Cobb In Focus November December 2023

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Mike Whittle Is Dedicated to Giving Back as a Florist and Community Leader

MUST Ministries • Cobb Libraries • Flowing Life Direct Health • Cobb Family Advocacy Center

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uni t y •

• Par k s • L





anding S er t s t u v

We are a well-rounded community alive with community spirit, a touch of urban chic and plenty of down-home natural charm. Nestled among lush trees, you’ll feel at home in our diverse neighborhoods. Residents and visitors enjoy access to indoor and outdoor amenities, from boating on the Chattahoochee, to biking, walking, or running along our trails, watching baseball at the Battery, or catching good vibes in our downtown.





Contents Vol. XIX, No. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023


Putting Talent To Work For Cobb K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. is well known for the finest in floral arrangements, and gifts, as well as owner Mike Whittle’s community service.



Find out what’s going on throughout Cobb County with our news updates and calendar of events.


A glimpse at some of the holiday events happening in Cobb in November and December.


MUST Ministries’ MUST Marketplace has a new home, but the mission of giving back remains the same.


Read about the history of the Cobb County Public Library System and how it continues to thrive.



Candace M. Walker, M.D., owner of Flowing Life Direct Health, is getting patients on the fast-track to wellness with IV Therapy.


Cobb Family Advocacy Center provides resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder and child abuse, stalking, and human trafficking.


You may be surprised at just how far-reaching a small gesture can be.

Connect with local leaders who strive to make Cobb County a better place.

On the cover: Mike Whittle, owner of K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. in Marietta, is getting into the holiday spirit. See our feature on page 24 to learn about Mike and to save the date for his upcoming Open House events. Photo: LaRuche Photo






New South Publishing Inc. President Larry Lebovitz Vice President John Hanna Publisher Jamie Ryan Account Executive Sherry Gasaway Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite Associate Editor Amy Meadows Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta If you’ve ever tried choosing and arranging your own flowers, you know that it’s not only a skill but an art to make something that looks remotely presentable. This is why we have professionals. They’re not just people who have access to flowers; they have an eye for a design and a talent for presentation. Our cover feature (p.24) highlights one of the best and most well-known florists in the county, Mike Whittle. Not only do we celebrate him for 53 years of business, but we want to recognize all that he does for the community. Additionally, our business feature highlights MUST Ministries’ MUST Marketplace, which offers shopping/thrifting bargains and the opportunity to assist MUST in its mission to help the less fortunate. Read all about it beginning on page 8. Speaking of giving back to the community, we are pleased to showcase once again the patient-focused work of Dr. Candace M. Walker, M.D. (p.20), who uses IV Nutrition Therapy to help people live their best, healthiest lives. And we spotlight the pioneering work of the Cobb Family Advocacy Center (p.30), which provides resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder and child abuse, stalking, and human trafficking. I can’t think of a better, more direct way for a local government to help its citizens. Finally, as we wind down the year that was 2023 and we focus on the holidays, be sure to give some thought to the less fortunate and try to find ways to give back — large or small. In this issue, you will find events and charities that could use your support, including several veterans organizations on page 29. And I offer up a few small gestures that will go a long way on page 32.

Photo by LaRuche Photo

Contact Cobb in Focus We want to hear from you! Share your story ideas and comments with our editor. Visit or send your suggestions to: or New South Publishing, Attn: Cory Sekine-Pettite 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210 Atlanta, GA 30350

Contributors Katy Ruth Camp, Writer Jennifer Morrell, Writer Michael J. Pallerino, Writer Lindsay Field Penticuff, Writer LaRuche Photo, Photography Production Coordinator/Circulation Amy Fine Controller Marilyn Walker @cobbinfocus Cobb in Focus™ is published six times a year by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA, 30350. Direct all editorial queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 100. Direct all circulation queries to (770) 6501102, ext. 130. Direct all advertising queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 142. All information herein has been checked for accuracy to the best of the publisher’s ability. No responsibility is accepted for deletions, omissions, errors and/or inaccuracies. Material in this publication may not be reprinted without written permission from the publisher. Copyright 2023 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

For address changes, email NOV EMBER/ DECEMBER 2023


Sharper Focus Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community. Construction Continues on new Municipal Complex in Powder Springs

Adding to the rebirth of downtown Powder Springs is the new Municipal Complex currently under construction and fronting the new park, which upon completion will offer space to city employees serving the public and members of the public themselves. The new building will allow most city operations to be regathered under one roof, from city administration and elected officials’ offices to Finance, Economic Development, Community Development, Human Resources, Information Technology, Stormwater, and Municipal Court. Parks, Senior Services, Police, and Public Works will maintain their existing facilities.

Renovated Recycling Center Opens

Recycling is now a little bit easier now in Cobb. The recycling drop-off center on County Services Parkway is open after a major renovation for faster, smoother home recycling, the County reports. There are bins for glass, textiles, and hard-to-recycle plastics like the Hefty Renew material that you can gather in the orange EngergyBag bags. The 1775 County Services Parkway facility is monitored by West Rock Recycling and will be open for extended hours Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays

Underwood Named Cobb EMC Board Chairman

Cobb EMC recently announced that Rudy Underwood is the new chairman of its board of directors, succeeding David Tennant. The member-owned electric cooperative is represented by nine directors elected by its membership, each assigned a geographical district throughout its five-county service territory. “Reaching number one in the nation for reliability and having the lowest electric rates in Georgia are reflections of a well-managed organization and I am proud to continue collaborating with the rest of the board as chairman,” Underwood said.


Capital City Bank Group Foundation Awards $7,500 to Nonprofits In Cobb

Capital City Bank Group (CCBG) Foundation has donated annually for 40 years to charitable institutions across the Capital City footprint in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. During the 2023 grant cycle, the CCBG Foundation reinvested $7,500 into the Cobb County community, awarding grants to Adopt a Golden Atlanta, Ferst Readers of Cobb County, and Cobb and Douglas Health Futures Foundation. Learn more at

Cobb Emergency Communications Staff Earn National Awards Congratulations to Cobb Emergency Communications Director Melissa Alterio, who recently earned NICE 2023 Public Safety Answering Point’s Finest Director of the Year, while Cobb Emergency Communications Trainer/ Quality Assurance Coordinator Leighann Schultz won PSAP’s Finest Trainer of the Year. The PSAP awards celebrate the essential, life-changing work of emergency communications professionals. Both also were recognized by the Board of Commissioners for their achievements. Learn more at

Melissa Alterio

Leighann Schultz

Cobb Chamber Honors First Responders The Cobb Chamber honored Cobb County’s finest on October 2 during its annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon at the Coca-Cola Roxy. The event kicked off Public Safety Appreciation Week, a community-wide effort to say “thank you” to the men and women who work tirelessly to keep Cobb County safe. Awards were presented to public safety personnel from across Cobb County, including police, fire, sheriff’s office, campus police and EMS. Congratulations to the 2023 Public Safety Award winners: • Public Safety Employee of the Year — Field Training Officer Taylor Stanford, Cobb County Police Department. • Award of Merit — Kennesaw Police Officer Jared Wheeler and Officer Blake Arnold; Cobb County Police Sergeant Coty Thompson; Officer


Andrew Brock; and Officer Jessica Richardson; Station 1 and 2 C-Shift, Austell Fire Department. • Distinguished Achievement Award — Training and Quality Assurance Manager Todd Borowski, Cobb County Department of Emergency Communications. • Outstanding Community Contribution Award — Officer Paul Hill and K9 Barney, Marietta Police Department. • Medal of Valor — Officer Taniesha Palarche, Acworth Police Department; Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Hudgins and Deputy Sheriff Randall Lossing, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office; Detective Bryan Bridges, Detective Dustin Shirley, Officer Michael Calhoun, Officer Christian Gutierrez, and Agent Quinn Lyles, Cobb County Police Department.


