DECEMBER 2016: Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Monthly Magazine

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The Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Monthly Community and Family Magazine

Our Town

December 2016

Lawrenceville l Snellville l Lilburn l Stone Mtn. l Tucker

Meet the team at St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School, see story on page 5

8 9 10 12

Making a Difference: Meet Lilburn Postmaster David Hinesley Sports Talk: Up Close with Endurance Volleyball Academy Community Spotlight: Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre Getting Schooled with Trickum Middle School Basketball





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On the Cover: St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School Celebrates 30th Anniversary By Karla Socci Somers St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School (SJNRCS) in Lilburn, Georgia has come a long way. Now during the school’s 30th Anniversary Year, SJNRCS has much to celebrate. Not only have they consistently achieved the goals of being a school founded on Catholic values and excellence in education, but they are also known for their passionate dedication to serving the community around them. Additionally, SJNRCS is rapidly becoming a state-of-the-art, technologically-connected campus. “We are a one-to-one school,” Principal Alex Porto says. “Every middle school student [grades six through eight] has his or her own Chromebook. The elementary grades have a number of tablets to share in the classroom, and we have plans to achieve a one-to-one ratio with all grade levels over the next several years.” Porto explains that the school has significantly upgraded its technology infrastructure so that the entire campus has wireless, fiber internet connections. This upgrade includes education safety standards and extra teacher training as well. “It has been a major goal for the Archdiocese of Atlanta,” Porto says. “We upgraded the technology and provided training for our teachers to integrate it into the classroom every day.” Porto also notes that one goal of using the new technology every day is to better prepare students for their high

school careers. Teachers have access to more information; they can do more through an interactive learning process. Where in the past, students may have experienced learning through more of a lecture-centered environment, today they are more actively involved in research and a higher level of engagement in the learning process. “Kids are so used to having technology at all times,” Porto notes, “that it is a natural integration for them. They have a natural curiosity and information is now instantly at their fingertips.” The use of the tablets helps students hone in on their research and writing skills – both of which will give them an advantage as they continue their educational pursuits throughout high school and college. Regardless of how technologically advanced SJNRCS continues to become, the school family – including students, staff, parents, and grandparents – has no plans to change their dedication to serving those in need. Values instituted thirty years ago by the Grey Nuns are still alive and thriving at this Catholic school. Along with St. John Neumann, who dedicated his life to serving the poor and creating the Catholic school system, the Grey Nuns also established schools, hospitals, and

orphanages to take care of the impoverished. It is rather fitting that this tradition of helping others continues today as the school celebrates its 30th anniversary. “We are known for our community service projects,” Porto says, enthusiastically. “We actively participate in projects that benefit the local Humane Society, Clyde’s Kitchen, Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives – it all goes to local families in need.” Porto goes on to say the students at SJNRCS also write letters and send care packages to our nation’s veterans and soldiers and visit the residents of local nursing homes. “It’s all about LIVING your faith, not just learning about it,” Porto says. “And we do that here, every day.” More information at

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Our Town The Gwinnett/NE DeK alb Monthly Community and Family Magazine

Publisher/Owner Ryan T. Sauers Creative Director Elsie Olson Editor Catherine L. Osornio Cover Photographer Amadorphoto Web Development Webkat Design Distribution Coordinator DeeDee Chapman Feature Writers Daidra Annis Rachael Brice Lisa Brittain Heidi Campbell Kim Hill Tony Socci Karla Socci Somers Michelle Watson Contributing Writers Pastor Paul Ballard Sean Moynihan Lisa Clinkscale Porter Carol C. Wood

— An EndResultZ Media & Communications firm Our Town Gwinnett is published and direct mailed to select homes in the Gwinnett /NE DeKalb area. Opinions expressed by the writers and staff are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town Gwinnett reserves the right to edit and/or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town Gwinnett is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2016 by Our Town Gwinnett. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden in any media without written permission from the publisher.

Our Town Gwinnett 1227 Rockbridge Road Suite 208-171 Stone Mountain, GA 30087 678-825-2049

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5 On the Cover: St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School

7 8 8 9 10 11 12 12 13 13 16 17 17 18 22 PAGE 6

Celebrates 30th Anniversary From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion Skin So Simple: Tips for the Winter Season Lilburn Postmaster David Hinesley Continues His Father’s Legacy Sports Talk: Endurance Volleyball Academy Community Spotlight: Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre Lilburn’s Flea Antique Depot Hosts its First Wedding Proposal Learning Lessons: How to Calm a Stressed-Out Student Up Close with Trickum Middle School Girls Basketball Getting to Know: Why Not Ministries Cornerstone Coworking: Coworking, Meeting, and Event Facility Ricebox Restaurant: Making a Difference One Meal at a Time Youth Sports: A Training Ground for the Modern Workplace Chick-Fil-A-Employee Spotlight: Ana and Lorena Lemus of Chick-fil-A Stone Mountain Chaplain’s Corner: Being Thankful Kids & Pros: Former Atlanta Falcons Proving Life Lessons

