Cobb In Focus November December 2021

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Giving Patients the Gift of Confidence Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS

iTrip Vacations • Poole’s Pharmacy • Whitefield Academy • Ameris Bank • SCAA

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We are alive with community spirit and a quality of life that is at once beau�ful, playful, fearless, unique and joyful. Smyrna has great courage, determina�on, flexibility and adap�bility, ac�vely seeking the “sweetest nectar” for our residents and businesses. We believe that seemingly small ideas and concepts o�en possess the greatest poten�al and power. Get to know our surprising and cap�va�ng quality of life, our diverse neighborhoods, our rich community spirit, our beau�ful streetscapes, our robust services, and so much more. Seek the good in life and the beauty in each day in Smyrna.

City of Smyrna, 2800 King Street, Smyrna Ga 30080 / 770-434-6600

Contents Vol. XVII, No. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021


A Surgeon’s Hand And An Artist’s Eye


Even after 25-plus years in medicine, Dr. Seth A. Yellin still loves giving patients the gift of confidence.


Connect with a local leader who strives to make Cobb County a better place.


Ameris Bank is commemorating 50 years of business and 50 years of giving back.


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


Ralph Auriemmo of Marietta is excited to share how iTrip Vacations can support local homeowners.


The family-operated Poole’s Pharmacy in Marietta has been taking care of the community for decades. This is their story.


Celebrating 25 years, Whitefield Academy continues its mission to send young people into the world equipped with a unique integration of differentiating traits.

On the cover: Dr. Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS, Founder and Director of Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center. Photo: Shasta Rhodes




Events and other news items related to local military service members and those who assist our service members.


The South Cobb Arts Alliance is celebrating 50 years of supporting the arts and artists in Cobb.


What are your favorite holiday traditions?

foreSight COBB


New South Publishing Inc. President Larry Lebovitz Vice President John Hanna Publisher Jamie Ryan Account Executive Sherry Gasaway Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite

There are two themes running through the articles in this issue: tradition and dedication to craft. Nearly all the subjects of our features are celebrating anniversaries or milestones, and we’re bringing you their stories in celebration of their crafts (be they medical or cultural in nature) and in recognition of their extensive commitment to our community. Read our cover feature (p. 20) on Dr. Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS, to learn how he has been changing lives for more than 25 years. Also commemorating a silver anniversary is Whitefield Academy (p. 14), which has been shaping young minds and creating future leaders through a curriculum often recognized among the best in Georgia. Additionally, we feature two deeply rooted community organizations that have been engaging in civic and economic callings for 50 years. First, there’s Ameris Bank (p. 26), which operates under a core principle of community service and has worked continuously to ensure that it takes care of people, not just business. Then there’s the non-profit South Cobb Arts Alliance’s artistic and cultural endeavors (p. 29) that help to make Cobb County a truly wonderful place to live. Speaking of long traditions and anniversaries, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year, and she has a milestone birthday just before Christmas. So, I’ve been thinking lately about the increasing need the both of us have for sticking to certain holiday traditions and making new ones. The last two years certainly have reminded me of the importance of family. I’ve also been looking back at some of the lost Christmas traditions of my youth and wondering if that magic can be found again. Read my thoughts on that on page 32 and then share with us your favorite holiday traditions. Email me at

Photo by LaRuche Creative

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

Associate Editor Amy Meadows Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta Contributors Lindsay Field Penticuff, Writer Jennifer Morrell, Writer LaRuche Creative, 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) 6501102, ext. 100. Direct all circulation queries to (770) 650-1102, 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 2021 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. For address changes, email




Sharper Focus Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community. Town Center CID Studying Freight Impact

The Town Center Community Improvement District is the recipient of a $250,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission for assistance with a Freight Cluster Study that will provide a snapshot of the freight impacts in the northwest region of Cobb County. Logistics to be analyzed include truck traffic, staging of deliveries, impacts to surrounding roadways, railway influences, interstate disbursement, and overall fluidity of the system.

Schools and Libraries Partner to Benefit Students in Georgia

Beautification Continues on Powder Springs Road

The City of Marietta continues its city-wide beautification and safety enhancement projects, this time focusing on the Powder Springs Road corridor from Sandtown Road to South Marietta Parkway. As with previously completed corridor improvement projects, including Roswell Street, Whitlock Avenue, Fairground Street, and Kennesaw Avenue, this project is funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Once completed, the Powder Springs Road project will see a new 8-foot-wide trail installed from Sandtown Road all the way to South Marietta Parkway and will feed into the Mountain to River Trail which runs parallel to the Marietta Square.

Georgia Public Library Service has launched the new PLAY library card in select areas of the state, with plans to eventually roll out the card in all 159 Georgia counties. The PLAY card is unique because it is distributed through schools to each of their individual students. The card will contain a unique school number that is also the student’s library access number. Students with the card will be able to access the entire collection of PINES Library Systems’ 11 million materials that can be delivered to their home libraries free of charge. Learn more at

New Cobb County Police HQ Opens Cobb Commissioners, Police Department leadership, and property management officials cut the ribbon for the new police headquarters on Fairground Street in Marietta last month. The building, a former credit union, underwent $16 million in renovations paid for through the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. It enabled the department to consolidate sections such as records, permitting, crimes against person unit, internal affairs unit, technology-based crimes, VIPER, and command staff.

The newest member of the Cobb District Attorney’s Office is a three-year-old black Labrador retriever named Rose. The DA was inspired to acquire a comfort dog for the office by the efforts of the Northeast Cobb Business Association’s 5K-9 event. The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Pups with a Purpose program, donated Rose to the office. She will act as a support resource for victims and staff. 4


Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid was named the 2021 Woman of Distinction during the Cobb Chamber’s Marquee Monday in September. The Chamber’s Cobb Executive Women Program has been presenting this award since 1991, which has been given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership through her professional endeavors, community involvement, and social responsibility.

2021 Woman of Achievement Cassie Mazloom, director of the Cobb County Emergency Management Agency, has been selected as a 2021 Woman of Achievement from the Academy of Women Leaders. She has dedicated time to helping All Hands-on, an organization that focuses on disaster training for the deaf community. Mazloom also works with the American Red Cross and Cobb County Emergency Management Volunteers and the Volunteer Search & Rescue Team. Other 2021 honorees include: Kim Blass, Yvonne Byars, Joyette Holmes, Melanie Kagan, Tanya LaFleur, Jennifer McKeehan, Jennifer Nelson, Heather Quaile, Tara Riddle, Katie Stieber, Meaghan Timko, Kristen Trice, Kimberly White, and Lisa Williams.

Akers Mill Express Lane Ramp Underway

The Cumberland Community Improvement District and the Georgia DOT held a groundbreaking ceremony on October 14 for a new access ramp to the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes. The new ramp begins at Akers Mill Road and is the newest of 12 access points for the express lanes. This project will provide an exit for the southbound express lanes in the morning and as a northbound entrance ramp in the evening. It is expected to substantially improve regional mobility and will continue to provide travel time savings.

