

McDonough may be done with corporate America, but she still sits on three boards in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood and if that doesn’t read as “passionate for the community” on paper, it is definitely clear in our conversation.

It’s easy to talk to the community advocate, as we could talk for hours and hours about this city that we love, whether that pertains to the good eats on the street, or the people that have occupied it. And as the Chair of Operation PEACE, board member of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, and Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, I’d say she has a good handle on the pulse of what’s going on around her.

Operation PEACE is a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 for the children, parents and seniors in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, providing after school programs and camps for kids, skill training for parents, and programs for seniors. “I don’t have kids of my own, but I always joke that I now have 65,” she says with a laugh.

“I believe that we’re supposed to give in life and try to make it a better place. I try to do something every single day. I really believe in community, and if you build it, it’ll come, and look what’s happening.” McDonough says that Operation PEACE is her favorite board to be on, and seeing how the community has continuously shown out for her kids has only made it that much better. She recalls a memory from when she first got involved with the organization: Christmas time in 2012, the kids wrote letters to Santa and those letters were sent out in a master email list. Each kid received tremendous feedback from their community, and the organization was presented with a generous donation from their neighbor. “It was so incredible to see how the community came together like that. Best Christmas I’ve had in my life.”

She feels a sense of accomplishment to serve on all three boards, because like I said, the woman loves her neighborhood, people!! “The only thing I know is that you can only do what you can do and you’re supposed to do what you can, and that’s why I do what I do.”

McDonough isn’t originally from Atlanta, but walks up and down Boulevard like she owns it, getting to know the people on the street; an act that not even Atlanta natives are likely to do. “It’s fun getting to know them;” and I could say the same for getting to know the passionate neighborhood activist. Her speed dating fun facts include: that she does not enjoy walking the beltline, her favorite breakfast is taylor ham (pork roll=english muffin toasted, with an egg over easy, and a piece of cheese), and that she would eat at Poor Calvin’s every night if it was up to her!

Before we end the conversation, she leaves me with four pieces of advice:

-Bank your cash now

-Take care of your health

-Enjoy the ride, “because it’s a freakin’ ride, I’ll tell ya”

-Whoever it is you believe in, good for you, because we don’t get through this alone

So tomorrow you will see me enjoying the ride, going to hot yoga, and taking my cash to the bank (but not before I give Poor Calvin’s a visit) because Mia McDonough told me to!!

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