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From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion By Ryan T. Sauers


Can you believe it’s December? This year seems to have flown by. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now Christmas and the New Year are nearly upon us. I love this country and our freedom and the ability to “agree to disagree.” Moreover, I also love my family and friends, and our community. With that said, I don’t live under a rock. I am quite aware of the “seeming divides” that are being reported over and over on multiple news outlets. However, I don’t agree with most of these reports. I view them as “news” focused on sowing discord by sharing “extreme views” to grow their audience. We must always look for the best in each other, giving another a chance to be human beings first, and not buy into the “media hype.” I challenge you to dig deep, do your own research, reflect on your own worldview (what you truly believe), and don’t settle for letting the sensationalistic media “tell you” what to believe. There are wonderful things going on everywhere, including right here in this community. Are they often reported? No. So, I challenge you to help me get the news out. Share a copy of this magazine. You will find nothing but positive news, events, and happenings that should encourage the reader. Keep a “thankful mode” as we enter this new year – a year fresh for new beginnings. I want to share how much I appreciate the Our Town community. I am thankful for the Our Town family, friends, staff, and partners. Both Our Town monthly magazines continue to grow in a rapid manner. In addition, we have exciting plans for 2017 and beyond with our media and communications firm EndResultZ. Our expanded (online and offline) communications reach will allow us to offer our partners more offerings and services. So, stay connected as… here we “grow again.” I wish you a safe and blessed holiday season. I thank you for your role in our journey day by day, month by month, and year by year. We could not do it without you. So, until next year, and as always: this is my town, your town, Our Town!

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Skin So Simple: Tips for the Winter Season By Lisa Clinkscale Porter, Aesthetician As the seasons change and the weather becomes more frigid, our skin tends to dry out and become devitalized-looking and sometimes even flaky. One of the first things we can do to solve this problem is to make sure all the dead skin cells are properly and thoroughly removed from the skin, which means a good facial is in order. Once the dead skin cells are removed, then it is time to put as much hydration into the skin as possible. Everyone can benefit from one of many hydrating facials such as the amazing Oxygen treatment, the Paraffin treatment, or the famous Four-Layer Seaweed treatment. If your skin requires a deeper exfoliation, then get an alpha hydroxyl acid fruit peel. This is an ideal time to get laser skin rejuvenation and facial peels because of the decrease in UVB rays. Also, we should continue drinking plenty of water. We tend to drink less water during the colder months than we do in the summer time. However, the colder temperatures tend to dry our skin along with the heat that we use to warm our homes, so it is an especially good time to drink water. Also, let’s remember to continue wearing our sun protection every morning. Even when you do not see the sun shining, we are still exposed to its rays. Keep using eye and neck crème daily as well. And last but not least, our lips become more chapped and dry during the winter season, so be sure to include a lip rescue treatment with your next facial appointment, and always keep your lips protected and hydrated daily. Remember, the first thing people see when they look at you is your face. How does your skin look? Please feel free to email your skin care questions to Lisa Clinkscale Porter is owner of Unique Face Options, Inc. More information at http://www.

Lilburn Post Office’s David Hinesley Continues His Father’s Legacy as Postmaster By Heidi Campbell David Hinesley, the postmaster of the Lilburn Post Office, truly grew up with the US Post Office in his blood. His father, Preston, a postal employee for almost forty years, encouraged young Hinesley to take the postal exam while he was still attending Brookwood High School, which he did before graduating in 1985 and going on to attend the University of Georgia. Preston, who passed away last year from pancreatic cancer, was the postmaster of the Lilburn branch from 1993-2001. Back in 1993 a member of the Mountain Park Baptist church made t-shirts honoring Preston, and Preston’s wife, Judy, kept one. When Preston passed away, David framed the t-shirt and hung it on the wall of his Lilburn office. “I really miss my dad,” he shares. “He was the one person who truly understood every bit of my job. I could leave work and call him each day to get his feedback.” Twenty-nine years ago, Hinesley began his postal career in Tucker, and worked in Grayson and Auburn before coming to Lilburn just over a year ago. As postmaster, he is not only responsible for all things related to mail, but he also oversees the hiring and operations of the branch’s sixtytwo employees. On a normal day, the Lilburn post office handles 2,900 packages; but during the holidays, they handle as many as 10,000 packages each day. “One of the biggest challenges of the job,” explains Hinesley, “is making sure that each package gets scanned and sent to the right place. We handle about 30,000 deliveries a day.” Hinesley knew that he wanted to make his Lilburn branch special. As soon as he became the postmaster, he met with local leaders to better understand the community concerns. He repaved the parking lot and teamed up with Gwinnett Master Gardener Kate Pitman and the Lilburn Women’s Club to put out new pine straw and upgrade the facilities. Hinesley is committed to working with the community, and plans to put a mail truck in the annual Lilburn Christmas Parade. He participated in the opening of the new Lilburn City Library by supporting the time capsule project. He added photos of his current employees, express and priority mail envelopes, Continued on page 17