Public Safety Heroes Honored

Cobb DA Welcomes New Service Dog ‘Rose’

Lisa Cupid Named Woman of Distinction

The Cobb Chamber recently honored Cobb County’s Public Safety heroes during Public Safety Appreciation Week, a community-wide effort to say “thank you” to the men and women who work to keep Cobb County safe. Awards included the Medal of Valor presented to Cobb County Police Officers David Cavender, John Pearson, and Bryan Moore for their actions during a firefight with an armed carjacker in June 2020. The event also honored Cobb County E-911 Deputy Director Kevin Gardner with the Outstanding Community Contribution award. Other awardees included the Public Safety Employee of the Year, Kennesaw Police Det. Daniel Wood; as well as Award of Merit recipients, Smyrna Police Department Officers Distin Trail and Tasia Sveda.


County Recognizes Seniors for the Lifetime of Work Cobb Board of Commissioners presented proclamations recently to the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County 2021 Life Achievement honorees. The seniors recognized for their lifetime of work included retired nurse Lilia C. Hagler, hospice volunteer Tilie Carter, retired firefighter and Community Emergency Response Team volunteer Rosario “Sal” Gullo, hospice volunteer Ken White, senior pastor Dr. Warren Dillon, and SAFE Place founder Helen Riley.


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



Running with Autism Speaks in Piedmont Park will provide you an exciting, memorable, and fulfilling experience where you can help enhance lives today while accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. More info:

Join fellow college football fans on the Market Villvage green in Smyrna for a day of games, music, and prizes. More info:

Autism Speaks Mid-South 5K

11/13 Truck-a-Palooza This annual event, which was moved from October, allows kids to get up close to police cars, fire trucks, construction vehicles, military vehicles, and even a police helicopter. More info:

11/20 – 1/2/22

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


Gobble Jog

Help raise money for MUST Ministries’ 19th annual Gobble Jog by participating in a 10K, 5K, 1K, or a Tot Trot. More info:

College Football Saturday in the Market Village



Join Keep Cobb Beautiful from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., to responsibly dispose of a variety of waste at Jim Miller Park in Marietta. The Hefty® EnergyBag® program orange bags will also be accepted. More info:

The Department of Emergency Communications is hosting its first E911 Recruitment Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Public Safety Village. More info:

KCB Community Recycling

11/20 Art in the Park – Wreath Making Join Kennesaw Parks & Recreation for this fun event. The city will supply kits with all the materials for you and your friends to create your own holiday wreaths. More info:

11/25 – 12/31 Lights of LIFE One of metro Atlanta’s best lights displays kicks off on Thanksgiving Day. Just $10 per car. More info:


12/3 12/4 Santa’s Arrival in Acworth A Day With Santa The City of Acworth welcomes Santa Claus to downtown on Friday around 5:30 p.m. More info:

12/10 Golden Eagle Luncheon 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:


All Aboard for Family Fun

The “Polar Express” movie will be screened at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The book will be read at 1 p.m., followed by the dramatic entrance of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Craft and educational tables will be set up throughout the day. More info:

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:


College Football Saturday in the Market Village

Join fellow college football fans on the Market Village green in Smyrna for a day of games, music, and prizes. More info:

12/11 Christmas in Acworth Join Santa for photos in Downtown Acworth! Festivities begin at 1 p.m. More info:

Cobb E911 Open House


Acworth Turkey Chase The 13th 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:

11/30 Coming Home for the Holidays This is Smyrna’s annual holiday kick-off party. The Big Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony happens with Santa and lots of holiday festivities to enjoy. More info:


Christmas House

The 36th annual Christmas House Arts and Crafts Show will take place at the Ford Center in Powder Springs. More info:

12/4-5 The Marietta Pilgrimage For the 35th annual Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour, get a glimpse inside private homes located in the Kennesaw Avenue Local Historic District. More info:


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: COBB




‘They Don’t Know Something Like This Exists’ Ralph Auriemmo of Marietta is excited to share how iTrip Vacations can support local homeowners By Lindsay Field Penticuff




don’t even know that something like this exists, he says.

Discovering iTrip Vacations So how did Auriemmo, a resident of Cobb County since 1994, learn about the iTrip Vacations franchise? “In the past, I was a real estate investor. I bought a lot of homes, did the renovations, then rented them out, and I’d rent the homes out to long-term rental tenants,” he shared. While still working as an IT professional full time, Auriemmo says his original business plan was to have a professional property management company manage his homes and his tenants. “I didn’t get good service, though,” Auriemmo said. “They were slow to get good tenants in my homes and I was losing money. The houses also weren’t maintained well, so when the tenants moved out, the homes were in poor

shape and I’d have to go back and redo a lot of the work.” As a result, he quit using property management companies and started his own business to manage homes. And Auriemmo’s background in IT helped quite a bit with juggling all the duties of someone who owns and manages multiple properties. “In managing long-term rental homes, there weren’t a lot of good systems out there at the time,” he added. “I was used to having some level of technology to make things easier, stay more organized and harness quality control, but I made it work.” Ultimately, Auriemmo got out of the longterm rental business, and while looking for new business opportunities last year, he came across the iTrip Vacations franchise. “It’s a large company across the United States that manages a little over 3,000 properties. We cover the whole U.S. and market

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy Exp


hen hearing the phrase short-term rental, many people’s minds often jump to beach trips or family vacation spots at the lake. But those are not the only choices, and that’s why iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta has become a viable option for anyone who has a second home or investment property right here in the Atlanta area, or is looking for one. Ralph Auriemmo, president of the iTrip Vacations franchise location headquartered in Marietta, has learned that people don’t just need housing for holiday getaways; they may need a temporary residence between moves. And in many cases, homes are a great option for corporate housing when executives are relocating to a new area. “I’ve found that when I’m out talking to people, they




Business internationally. That’s a little part of our secret sauce,” he said. “We are a local company, owned by local people who have ties to the community and care about the residents, but we are able to market internationally, so we get huge coverage and great results for the owners of the homes.” Not only did Auriemmo like the idea of managing short-term rental properties, but iTrip Vacations offers a large infrastructure of technology and great systems to help manage everything so that quality controls and checks & balances were there — something he didn’t have as a long-term rental property owner. “The automation is so good that it helps make sure things don’t drop through the cracks,” he said. “I am able to handle all the needs of a home, from having the housekeepers come out and making sure all the maintenance is correct to also making sure nothing gets missed.” The technology alone allows Auriemmo to manage multiple short-term rental properties at one time, and with highquality and customer satisfaction at the helm. “They have the systems I had always been looking for; all the pieces that tie together and all the technology to make sure it all happens seamlessly for the homeowners and flawlessly for me,” he said.

Launching a Business in 2021 Auriemmo started iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta in early 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem to hinder business. “Here at iTrip, we found maybe a two- to three-week lull at the beginning of the pandemic as people adjusted to what’s happening around them, but after that, vacation rentals with us had explosive growth, specifically during 2020 and 2021,” he said. “iTrip exceeded its goals for growth within the first six months of each year, in spite of the pandemic.”

