Posted on December 17, 2014
The Wren’s Nest. Photo by Jonathan Hillyer
Participants in The Scribes Program. Photo by Erin Sintos

The Wren’s Nest is an organization that seeks to serve as an educational resource for the greater Atlanta area and to preserve the heritage of African American folklore through storytelling, tours, and student publications. The Wren’s Nest is based at the home of Brer Rabbit author Joel Chandler Harris. The organization cares for the house where Harris lived for nearly 30 years and conducts tours of the home five days a week. In keeping with the organization’s mission to honor Harris’s legacy, it also provides teenagers in the Atlanta area the opportunity to become more engaged in writing and the print industry though a variety of programs geared toward middle and high school students.

Among those activities is the Scribes Program which asks professional writers come to Wrens Nest to volunteer their time each week with middle school students to help them write an original story. At the end of each program, the students’ stories are bound together in a book which is then sold at the Decatur Book Festival. At the festival, the students get to read their works aloud, sign autographs, and interact with other invited authors. Middle school students are not the only ones who benefit from the Wren’s Nest educational programming. For the last eight years, high school students have been afforded the opportunity to participate in a city-wide literary journal. In addition to accepting creative works of all kinds from students all over Atlanta, the journal also invites student editors to come together twice a week during the summer to learn about the print industry from publishers and professional writers.

The Wren’s Nest was introduced to Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta in 2012 by Sutherland attorney and Wren’s Nest board member Henry Parkman. The Wren’s Nest began taking advantage of PBPA right away and participated in Legal Check Up at the end of the year. In the past two years, PBPA has assisted The Wren’s Nest on seven matters, “And we’re not done yet!” says Wren’s Nest Executive Director, Sue Gilman. Gilman describes her time working with PBPA as “the most wonderful experience!” Without PBPA, says Gilman, “we have no way of accessing the legal expertise we need.” Since 2012, The Wren’s Nest has worked with Henry Parkman, Heather Ripley, Michael Giovanni, Brian Murphy, Michael Hobbs, Cullen Stafford, Katie Bates, and Vicky Bantug to complete its bylaws and the many projects identified by Legal Check Up. While Gilman has enjoyed working with all of these fantastic attorneys, she identified Legal Check Up as her favorite PBPA experience and sent a special thanks to LCU volunteers James Johnson, Bob Orenstein, and Stephanie Stella. “Everyone we worked with [at LCU],” said Gilman, “[made it] clear their job was to protect us.” Overall, Gilman says, “Pro Bono Partnership has been invaluable.”