Cherokee Heights Arts Festival

Each year, Keep Smyrna Beautiful celebrates at the Smyrna Recycling Center with a variety of activities. More info:

The 15th Annual Cherokee Heights Arts Festival (CHAF) is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Etowah Drive between Freyer and Seminole Drives.

11/17-18 K. Mike Whittle Designs Open House

K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. is hosting two Open House events in November. More info:

Help raise money for MUST Ministries’ 21st annual Gobble Jog by participating in a 10K, 5K, 1K, or a Tot Trot. More info:


11/25 Shop Smyrna Saturday

Sensory Friendly Afternoon

The Southern Museum welcomes visitors with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory processing issues, or special needs to explore the museum at their own pace. More info:

Support local businesses on Shop Smyrna Saturday and enter drawings for $100 gift cards! More info:

*See page 29 for info on local Veterans Day events.



Golden Eagle Luncheon

For the 37th annual Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour, get a glimpse inside private homes located in the Kennesaw Avenue Local Historic District. More info:

This all-day event at The Southern Museum includes a screening of The “Polar Express” movie, arts & crafts, and visit from Santa. More info:

The 15th annual Acworth Turkey Chase is an exhilarating 5K run and 2K walk through Historic Downtown Acworth and along the shores of beautiful Lake Acworth. More info:

Gobble Jog

Get the holiday magic started. More than 1 million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees will create the perfect, magical atmosphere. More info:

12/9 All Aboard for Family Fun

11/18 Acworth Turkey Chase


11/18 – 1/1/24 Six Flags Holiday in the Park

12/1-3 The Marietta Pilgrimage

Art – Deb by Ly nn


The Georgia Symphony Orchestra will relax house rules and encourages the audience to respond to the music however they choose, whether that be moving around the concert hall, dancing, or vocalizing along with the music. More info:

11/15 America Recycles Day

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11/11 Sensory Friendly Concert

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Editor’s note: Due to evolving community needs, these events are subject to change or cancellation.


Holiday Make & Take Crafts

Stop by the Smyrna Public Library from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. for some holiday fun. All supplies will be available for you to complete your craft in the library and bring it home to display. More info:

Join more than 1,000 of the Atlanta Area’s top business and community leaders as they celebrate the Boy Scouts of America and pledge to support its future. More info:

12/27 Sensory Friendly Afternoon Join the Southern Museum for a Sensory Friendly Afternoon from 2-5 p.m. They welcome visitors with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory processing issues, or special needs to explore the museum at their own pace. More info:



Holiday Happenings 11/9-11 Mistletoe Market

The Junior League of Cobb-Marietta will hold its annual Mistletoe Market at the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta. More info:

11/10 – 12/26 Festival of Trees

Enjoy beautifully decorated trees and find out how to support local nonprofits at Town Center at Cobb. More info:

12/1-5 SCAA Holiday Artfest & Market

South Cobb Arts Alliance celebrates Christmas with special events and juried arts and crafts from local artists. More info:

12/1 Santa’s Arrival in Acworth

The City of Acworth welcomes Santa Claus to downtown on Friday around 5:30 p.m. More info:

12/1 Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting

The Powder Springs Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting begins at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Powder Springs. More info:

12/2 Reindeer Scavenger Hunt

Santa’s Reindeer have gotten loose and are hidden around downtown Powder Springs. Can you find them? More info:

11/11, 12/16 Town Center Holiday Markets

Town Center at Cobb will host Holiday Markets on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16 with great vendors, crafts, music, and more. More info:

11/18-26 Georgia Festival of Trees

The Georgia Festival of Trees at the Georgia World Congress Center will get you into the holiday spirit. Proceeds benefit Street Grace. More info:

Meet Olaf and his helper for a story and lots of warm hugs. Kiddos will leave with a snowman craft to take home (while supplies last). More info:

12/9 Breakfast with the Grinch

The City of Acworth is excited to host Breakfast with the Grinch at the Acworth Community Center from 9 a.m. until noon. More info:

12/9 Christmas in Acworth

Join Santa for photos in Downtown Acworth! Festivities begin at 1 p.m. More info:

12/2 Breakfast With Santa

Join Santa for breakfast from 8-11:15 a.m. at Ben Robertson Community Center in Kennesaw! More info:

12/2 A Day With Santa

Santa’s arrival in Kennesaw begins at 2 p.m. with a Main Street parade featuring decorated floats, vintage cars, and costumed characters. More info:

11/30 Christmas Tree Lighting

The City of Marietta’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting kicks off the holiday season with Santa’s arrival to the square. Plus, there’s an Ugly Sweater Parade! More info: 6

12/4 Warm Hugs from Olaf


12/12 Menorah Lighting Ceremony

Acworth invites everyone to Logan Farm Park for the 11th Annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony. More info:

12/20 Light Up Main Parade

Join Acworth for its annual Light Up Main Golf Cart Parade! Participation is free, but registration is required to join the parade line-up. More info:



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Secondhand Gives A Second Chance MUST Ministries’ MUST Marketplace has a new home, but the mission of giving back remains the same. By Katy Ruth Camp



E MUST President & CEO Dr. Ike Reighard

veryone loves a good deal. But what if that good deal is also doing good? That’s exactly what happens at the MUST Marketplace, MUST Ministries’ thrift store. Proceeds from the MUST Marketplace go directly back into MUST’s programs, helping clients living in poverty with food, housing assistance, jobs assistance, clothing, medical care, and more. “When we talk about the MUST Marketplace, we like to say that ‘secondhand gives a second chance,’” said MUST President & CEO Dr. Ike Reighard. “The generous donations that we receive through the Marketplace help us to create a fun shopping experience with lots of great finds at a low cost. And not only do we use those funds to help our neighbors in need, those very same neighbors are also able to shop here to provide goods for their families at deeply discounted prices, which they might not otherwise be able to afford. So, it’s a win-win-win, all the way around.” For many years, the MUST Marketplace operated out of the MUST Headquarters in Marietta, just off US-41 near Barrett

Parkway. When that building was purchased and occupied by GRACEPOINT School over the summer, MUST moved its headquarters to a newly renovated building beside the MUST Hope House and Donation Center, creating a campus of sorts for the nonprofit’s Marietta operations. This meant that the MUST Marketplace was going to need a new home, but Dr. Reighard said that was the plan all along. “We have seen tremendous growth in the Marketplace, even with it being tucked up on a hill attached to our headquarters, so we knew it was time for it to have its own retail space and allow it to grow even more. This new location gives us more space for more items and provides more of a true, retail shopping experience,” he said. After an extensive search, the MUST team landed on a 7,000-square-foot space in East Cobb, inside the Sandy Plains Village shopping center. Among others, the center houses the popular Movie Tavern and the Marketplace’s direct neighbor, Painted Tree Boutique.