“We are a local company, owned by local people who have ties to the community and care about the residents, but we are able to market internationally, so we get huge coverage and great results for the owners of the homes.” –Ralph Auriemmo, President, iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta

He thinks this is because people have turned away from hotel stays and are more interested in having their own space for short-term rental needs. “The only problems we’ve had are keeping up with the growth during the pandemic,” Auriemmo declared. Auriemmo’s location covers the areas north of the 285 Interstate perimeter. His office is headquartered in Marietta, but he manages properties from Lawrenceville all the way up to Lake Lanier and across to Blairsville. Similar to VRBO, which is iTrip Vacations’ software partner, the company started initially as a traditional vacation home rental business. But over the years, it has spread into short-term home rentals in urban markets such as Atlanta. “Not every home works perfectly or well as a shortterm rental, but many do,” Auriemmo said. “And I can come in and do a financial analysis for free for people to show whether it makes sense to turn their longterm rental or second home into a shortterm rental.”

“iTrip exceeded its goals for growth within the first six months of each year, in spite of the pandemic.” –Ralph Auriemmo, President, iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta 8



There are benefits to converting a home to a short-term rental, too. “We at iTrip Vacations could increase your revenue by a significant margin, and a short-term rental is maintained much, much better than longterm rentals,” Auriemmo said. “We have a maintenance and housekeeping crew that comes in every time after a guest leaves. So, two to four times a month they will flag a scuff on the wall or spot on the carpet so we can handle those issues immediately.” The properties are also managed by residents who are familiar with the area. “You have someone who lives here in the community and cares about you and your home locally, as opposed to another national company that is just a property management company with someone on the other end of the phone or online.”

Types of Clients, Customers and Properties With regards to the type of homeowners Auriemmo works with, there’s a range. Some are residents who may own a home, but they’ve moved out of the Atlanta area and need help managing their investment. “We can determine if their home makes sense to convert to a short-term rental,” he said. “I handle everything for them — taking care of the house, booking the property, [and] maximizing the revenue. All they do is collect the checks.” Another type of client is someone who is a professional investor; someone who has a portfolio of homes, maybe five to seven, and they are doing the same thing. “They may be managing the homes themselves

iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta Established: early 2021 Owner: Ralph Auriemmo, President Address: 1000 Whitlock Ave. 320-269, Marietta, GA 30064 Phone: 770.428.2592 Email: Website: Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Weekends, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

and are worn down by the minutia,” he said. “Or they are working with a property management company managing a longterm rental, but they didn’t realize they could be making almost 25 percent more in revenue by converting to a short-term rental with iTrip.” And Auriemmo’s team at iTrip Vacations can accommodate any type of client or customer. Their properties range from a one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment on the Marietta Square, which is great if

someone needs a place to stay for a festival or event, to corporate housing and fivebedroom houses on Lake Lanier. “People have options when they have a rental home or are looking for a short-term rental property, and I believe this option is the new way of doing things,” he added. “It’s a paradigm shift, and I’m excited to share that people don’t have to be stuck in the same box and with the same options.” He’s thankful to be able to bring the ability to help people turn their traditional

rental home into a short-term rental property in the North Metro Atlanta area. “I feel like I’m doing something for people, as opposed to when I was at the corporate level. I couldn’t see a direct benefit to people like I do now. I work with people directly, and I’m out shaking hands with people who own a home here in Atlanta and are frazzled because of all the work it takes to manage their home. I get to see the smiles on their faces, and I really enjoy helping people locally,” concludes Auriemmo. n

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A Vital Community Service

Since 1974, Poole’s Pharmacy has provided essential healthcare services and treated its patients like family. 10



By Cory Sekine-Pettite


aring. Friendly. First-class operation. Wonderful. Finest pharmacy there is in metro Atlanta. Best pharmacy around. These are just a few of the customer comments one can find online about Poole’s Pharmacy in Marietta. Since 1974, Poole’s has been serving the community’s healthcare needs with a level of service that can’t be matched by the chain stores and a quality of care that has created a loyal customer base. We spoke with co-owner Thomas Sherrer, PharmD, about the pharmacy’s history and how it works to take care of Cobb. Sherrer is a second-generation pharmacist and currently operates Poole’s Pharmacy with his mother, Sharon, though both of his pharmacist parents are semiretired. And like his parents, Sherrer is a graduate of the Mercer University College of Pharmacy. He has held multiple committee positions with the Georgia Pharmacy Association and the National Community Pharmacist Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for CPESN Georgia (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network) and the Georgia Pharmacy Foundation. Sherrer also is an active member of the Rotary Club of Marietta and serves as the Director of Service. Additionally, he is a board member for McKenna Farms Therapy Services. Virtually all the services offered at Poole’s Pharmacy come from the needs of the community, Sherrer said. From the beginning, they never wanted to just be a dispensary. Thus, Poole’s helps patients with medication adherence and synchronization (helping people keep track of what to take and when, as well as refills), immunizations, travel vaccinations, and more. Among the unique attributes of Poole’s is the fact that it is a compounding pharmacy. The traditional role of compounding pharmacies is to make drugs prescribed by doctors for specific patients with


needs that can’t be met by commercially available drugs. For example, Sherrer says his company can mix pet medications; create unique dosage forms, say if a child can’t swallow tablets but tolerates medication in liquid form; and hormone replacement drugs often are produced through compounding pharmacies. “It’s all about making sure that if a patient needs a medication, we’re able to get that to them,” he said. “What good is a prescription if it’s written and you can’t take it?”

Poole’s Pharmacy History According to Sherrer, Mr. Bob Poole opened Poole’s Pharmacy in 1974 in front of Kennestone Hospital on Cherry Street. Sherrer’s father, John, soon joined the business and in 1979 expanded to another location that was then known as Kenmar Pharmacy. Over the years, the company moved to a few sites, and after Mr. Poole passed away, the Sherrer family continued to operate the business and were granted permission by the family to continue with the Poole’s Pharmacy name. “One thing that’s always been kind of our [core] value is being a part of the community. And that’s something that Mr. Poole and my father started,” Sherrer said. He added that even though the pharmacy has operated out of four different locations in Cobb since its inception, they still have many of their original patients. (They refer to their customers as patients.). “I think that’s a big testament to what we’ve done as a pharmacy and the customer service that we provided. But also, how our community looks at us as a vital part of the community.” Stepping into the store, with its wood floors and antique medicine bottles on display, you might get a sense of nostalgia for a small-town drugstore that you visited in your youth. That’s by design, Sherrer said. “We wanted that warm, community feel of stepping back in time, of representing




“The nice thing about being a small business is when there comes decision time, we don’t have to run it up a corporate ladder and then have it come back down. We can pivot quickly.” —Thomas Sherrer, PharmD

what the profession has always meant to people.” What’s more, he said that when patients step through the door, they will be treated like family. You’re not just a number or a prescription, Sherrer said.

Active in the Community Having the opportunity to help people is one of the biggest rewards of his profession, Sherrer says. “People come in here with illnesses and chronic conditions, and we have the opportunity to be a part of their treatment team and help them improve.” Moreover, being active in the communities they serve — and not just a business

— has been a part of the Poole’s culture from day one. Among the many programs and offerings of support from the pharmacy are sponsorships of school sports teams and school bands; sponsoring arts programs; and providing flu vaccinations to schools, community centers, homebound people, and small businesses. Additionally, during the pandemic, Poole’s Pharmacy partnered with Marietta City Schools to provide COVID19 vaccinations. “Our community supports us; they keep our doors open. So, we want to do everything we can to support our community,” Sherrer said. “We know the value

“We’re privileged to have these opportunities and to be an integral partner with our community” —Thomas Sherrer, PharmD 12



of what our community means to us, and we want to make sure that we take care of them.”

