A week before Christmas, I shake hands with Arthur Blank inside the John Lewis Library of the Blank Family Foundation building off Howell Mill near Northside Drive.

It’s been a difficult few days for the 81-year-old Home Depot cofounder.

Mr. Blank is in good spirits on this day, despite fighting a heavy chest cold and witnessing two days prior his Falcons losing to the lowly Panthers in rainy North Carolina.

“How long have we known each other, Jeff?"

I paused and laughed, pointing in his direction.

"A very long time, How is it I’m growing older and you are not? Doesn’t seem fair!” 

GPB's Jeff Hullinger interviews Home Depot cofounder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

GPB's Jeff Hullinger interviews Home Depot cofounder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

The impact of Arthur Blank on Atlanta metro and Georgia is staggering. 

Since its 1995 inception, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed more than $1 billion in giving. 

Recent grants include $3 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta in support of its Rising Together campaign. One million dollars to CARE USA for its Humanitarian Surge Fund. And $3 million to Morris Brown College. 

“The needs in our society are more profound than at any point in my lifetime," Mr. Blank said. "The gap between rich and poor in America is growing."

After stepping down from Home Depot in 2001, Mr. Blank bought a luxury guest ranch in Montana. In 2002, he secured the Atlanta Falcons franchise for $545 million. He bought the PGA Superstores retail chain. He built a new stadium for the Falcons, and then purchased a Major League Soccer franchise.

Meanwhile, the local giving increased. 

Sitting across from Mr. Blank, I was pondering: Do we take his extraordinary deeds for granted? 

In Judaism, the act of giving is tzedakah—a righteous behavior. The recipient of tzedakah does a favor to the giver by accepting the gift. A 700-year-old tradition relevant in Atlanta today courtesy of the Blank family.

What does metro life look like when Blank isn’t here? 

The foundation’s next decade of giving will focus on efforts to increase affordable housing in English Avenue and Vine City, and grow renewable energy to address climate change, among other areas.

The NFL is rife with misbehaving billionaire owners, but not here. 

Three hours north in Charlotte, the Panthers organization is immobilized. Three years, three head coaches. A new billionaire owner tossing drinks on fans, battling with a local newspaper columnist. 

We don’t have those problems in Atlanta, but Mr. Blank takes his hits on X (Twitter) and sports media. 

Winning in the NFL is the bottom line.

The Falcons will post three consecutive losing seasons. 

Decisions are to be rendered. 

And Arthur Blank, for all of his good, is judged by those NFL games on Sunday afternoon in the fall. 

(There'll be more of this conversation between Arthur Blank and Jeff Hullinger in the weeks ahead, on GPB.)