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By Daidra Annis Volleyball is a sport that just doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. In fact, when you think of volleyball, it is likely that the first thing that comes to mind is the Olympic beach volleyball competitions from Rio this past summer. Bryan Johnston, however, has been a fan of the sport for most of his life. In college, he excelled on sand and grass, and today, he spends his time on the indoor courts with the Endurance Volleyball Academy. Bryan and his wife have six children, four of whom are girls. Recognizing the lack of opportunities for his girls to play volleyball led to the founding of Endurance Volleyball in 2009. What began with a ten player roster has now become a league for approximately 600 female athletes across seventeen club teams, with various camps, leagues, and clinics as part of its annual offerings. While similar to a travel team for baseball or football, Endurance is different because of its identity, which Bryan describes as “a travel club run on Christian principles, but not a Christian club.” Their ultimate goal, he says, “is capturing the athlete’s heart.” The coaches at Endurance focus on volleyball basics and fundamentals, and team character principles like Commitment, Virtue, Integrity, and Toughness. They embrace the philosophy of three-dimensional coaching which is built on the foundation of teaching fundamental skills, psychological development, and winning the player’s heart. It is Bryan’s belief that winning (i.e. the scoreboard) will take care of itself if the players are taught the right things. Of course, the coaches cannot do what they do alone. They rely on an active partnership with parents to instill the same values at home. Work ethic and attitude will contribute to the athlete’s success, but they must be practiced at home as well. The Endurance season begins with tryouts in October and November, followed by match play from January through tournaments in early May. Parents of the athletes chosen for the club teams understand that the character principles taught by the program are just as important as choosing the right coach. It is crucial to everyone’s success to have like-minded families with whom the long season will be spent. Continued on page 21

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Community Spotlight: Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre By Tony Socci

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One of the unique features of the Aurora Theatre is that it offers productions in Spanish with English supertitles. The intent is to reach across linguistic and cultural barriers to bring professional theatre to Georgia’s diverse community. Teatro Aurora has produced 4000 Miles (2015), Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas (Real Women Have Curves) (2015), Mariela in the Desert (2014), Noche de Velas (Night of the Candles) (2014), and Driving Miss Daisy (2014). The very first Aurora Theatre spread its wings and found flight in 1996 in a converted hardware store north of Atlanta in the city of Duluth. Aurora’s excellent programing did not go unnoticed. Lawrenceville realized the positive economic impact of a professional theatre, and extended an invitation to move Aurora’s headquarters and production facilities there. The invitation was the cornerstone for Lawrenceville’s revitalization plans, and a unique partnership of city government, private development, and not-for-profit charity saw the purchase of a 100-year-old church. In May of 2007, and $7.5 million dollars later, the new facility opened with two performance spaces producing more than six hundred annual events. Over 4,600 patrons have purchased season tickets, and now in their twentieth season, over 70,000 visitors are entertained yearly. The Aurora Theatre has become the largest arts organization in Gwinnett County and is the most rapidly growing venue of this sort in the state of Georgia. In 2009, the Aurora accepted the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s first Pinnacle Small Business Award for a non-profit organization. Credit must be given to the vision and artistic leadership of founders Anthony Rodriguez and Ann-Carol Pence who serve as artistic directors. Thanks to Anthony and Ann-Carol, the Aurora Theatre was named the Best Theatre Company in Atlanta in 2010 by Creative Loafing. More recent accolades came from Georgia Trend Magazine and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, who Continued on page 18

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Lilburn’s Flea Antique Depot Hosts its First Wedding Proposal By Heidi Campbell Marriage proposals happen every day, many in creative, romantic “first date” spots. On Wednesday, September 21st, one couple, Jeremy Thomas and Sarah Carter McClanahan, got engaged amongst the vintage treasures of Lilburn’s Flea Antique Depot. The owner of the shop, Judy Becker, was thrilled when Jeremy, originally from Waycross, called to arrange the proposal plan. “We were so proud when Jeremy said that he wanted to propose in our shop,” explained Judy. “He told us that it was one of Sarah Carter’s favorite shops!” Jeremy met Sarah Carter, who grew up in Tucker, almost a year ago. She was working as a barista at Chattahoochee Coffee Company. Jeremy admitted, “I kept going in there because I had a crush on her, and things took off from there!” As the relationship grew, they found that they had a mutual love of old things, and antiquing became one of their favorite things to do together. Once Jeremy was ready to propose, he called Judy at the Flea Antique Depot. They agreed to keep the store open late, and the proposal was set for 7:00 p.m. Jeremy arranged for his friends to arrive at 5:00 p.m. to set up a series of exhibits throughout the antique booths. Each of the displays were carefully planned to represent moments, events, and memories of their relationship history. “They