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The new location had its soft opening in October and an official grand opening on November 1. “We think it’s a great location for shoppers and donors alike,” Dr. Reighard said. “The new Marketplace is right in the heart of a heavily residential and retail area, and allows us to expand our mission and

footprint to a new area of metro Atlanta. We’re thrilled with how the neighborhood has responded so far and can’t wait to see what’s in store with so much more space and walkability than our old location.” Here’s how it works: people can donate gently used or new clothing, shoes, books,

Donation Etiquette Consider donating if:

Please do not donate if:

•  The item is in good condition.

•  The item has significant damage.

•  You no longer need or use it.

•  It no longer functions properly.

•  It has sat in your closet for too long with little use.

•  It has not been cleaned or would need more than minor dusting.

•  It is no longer your style.

•  You do not foresee someone wanting to buy it or use it.

•  It is now too big or too small. •  You are downsizing to a new house and no longer have room for everything. •  It was a gift that you’ll never use but can’t return. •  Someone you know has passed away and you would like for their belongings to go to a good cause.


•  You think you would regret donating it and want it back, as donations are final. •  You do not have permission to donate the item. •  It is missing parts or the full set.


music, electronics, home décor, housewares, seasonal items, furniture, toys, and more either at the MUST Marketplace location (4651 Woodstock Rd., Roswell, GA 30075, Suite 100) or the MUST Donation Center (1280 Field Pkwy, Marietta, GA 30066). If you would like to donate furniture, MUST asks that you email the Marketplace team first to make sure they can accept it. That email address is

Why thrift? Thrift stores across the nation have seen a rise in shoppers for a variety of reasons. Some shoppers like finding a typically expensive item at an extremely low price (MUST Marketplace often has designer and namebrand items for less than $10) and other unique items that can’t be found anywhere else. Others understand the negative effect “fast fashion” has had on the environment and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with sustainable shopping. And, in the case of the MUST Marketplace, some enjoy the feeling of giving back when shopping at a nonprofit thrift store. According to ThredUp’s Annual Resale Report for 2022, secondhand shopping is expected to grow 127 percent by 2026. The report also showed that the global

MUST Marketplace Sandy Plains Village, 4651 Woodstock Rd Roswell, GA 30075, Suite 100 (in the same complex as the Movie Tavern) Store Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Donation Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


secondhand apparel market will grow three times faster than the global apparel market overall, reaching a value of $82 billion in 2026, up $5 billion from the projections of the previous year. Currently, there are more than 25,000 resale, consignment, and nonprofit resale shops in the United States and studies show that most shoppers are between the ages of 18-24, which might be attributed to the popularity of TikTok users showing off their unique finds.

How can I help? Shop! Donate! Volunteer! All the funds raised from the MUST Marketplace go directly back into MUST’s daily mission to help our neighbors in need. MUST helps to feed, house, clothe, and offer hope to more than 70,000 people a year. If you love retail or have a retail background, also consider volunteering at the Marketplace. Volunteers help to keep the store organized and well-stocked and perform tasks such as helping to receive donations, checking customers out at the register, sorting and pricing items, merchandising new inventory, and assisting with online sales platforms. To sign up for volunteer shifts, visit For more information on MUST Ministries and the MUST Marketplace, visit n

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Libraries Are A ‘Gateway For A High Quality Of Life’ The history of the Cobb County Public Library System and how it continues to thrive By Lindsay Field Penticuff Reprinted and updated from May/June 2021.


elieve it or not, libraries in Cobb County date back to the late 1800s. The earliest record is 1865 of the Young Man’s Debating and Library Association organized in Marietta, which became the Young Men’s Literary Association


in 1874, says Helen Poyer, director of the Cobb County Public Library System. Other partnerships and organizations were formed through 1957, when the Cobb CountyMarietta Public Library Board organized, assuming responsibility for the library pro-


gram in Cobb and incorporating the library established by the Board of Education. “The first meeting of Cobb County Library Board was held Thursday, July 25, 1957, at the Trio Restaurant in Marietta,” shares Poyer.

Renamed the Cobb County Public Library System in 1969, there are now 15 locations throughout the county, and Poyer’s team welcomes more than 1.8 million visitors a year, with in-person program attendance at about 175,000 annually. “Cobb library staff and supporters are delivering programs and resources where people are,” Poyer adds. “Cobb libraries are destinations and spaces we share with neighbors.” This includes outdoor amphitheaters at the Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center in Marietta and the North Cobb Regional Library in Kennesaw; the plaza at the Charles D. Switzer Library in Marietta; and even parking lots and other library spaces are the stages for community fairs, arts programs, and much more. “Cobb librarians and library workers strive for growing community connections at the libraries and beyond,” says Poyer.

The proof is in the programming Cobb libraries offer an abundance of programs for the community. For example, there are story times for babies, toddlers, tweens, teens and adults in which patrons can discuss books and visit with authors — virtually and

“Cobb librarians and library workers strive for growing community connections at the libraries and beyond.” – Helen Poyer, Director, Cobb County Public Library System in person. “Cobb library’s Summer Reading Program (SRP) is always a highlight of the year for all ages, too,” Poyer says. Innovative programming also includes Storywalks for all ages. This features signs along paths at the libraries and across the community to help promote reading, health and wellness, and community engagement. “We also have workforce development programs

like Girls Who Code, and other programs designed to expand the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce pipeline across Cobb, especially for our underrepresented groups,” says Poyer. And seniors in Cobb also are benefiting from programs. Poyer says they offer the Senior Wellness Series of East Cobb Library, which is includes virtual and in-person classes that focus on movement, dancing, and more. One of the more unique programs offered through the Cobb system is the Library PASS Program. It provides library accounts for Cobb County and Marietta City students, and opens year-round access to the robust digital resources offered by the library on education, business, science, history, and a range of other topics. “The Cobb Library Bookmobile also brings library programs and books to communities with limited access to libraries throughout Cobb,” says Poyer.

Reaching library patrons in new ways Cobb library operations never fully closed at the height of the recent pandemic, because



Education with digital services remained operational to give library patrons access to online resources and online reference questions services. Additionally, curbside services were instituted for grab-and-go and pick-up services for library customers to check out books and other items at Cobb libraries, even as the library facilities were closed to the public. Meanwhile at the Switzer Library, major renovations were completed in 2021, which were funded by a Georgia Public Library Capital Outlay Grant and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Updates included a complete reconfiguration of the interior space, an outdoor plaza was built, and new roof added. The library was outfitted for adult and teen makerspaces, a dedicated teen hangout space, and a larger Georgia Room for genealogy and local history.

Make a connection Website: Phone: 770.528.2320 Email: Hours of operation vary at each library location.

