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FEBRUARY 2018 Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Community & Family Magazine

Our Town GWINNETT

Lawrenceville Snellville Lilburn Stone Mountain Tucker

Meet the team at ANWAN Regenerative Center, see story on page 5

8 13 14 19

On the Move: Smoke Rise Baptist Weekday School Expands Getting Schooled: Five Brookwood High Friends Become Eagle Scouts Community Member Spotlight: Meet Pete & Kelsey Everett Catching Up with PHS Great: Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics

STONE MOUNTAIN GA PERMIT #1037

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On the Cover: Making a Difference: ANWAN Regenerative Center By J. Rice The way we approach health and wellness is changing for the better, and Dr. Donovan Christie and the ANWAN Regenerative Center in Tucker are on the cutting edge of it. With a rapidly aging baby-boomer generation looking for ways to combat the effects of aging on their bodies, new therapies are being developed to meet that growing demand. People of all ages are seeking out and embracing these newer anti-aging treatments in ever-increasing numbers. Some of these new techniques enable the reversal of diseases like Type 2 diabetes, while others can stimulate the body to repair and regenerate its own tissue. The ANWAN Regenerative Center offers a wide variety of holistic and integrative therapies, including oral and I.V. nutrition, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, and joint regeneration. “Pharmacy and surgery certainly have a place, but we should be exploring a multitude of other options first,” says Dr. Christie. “God put on earth everything you need to maintain a body in a physical and mental state of health.” One of the more recent and exciting breakthroughs has been in the area of regenerative medicine. “Auto-immune disorders are reaching epidemic proportions,” Dr. Christie says. “Chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis will affect millions of people, whether brought on by poor lifestyle habits, trauma, age, obesity, or genetics.” Dr. Christie adds, “Regeneration of cartilage and of damaged tissue like tendons and ligaments is now possible through regenerative therapies, which include stem cell and PRP

(platelet rich plasma) injections.” The two work in tandem to regenerate the tissues damaged by Achilles tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, erosion of spinal disc space, rheumatoid inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, and a host of other musculoskeletal injuries. “The body’s own healing ability is increased five-to-ten-fold when these growth factors are injected locally,” he states. These are not only more affordable treatments than surgery, but they don’t even require a hospital stay. The hopes are high that insurance will soon cover most, if not all, of these procedures. “We believe in giving you a better life, for the rest of your life,” is a mantra Dr. Christie and his whole family have embraced. His wife and daughter are nurse practitioners at the center. The Christie family is not only at the forefront of the latest medical care, but is giving back to the community in many charitable ways. Dr. Christie is also a philanthropist, and established the Picture of Health Foundation in 2004 partly as a tribute to his mother, who passed away at a relatively early age from the effects of arthritis and obesity-related diseases. “Exercise and nutrition components were missing,” he says. And yet, she was a nurse herself, and the one who encouraged him to go into medicine. Dr. Christie wants to help others avoid going through the pain his mother endured. The foundation works with several elementary, middle, and high schools in DeKalb and Gwinnett to stress the importance of preventative care. He is the founder and primary sponsor of an annual 5K run/walk to help turn the focus on the increasing problem of childhood obesity. Other vendors and sponsors at Continued on page 17

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Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Community & Family Magazine

— An EndResultZ Media & Communications firm EndResultZ.com

2017 Statistics for Our Team  Number of Homes Sold 130  Avg. List to Sales Price Ratio 98.36%

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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 2018 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 Info@OurTownGwinnett.com