made Chattahoochee Coffee Company coffee at the front of the shop, so it smelled good and reminded her of where they met,” explained Judy. “There were candles lit along the aisles. He had so many great displays, but I especially loved the laptop that played the drive-in movie they saw together. He set out the candy he bought her that night, and had little Hot Wheels facing the movie screen.” When the couple arrived, Sarah Carter jokingly asked Jeremy if they were breaking in, because she knew the hours of the Flea Antique Depot, and that they should have been closed. When they pushed open the door, they were greeted by Jeremy’s best friend, who was dressed up and ready to take Sarah Carter on a tour of all the exhibits. “When we walked in and I saw his best friend waiting for us in a suit, my heart started pounding!” shared Sarah Carter. “The whole night was unbelievably sweet. I was able to laugh and cry as I revisited the story of us woven throughout my favorite antique shop. I reached him at the end and he got down on one knee.” The final exhibit was a time lapsed video of the four hour planning session Jeremy had with his friend. Around that corner, Jeremy waited. Several of the store employees watched behind shelves, trying to give them privacy, yet eager to see this romantic moment. “When she turned the corner, I was there,” beamed Jeremy, “and I said ‘You are my favorite

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character, in my favorite story, written by my favorite author. And this next chapter is called planning a wedding.’ I then dropped on one knee and asked her to marry me.” According to those who were there, Sarah Carter accepted the proposal with tears of joy. She was thrilled and touched with the entire event, and said, “I walked through the set up with him a second time because I had been so in shock and overwhelmed, I barely remembered the first half! He is my best friend and other half. I absolutely cannot wait to be his wife.”

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Learning Lessons: How to Calm and Comfort a Stressed-Out Student

Up Close with Trickum Middle School Girls Basketball

By Carol C. Wood

Coach Aaron Schuck has been coaching girls’ basketball for ten years. The 2016-17 school year marks his third year at Trickum Middle School, where he works in partnership with his assistant coaches, Lynn Carroll and Kylie Fronzak. Coach Schuck was born in Ohio. After moving to Georgia, he graduated from North Gwinnett High School. He credits three great mentors for his coaching abilities: Mike McCoy and Tony Watkins, formerly of Parkview High School, as well as Nick Gast, who is the current boys’ coach at Parkview. Like many coaches, Coach Schuck uses sports to teach his players life lessons. His number one philosophy is, Keep it simple, make plays for your teammates, and play smart. He says, “Playing hard is important, but if you don’t play smart, then you can end up being counterproductive.” Playing smart goes beyond cutting down on injuries, though it certainly can do that. It is more about knowing your role on the team and accepting it. Coach Schuck counters those who say, “Take what the defense gives you,” by saying he wants the team to “make and take the shots we want, not just what we are given.” Coach Schuck takes the lessons of basketball off the court, too. He encourages his players to remember they are to represent the team well in the community. When they are at the store or church or with their friends, they are to practice character traits that will make people think highly of the team and the school. In the classroom, Coach Schuck strongly urges team members to pass all of their classes, even though regulations only require them to pass five out of six taken during the semester of their chosen sport’s season. Since basketball spans two semesters, players must do well in Chris' both. Coach Schuck wants team1 members to goPMbeyond the minimum because 9290_Dr. Natural Remedies December ad red.pdf 11/10/2016 3:06:17 Continued on page 14

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Recently, a parent asked me what he could do to calm down his academically stressed-out daughter who cared almost too much about her school grades. Following is my response and some recommendations: • Remind your student that if he/she has worked to the best of his/her ability and acted in a responsible way, then this is enough for you. Grades are not as important as effort, level of responsibility, and accountability. • Reassure them you are not disappointed in them if they have tried their best. You would be surprised how many students have cried in my office and confided in me that they are stressed because they do not want to disappoint their parents. Some students will even stop trying in school because they believe that nothing they do is ever good enough for their mom or dad. • Encourage your student to take a course load that aligns with his/her own academic and career goals and abilities. Have realistic expectations based on academic levels of achievement. • Remember, your children are different from you, and it is important to accept, appreciate, and encourage their differences. Allow and encourage them to express and pursue their own career interests and objectives. This will foster increased confidence, self-esteem, and motivation. • Assure your student that you are willing to locate a trained educational professional to teach him/her efficient and effective study skill methods and/or course content. Doing so will send the message that your student is worth the investment of your time, energy, and money. • DO NOT compare your children to one another or to other students academically or in any other way. Rather, recognize them as the individuals they are and applaud their admirable and positive traits. • Encourage your children to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses only in academic areas in which they excel and/or have the greatest interest. Additionally, encourage your student to Continued on page 21