Pandemic Changes “The nice thing about being a small business is when there comes decision time, we don’t have to run it up a corporate ladder and then have it come back down,” Sherrer said. “We can pivot quickly.” A prime example would be during the height of the pandemic. Pharmacies are an essential business, so Poole’s did remain open when much of the country was in lockdown. But that doesn’t mean that Sherrer’s business wasn’t affected or changed in any way. For example, he had plans for new clinical services that were put on the back burner, and with limited store hours and the need for social distancing before the vaccines were available, deliveries became the primary means by which Sherrer’s team helped their patients. Poole’s also became a much-needed site for COVID-19 testing, Sherrer said, because hospitals and clinics were overcrowded, and many other testing sites — at least in the beginning — were hard to find or limited in number. So, that kind of offering eased patients’ minds, he said. “That’s made a big difference for people who might have a little bit more worry, or who have health conditions where they’re really worried about contact with people,” Sherrer said.

Committed to Independence Despite many buyout offers over the years, the Sherrer family is committed to Poole’s remaining an independent pharmacy. And for Thomas, continuing his family’s legacy of serving the community and providing

Poole’s Pharmacy 660 Whitlock Ave., NW Marietta, GA 30064 770.514.1414

healthcare in under-served areas is vital. Recently, Sherrer opened a new pharmacy in Dallas, Georgia. Providing many of the services offered at Poole’s, the Dallas Prescription Shop at 537 Hardee Street will be a new independent pharmacy in the Dallas area. Sherrer said that while most people may only see a doctor once a year, most see their pharmacist once a month. And particularly in some rural communities where hospitals are few and far between,

pharmacies allow people greater access to healthcare. “We’re privileged to have these opportunities and to be an integral partner with our community,” Sherrer said. n

A.G. Rhodes is embarking on a landmark effort. We are building a new home that will protect our most vulnerable seniors. One that will honor their dignity as they age. One that will strengthen our delivery of compassionate, person-directed care. One that will serve as a replicable model nationwide.

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Whitefield Academy Turns 25 Celebrating 25 years, Whitefield Academy continues its mission to send young people into the world equipped with a unique integration of differentiating traits.

By Jennifer Morrell


ocated in Smyrna, Whitefield Academy is a Christ-centered college preparatory school that was created to bolster Christian families in rearing young people who go on to college. The mission includes instilling students with the tools they need to lead



their lives with a passion for learning, for putting others ahead of self, and for Jesus. Whitefield is celebrating 25 years of adhering to its original mission of holding fast to a founding vision and set of core values. The faculty and administration at Whitefield work daily to strengthen that


mission by leading and teaching students to be successful in life, both now and beyond graduation. “Whitefield Academy opened in 1997, after a group of Buckhead families prayed about finding a Christ-centered school for grades 6 through 12,” says Kevin Bracher,

“Bathed in prayer, faith and complete trust in God’s sovereignty, Whitefield began with fewer than 100 students in grades 6 through 12,” says Honey Brannon, director of communications and marketing. “Over the past 25 years, Whitefield has grown to the school we know today, serving more than 880 students from PreK to 12th grade, from nearly 600 families on a campus of more than 100 acres. We are grateful for those who have come before us and laid the groundwork for the Whitefield Academy we enjoy today.”

The Difference

Whitefield students collectively participate in approximately 10,000 hours of community service each year.

head of school. “Its mission today remains but has expanded to serve PreK through 12th grade. It serves as a college preparatory school that is academically challenging and taught from a Biblical worldview.” Whitefield employs more than 160 teachers, aides, and staff members in

Cobb County. The academy currently enrolls more than 880 students in PreK through 12th grade, with an average class size of 18. All Whitefield students matriculate to colleges and universities, and the school boasts more than 1,000 alumni globally. COBB

Whitefield is different in that it offers unique, key benefits to students. “As a Christ-centered school, we believe it is our responsibility to partner with families in raising up their children with ‘a passion for learning, for others ahead of self, and for the living and active Jesus,’” says Nathan Stevens, associate head of academic affairs. “While this work is lifelong work, the formative impact of engaging in partnership throughout the schooling journey is both a great honor and a responsibility we take very seriously.” Stevens says Whitefield teachers engage deeply with their students in the pursuit of knowledge and truth with shared experiences, grace, and accountability. Students are known, valued, and loved; therefore, they thrive academically and are equipped to face the challenges of the future. Whitefield Academy leadership strives to fortify students with strong intellect to provide more than basic knowledge. They also gain understanding and wisdom as well as learn to think and reason well, read closely, write persuasively, and solve challenging and complex problems. And although a school’s core business is to strengthen the intellect, Whitefield subscribes to the thinking that a school that fails to provide a well-rounded experience for its students is incomplete, because experience drives character. Students’ lives are enriched at Whitefield when they discover, develop, and maximize a wide variety of gifts in athletics and the arts. Last, and maybe most important, Whitefield’s staff believes that a strong intellect and authentic, Christ-centered character NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021



Our goal is to instill a passion for learning as well as a passion for others ahead of self. Our teachers, coaches, and staff focus on the students’ individual gifts given from God.”

go hand-in-hand. Christ-centered character is cultivated by bolstering a vibrant community of like-minded families and educators to raise a generation of leaders to impact the world for Christ. Other offerings include experiential learning; open communication via newsletters, emails, and a bi-annual magazine; events with parents and grandparents; and after-school programs.

— Nathan Stevens, associate head of academic affairs

Recruitment and Benefits Whitefield takes a holistic approach in determining admission of students, and considers all components of the admissions application. This includes academic performance, testing, teacher evaluations, interviews or observations, and extracurricular interests and talents. “As a Christcentered, covenant school, we require that at least one parent or guardian profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Brannon says. “The academy provides extracurricular activities for all ages and interests.” Whitefield fields more than 58 sports teams, from the middle school level to the varsity level. Ninety percent of middle- and upper-school students participate in student athletics. Additionally, the school features a strong performing arts program. “The robust performing arts

program contains 11 middle- and upperschool ensembles, including a highly sought-after jazz band and award-winning marching band, concert band, orchestra, and choruses,” says Stevens. “Theater arts produces six shows a year, including musicals, dramatic and comedic works, and compete in local festivals.” But what Stevens says really sets Whitefield Academy apart is community, being known, and meaningful relationships. “The changes that a child goes through from age 4 to 18 are incredible,” he says. “To be able to be in a place where teachers, mentors, and coaches know you well and partner with parents can be invaluable. Our goal is to instill a passion for

learning as well as a passion for others ahead of self. Our teachers, coaches, and staff focus on the students’ individual gifts given from God.” Core values of Whitefield Academy include academic excellence in a college preparatory program taught from a Biblical worldview, covenantal education to educate, encourage and instruct students in a Christcentered community, and the modeling of excellent Christian education. Additional focus is on enrollment reflecting the racial, ethnic, and economic diversity within the body of Christ, effective servant leadership as to be prepared to make a difference in their world for Christ, and faithful stewardship of the talents and resources of the faculty, students, and the entire Whitefield community.