Supporting Cobb libraries Established in 2003 by civic-minded citizens aspiring to grow the Cobb Public Library System and led by the Cobb Library Foundation Board, the Cobb County Public Library Foundation Inc. is focused on fundraising, volunteering, and active participating to promote education, literacy, growth and activity, and help improve the quality of life throughout Cobb. “The Foundation ‘fills in

Cobb Teachers of the Year

the gaps’ where funds are not available,” says Sandra Morris, executive assistant to the Cobb Library Foundation. “In addition to providing funds for programs like Girls Who Code, Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS), PrimeTime and the Summer Reading Program, the Foundation has helped fund special areas like the patio and creative studio at the North Cobb Regional Library, provided materials and funded the lift and wrap for the bookmobile.” One of the largest fundraisers for the Foundation is an annual gala, in addition to hosting Booked for Lunch and Booked for the Evening events. A casino-themed gala was held on November 4. Through naming rights and donations from other organizations, the Foundation also has provided the library system with funds to renovate

The Cobb Chamber recently always being there to lend a celebrated the 34th year of Give hand. Her aunt taught her how Our Schools a Hand (GOSH). to conduct herself as a “lady” A salute to education in Cobb and that a teacher’s impact County, GOSH events bring goes beyond the classroom educators, students, parents, walls. businesses, and community Dr. Elizabeth Goff is an ESOL leaders together to honor teacher. She is passionate education through three about teaching her distinctive events: the Handprint multilingual learners in a Unveiling Ceremony, and the school that serves families Teacher of the Year Breakfast and from 29 language Pictured L-R: Cobb County Schools Superintendent Pep Rally. backgrounds. She heads the Chris Ragsdale, Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Goff, Cobb The two honored teachers this committee that organizes the Chamber CEO Sharon Mason, Teacher of the Year Candace year — Marietta City Schools Celebration of Cultures event, Torrence, and Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera. (MCS) Teacher of the Year, drawing hundreds in Candace Torrence, and Cobb attendance each year. Along County School District Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Goff with the use of strong instructional practices, instilling from Bells Ferry Elementary, left their handprint legacies on habits of persistence, resilience, and confidence in her the Teacher Walk of Honor, located on the Marietta Square. remarkable students is a priority for Dr. Goff daily. Torrence teaches gifted students (MILE) in all grades at Through the years, the Give Our Schools a Hand (GOSH) A.L. Burruss Elementary. In her 13th year as an educator, program has motivated the community to take an active Torrence a deep passion for building relationships with role in Cobb’s public school systems and has attracted students and families, as well as pushing students to their attention to the quality of education in Cobb County. maximum potential. She is an active member of the Dating back to 1988, GOSH has become one of the largest Marietta community, serving as her school’s PAGE rep, events honoring local educators, celebrating more than 130 Drama and Beta Club sponsors, and on the PTA and SGT. teachers here in Cobb County. Her biggest inspirations come from her grandmother, GOSH wishes to thank this year’s sponsors: The City of Ezella Holcomb, and aunt, Annie L. Ruggs. Her grandmother Marietta; K. Mike Whittle Unique Floral Designs, Inc.; and The gave her the gift of giving back to her community and Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre. 14


Cobb Library Foundation Board of Directors The board is made up of 11 community leaders who share their time, talent, and treasure to ensure that Cobb libraries have the financial resources to provide the very best materials and services. •  Rebecca Duvall McIntyre, President, Communications Manager, LGE Community Credit Union •  Nona Lacy, Vice President, Board Member

•  Carol Ney, Board Member, Volunteer •  Dr. Gilles LaMarche, Vice President of University Advancement, Life University

•  William Tanks, Treasurer, Executive Director, Public Services, Equity, and Inclusion, Powder Springs

•  Joe Murphey, Attorney, Attorney, Miles Mediation

•  Mark Justice, Secretary, Director of Education & Community Relations, Cobb EMC

•  Natalie Rutledge, Executive Director, Communities in Schools of Georgia

•  Jim Ney, Board Member

•  Ria Thakkar, Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company

and furnish the Vinings Children’s Area. “Our libraries need the support of our community,” Morris says. “COVID-19 tested us in unimaginable ways, and the outcome is clear: Our libraries are essential. Our libraries have provided hotspots, electronic materials, online classes and story times, and a variety of other resources in this time of need.”

•  Abby Shiffman, Chair, Cobb Library Trustee

However, it goes without saying that the system’s needs go beyond that of online resources. “Our physical libraries allow people access to classes, computers, teen centers, green screens, recording studios, creative spaces, and conference/community rooms for business and other meetings,” Morris adds. “They also allow people of every age to congregate and socialize. Our

libraries continue to evolve with the needs of our community. Libraries today are safe, resource-rich community centers with limitless opportunities.” Poyer couldn’t agree more. “The library is a gateway for a high quality of life by providing resources … promoting connections and well-being throughout the county,” she concludes. n

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Special Section

Leaders of Cobb


ince its establishment more than 180 years ago, Cobb County has been defined by its people. Some of these individuals have made their mark by becoming pioneers of business, captains of industry and heads of state. And if you’re reading this, you likely know why Cobb is attractive to so many. It hosts exceptional schools, is within close reach to the world’s busiest airport, has all of the convenience of proximity to the

big city and is fertile ground for entrepreneurship. The list goes on, but it always comes back to the people who have built this county into what it is. On the following pages we have profiled individuals who are among Cobb’s premier leaders. We wanted to find out about their jobs, delve into their personal lives, and gain some words of wisdom. And of course, we asked: Why have you picked Cobb County?



Photo by LaRuche Photo

Leaders of Cobb We specialize in all residential, luxury, commercial, land and investment properties. God is good. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: Cobb County has and will always feel like home to both my husband and me. We currently live in Cherokee County, but everything my husband and I do revolves around Cobb County in some way. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The real estate industry has changed my life. My only regret is that I didn’t start my career earlier in life. With that said, I trust God’s timing for it all. I have always been in the customer service business in some way, and being able to help families, individuals, and business owners realize their dreams by building wealth through real estate is the best job ever. LEISURE TIME: I almost want to ask, “what is leisure time?” Right now, there is not much time left for real leisure. But my favorite place is being home and doing absolutely NOTHING. We are fortunate to get to travel, even though it’s mostly for conferences. Rest assured; we are going to have fun no matter what. Thank goodness there is a little light at the end of the tunnel and the conference travel will subside soon. BEST ADVICE: Find your local trusted REALTOR and invest in real estate when you can. More importantly, be a good human. Believe there is good in the world and be the good.

Sierra Westrick, REALTOR/Owner

2023 President-Cobb Association of Realtors THE STORY: I was born and raised in Georgia and mostly grew up in Cobb County. I have owned several businesses through the years — one of which was Sierra’s Cookie Gifts and Sandwiches — but also worked at a local golf course before getting into real estate in 2016. Essentially, I reinvented myself at a young 49 years of age. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks. My husband and I wanted to start investing in property and one of us needed our real estate license, so I went for it and loved it. Now, he and I are new owners of Realty One Group Edge with 180 agents and growing with locations in Woodstock, Duluth, Rome, and soon to open in Kennesaw. If it is real estate, we can sell it.

WHAT’S NEXT? It has been such an honor to serve the more than 2,300 Realtors and Affiliate Members as the 2023 President of the Cobb Association of Realtors. As I look back on this year and with only a few more weeks left in this position, I can honestly say I have learned so much about myself. First, I’ve learned that I truly do love encouraging people and helping them grow in their business and grow personally. Sometimes, the only thing a person needs is someone who sees them. The second thing I have learned is that sitting at the head of the table is harder than it looks. The third thing is that although necessary and important, I do not care for Robert’s Rules and have renamed my version as Bubba’s Rules (just a joke). What’s next? We are getting ready to paint Cobb County black & gold with the opening of our next Realty One Group Edge location in Kennesaw. We could not be more thrilled to help even more great agents and their clients buy and sell real estate.