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OurTownGwinnett

IN THIS ISSUE 5 7 8 9 9 10 12 12 13 14 14 15 16 16 17 18 19 20

On the Cover: Making a Difference: ANWAN Regenerative Center From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion Smoke Rise Baptist Weekday School Expands Program Brookwood High Graduate Robert Cunningham Stars in His First Feature Film Making a Difference: Manna Fund Home Knowledge: Indoor Air Quality and Radon Gas SportsTalk with Middle School Golf League BusiNeighbor Veteran’s Recreation Center Goes Online! Getting Schooled: Five Brookwood High Friends Earn Eagle Scout Rank Travel Tales: A Whale of an Adventure in the Sea of Cortez Community Member Spotlight: Meet Pete and Kelsey Everett Crane’s Corner: Political Insights from Bill Crane Up Close with Deborah and Anthony Garner Wonder Movie: Resonated with Gwinnett Family Book Review: Bear Town is a Novel Filled with Characters from Our Own Towns Pet Perch: Is Your Cat Suffering from Whisker Fatigue? Catching Up with Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics Community Business Spotlight: Lilburn Distillery

To become an Our Town advertising partner email Info@OurTownGwinnett.com or call 678-825-2049

Our Town


From the Publisher:

American Heritage Animal Hospital

One Man’s Opinion By Ryan T. Sauers

@RyanSauers

I hope everyone is off to a great February. Our community continues to prosper. Why? We are blessed with amazing people who choose to live, work, and play right here in Our Town. We should be proud of our community. Most communities are not as close as the ones we have. With that said, our attention span is short (or some might argue non-existent), so here are some points to ponder. 1. People love to laugh. How many times have you heard a funny story that made your day? How often have you seen something so silly that it just makes you laugh hard? You know – when you just keep laughing and can’t stop? How much fun do we have with long term friends who we can truly be ourselves with? A lot of fun. And what do we do? Yes, we laugh. How much fun was it (even with the loss) to watch UGA play in the national championship football game? Make someone’s day... and make them laugh. 2. People love to have fun. Why do you see so many people playing fantasy football, going to costume/theme parties, or playing mindless games on their mobile devices? Many use these things as breaks from their everyday routine and to relieve stress from our constantly connected world. They are fun, simple, and mindless. Have you ever seen adults dress up in full gear for football games? People really get into it. Why? We all love to have fun. This “feeling like a kid again” is the magic that most experience when they visit Disneyworld. And, it is what Disney is selling. We are supposed to act like kids and smile there. And, (in case you missed the memo) it is okay to have fun each day of your life. Remember, people love to have fun. 3. People love technology, yet miss the personal touch. How many of us just want someone to handle our requests in a timely manner, get things right the first time, and save us time when we are dealing with a problem that we’ve had with a good, service, etc.? I know I do. But instead we hear, “For faster service, visit us online.” Note: this is CODE for, “Don’t call us. We are busy, and if you go online, we don’t have to talk to you, or staff as many people.” Technology may be the best and worst thing that has happened to us. Thus, be sure technology works for us and that we do not work for it. The personal touch in relationships matters now more than ever. So, there you have it. If we want to communicate more effectively, we must consider our audience. Do we make other people laugh and have fun? After all, most adults are just big kids at heart. Being “normal” (whatever that means) is pretty boring. So, be YOU and enjoy living in your own skin and quit worrying what other people are doing. God created only one of you (and you matter), so make each day count. And in doing so, focus on making all parts of life (even the seemingly boring ones) fun. Lastly, focus on bringing back the personal touch while saving people time, which is our most valuable asset. I wish you a super February. And until next month, make someone’s day. WOW them. Why? Because it feels great, and it is an amazing thing to do. And until then and as always, this is my town, your town, OUR TOWN!