Surviving the Pandemic As is true for many businesses, houses of worship, organizations, and schools, Whitefield had to pivot to continue operations during the COVID pandemic. “The 2020/2021 school year was one like never before,” Bracher says. “Staying focused on our mission to develop in young people ‘a passion for learning, for others ahead of self, and for the living and active Jesus’ was more important than ever.” He says although the academic year was one of uncertainty and change, the staff was able to sustain a focus on bolstering Whitefield families in the strong, Christcentered education that they desire for their children. “The Whitefield Academy community has taken the ever-changing protocols and practices in stride,” Bracher says. “Our community and founding members are excited about what’s ahead for Whitefield.” n 16



Teachers of the Year


his year, our educators continued to battle through unusual, pandemicrelated challenges, but that didn’t stop them from performing above and beyond the call, and helping their students make the best of the school year. At a special event on October 6, Cobb County and Marietta City systemwide Teachers of the Year were honored with a crowd of students, colleagues and members of the community. The two honored teachers — Marietta City Schools Teacher of the Year, Laura Floryance of Sawyer Road Elementary School, and Cobb County School District Teacher of the Year, Beth Foster of Osborne High School, left their handprint legacies on the Teacher Walk of Honor, located on the Marietta Square.


Superintendent Dr. Grant Rivera of Marietta City Schools with Laura Floryance

Chris Ragsdale Superintendent of Cobb County Schools with Beth Foster



Through the years, the Give Our Schools a Hand (GOSH) program has motivated the community to take an active role in Cobb’s public school systems and has attracted attention to the quality of education in Cobb County. Dating back to 1988, GOSH has become one of the largest events honoring local educators, celebrating more than 130 teachers here in Cobb County. The Presenting Sponsor for GOSH is Voyles Automotive Group, Inc. Doctorate Level sponsors for this event are Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Cobb County School District Event Services, Lockheed Martin, The LumiStella Company, and Superior Plumbing. The Jack Sponsor is LGE Community Credit Union.



Apply Now for Spring Semester Classes begin in January 770-528-4545 A Unit of the Technical College System of Georgia. Equal Opportunity Institution.




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 page we have profiled an individual who is among Cobb’s premier leaders. We wanted to find out about his job, delve into his personal life, and gain some words of wisdom. And of course, we asked: Why have you picked Cobb County?

THE STORY: I was born in Carrollton, Kentucky in 1962. In 1972, my parents moved us to Perry, Georgia where my dad served as a superintendent, building a wastewater treatment plant for the City of Macon. I received an associate’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology from Southern Technical Institute (now known as Kennesaw State University). My grandfather, father, and uncle all worked in the construction industry, so it seemed natural for me to follow in their footsteps. When I graduated from high school, I went to work with my dad at Ruby-Collins as a laborer. I continued that path through my first year of college, co-oping with Ruby-Collins every other quarter and attending classes on the opposite quarters. As I gained knowledge in the industry, I knew that this was the career for me. From that point, I served in several roles with Ruby-Collins, including laborer, carpenter, project engineer, assistant project manager, and purchasing agent. Thirty-one years of my 41-year career has been at Ruby-Collins. However, I did take a 10-year break, where I served as project estimator, project manager, chief estimator, and regional director for an environmental construction company. One of the biggest honors of my career was being invited to rejoin the Ruby-Collins team to serve under my dad and to replace him when he retired. So, from 1999 to 2005, I was able to work with him as he finished his career at Ruby-Collins. When he retired, I assumed the role of chief estimator, then became VP of project development a few short years later. In 2013, I was promoted to CEO. Since that time, we have been on a journey to become the company that people desired to be apart of and wanted to work with. We have grown from 22 employees to 160 employees, revenue growth from $12 million to $87 million, and received the Hard Hat Safety Award from the Georgia Utility Contractor’s Association four out of the last five years, as well as rated as a top contractor for six years in a row from ENR magazine. Most importantly we have built a culture that allows us to help our employees and families grow in their careers and lives. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: When Ruby-Collins moved to Georgia in 1970, we located in Smyrna, which is now World Headquarters for our company.

Photo by LaRuche Creative

Leaders of Cobb

David Westrick CEO, Ruby-Collins, Inc.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The greatest thing about my job is helping others to grow and succeed. We have several great leaders, which gives me the opportunity to serve our company in this capacity, as well as serve as the current president of the Georgia Utility Contractor Association, which allows me to be a difference maker in our industry. LEISURE TIME: My wife and I love to travel. We enjoy getting out on our Harley’s and love time with our children and grandchildren. BEST ADVICE: There are two important things people should consider in how they live life and how they succeed in their career: Know what you don’t know and find someone to help you with those things; be a difference maker in all you do. WHAT’S NEXT? As retirement from Ruby-Collins approaches, I would like to focus on motivational and inspirational teaching, coaching, and speaking. I also plan to join my wife at Sierra Real Estate Partners. Most of all, I want to focus on our community, and growth of our children and grandchildren.

4875 Martin Court SE, Smyrna, GA 30082 • 770.432.2900 • COBB



A Surgeon’s Hand And An Artist’s Eye Even after 25-plus years in medicine, Dr. Seth A. Yellin still loves giving patients the gift of confidence. By Lindsay Field Penticuff




Photos by Shasta Rhodes





onfidence is the belief in yourself that you can overcome barriers, hurdles, or stumbling blocks to accomplish your goals,” shares Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS, Founder and Director of Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center. “Many of these obstructions are self-imposed,” adds Dr. Yellin. “You see this all the time in teenagers,” he explains. “For example, a teenager comes in with a bump on their nose. I see that they’re healthy and attractive; however, they say they feel self-conscious about their profile, hate taking pictures, and are not outgoing and social.” After a short surgical procedure called rhinoplasty, Dr. Yellin says that teens return to share that they’re so much more confident, have made more friends, and are thrilled with their new nose. “By fixing that one feature, their confidence

is now able to shine through,” he says. That’s the power of well-done aesthetic surgery! It’s not just young people who can gain a boost of confidence through aesthetic procedures. Dr. Yellin uses his talents to help men and women of all ages feel more confident and beautiful. Even if you’re 70 years-old and you feel like you no longer look like your former self, he can perform some magic to achieve a naturalappearing yet younger, fresher, more vibrant version of yourself. People have different needs and desires when it comes to their appearance. Dr. Yellin’s interventions are customized to each patient and artistically performed to enable them to both look better and feel great. “Improving someone’s self-esteem is a huge gift that keeps on giving. These are really impactful things that we do for people,” he says.