625 Molly Lane, Suite 140 • Woodstock, GA 30189 • Mobile: 678.628.4965 • Office: 678.909.7709 • 18


THE STORY: I was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, and attended Sprayberry High School. I have degrees from Kennesaw State University (BBA), Troy University (MBA), and Taft University (JD). I started my career as a professional wrestler in the late 1980s, which ran through the mid-1990s, while wrestling for various promotions throughout the Southeast. While in the corporate sector, I held executive-level positions as a Vice President, Corporate Compliance Officer, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Compliance Officer in the telecommunications, financial, and healthcare industries. I was a professor at Kennesaw State University, teaching at the undergraduate and executive MBA programs, and held administrative roles while serving as a career coach. Becoming an author was something I always wanted to do. As a former professional wrestler, a corporate executive, and a college professor, I thought, there’s has to be something interesting within that path that could help others. I have been blessed in both my personal life and professional careers. I have had what one may call an unconventional path in my career choices. I’m not sure too many people go from being a professional wrestler to a C-level executive to a college professor. Probably not the most straightforward path; however, that seems to be the way I do things. Hey, it may not be the track for everyone but it allowed me to live a semi-charmed life. I learned many skills along the way that could be applied in making a living or changing careers. So, I thought my journey — as well as some uplifting, motivating stories — would help others to take a chance on a career move or job advancement. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: Cobb County has always been home to me. I enjoy all that Cobb has to offer and it keeps me close to my family. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love helping people. I’ve had people help me throughout my journey from professional wrestling to the corporate world to the classroom. I feel it’s important to pay it forward. LEISURE TIME: I enjoy spending time with my wife. We enjoy walks and movies. I enjoy exercising, reading, and spending time with friends.

Photo by LaRuche Photo

Leaders of Cobb

Wes Rhea, JD, MBA Author of “Off The Top Rope”

BEST ADVICE: I would like for your readers to know that no matter what has happened to you in your career journey, the skills you have learned along the way — as well as faith and a little bit of luck — can take you anywhere you want to go. Oh, you will have to put in the time and effort, and it may not be easy. At times, you may feel like giving up. I want you to know that if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Perseverance is the key. Always remember the skills you have learned from one career can translate to another career. So, don’t think that because you haven’t done something in a certain sector, you can’t make a career change or advance up the corporate ladder. It’s out there for you if you want it. If you have a chance, go for it, and don’t look back. WHAT’S NEXT? My plan is to continue to pay it forward. I hope my journey will help people through my book and speaking engagements. I hope to have opportunities to speak at events to convey a positive, faith-filled message. Who knows, maybe another book is in the future. NOV EMBER/ DECEMBER 2023



Fast-track to Wellness Why Dr. Candace Walker believes IV therapy may just be the boost you need. By Michael J. Pallerino




our career is demanding. And regardless of whether or not you are on the road, your body certainly feels like it. You’re tired. Worn down. Overwhelmed. Your body is not only dehydrated but feels like it has been beaten down by stress. Candace M. Walker, M.D., meets these kinds of patients all the time. They are the everyday warriors. Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Week-long business travelers. Stay-athome parents. The job or situation doesn’t matter as much as the end result does. At the end of a long day, everyone, everywhere, in any situation can use just that extra little push. Dr. Walker has spent her career practicing family medicine in Metro Atlanta before opening Flowing Life Direct Health in Marietta. She says the traditional, volume-based way of practicing medicine is why she left the conventional clinic setting. “It burned me out and I needed to find a way to practice real medicine,” Dr. Walker said. “The art of doctoring is lost in today’s health system.

IV Nutrition Therapy works by delivering fluids, nutrients, and medications directly into a client’s bloodstream. The efficient method bypasses the digestive system, which enables rapid absorption and immediate effects. The traditional system is not meeting the needs of individuals and is not providing a personalized, integrative way.” Part of what Flowing Life offers is IV Nutrition Therapy, which works by delivering fluids, nutrients, and medications directly into a client’s bloodstream through a vein. The efficient method bypasses the digestive system, which enables rapid absorption and immediate effects. “With IV Nutrition Therapy, you can get a higher concentration of vitamins without upsetting the digestive system,” she said. “Over the past few years, the treatment

Coming next year!

has become more and more popular. IV nutrition therapy, or ‘drips,’ offer a plethora of benefits. Every one of our IV nutrition therapies will offer hydration and minerals.” IV therapy is commonly used for rehydration, nutrient supplementation, administering medications, and correcting imbalances in electrolytes or blood chemistry. It also allows for precise control over dosage and timing, making it a powerful tool in healthcare. “IV therapy is an effective way to get essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids,” Dr. Walker said. “Unlike oral supplements, which your body may not fully

900 Wylie Rd. SE • Marietta, GA 30067

In addition to celebrating our 120th anniversary in 2024, A.G. Rhodes is opening a new home at our Cobb location. This new home will improve the quality of care and safety of elders, particularly for those living with dementia.

∗ Private bedrooms ∗ Sunroom to connect with the outdoors ∗ Centralized community kitchen ∗ Living room with an inviting hearth ∗ Dining room for family-style meals ∗ Outdoor gardens

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Learn more and get updates on our progress:




“Unlike oral supplements, which your body may not fully absorb, IV vitamins provide a direct route to the bloodstream for optimal absorption. This means you can get the nourishment your body needs at a cellular level, potentially speeding up healing and recovery.” –Candace M. Walker, M.D., owner of Flowing Life Direct Health

absorb, IV vitamins provide a direct route to the bloodstream for optimal absorption. This means you can get the nourishment your body needs at a cellular level, potentially speeding up healing and recovery.” And there are other benefits, too. For example, besides promoting overall health, some clients (Dr. Walker refers to people in her Direct Primary Care membership as “members.”) turn to IV therapy to aid with weight loss, improve physical performance, skin brightening, elevated performance and recovery, hangover recovery and to fight signs of aging. It is why if you walk into the Flowing Life facility, you have a menu of IV drip options, including the Energizer, the Executive, Rise and Shine, Fountain of Youth, and more. The treatment, available for members and nonmembers, offers a private, spa-like experience that along with the Flowing Life team, you can create a physician-guided and customized IV drip treatment plan that meets your needs. “Personalizing your care is our priority,” Dr. Walker said. “We’re here to help you stay healthy in the safest and most relaxing way possible. We’re currently featuring party packages that provide a healthinfused hydrating experience for you and your friends. This is great for wedding parties, birthday parties, or fun get-togethers.”

example, clients with health conditions such as heart failure, or certain types of kidney or lung disease may not be eligible. Certain medications and allergies also may affect your eligibility. Once your existing and previous medical conditions and allergies are reviewed, you can begin your initial consultation to determine which IV Nutrition Therapy cocktail best fits your health and wellness needs.

