Hundreds of Delta Air Lines employees volunteered over a two-month period to help renovate and repurpose a Christian City cottage originally funded by Delta Air Lines employees in 1972. The Delta-Jim Turner Memorial Cottage that served as a home for children for more than four decades now has a new life as a duplex guest home serving the children and senior adults living at Christian City, a non-profit located on a 500-acre campus just nine miles south of Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
One of the 2-bedroom apartments in the duplex will be used to help facilitate family reunifications for children who live in the homes at Christian City Children’s Village. The second 2-bedroom apartment will be available for senior residents’ families and friends to lease while they are visiting. The renovation project kicked off on April 2 and the repurposed cottage was rededicated on May 30. Churches and individual supporters of Christian City provided meals for the volunteers each day.
Jim Turner, Vice President of Tech Ops and long-time Delta Air Lines employee, was also a trustee of Christian City. He was 56 when he passed away in 1971. At the renovation project kick-off event in April 2019, Jane Turner Hannon, daughter of Jim Turner, expressed her family’s appreciation for the honor bestowed on Turner when the cottage was named in his memory.
“My father truly believed that relationships built strength, whether in family, church, community or work. That is what we see at the heart of the Delta ‘personality’ and ‘spirit.’ Dad believed that we all have a responsibility to other people, and he lived out that belief through all aspects of his life, at Delta, and in his church,” Hannon said.
She recalled that her mother kept a ledger of all the donations received from Delta employees all over the country who chose to assist in the effort to build a home for teenage boys in need. “The Delta-Jim Turner Memorial Cottage was built in 1972 for $30,000, and by 1975 the home was paid off, thanks to the combined contributions of a lot of caring Delta people,” she said. “My dad had an ‘open door’ policy with the employees at Delta and regularly held meetings across all stations where he not only informed employees, but also listened to them. I believe the donations from the employees were a result of their relationship with my dad. He was a wonderful father and exceptional man,” Hannon added.
Kim Mills-Smith, a 30-year veteran flight attendant with Delta Air Lines, worked with Michel Aletraris of Delta Tech Ops to organize volunteer effort and secure funding from Delta Air Lines to complete the renovation. Mills-Smith designed the floor plan and handled the interior design for the renovated duplex. She and Aletraris worked alongside Christian City volunteer project manager, Terry Chapman. “This renovation project created a vision of hope for the next 47 years,” said Mills-Smith at the re-dedication event.
Terry Chapman praised the volunteers saying, “The Delta Tech Ops employees jumped right in from the first day. We removed the roof, put up new trusses, and replaced HVAC, plumbing, electrical and drywall. Some of the floors were also replaced. We did a complete overhaul,” said Chapman. “It was great to see so many people committed to making sure the project was completed,” he said.
“I believe Jim Turner would be pleased with the renovation and repurpose of the cottage we just completed, and he would have enjoyed seeing all the Delta employees come together for a good cause,” said Aletraris. “At Delta, we stand on the shoulders of Delta pioneers and servant leaders like Jim Turner who came before us. I’m honored to have been a part of continuing the Delta-Jim Turner legacy at Christian City,” said Aletraris.
LaVann Landrum, Chief Development Officer, thanked Kim Mills-Smith, Michel Aletraris and Terry Chapman for coordinating and managing the cottage renovation. “None of this would have happened without you. Successful projects like this one are the result of the combined efforts of many,” Landrum said. “Delta Air Lines has been a faithful friend of Christian City for more than 50 years, and we are grateful for this continued show of support. We also appreciate contributions to this renovation project from Lowe’s of Newnan, Mega Granite and Marble, Owens Corning, Atlanta Community Tool Bank, Legacy Christian Church, Aaron’s, 44 Appliance & Supply, M-Con Construction, the Grey Ghosts from Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, Sherwin Williams/Fairburn, Cheryl and Mike Cater, and the many others who stepped up to make sure all necessary building supplies and meals for volunteers were provided. Because of this dedicated group of people and companies, Christian City has been strengthened for future service to the children, families and seniors who need us,” she said.