Self-Esteem-Boosting Procedures There are three main categories of procedures and treatments that Dr. Yellin uses for his patients at Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center, including: Injectables: “We lose facial bone and we lose and redistribute facial fat as we age, which leads to an obvious change in appearance that we recognize as looking older. For women in particular, the loss of midface volume leads to a loss of youthful beauty. However, these changes can be reversed with injectable fillers done artistically and placed at the proper depth,” says Dr. Yellin. Dr. Yellin reminds us that “it is not the paint but the painter that creates the masterpiece.” Deeply placed hyaluronic acid fillers lift and rejuvenate the face by reshaping all the soft tissues of the face, creating a natural look that can last for years. When rejuvenating, balancing or simply enhancing a face, consider that “facial shape is the foundation of beauty and correcting asymmetries and volume loss is the starting point for almost everyone. Most people can notice an age-related facial shape change in their mid 40’s, which progressively gets more obvious with time. Correcting these undesirable changes is the starting point for most of my patients” he says. Using injectable hyaluronic acid fillers, Dr. Yellin can meaningfully rejuvenate one’s facial appearance in under an hour in the office using what he calls his novel “Injecta-Lift” technique. 22



Giving Back Program This includes injecting hyaluronic acid fillers deeply and artistically to reshape and restructure the face three-dimensionally and comprehensively. “There is some swelling and bruising, but no limits to activities, and there’s no significant down time. It’s an instantaneous improvement that creates several years of benefit.” Laser Treatments & Energy Devices: “Laser light and non-laser technologies such as Profound RF and Broad Band Light (BBL) corrects sunlight-related skin damage, whether it be laxity, lines and wrinkles, unwanted superficial blood vessels or pigmentary issues such as redness, brown spots or melasma,” he says. “To address age-related skin changes, CO2 laser is almost like a magic-wand for many of my patients,” says Dr. Yellin. In addition, Dr. Yellin’s team of aestheticians have a multitude of technologically-advanced treatments to help make your skin look its best. Surgery: Sagging jawlines and necks, heavy eyelids, a drooping or asymmetric brow or a nose

Throughout November and December, Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center is hosting a collection drive to support LiveSafe Resources in Marietta. Employees, patients, and the community are invited to donate basic goods, such as hairbrushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner. Donations of money to help the staff purchase essential items for LiveSafe are also welcome. The office will be open for collections Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 111 Marble Mill Road NW in Marietta. A collection box will be set up at the front entrance of the building. To learn more about LiveSafe, visit

that one feels doesn’t complement their face are all examples of problems that require a surgical fix. Dr. Yellin points out that “many of the surgical procedures that once required general anesthesia can safely be performed in the office with only oral Xanax to relax the patient and local




anesthesia for comfort, which reduce the stress and cost of the procedures, making them more accessible to all who need them.” In summary, “surgery fixes the sag, lasers fix sunlight damage, and fillers replace lost fat and bone,” says Dr. Yellin. “You have to choose the right tool for the job.” Creating patient happiness and satisfaction also takes someone who is a good listener and is willing to modify the treatment plan to reflect the patient’s priorities. “Someone may need 20 things corrected, but only one thing bothers them. So, if possible, fix that one thing and allow them to move on,” Dr. Yellin says. “Others can’t tolerate the slightest imperfection and want everything done. Everyone needs different things. I create an individualized treatment plan that considers the patient’s aesthetic goals and desires, their tolerance for downtime and healing, and their budget. It’s about being able to deliver for every patient time and again.” He notes that in addition to his obvious role in creating natural, beautiful patient outcomes that create changes that are much more than skin-deep, it takes the outstanding efforts of his entire team of support staff, medical and 24



surgical assistants and aestheticians to make the entire patient experience seamless and supportive.

Why Dr. Yellin Does What He Does Helping his patients at Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center to become their best selves, both inside and out, is Dr. Yellin’s prime motivation. “I use my artistry and surgical skills to improve my patients’ appearance with the intended goal of making them feel better about themselves. Whether patients acknowledge it or not, looking better and feeling better are intimately interconnected.” “If I can fix what bothers the patient, that issue is taken off the table and ceases to be an issue of concern.” Dr. Yellin says. “It is particularly exciting for me to hear from patients that they never could have imagined looking this good because they didn’t know that the changes they experienced were even possible.” He adds, “being able to give someone their confidence back is an awesome experience that I never tire of.” And it is comments and reviews like the following that keep Dr. Yellin coming back to work each and every day:

Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center Hours of Operation Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

111 Marble Mill Road NW Marietta, GA 30060 770.425.7575

•  “Dr. Yellin has changed my life. He gave me an opportunity to become a more authentic person, which I know sounds crazy because you think about cosmetic changes being superficial, but I really think by opening up my eyes and by lifting my face, it’s given me the chance to show more of who I really am, the person inside.” •  “I researched a lot of doctors and consulted with a few before I chose Dr. Yellin. His focus is faces and he is a master. I look younger, and I feel prettier and more confident. My only regret is not seeing Dr. Yellin sooner!” • “I am two weeks out from my procedure and I could not be more pleased with the results. Dr. Yellin and his entire staff are professional, dedicated, thorough, and caring. I look younger, more attractive, and more rested. Dr. Yellin truly has a surgeon’s hand and an artist’s eye.”

Dr. Yellin enjoys sitting with his patients and reviewing their before and after photos. When he hears this type of feedback, it just reinforces his decision to become a doctor in the first place and to have specialized in the field of facial plastic surgery for 25-plus years. “I am very value driven, so if at the end of the day when the healing is done and the patient says, ‘thank you so much, you have made me very happy,’ I still get goosebumps.


“Think about the trust that someone has to have,” he continues. “I meet them for an hour in consultation, and then they give me permission to operate on their face and change their appearance. That’s a huge leap of faith, and an awesome responsibility that I take very seriously. Delivering on that trust and making my patients happy is what I look forward to every day, and is my prime professional motivation.” n



In Your Community

Ameris Bank Commemorates 50 Years of Giving Back

Community service is in bank’s DNA By Cory Sekine-Pettite


ifty years of community service is something for which any individual, organization or corporation should be proud. Such a dedicated achievement should be recognized and celebrated community-wide. Thus, when this publication learned that Ameris Bank is celebrating its 50th anniversary, we jumped at the chance to inform you about all the good this company does in your community. But first, a little history. Ameris Bank was founded by Eugene M. Vereen, Jr., in Moultrie, Georgia in 1971. He and other board members set out to create a customer-centered company that doesn’t rely on tired banking norms or cookie-cutter



solutions. Rather, they set the foundation for a bank that looks beyond tradition to create solid, innovative solutions. A half-century later, Ameris Bank leaders and employees continue to build on this legacy by providing advanced products and services led by an industrious spirit — all with the purpose of improving the lives of its customers and enriching their communities. The company has spent the last 15 years growing in part by acquisitions of regional and community banks. Three years ago, Ameris purchased Hamilton State Bank, which at the time was the bank’s largest purchase. In 2019, Ameris purchased Fidelity


Bank. These two procurements brought the bank into Cobb County. “The Fidelity purchase was and still remains our largest purchase,” said Ameris Bank VP, Branch Manager Michael Jensen. “Most of Ameris’ current branches in Cobb County were previously owned by either Hamilton State Bank or Fidelity. Ameris is relatively newer to Cobb County but after the Fidelity purchase, Ameris now owns the naming rights to the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, as well.” Ameris Bank operates more than 200 locations in the Southeast and manages deposits in excess of $22 billion. Outside of Georgia, the company has full-service locations in Alabama, Florida and South

Carolina. For its 50th anniversary, each branch has been celebrating differently,” Jensen said. “Whatever is the best way to celebrate and what looks best to their local customer base is what we will be doing. We have several events lined up,” he explained.

