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Cee Lo Green and sister unveil GreenHouse Foundation at Atlanta school

“I’m not able to be as politically correct as my sister,” Cee Lo Green said, breaking into a wide smile.

The Atlanta-born musician/celebrity/TV judge made his lighthearted comment in an unlikely location – standing behind a podium in the back of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy Friday morning.

Cee Lo Green, sister Shedonna Alexander and grandmother Ruby Callaway Robinson at the dedication ceremony. Photos: Melissa Ruggieri

Cee Lo Green, sister Shedonna Alexander and grandmother Ruby Callaway Robinson at the dedication ceremony. Photos: Melissa Ruggieri

Green was back home for the groundbreaking ceremony of the GreenHouse Foundation, the non-profit organization he co-founded with sister Shedonna Alexander.

The mission of their philanthropic effort is to make “green education” more accessible to students in underserved school districts. The presentation took place in front of the donated “greenhouse” area where the school’s students have been tending to and growing vegetables.

Green – born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway – is an alum of SACA and later smiled again when asked how long it had been since his last visit to the school.

“Awhile,” he said.

But Friday’s two-hour ceremony provided plenty of opportunities for Green, his family, local dignitaries and long-ago-seen friends to reunite.

“What a fantastic feeling to see so many familiar faces,” Green said, pulling up a prepared speech on his Blackberry. “I hope I’ve made you laugh. I hope I’ve made you cry. I hope I’ve made you think. I hope I’ve made you wonder. I also hope that I’m encouraging you today…it’s not just a thought, it’s an action.”

Alexander said that she and her brother were motivated to “fill [the] great shoes” of their late mother, Sheila Callaway Tyler, and grandmother Ruby Callaway Robinson, who was in attendance.

“Our babies need this garden,” Alexander said of the greenery growing behind where she stood, addressing her comments to the school children and teachers assembled among the invited crowd.

Green and Alexander pose after the event.

Green and Alexander pose after the event.

After the event, Alexander said it was a blessing to have her 80-year-old grandmother there to witness the official arrival of the non-profit.

“Today was my first time seeing her stand up [Robinson has been ill since April]. She’s everybody’s baby doll,” Alexander said.

Those “big shoes to fill” mentioned by Green and Alexander wasn’t a dramatic statement, as their family history is noteworthy.

Robinson was a tremendous activist decades ago, first starting the non-profit Comprehensive Auxiliary for Southwest Community on Alcohol and Drug Education and in 1986 organizing a national “Just Say No” kids march.

The siblings’ mother, meanwhile, served as one of the first female firefighters with the Atlanta Fire Department.

Representatives from the city and fire department, including Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvan Cochran, were on hand to present photos and a proclamation in honor of Tyler to Green and his sister (“My linen shirt is sweatin’ on my proclamation pictures,” Green quipped as photogs snapped and he tried not to melt in the sticky air).

The greenhouse is dedicated to Tyler’s memory.

The event, hosted by an amiable Art Terrell of KISS 104.1-FM, also included a stirring performance of a spiritual from renowned Atlanta jazz singer Kathleen Bertrand and a speech from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who called Green “my man.”

The GreenHouse Foundation also plans to launch other initiatives including an Atlanta Green Day, the Greenhouse Community Gardens Program and a Green Collar Career Development Program.

Although the day was strictly about the siblings’ philanthropic effort, things briefly went off script after a student performed a snippet of John Mayer’s “No Such Thing.”

Terrell joked that since a judge from “The Voice” was present, he might as well give a critique of the young man’s performance.

Green happily took the mic and said to the kid, “You’ve got so much charisma, man. We applaud your talent. You sounded wonderful.”

A fitting comment on a day dedicated to empowering a younger generation.

11 comments Add your comment

Yuk Yuk

August 17th, 2012
3:40 pm

I like Green….he’s ok. Glad he’s giving back and helping the kids.

He’s still a publicity hound though!

EJ

August 17th, 2012
4:28 pm

It’s great to see someone I know who came from humble beginnings go on to do such great things! Kudos to Shedonna & Carlos! I’m sooooo proud of yall :)

MAYS HIGH C/O 91'

August 17th, 2012
8:56 pm

MAYS HIGH all the way!!!!

G-funk

August 17th, 2012
9:15 pm

I smoked drugs with him once – but he stopped and I stopped. He got enlightened and is so grate now! Congrats!

Traci404

August 17th, 2012
10:26 pm

Children need to learn about vegetables, and growing food. In the fast food world we live in- healthy foods are needed. The fast foods are killing us, creating hypertension, high bloodpressure, diabetes, and a host of other ailments.
Thanks CeeLo and Shedonna we need this,

Mary Boone

August 18th, 2012
1:09 am

I know he’s in GA, butt, how can we get Greenhouse Foundation to throw a little green our way in Montgomery for our garden project?

Proud SACA Parent

August 18th, 2012
7:46 am

I was there in attendance at the dedication ceremony. It was absolutely heartfelt and sincere. Cee Lo and his family are also church members of the home church for the school. It was like watching a family reunion. The garden has been at the school for a the whole summer. The school cooks jave been preparing the childrens lunch from the lunch. I believe this is an excellent learning experience for the students and community. Good job Cee Lo and family!
Now can Usher and other local celebrities please give back to local communities?!?

Misa

August 18th, 2012
9:41 am

We love Cee-lo!

Atlantan

August 18th, 2012
5:15 pm

Cee-lo is a good man – he does a lot to help the less privileged.

[...] to the Atlanta Journal Constitution cofounder, Shedonna Alexander leaves these remarks “We are committed to the mission to empower [...]

Toren Anderson

August 19th, 2012
11:40 pm

The event was perfect, real and the memory of their Mother, a giver was ever present in addition to the example their grandmother Miss Ruby set for their family. It was not about being a publicity hungry (CeeLo does not need press at this point), but instead, doing something meaningful, inspiring others to give and authentic hearts are carrying it out.

We attended the event with our son Aidan of http://www.aidancares.com He is11 and works on various projects and speaks on his vision of teaching his generation to give. He met CeeLo and is helping bring chef friends to come teach the children at SACA how to “cook green.” CeeLo, Shedonna, SACA leadership and the rest of those involved were so kind, gracious and encouraging. Just back from LA, I found it refreshing that someone so famous was so down to earth. No pun intended. That family cares about each other and what they were doing. Four generations on hand to celebrate this launch. It was touching and we were so glad to be there!