Vein Vitality The first question Dr. Walker typically gets asked is, “How does it work?” It all starts with a phone call. After you book a free consultation, you will meet with Dr. Walker to discuss your medical history. There are some limitations regarding who can receive IV therapy treatments. For 22


The procedure is straightforward. It’s the same sterile procedure used by hospitals to administer medications and quickly hydrate individuals, but in a comfortable, private, relaxing environment. The therapy involves the insertion of a small, thin tube called an IV catheter into a vein in one of your arms. The catheter is connected to a bag of fluids that can contain various substances like

Get your IV therapy Here’s a breakdown of Flowing Life’s menu of IV Nutrition Therapy services (starting at $150): • Energizer • The Executive • Immune Booster • Weight Loss • Rise and Shine • Fountain of Youth • Performance Booster

IV Nutrition Therapy Enhancements and Injections ($25 for enhancements and $50 for injections): • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) • Vitamin D3 • NAD+ • Zinc Sulfate • Dexamethasone • Ketorolac • Ondansetron • Diphenhydramine HCL • Lipo C • Glutathione • Vitamin/Mineral Blend •  “Skinny Shots” (Vitamin B injections, Lipotropic injections)

saline, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and medications. The bag stays on a hook or stand while a pump or gravity flow controls the rate at which the fluids enter your body. During the treatment, some clients experience a cool feeling in their arm or a mineral taste in the mouth — both of which are normal, shortlived, potential side effects. Depending on the specific type of IV therapy you’re getting and your unique needs, the duration of the treatment can vary. While Flowing Life members/clients typically plan for 30 minutes to an hour for each session, the therapies are never rushed. The goal is to provide a relaxing environment that enables each client to take the time needed to heal through hydration. “You may get IV therapy sessions as often as one to two times a week,” Dr. Walker said. “However, many clients do not need to get IV therapy as often. It all depends on your unique circumstances and wellness goals. For example, if you are looking to boost energy levels, you may notice the effects

Flowing Life Direct Health 711 Canton Rd. NE, Suite 100 Marietta, GA 30060 404.924.8490 within three days to two weeks following your first treatment. But if you are trying to accelerate your metabolism or clear your skin, it may take at least three weeks to see positive changes (Note: The effects on your metabolism begin instantly on a cellular level).”

Why IV therapy treatments? While oral vitamins are convenient, Dr. Walker says they may not be as effective as IV vitamins. Your digestive system only absorbs about 20 to 30 percent of the vitamins and minerals you consume orally. But IV therapy empowers nutrients to be rapidly absorbed directly into the bloodstream for maximum benefits, allowing your body to efficiently use

the nutrients at a cellular level. In a time when more people are seeking alternatives to keeping their bodies in check, you will find several different options in the marketplace, including IV therapy clinics. The key is to prioritize your safety and health by selecting a clinic with physician-guided protocols. For example, Flowing Life provides those initial physician consults, which help optimize the health and safety of the client, and matches the therapy to their needs. So, if you find yourself tired, worn down and overwhelmed with it all, an IV therapy just may be the boost you need to jumpstart your recovery. All it takes is a phone call. n



Putting Talent To Work For Cobb Mike Whittle is a business owner dedicated to giving back. By Jennifer Morrell



All photos by LaRuche Photo

Mike Whittle, owner, K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc., is ready to serve your holiday flower and gift needs.




. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. — a family-owned business and staple in the Cobb County area — is well known for the finest in floral arrangements, gifts, and friendly, prompt service. Over the years, owner Mike Whittle also has developed a reputation as one of the community’s most giving, charitable business owners. Mike Whittle’s journey into the floral industry began when he was only 13 years old, earning money selling soft drink bottles, cutting lawns and raking leaves, but he was eager to find ways to earn more. Around that time, Whittle noticed cattails growing in a pond near his home in Smyrna. He ventured into that pond, cut the plants, and took them to Jonquil Florist hoping the owner would purchase them. “She asked me if I was interested in flowers, I told her that I had always loved flowers,” he recalls. “Then, she asked me if I could tie a bow, and I told her I didn’t think I ever had, but I thought I could, if she’d show me. She tied a corsage bow, gave me the ribbon, and told me to see what I could do.” The florist was shocked when Whittle was able to tie the bow just as she had. She asked if he would like to help her in the flower shop over Mother’s Day weekend, and he agreed. He ended up tying more than 100 bows for orchid corsages, and Whittle continued to work in Ms. Betty’s shop, learning the trade and nurturing his gifts.

53 years later, Whittle is still in the industry, honing his skills, and making a difference in the lives of others. In the beginning, Mike worked with several area florists, including Petersens in Marietta before finally settling at a shop in Carrollton, Georgia with some dear friends. What Mike didn’t plan for was the reactions of others to his tasteful, opulent designs and charismatic personality. In a series of happenstances, Mike was approached and encouraged to open his own shop. After some discussions with friends in the funeral home industry and other area businessmen including Greg Litchfield, the wheels were set in motion and everything moved quickly. Following a trip to the bank and, hours later, a signed lease, Mike was prepared for late night renovations. After telling his wife, Vickie, and with her and others’ help and support, the opening of K. Mike Whittle Designs in the old Clark Library building, just off the square in Marietta was soon to be a reality. When the time came for Whittle to tell the owners of The Flower Cart in Carrollton, Carolyn and Donald Threadgill, about his new venture, they were in full support as well. The 12 years spent working at their shop most certainly prepared him for the significant next step. They knew as well as Mike that a major benefit to owning his new shop would be working in closer proximity to his two grandchildren, so he never looked back. Whittle opened the shop in October 2009, right in the middle of a recession, with a Christmas Open House. The rest is history, and “blessed” is the word he uses to describe his life today. “We have the best clientele in Cobb County and the surrounding area,” he says. Located at 156 Church Street in Marietta, the shop also serves Kennesaw, Acworth, Powder Springs, Smyrna and Atlanta, but Whittle’s is equipped to send floral designs anywhere in the United States.

All in the details

K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. assists many clients with flowers for funeral arrangements, and has a private area within the shop to do so. Pictured with Mike is Sarah Driskell.



K. Mike Whittle Designs offers fullservice floral design and specialty services ranging from tropicals, plants, and a variety of fresh floral arrangements to silk and dried floral arrangements. The shop employs nine people full-time, with others on standby for seasonal work.

“We have always been there when people needed us. We choose to provide flowers when they are needed for the fundraisers in our area. We are very proud to be able to support so many of our clients for these events, because they have been so good to us over the years.” –Mike Whittle, owner, K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. Whittle says the impeccable service he and his team can offer starts with a laser-focused attention to detail. He employs award-winning designers with years of experience spanning all aspects of the floral industry. Whittle and his team keep their ideas and floral offerings fresh and modern, attending shows and seminars to keep abreast of new products and trends. “We are very detail-oriented to ensure our customers are taken care of in every way,” K Mike says. “We offer designs using unique and different flower varieties, and we continue our education through the Society of American Florists, the American Institute of Floral Design, Georgia Florist Wholesalers, Georgia State Florist Association, and the Florida State Florists’ Association.” K. Mike Whittle Designs has a steadfast following of loyal customers who are happy to sing his praises any time they can. “Mike is so talented, and the quality of his work is unsurpassed,” says Wanda Callahan with Cobb’s 10 Women of Hope organization. “Not only does he provide exquisite floral designs, but his devotion to our community is also second to none.”

provide flowers when they are needed for the fundraisers in our area,” he says. “We are very proud to be able to support so many of our clients for these events, year after year, because they have been so good to us. One of the great things about our community is that we support each other even in the bad times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The gift of giving Cobb County is full of successful businesses of all sizes, serving all the needs imaginable of consumers. The difference, however, between a successful business owner and a business owner dedicated to giving back to the community is what makes Mike Whittle such a contribution to the Cobb County community. Whittle says the main way he and his staff give back to the community is through the provision of flowers for charitable events. Rather than focusing heavily on advertising, Whittle lets his charitable contributions of gorgeous flowers serve as the message about him and his business. “We have always been there when people needed us. We choose to

Mike Whittle’s faith is front and center within his shop. He says he’s blessed to have been called to serve the community.