Community Service is a Core Service Ameris Bank is now the largest community bank in Georgia. By definition, a community bank only lends/extends credit to the areas in which their branches are located. Therefore, Jensen said, it is imperative for Ameris Bank and its employees to be fully involved with its communities. “Engaging in our community is what makes us the strongest and largest community bank in Georgia,” he said. “Ameris Bank teammates volunteer and are encouraged to contribute to their surrounding communities in order to better understand their challenges and wins at the local level.” Jensen, who also is the current president of the Northeast Cobb Business Association, added that the secret to the company’s growth is customer service. “We are here for our customers, providing all their financial and banking needs. This promotes growth and mutual prosperity with our customers and Ameris,” he said. That service also extends outward into the counties and neighborhoods Ameris serves. The bank isn’t there just to provide loans and other economic services. At its core culture, Ameris separates itself from the competition in multiple ways. Below are just a few examples: • Ameris Bank’s service delivery is a paramount difference between it and the competition. •  Ameris operates on the principle that relationships and people build banks. • Community service is in the bank’s DNA. •  Ameris Bank’s purpose is to provide financial peace of mind to their communities, one customer at a time. To help and give back to local communities, Ameris Bank launched a food drive program in 2010 called Helping Fight Hunger. To date, more than nine million food items have been collected and more than

The Paycheck Protection Program loans that were part of the CARES Act was a successful campaign that Ameris Bank participated in to the tune of more than $1.5 billion in $900,000 donated to support food banks qualified loans extended to its customers, throughout the communities Ameris Bank Jensen noted. That excess of $1.5 billion serves. “Each year, our donation and col- in federally-funded loans was in many lection efforts continue to exceed expecta- cases the difference between small, local tions,” Jensen said. businesses surviving or closing during This company-wide project unites all the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank made banking locations, support departments, an intentional outreach to more than community boards and customers to one 400,000 minority and woman-owned busicommon cause: to collect as many non- nesses. Ameris also assisted and worked perishable food items as possible during directly with the Cobb County Chamber the month of October. A food bank in facilitating $50 million in CARES Act every community with an Ameris Bank loca- loans that went exclusively to Cobb-based tion receives a donation of goods collected companies. at the local Ameris Bank office. In 2020, In addition to corporate initiatives, more than 125 food banks throughout 104 Ameris Bank branches sponsor local causes communities in the Southeast benefited that resonate with their communities. Local from the 11th annual Helping Fight Hunger Cobb branches sponsor the Cobb County initiative. “Hunger and food insecurities Bar Association’s monthly luncheons and are serious problems affecting millions of annual events, which include the Law Day Americans each year, and these issues Golf Tournament and Sleighbells on the have been heightened by COVID-19,” Square 5K. The dollars raised from these Jensen said. events support the association’s CommuThere’s no shortage of community proj- nity Service Fund, which helps families in ects in Cobb to which you can find Ameris need with rent, food, utilities and more. Bank’s support and its employees rolling The bank also sponsors the annual Alexis up their sleeves to help. Here are a few Grubbs Memorial Golf Tournament, which examples, but you can find more on the is a scholarship fundraiser for a graduating company’s website at senior at Marietta High School. Further, the Cobb branches support the annual 5K9 Dog Run that funds a service animal for those in need. Another event is the Veterans Memorial 5K that is put on by American Legion Horace Orr Post 29. Ameris sponsors this race each year and the money raised supports local veterans in Cobb. Further, Ameris Bank was a Gold Level Sponsor for the 25th Annual 5K Run For The Kids hosted by the Vinings Cumberland Rotary Club. The race was held on August 14 of this year and raised $120,000 for local kids’ charities. “It is imperative for Ameris Bank and its teammates to be fully engaged with our communities,” Jensen concluded. “We take on these efforts not only to promote our brand, but most importantly, to understand and relate to our curMichael Jensen rent and potential customers.” n COBB



Honoring Military Veterans In recognition of Veteran’s Day, Cobb In Focus wants 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.

Chattahoochee Tech Veteran Services Coordinator Honored

G.I. Jobs magazine has named Chattahoochee Tech Veteran Services Coordinator Barry Munday, who retired in September, as a national 2021 Veteran Champion of the Year in Higher Education. This award honors the key players at colleges across the country who are passionate about helping student veterans excel. Throughout his years of service at Chattahoochee Tech, Munday worked diligently to ensure the success of Barry Munday hundreds of students who are veterans or military family members. He created the first veteran services operation in the college, which was one of the first in the Technical College System of Georgia. He also initiated a network of veteran services and support agencies, which includes over 30 organizations in North Georgia and the Metro Atlanta area. This network helps Chattahoochee Tech veteran students and their families have access to an array of benefit providers in addition to the college’s internal services and resources. “We are proud of his contributions to our college community, not only to the veterans’ and families’ educational and career success, but to our campus community as a whole,” said Chattahoochee Tech Director of Counseling Cheri Mattox-Carroll. “His generosity, service, comprehensive knowledge, and commitment to excellence is to be commended.”

Veterans Memorial 5K Run

On November 13 in Marietta Square, join your fellow runners for a special race day, presented by American Legion Post 29. All proceeds will support American Legion charities to benefit Veterans and their families in Georgia. For registration information and start times, visit https://

An Event to Honor Women Veterans

Honor America’s female heroes on November 6 at Jim Miller Park in Marietta. The U.S. Veterans Affairs, Georgia Department of Veteran Services, and Cobb County Government invite you to a special celebration. Four female veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will share their experiences and memories. The event is free, but registration is required.

Thank Those Who Served

Also on November 6, 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, learn about American military history, and take photos of an actual World War II Jeep. Learn more at


VETERAN’S DAY CEREMONIES Join the Cobb County community in honoring United States military veterans. Check your municipality’s website for event updates.


Acworth: Veterans Day Ceremony, 2-3 p.m., Cauble Park,


Kennesaw: Veterans Luncheon, 12 p.m., Ben Robertson Community Center,





Marietta: Veterans Day Parade, 10:45 a.m., Roswell Street Baptist Church to Marietta Square,


Powder Springs: Veterans Memorial, 12 p.m., Powder Springs Library,


Smyrna: Veterans Day Ceremony, 12 p.m., City Hall,

A rts & Recreation

A Golden Opportunity The SCAA is celebrating 50 years of supporting the arts and artists in Cobb. By Cory Sekine-Pettite


ince 1972, the all-volunteer, nonprofit South Cobb Arts Alliance (SCAA) has been an integral part of Cobb County’s arts & culture community, representing hundreds of local artists and craftspeople, hosting events, and collaborating on projects and performances with area schools. From the beginning, the SCAA’s mission has been to encourage public appreciation and active participation in the visual arts, performing arts, and local heritage. Additionally, the organization strives to advance to high levels the artistic standards of its members, the community, and the public by offering opportunities to extend experiences, to increase skills, and to share understanding, philosophy, techniques, and knowledge. These noble endeavors have been managed under the capable supervision of SCAA President San Miller, so Cobb In Focus connected with Miller to chat about her organization’s history and its annual holiday events, which you won’t want to miss.