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Getting to Know: Why Not Ministries By Tony Socci What do you get when a girl is born in Nebraska, is raised in Florida, and moves to Georgia? You get Lorie McBride, of course, who teaches English as a second language at Cedar Hill Elementary School on Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. Lorie majored in elementary education with a minor in Bible at Lee University in Tennessee. She earned a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University. As satisfying as teaching is to Lorie, she felt a need for something in addition to her work at Cedar Hill. She turned to prayer, and the answer came through many of her friends. Lorie realized that most of them were very hard working single parents with more than one job, but who were still unable to get out of being “just over broke.” Typically, an emergency such as an auto repair or a child getting sick would trigger depletion of any financial reserves the single parents happened to accrue. For many, it became a monthly choice as to which bills would be paid on time and which bills would be late. Lorie began a single parent fellowship at Life Church International, which put her in contact with more needy single parents. Her desire to assist her friends and to be sure children had safe, stable housing, led to the start of Why Not Ministries. Why not give financial aid to single parents in need? Why not give a homeless mother and child the chance to get off the streets and into a warm bed? Why not assist a family facing eviction to stay in their home? Why not give a single mother and child the deposit that would enable them to rent a home? Why not give a hand up instead of a handout? Some of the families Why Not Ministries has helped include a mom and her son who were abandoned at a motel with no transportation or money; a mother who faced eviction because she had quit her job to take care of her daughter who had cancer; a mother who just got a job but needed money for an apartment deposit in order to move out of the hotel they had been staying in; and a mom who needed help so she didn’t have to return to an abusive relationship in order to provide shelter for her daughter. Funding for Lorie McBride’s wonderful work comes from private donations, fund raisers, and Life Church International. Why Not Ministries is staffed by fifty to seventy-five unpaid volunteers. The need for assistance is so great that it can be, at times, overwhelming. Mostly single parent women seek assistance, but Why Not Ministries has helped single parent men as well. Recipients of assistance have ranged in age from 18 years up to grandparents. So why not get involved today? More information at or

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Cornerstone Coworking: Coworking, Meeting, and Event Facility By Daidra Annis Small business owners have a friend at Cornerstone in Lawrenceville. Located at the corner of Crogan and Culver Streets, the property was built on the Historic Square a little less than three years ago, and offers much needed space and resources to small businesses. The project was started by Novologic when it had outgrown its own space. In the process the need for independent office space in Lawrenceville was identified. And, as they say, the rest is history and Cornerstone Coworking began. Taking its cue from the virtual office trend, Cornerstone is a one-stop shop for its members’ office needs, providing everything from office space and conference rooms, to an open common area, reception, and mailbox services. A full-time staff of two is available to assist with any needs during the business day. Marketing Coordinator Chelsea Larko says that the goal of Cornerstone Coworking is to “support local business and entrepreneurs with the resources and tools they need.” The facilities and services are provided via membership, or on an as needed basis. Various levels of membership are offered to meet both the needs and individual budget of each business owner. Continued on page 14

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Trickum Middle School Continued from page 12 he believes their work ethic in the classroom will be their work ethic on the court. In an effort to connect with the community and to interest more girls in the sport, Coach Schuck hosts a skills and drills program in the summer. It is held in the school gymnasium and is open to first through eighth grade girls who reside in the Parkview school cluster. The program has also brought in a few new team members. Coach Schuck would like to encourage the community to come out and support the team by attending a game, especially if they have never seen a middle school girls’ team play. More information at

Cornerstone Coworking Continued from page 13 Stepping into the lobby at Cornerstone, one sees a modern New York style which lends a professional environment that Cornerstone clients are proud to show off to their guests. The common space features a fully-stocked, self-serve cafĂŠ with coffee, snacks, and tea. All conference rooms have first class audio/visual capabilities that include televisions with multiple device connections, conference call telephones, and white boards. One advantage that Cornerstone offers over the local coffee shop is that collaboration is encouraged. The idea of members connecting and helping one another to grow business is paramount in the design and everyday flow of the facility. That sense of collaboration is evident even among the current clients, which include a wedding planner, caterer, graphic designer, photographer, multiple technology companies, an attorney, music industry members, and event planning professionals. Cornerstone also has the capacity to host corporate trainings, networking events for local chambers and business organizations, and social events for non-members. Corporate Christmas parties, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, and book signings are also a few of the private events that Cornerstone has had the pleasure of hosting. Such a versatile space that is located within walking distance of ten to fifteen restaurants and a short drive from the future Slowdown Brewing Company is truly an asset to the community. Cornerstone supports the downtown Lawrenceville scene with participation in events and any city-sponsored activities that would make sense for the property and the city to collaborate in. When small business thrives, so does the community around it; and that, perhaps, is the best collaboration of all. More information at