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Smoke Rise Baptist Weekday School Expands Program By Kim Hill For over 40 years Smoke Rise Baptist Weekday School has devotedly served the children and parents of its community – a community that has changed dramatically in that time. Director Valerie Coe Lowder has been challenged with keeping what is recognizable and valuable and what has made the preschool and kindergarten successful all these years, while still being able to adapt to new realities. She explains the school started as a program for stay-at-home moms who wanted some socialization and enrichment for their children. While this is still true for some, many moms now work full-time and may drop their children off while the other parent or a grandparent handles pick up. This new reality created the need to expand the program to five days a week for all ages beginning next fall. “We hope that will be helpful to the families that we have and will help some families that haven’t been able to come to Smoke Rise before because we had more limited days,” says Ms. Lowder. This change will be for the preschool, which is for children 15 months and older, and is a half-day program. Kindergarten is also half-day. Ms. Lowder says it would change the character of the school to extend the day, as the goal is to remain a preschool and not simply a childcare facility. “The involvement of the parents is one of the things that makes us who we are,” she says. Hours are 9:20 a.m. until 1:20 p.m., and kids bring lunch. A Parents’ Day Out, for 6-15 months, is offered one day a week. The school has much to offer. “We are blessed with the facilities that we have,” says Ms. Lowder. The school has a significant campus on the church grounds, two outdoor playgrounds, and a new indoor playground that was added this year. The converted room is brightly painted and has padded flooring and indoor play materials including a playhouse, tunnel, stepping stones, and a basketball hoop – things to help little ones get the energy

out when the weather is not conducive to outdoor play. For the last couple of years, the Mountain Park Library has sent monthly volunteers to read to the kids, and introduced a reading program sponsored by Georgia Public Libraries called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. Ms. Lowder says, “We have made reading a really big part of our experience. We can document that we have children three years old who have read 300 books, so they are well on their way to meeting that standard. Every week we have someone come in and read to the kids. It may be a parent, church staff, or me, but someone other than the teacher whose voice they are always hearing, who comes in to read stories and that makes it a fun thing.” The students also participate in performance activities. Three year olds do activities for the parents for the fun and connection and to get them used to being in front of people. They dress up in crazy socks and shoes for Funny Feet Day during “F” week, and participate in a Mother Goose parade that is always a hit. The four year olds and kindergarteners go on stage to do a Thanksgiving program, a Christmas Nativity Play, and a big Circus event in March. “We have done those for decades, and they are kind of part of our identity,” says Ms. Lowder. “It becomes a skill for them to be able to work together, to be in front of an audience, and to take direction. It’s quite an undertaking.” Though the school supports strong academics and prepares the children for first grade, Ms. Lowder says her goal is bigger than that. “I want them to be excited, engaged learners; I want them to feel confident; I want them to feel connected with their community; I want them to have a sense that they can serve and give.” The school promotes service by supporting the church’s

annual family mission trip. One project the kids did was to pull puzzles from a large collection the school had accumulated to send to the community center where the mission project was going. Ms. Lowder says, “The kids understand that, ‘Oh, the kids over there would like to have puzzles to play with, too, and we can share our puzzles with them.’” The school also participated in a national sock drive that takes place in October, called Socktober, because kids can understand that if somebody’s feet Continued on page 11

Call us today to learn how we can help.

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Brookwood High Graduate Robert Cunningham Stars in His First Feature Film

DeKalb Psychiatric Associates 2711 Irvin Way, Suite 211 v Decatur, GA 30030

By Heidi Campbell On January 19th, the film Mom and Dad hit the big screen. Staring Nicholas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, and Brookwood graduate Robert Cunningham, the film, which is rated R, was released in select theaters and is available through Video on Demand. The premise involves a twenty-four hour window in which parents are trying to kill their children for reasons unknown. “It is a horror/ thriller,” says Cunningham, who admits to actually hating horror movies, “but some critics have called it a black comedy as well.” This is a first feature film for Cunningham, who graduated from Snellville’s Brookwood High School in 2014. He is currently finishing his senior year at Northwestern University where he is majoring in Radio, TV, and Film with minors in theater and sociology. “In retrospect,” he explains, “I think I should have just been a theater major because I love acting so much, but because I didn’t have any prior experience when it came to making media, I thought it would be smart to major in film and go to a school where I could still do theater as a hobby.” Cunningham describes his Mom and Dad experience as “crazy,” and says that he heard about the auditions from a friend and went on a whim. That whim landed him the role, and he found himself with three days to pack his bags and move to his temporary, month-long new residence in Louisville, Kentucky. He enjoyed the days on the set as well as his down time, and he was excited to watch his own personal stunt double, Marvin Ross, play him in select scenes. While he was on the set, he had his own trailer, which he said was “more like a cubby.” “I learned so much from working with Nic, Selma, Anne, and Zackary who have all been acting for so long,” recalls Cunningham. “It was so cool to see everything that goes into making a feature film. I would usually wake up at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. and get to the set for hair, makeup, and SFX [special effects]. I talked to a lot of the crew members and assistant directors, and really learned what working behind the scenes is like.” Cunningham’s acting experience prior to the feature film has been on stage, and he notes many differences between screen and stage acting. He admits that he had to learn to tone down his volume and acting and “live in the subtlety.” The camera catches everything, so over-projecting, as he does on stage, is not necessary. “It was also a very intimidating experience,” he reveals, “to work with Continued on page 11