Christmas House




A rts & Recreation

32nd annual National Juried Exhibit

“Art is a wonderful way to help build and strengthen our communities,” Miller says. “It helps to engage, inspire, and encourage us to reach out and connect with each other, express our creative voice, and create shared experiences while working together toward meaningful outcomes.” First and foremost, she says, the SCAA offers a multi-faceted commitment to effectively engage artists and local communities. In fact, the alliance currently represents more than 150 artists (full list available at The organization’s chief purpose is to bring art to public spaces, and it does so with community collaborations and partnerships with businesses, school systems, and other non-profits. And the efforts get noticed. The SCAA has earned many awards over the years, including recognition in 2009 from the Cobb Arts Board and Friends of the Arts for “significant contributions to the arts in Cobb County” with the Outstanding Ensemble/Arts Organization award. In 2014, the Cobb Community Relations Council acknowledged the organization at its Celebration of Diversity. More recently, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded SCAA a 2016-17 grant

Rooted Trading Co. Black History Month exhibit

to broaden its outreach and promote local artists, art educators, and students in the community.

Upcoming Events & Projects Typically, the fall and winter holiday season is the SCAA’s busiest time of year, with juried art shows, public art events, and the alliance’s renowned Christmas House Arts and Crafts Show + Market — an event that is marking its 36th year. This event started as a small, social gathering in an historic home and eventually morphed into one of the larger, must-see holiday happenings in Cobb County. “It just grew and grew and grew,” Miller said. “And before you knew it, we were doing a tea room, and then the recipes became famous. And then everything else we were doing started to blossom and they kept growing. When I came in [as president], we started to do more things. So, this year, for instance, we’re going to be doing more events. We’re going to have book readings. We’re going to get more community involvement, entertainment, and kids programs included in the shopping experience because it’s not tables or booths. If you’re unfamiliar with that shopping

experience at Christmas House, the fiveday event is set up to look like a department store, with 30 to 40 local vendors showcasing their wares throughout the space inside Ford Center. In addition to holiday items, local artists will showcase original, handmade fine arts and crafts. Of course, don’t forget the Christmas House Tea Room, featuring Mrs. Edwards Bakery, which is open to the public from 10 a.m. daily until one hour before closing time each day. “We’re also going to be asking some of the schools to put up some of their artwork there,” Miller added. Speaking of student artwork, the SCAA has a unique, collaborative art project with two, local schools that you can look forward to seeing. The SCAA Color Pop coloring book endeavor has taken longer to produce than originally planned (because of multiple, pandemic-related issues), but should be brightening the lives of local children soon. Three years in the making, the idea for this project is to create and distribute coloring books for children in local hospitals. With the help of the SCAA and local artists, students from Powder Springs Elementary and Floyd Middle School have created drawings

Donate and volunteer today! South Cobb Arts Alliance P.O. Box 1037 Austell, GA 30168

South Cobb Library NEA exhibit




SCAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteersupported arts organization. Your membership dues and donations are taxdeductible. To become a part of this active, energetic, and diverse group of volunteers and supporters, visit their website at

Upcoming SCAA Events November 6 & 13 — Art Class: The Art of Cartooning and Children’s Book Illustrations December 1-5 36th Christmas House Arts and Crafts Show + Market at Ford Center in Powder Springs December 11 — Art Classes: Two options/age groups to Learn the Crafting of Mosaics 32nd annual National Juried Exhibit.

that will be bound and published as a book for other kids to embellish while they are cooped up in hospitals. “We decided to take it to two schools that we thought were really doing great work in art,” Miller said. “…And then we planned how we could celebrate all this at the schools, having programs to celebrate the children that did that and hand out the books to them, as well as having all these receptions and things. We were going to be working mainly with Devereaux and Wellstar Hospitals. And then COVID came and everything stopped.” But fear not, Miller is persistent and says the books will be printed and distributed soon. “It has to be really soon because it’s such a wonderful idea … and everybody has been so excited about it,” she said.

Photography exhibit scheduled to be hung in the Thurman Springs Park.

currently on exhibit at Sewell Mill Library. •  Local/national artist exhibits: National Juried Exhibit for 32 straight years; exhibits in City of Powder Springs buildings; Rooted Trading Co.; Cobb County Public Libraries, including South Cobb Regional and Vinings, with more locations to come. • Art collaborations such as 32nd National Juried Exhibit at Pat Vaughn Cultural Arts Center with the Georgia Symphony and Georgia Ballet. • November 2021 SCA A Veterans

You might say that the SCAA’s 50th anniversary and this upcoming holiday season provide a golden opportunity for you to get to the know the people running this organization, to possibly volunteer some of your time or resources, and certainly to check out the Christmas House this December. Perhaps the visit will lead to a new tradition for your family. n

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Public Art Endeavors Truly, there’s never a shortage of events and public art projects planned by the SCAA throughout the year. “We always try to connect the dots and do collaborations, and try to think of different ways to present the art that interests [many people],” Miller said. The following is a good sample of recent programs. • Projects supporting the community: NEA grant project “1000 Words” comprising 10 panels from Smyrna artist Miles Davis, which incorporate actual discarded book components into the mixed media art; colorful and imaginative original paintings, which share the common theme of the power and importance of reading books. This NEA project became one of the highlights of the SCAA organization. Six pieces from the art series were privately acquired for donation to the South Cobb Regional Library; the first was purchased and is

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Final Focus

Holiday Traditions By Cory Sekine-Pettite


Credit: Cory Sekine-Pettite

omewhere within the pages of this magazine before, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I grew up in a military family. For my clan, that meant two stints on Army bases in Germany for a total of seven years — and it all happened before my 13th birthday, i.e., my forma-

Christmas window display in Munich, Germany. 32



tive years. Therefore, Germany’s rich cultural history and its Christmas traditions (many of which have been adopted by Americans as our own) are engrained deeply within my mind. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Christmastime in Bavaria, walking the cold, cobblestone streets of Munich for the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), eating fresh-baked pastries, drinking hot chocolate, and perusing the various arts & crafts of the vendors. For me, it’s not really Christmas without this tradition — and without snow. I mean, I can recall Christmases here in Georgia with 80-degree weather, but I digress. I love these markets so much (as well as the inherent nostalgia) that I took my wife to Germany in 2016 to see them. They brought me right back to my childhood and had me wondering why I don’t try to incorporate more tradition into my holidays. Obviously, I can’t travel to Germany every year (though I wish I could), but there are many other childhood holiday traditions upon which I could draw inspiration. My parents used to help my brother and I make plaster ornaments in our oven and then paint them. Of course, this was how I found out I was severely allergic to tempera paint but that’s another story. Alternatively, I could start baking for Christmas. Baking became a major stress reliever for many of us during the height of the pandemic, so why not try some traditional holiday recipes, right? I also typically neglect Christmas music and holiday TV programming. I’ve just avoided it all for most of my adult life. But why? If the last two years has taught me anything it is that life truly is precious, short, and unpredictable, so make the most of it. Continue your holiday traditions or start new ones. Keep your families close and together at the holidays. Make more memories. They are the only things we really pass on to the next generation. n




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