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“We will never get into the restaurant business! This is crazy!” the Chen brothers – whose families owned restaurants in New York and Connecticut – told each other as kids. But as Ken and Jimmy got older, they saw an opportunity to not only “get into the restaurant business,” but to also do things differently. The Chen brothers observed how things “were always done” in Chinese restaurants, and they were determined to change the things that bothered them when they opened their first Ricebox Chinese Restaurant in Gwinnett in 2014. To them, it often appeared that customer service in Chinese restaurants was bad because of a prevalent language barrier. “We wanted to overcome that and offer better customer service,” says Ken. Next on the list of improvements was simplifying the menu. Chinese restaurants often have huge menus which confuse people, so customers just order the same few popular dishes. The Chens pulled together the most frequently ordered items to create their simpler menu, including Chinese and Thai cuisines. The third and perhaps most impactful change the Chens implemented in their new restaurants is the cooking method. “Over 90 percent of Chinese restaurants cook food in oil – everything goes through oil before it’s cooked,” the Chens note. “We asked why, and were told, ‘because that’s how it’s always been done.’ We questioned that. We want our food to be healthier.” The Chens challenged the hundred-year-old standards of Chinese restaurants in the US and created a better plan for a healthier experience. “Steaming takes longer, but it is healthier,” the Chens say, “and we never used canned products. All our vegetables and produce are fresh, and whenever possible, we get them from local farmers’ markets.” They are on a mission to change the perception that take-out Chinese food is greasy. Each menu item is carefully considered, too. When the Chens add a new dish to the menu, they give it three months. If the item doesn’t sell more than three times, they consider revising or removing it completely. That way the menu is always fresh, updated, and easy to understand. Additionally, the Chens have listened to their customers’ requests for gluten-free dishes, including the favorite General’s Chicken. Their revised recipe no longer uses flour for the breading, and soy sauce without wheat has replaced the traditional version. Ken says the gluten-free soy sauce is more expensive than the “regular” kind, but he and Jimmy believe it is worth it. “We personally approve all the ingredients in our supplies. That way we can be sure we are offering the best gluten-free options.” Ken and Jimmy are also of the philosophy that in order to gain the support of the local community (now with a location in Centerville and a second in Lawrenceville), they must first support their neighbors. “We are not just here for business,” Jimmy says. “We care about the community. We want to help our community as a whole; to give back any way we can.” The Chens and Ricebox give back by hiring local people and buying produce from local growers whenever possible. Finally, they are involved with charities and co-ops in Gwinnett County. Among them are Give Hunger the Boot, a program that supports the South Gwinnett Co-op, and Saltlight Center, the Family Promise of Gwinnett. Ricebox donates food to both organizations. Saltlight Center helps single women and women with young children who need a safe place to spend the night. Since January, the Chens and their staff have supplied hundreds of meals to the shelter, and they would like to open their doors to even more organizations so they can continue helping local families in need. “We’re in the food business,” says Ken. “If there are people in our own community who are hungry, it doesn’t make sense. We can always cook up a meal for a family in need. We always have food to help.” The Chens add, “When we all come together, we can make a huge impact. If we spread the word, hopefully others will catch on, too.” More information at

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Youth Sports: A Training Ground for the Modern Workplace By Sean Moynihan, Commercial Tenant Advisor & Youth Soccer Coach Why do you sign your child up for youth sports? Is it for the huge professional contract? Is it for the college scholarship? Maybe you will be happy if your child is a high school star so they can recall those glory days when they coach their own kids. What if the real reason we sign our children up for youth sports and pump billions of dollars into athletic companies is to help prepare them for a successful career in the workplace of the future? What if you celebrated your child’s collaboration, communication, or decision making on the athletic fields instead of a goal, touchdown, or home run? The workplace of the future will be an open, collaborative environment that will be made up of a diverse group of people working together to achieve the mission of their company. If you take a close look at the makeup of any youth sports team today, it is very likely that those children will closely resemble the person your child will be working with for their entire adult life. It is on the fields and courts around the world where acceptance and tolerance will be taught. In addition to the ability to engage with a diverse workforce that will be competing against people from around the world, your child will need to own his or her decisions and deal with the results of those decisions, good or bad. The organized games your child plays for their teams is an opportunity for them to make their own choices based on the objective of the game, the coach’s plan, and their preparation. These decisions are not much different than what we adults make in our grown up world everyday based on the goals of our job and our leaders and how much we prepare to be successful in what we are trying to accomplish at work. How many of you complain about being micro-managed at your job? How different is your boss’s nitpicking compared to “kick it, pass it, shoot it, catch it, hit it!”? Your child is the one practicing/preparing all week. What have you done to get ready to play on the weekend? Oh wait, you aren’t playing in the game. If we look on the bright side, today’s children will be so sick of being micro-managed in youth sports that when they get into the work place they will create an environment that will allow and accept people learning from their successes or failures without spectators trying to play them like a video game. Youth sports should be about a game that can teach positive lessons that may be used throughout life if you let your child drive the learning. Tomorrow’s leaders understand that their experience in the game is driven by their hard work, effort, and learning from their decisions. The parents who create children dependent upon them while playing a game are inhibiting their potential to lead in the workplace. If we keep the end in mind, a child who grows up to be a person who can lead with decisiveness and communication, will be worth every penny you spend on youth sports. Sean Moynihan is a Principal and Tenant Advisor with Avison Young. More information at www. avisonyoung.