The artist at work.

Whittle supports schools, hospices, churches, women’s groups, the Fraternal Order of Police, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), and garden clubs, to name a few. “We love to give to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” he says. “We do something for them every week, and we are there so often that my grandson calls it ‘his hospital.’ Pam Yonker and her team are absolutely wonderful to work with.” As it turns out, for Yonker, community development officer for CHOA, the feeling is mutual. “I’m not sure there is anyone who can outdo Mike Whittle in giving back to the community,” Yonker says. “Whether it’s giving out flowers to people ‘just because’ or providing a whimsical arrangement every

Save the date K. Mike Whittle Designs Inc. is hosting two Open House events in November. Don’t miss them! •  Open House November 17, 4-8 p.m. •  Open House November 18, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 156 Church St, Marietta, GA 30060



week to brighten the faces of the patients, parents, and the staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Town Center Urgent Care, Mike’s positive attitude and caring spirit are pervasive in our community. We are incredibly grateful for Mike and how he uses his Godgiven talents to minister to so many people!” K. Mike Whittle Designs has been involved in numerous galas, both large and small. One of Whittle’s favorite events is a fundraiser for the Center for Family Resources, a Cobb County organization that works to serve families and individuals who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. “It’s always beautiful and special,” Whittle says, “They give me a theme and let me be creative, which works best. We collaborate among our entire floral team and the event always turns out beautifully.” Whittle says his mission is to be creative and satisfy each customer with plenty of customer service. When a client calls him with a budget, he will do the best that he can, no matter the size of the budget. The pressure to do more and spend more is not there, and customers appreciate that. The list of Cobb community leaders who rave about K. Mike Whittle Designs is long and impressive. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t a fan of Whittle and his amazing team. “Mike’s floral creations truly reflect his unique personality, which is often whimsical and surprising, and always designed with meticulous care,” says Patti Schoettler, an independent agent for AFLAC, known servant leader, and 2022 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year. “Mike has a heart for bringing joy to others through the gift of flowers, and countless organizations in our community can attest to his generosity.”

Meant to be Whittle makes no bones about the required mix of talent and passion needed to run his business, and how that recipe has been key to his success. “You have to have a God-given ability to do it, and do it right,” he says. “It’s also knowing the differences in flowers and how they work for different designs. I’ve done a lot of training through the years, and it enhances your creativity.” And when it comes to a natural ability, well, that matters as well. “Being a florist gets in your blood, and you can’t get out of it. I have had an appreciation of flowers since Day 1! And, God has Blessed us from the start to what we have become today.” n

Honoring Military Veterans In recognition of Veterans Day, Cobb In Focus wanted to make you aware of a few events and other news items related to local military service members and those who assist our service members. Veterans Memorial 5K

Thank Those Who Served

Lace up for a cause and honor America’s veteran community on November 11. The 9th Annual Veterans Memorial 5K Run is presented by American Legion Post 29. Horace Orr American Legion Post 29 of Marietta produces the event. Post 29 is one of the oldest Legion posts in America, founded Sept. 29, 1919. This event fulfills several of the group’s mandates as a veterans organization. The money raised is all distributed to honorable charities serving veterans in need in our community and state. The 5k Run helps the Legion engage with the non-veteran community in a positive and patriotic manner, sharing its belief in Americanism, patriotism, and the importance of honoring our fallen veterans. This is a fun, family event that continues to grow each year. Spend the day at the Marietta Square, running safely, and helping to support veterans’ causes. More info:

On Saturday, November 4, the United Military Care organization is holding a special event at East Cobb Park in Marietta where, among other activities, guests have the opportunity to give thanks to those who served, shake the hands of veterans, listen to live music, and learn about American military history. United Military Care’s mission is to ensure veterans of all ages, branches, and lifestyles receive the care and support necessary to live their best life. The organization provides the tools and resources to empower our veterans to live a safe, healthy, productive life through one-on-one relationships backed by a dedicated team of professionals. Learn more at

42nd Annual Georgia Veterans Day Parade The Georgia Veterans Day Association (GVDA) will host the 42nd Annual Georgia Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 11. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. Midtown Atlanta (Peachtree Street from 15th to 5th Street). The GVDA says There are plenty of parking options, convenient MARTA stations, and plenty of amazing restaurants to enjoy after the parade. For more information, visit

Cobb Veterans Memorial Foundation Welcomes New Directors and Advisors The Board of Directors of the Cobb Veterans Memorial Foundation has elected Directors, Ron Goodbub and Kelvin King, and Advisory Council member District Attorney Flynn Broody. The new elected members are all distinguished military veterans and community leaders who will enhance and help guide the mission of building the Cobb Veterans Memorial Park next to the Cobb Civic Center. Visit the Cobb Veterans Memorial’s website at for more information on the new Memorial Park.



Cobb Senior Services is holding a number of events at its senior center locations through November 14. More info:

In celebration of Veterans Day, The Warrior Alliance and its coalition of legal service provider partners are collaborating to support veterans, activeduty, and National Guard/Reserves with free legal advice. Event is at The Battery Atlanta. More info:

Cobb Senior Services Events


Military Appreciation Luncheon The 71st Annual ARMAC Military Appreciation Luncheon is a celebration of Cobb’s military community, recognizing the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. More info:

Veteran Legal Services Clinic


Veteran’s Day Ceremonies Join the Cobb County community in honoring United States military veterans. Event details and start times will vary by municipality. Note: Some

events may be scheduled before November 11. Acworth: Kennesaw: Marietta: Powder Springs: Smyrna:


Wreaths Across America Sponsor a wreath to be placed on a veteran’s grave this December at Marietta National Cemetery. More info: GA0378P



In Your Community

Help, Hope, Healing Cobb Family Advocacy Center provides resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder and child abuse, stalking, and human trafficking.

By Lindsay Field Penticuff


obb District Attorney Flynn Broady vividly remembers one of the first times he ever shared his personal story — the one of him growing up in a home of family violence. “When I first started telling my story at some of our meetings, and I told the story about how my mom never reported [domestic violence in our home], I had someone come up to me after the presentation,” Broady recalls. “She was crying and gave me this big old hug and said I just told her story, and it really made me feel that this was important. This was a nurse, someone who is doing well and doing great things, but she had a story to tell, and she told me. And finally, after 16 years, she got away from her abuser.” But Broady believes this individual was one of the “lucky ones,” because she got away, and got away alive. “So many are not [lucky], and that’s why we need family advocacy centers. We must do what we can to protect our folks. And more than anything, we must protect our children, because they grow up seeing this trauma,” he says. “They grow up accepting that this


is normal life, and they are more prone to drop out of school, join gangs, use drugs … all those things that we are trying to keep our children from doing.”