Lilburn Postmaster Continued from page 8 forty-seven cent stamps, a photo of the father and son postmasters, and a letter to the citizens of Lilburn to the fifty year capsule that will reside in the clock tower. Part of Hinesley’s dedication to his community involves the local youth. He works with the Boy Scouts to help them complete their badge for visiting a government building, and he welcomes elementary class field trips to learn about the inner workings of the post office. During the holidays, Hinesley sees to it that the nearly 300 letters to Santa are handled with care. One of his dedicated carriers (who works for the North Pole during this time of year) sees to it that every single letter is answered with a personalized letter from Santa himself. The day-to-day operations of the post office are not always predictable, according to Hinesley, who has even been trusted with packages containing urns and ashes. He had one inspiring Auburn customer who mailed fifty boxes of care packages to the troops each week for two years. He has also seen some very interesting things shipped, including an entire car, piece by piece. Perhaps the wildest packages he sees coming through are the live chickens. “You can really mail chickens,” Hinesley explains. “You express mail them in a chicken coop house that is ventilated like an old fashioned dollhouse. I have a customer who comes in every week to pick up his baby chicks.” Hinesley says that his career with the post office has been very good for him and his family, allowing them to send his daughters to college. He admits that the postal service won’t get you rich, but there are great benefits for those who stick with it. He attributes his success to the support of his wife Mary, who has balanced her own part time work with running their house and keeping up with their two daughters so that he could work long hours and advance in the postal service. He is thankful for his family and his parents, and says, “My parents both taught me an incredible work ethic. They taught me to do the best I can, with the talent I have, to make the world a better place.”

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Chick-Fil-A-Employee Spotlight: Ana and Lorena Lemus of Chick-fil-A Stone Mountain By Our Town Staff Our Town (OT): How long have you worked at CFA? And how have things changed since you began? Ana: I have worked for Chick-fil-A for sixteen years. We are much busier now than when I started. Since I began I’ve always been happy with my Chick-fil-A team, and I love performing well in my job. Lorena: I have worked for Chick-fil-A for thirteen years. Chick-fil-A has always been my favorite fast food, and I think we’ve always had the best customer service. OT: What are your favorite things about working at CFA? Ana: I love hand-rolling the biscuits fresh every morning! Lorena: I love making chicken cool wraps. I enjoy making not only good tasting food, but appealing food as well. OT: What makes your job at CFA special to you? Lorena & Ana – We work as a team. We all work wherever is needed to get the job done. OT: What would you like Our Town Gwinnett Magazine readers to know about you/CFA? Lorena & Ana– We always put our best care into our work so that we can provide the best food and customer service. We have a great team! More information at

Hanjun is a visiting Post-doctoral researcher from China working at Georgia Tech. He had been struggling with depression for many years. He went to doctors, did research on his own and tried various solutions but still struggled. Some friends from work invited him to church but he refused since he was an atheist. At a research conference, he spent time with Jason, who is a part of Discipleship International, and another friend who spoke to him about Jesus and his love for Hanjun. Hanjun listened and decided to try this Jesus they talked about. He prayed with them and decided to follow Jesus and experienced forgiveness of sins and found that his depression was gone! When the depression would try to come back, he remembered Jesus, prayed to him and the depression would leave! Hanjun now is growing in Christ and serves on our translation team. This is one story about what God is doing at Discipleship International.

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Community Spotlight Continued from page 10 proclaimed the Aurora Theatre as one of the Best Places to Work. Other awards include Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta 2013, seven 2013 Suzi Bass Awards, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 President and CEO Award for Excellence in Arts, and the Gwinnett Chamber’s 2015 IMPACT Regional Business Award for Hospitality. The Aurora’s expansive repertoire not only includes the Mainstage Signature Series and the Harvel Lab Series, but provides access to a myriad of ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses across the region. There are such diverse programs as FREE Play Day for youngsters of financially challenged families, Sensory Friendly Performances for families with autistic children or adults, and the Community Conversations Series that allows the Aurora to more specifically engage with our diverse community on multiple fronts. Their simple mission statement defines direction. It states, “Aurora Theatre is committed to producing quality, professional theatre for the Southeast, North Georgia, and our most ardent supporters, the residents of Gwinnett County. We will serve these communities by offering entertainment that nurtures a love of theatre and develops a new generation of theatergoers.” More information at:

Chaplain’s Corner: Being Thankful By Pastor Paul Ballard There is a laser-like focus on being thankful around Thanksgiving. It is helpful. It is good. What happens after Thanksgiving, though? We begin the sprint toward Christmas. Shopping, gifts, parties, activities, eggnog, decorations. The list goes on and on. This is a reminder that this week, even today, to slow down and be thankful. I mean really slow down, take a few minutes, and be still, and be thankful. Today, drink deeply from the well of grace. Be thankful. Today, with the deepest humility and the greatest joy, remember the gift of your salvation. Be thankful. Remember this odd relationship – a God who needs nothing and a people who have nothing to give. Be thankful. Righteousness given and forgiveness granted. Be thankful. Thanks be to God for common grace gifts poured out on us. What are common grace gifts? A spectacular sunrise or a beautiful sunset, a cool evening, warm sunshine, a good meal, faithful friends, laughter, family, holding hands with your spouse, watching your kids play, and many other simple and yet profound blessings that God graciously gives to us. The problem is many of us instead of being humbly grateful are grumbly hateful! A little girl was saying her blessing at school. Some of her friends made fun of her and said, “You’re going to eat it anyway, why do you say a blessing?” She thoughtfully said, “That’s true, but things just taste better when I am thankful!” When you go through life with a thankful attitude, life just taste better! Remember, above all, we should be thankful people for all that our heavenly Father has done for us. More information at

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Learning Lessons Continued from page 12 take no more than two AP courses during any given semester. These college level classes can become an overwhelming source of stress for a high school student when trying to juggle the study demands and time requirements of other athletic and extracurricular activities. • Find activities for the family to participate in on weekends that provide fun and enjoyment. Doing so will reinforce that family is important, will enrich relationships with parents and siblings, and will help put in perspective the balance between quality of life and character building and academics. • Provide and support opportunities for the student to participate in some sort of physical exercise which will allow the student to reduce anxiety and increase endorphin levels. Also, provide and support opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, such as drama and art, since doing so can provide a therapeutic emotional outlet. • Provide opportunities for your student to enrich and practice his/her faith. Doing so will help him/her keep priorities in perspective, and provide a source of strength, comfort, promise, and hope.

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Sports Talk Continued from page 9 Originally serving the North Fulton/South Forsyth/Johns Creek communities, Endurance Volleyball Academy recently expanded into the Lilburn/Tucker/Snellville area through their partnership with Providence Christian Academy. In their search for a community outreach, Providence was intrigued by what the Endurance program represents, and as they say, the rest is history! The partnership has blossomed in just a year, and both are excited about the new Providence High School opening in Johns Creek in the fall of 2017. Endurance Academy will operate out of part of the high school’s recreation center. Both groups look forward to the future where volleyball will increase in awareness and exposure, while also serving the surrounding community. More information at

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Kids & Pros: Former Atlanta Falcons Proving Life Lessons By Michelle Watson Fifteen years ago two Gwinnett County citizens, Buddy Curry and Bobby Butler, wanted to form an organization that would reach out to kids through football. The two former Atlanta Falcons had played together for seven years and were sure they could come up with an effective program. They put their heads together and founded Kids & Pros, and they have touched the lives of more than 40,000 children all over the Southeast. Curry believes football provides more life lessons than any other game. He and Butler and the other coaches use the rules and structure of football to teach character through five core principles: sportsmanship, integrity, teamwork, perseverance, and excellence. They also teach safety skills and information to both kids and parents. Kids & Pros consists of current and former NFL Players, as well as local high school and youth coaches, who run the kids through fundamental drills. After drills, one of the coaches shares his life story. They want to teach children that life comes with adversity and challenges. When large, powerful men share how not everything comes easy to a person just because of one’s size or popularity, children are inspired to overcome the obstacles life brings their way. There are two programs for kids to choose from: three-day camps in the summer, or one-day clinics year-round. Kids & Pros also partners with the Atlanta Falcons to deliver the Moms Football Safety Clinic, where moms are taught how to assist their children in properly fitting their child’s equipment. Moms are also given information on concussion prevention and treatment. Gwinnett Medical Center, a major Kids & Pros sponsor, often sends a physician from their Concussion Institute to provide even greater medical information. Easing a parent’s, especially a mom’s, fears about kids playing football allows the parents to relax and let their children have fun playing. Curry says that every person involved in the team has a role to play. The kids’ role is simply to play, get better, and have fun. Coaches are to teach kids how to have fun and how to win. Parents, says Curry, are to do two things. The first is to remember the coach is in charge, that their children are smart, and they will do what they are told if allowed to do so. The second thing

parents must do is to act as a cheerleader. Just step back and cheer. In Gwinnett County, the Kids & Pros camps are held in partnership with local youth programs on public park fields located near an area school or at a private facility with plenty of field space to host 200+ kids. All events are free for both children and their parents, but participation size is limited, so you must register to attend. The program is open to both boys and girls ages 7-13. Kids and Pros is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations and sponsorships are tax-deductible. More information at

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