FAC opening in early 2024 On Dec. 15, 2022, Broady officially announced the groundbreaking for the Cobb Family Advocacy Center (FAC) — the first center of its kind in Georgia. It is modeled after similar family justice centers across the country. The grand opening for the center will be held December 15 of this year, with plans to deliver holistic wraparound services beginning of 2024 with assistance from community partners. “Most of the country refers to these as ‘family justice centers,’ but we decided to name ours the Cobb Family Advocacy Center because we wanted it to be neutral and not be associated with just the criminal justice field,” Broady says. “We wanted people to understand that this is a place where they can go to get the resources they need to get away from their abuser.” The Cobb FAC will provide victims of


domestic violence, sexual assault, elder and child abuse, stalking and human trafficking a centralized, safe location to meet with organizations of their choosing. This may include support from law enforcement and assistance in obtaining temporary protective orders, as well as services such as counseling, housing, and employment assistance. The Cobb FAC also assists victims of other crimes, not just domestic violence. “The model is designed where we can receive people in this building at any given time and in any capacity,” says TaNesha McAuley, Cobb FAC Executive Director. “It’s not a referral-only program, which is what’s so wonderful about it. If someone knows about this service and they are experiencing a domestic violence issue or abuse (elder abuse, stalking, human trafficking, rape, etc.), they can come here.” Funding for the FAC was made possible through grants from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Victims of Crimes Act, and the location at 277 Fairground St. SE in Marietta was donated by Cobb County Government. It formerly

“We are asking you to come in here and get the help you need to get away from [the abuser] — we don’t care who it is. Get what you need to make you feel whole.” –Flynn Broady, Cobb County District Attorney housed offices for the Cobb County Division of Family and Children Services. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners also voted unanimously to fund the three positions and roles that will be serving the center. “I can’t tell you how appreciative I am for that, because when we first started talking to the county about it, [board members] weren’t sure we needed this,” Broady says. “But we continued to talk to them and our partners, and tell the stories of some of our victims. When it came down to it, we honestly didn’t count on getting a 5-0 vote, but we did, and that’s because [board members saw] that we need this.” The creation of the center is made possible due to the collaboration of community partners, including the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, County Manager Dr. Jackie McMorris, LiveSafe Resources, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Cobb County Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, Cobb County Solicitor General’s Office, Cobb County Public Safety Director Randy Crider, Cobb Legal Aid, and many more community service agencies.

Why open a center in Cobb County? Broady describes domestic violence as a hidden crime, because oftentimes, victims don’t report it until the seventh or eighth time they’ve been abused. By then, he says, it’s usually only reported because the individual feels like the abuser is going to kill them. “And even then, 50 percent of them want to recant their stories and go back to their abuser, subjecting themselves to even worse,” he adds. Having somewhere like the Cobb FAC helps encourage victims to seek support much earlier in the abuse cycle. “Everywhere [the

centers have] been implemented, there’s also been a reduction in family violence; there’s been a reduction in fatalities due to domestic violence; and as a result, a lot of the trauma that children see that grow up in those types of homes, has been reduced,” Broady says. “The sad part about our criminal justice system is that a lot of the people who are in it usually come from a broken home or a home where family violence was prominent,” he continued. “So, if we can eliminate or reduce it, we can continue to make our community safer. That’s the main focus on why we wanted to have a FAC here in Cobb County.” McAuley notes that the center isn’t just for victims who are experiencing physical abuse. “Domestic violence and physical abuse are just one aspect of it,” she says. “We do recognize emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. It will be important for us as a team and our partners to provide that education, because a lot of times with what we’ve seen through research and group studies, people don’t make that connection and don’t realize that the mental and emotional abuse is just as critical as any physical abuse.” And emotional abuse usually predates physical abuse, Broady adds. “Usually there’s the emotional abuse; the yelling and degrading,”

he says. “And if they have pets, they may start harming pets or hitting walls, then the next thing you know, they are hitting you.”

An impact from day 1 Within the first 24 hours of announcing last December that the Cobb FAC would be opening, McAuley says her team started receiving phone calls, and she personally got to work with their first client. “Not having a building hasn’t kept us from being able to coordinate with our partners,” she says. “What we’ve told folks is that we are operational and have staff on-site who can get them connected to resources before they even step foot into the building.” Such an immediate response from the community has helped validate what Broady says has been a need in the community for so long. “This is a service that’s needed in Cobb County, and all across Georgia,” he says. “Literally, the day we released the press release, we started receiving phone calls, which emphasized the need even more.” And it’s even more convenient to be opening a location that will have so many services in one location — a one-stop-shop of sorts. “Our goal is to lessen the trauma,” McAuley says. “Our victims are already navigating a lot, and when we’ve looked at the studies and at other family justice centers: A victim could potentially have to go to ten or more different places to get services. Naturally, being able to get everything coordinated under one roof is going to reduce that trauma significantly. Victims are looking for help, hope, and healing. They can get that by being here and seeing us with one voice. They won’t feel like they are in this alone.” “We aren’t asking you to come in here and rat on your abuser,” Broady concludes. “We are asking you to come in here and get the help you need to get away from them — we don’t care who it is. Get what you need to make you feel whole.” n

Cobb Family Advocacy Center 277 Fairground St. SE, Marietta, GA 30060 Website: • Phone: (770) 528-8121



Final Focus

Small Gestures By Cory Sekine-Pettite


ypically, we produce the final issue of the year around a theme of giving thanks. Surely, you’ve noticed the more obvious ways in which we highlight how local business owners and service providers are giving back. And we’ve offered a few options for how you can help the community as well. For example, the local Veterans Day events we publicize on page 29 or MUST Ministries on page 8.. But for this page, I thought I would shine a spotlight on other, smaller ways in which we all can give back — not just for charity, but for our families, friends, and for ourselves. You may be surprised at just how far-reaching a small gesture can be. When was the last time you gave someone a hand-written thank you note? This unexpected action will make someone’s day and let them know they’re appreciated. If you want to make this a habit — and why wouldn’t you — create personalized thank you cards with your initials (or a unique design) printed on them. My wife has a set of such cards, and people love to receive them. Perform random acts of kindness. For example, hold open a door, buy a coffee for the next person in line at your favorite coffee shop, tip generously, compliment someone’s attire, and let that driver into your lane so they can make their exit. Then enjoy the fact that another person’s lifted mood could inspire them to pay it forward. Give your spouse or significant other a bouquet of flowers “just because.” And plan a date night. In our busy, modern lives, it can be difficult to make time for those closest to us but make the effort. Showing gratitude is key to long-lasting relationships. Finally, I offer the idea of simply making a phone call to someone who would appreciate hearing your voice. Through our embrace of texting and social media, we’ve lost the norm of calling family and friends to chat about our lives and to let them know they are loved and appreciated. Give it a try; you won’t regret it. n



DELIVERING VALUE BEYOND ELECTRICITY If your home is powered by Cobb EMC, you are a member of our co-op family. This year, Cobb EMC members’ bills are $40 lower per month than the state average, and we’re ranked #1 in Georgia for low rates among all electric utilities*. Cobb EMC is also ranked #1 in the nation for providing reliable power and restoring outages quickly.** Reliable power from us means more time for you to focus on the moments that matter most. Cobb EMC has awarded $870,050 to 282 students in our community to power future leaders and support their educational goalst. Additionally, the Cobb EMC Foundation has awarded more than $8.2 million to nonprofits right here in our community since its inception in 2013. At Cobb EMC, we’re powered by the purpose of serving our members and delivering value beyond electricity. To learn more, visit

*According to the Georgia Public Service Commission summer rate survey based on 1,000 kWh consumption. **According to the IEEE’s 2023 benchmark year study results. t As of 2022.

770-429-2100 |

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