Neil A. Kahn MD v Adult and Geriatric Psychiatry Brittany Burchfield PhD v Adult and Child Psychologist

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Making a Difference: Manna Fund By Michelle Watson Manna Fund is an eating disorder treatment facility located in Lawrenceville. Dr. Genie Burnett founded Manna Fund in 2006 to help people who have suffered with eating disorders. She can relate to her patients because she was a victim of anorexia and bulimia herself at a young age. Dr. Burnett understands the drive to a disorder as well as the methods of treatment that are most effective. This unique perspective is what has made Manna Fund so successful, providing treatment scholarships for over 100 patients since its inception. Most people know of the three most commonly discussed disorders. Anorexia nervosa is recognized by the patient’s tendency to be undernourished through refusal to eat, and is often coupled with an over-commitment to exercise. Bulimia nervosa is known as binging and purging as the patient strives to eliminate the calories ingested in a day through laxatives, induced vomiting, or exercise. Binging eating is a disorder taken to the other extreme. The binging patient will often overeat in spurts followed by bouts of guilt and shame. There are many other types of eating disorders, as well, and Manna Fund can help with them all. There are five types of treatment (presented most intensive to least): in-patient, residential, Continued on page 10

Our Town

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Home Knowledge: Indoor Air Quality and Radon Gas By Mark J. Caffiers Concerns regarding indoor air quality have risen significantly over the years. We constantly hear new studies regarding toxins, which are emitted from everything from paint to plastics to carpeting. Homes are becoming more efficient, better insulated, and more tightly sealed. One of the newest barometers to measure home efficiency is the HERS rating (Home Energy Rating System). One main test is called a Blower Door Test, where a very powerful fan is fixed into the frame of an exterior door. When turned on, the fan pulls all the air out of the house and lowers the air pressure inside. This results in the higher outside air pressure flowing into the house through any unsealed cracks and openings, revealing the air infiltration rate of the home and showing where an air leak may be hiding. Our homes are getting tighter and tighter. That is not entirely good as it traps things inside such as radon gas. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that been on earth from the outset. It decays into radioactive particles that become trapped in your lung tissue as you breathe, and can lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. You cannot see smell or taste radon, but there is some level of it everywhere. Like other radioactive materials, radon is measured in pCi/L.  This stands for pico Curies per liter of air. A “pico Curie” is one-trillionth of a Curie, which is the unit that defines the amount of radioactive decays of 1 gram of radium also equivalent to 37 billion radioactive disintegrations per second. The amount that is normally found in the outside air is 0.4 pCi/L, and the average radon levels indoors are estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L. The trigger point for remediation in real estate transactions is 4.0pCi/l. Radon is a serious health issue, but it can only be minimized, not eliminated. The risk can be reduced by testing for radon and lowering the radon level in your home. It is very inexpensive to test for and measure the radon concentration in your house. Its largest impact is found in houses with basements, as well as in houses built on slabs. Houses with crawl spaces should be tested as well. Condominiums on ground floors (slab foundation), as well as townhouses with either basements or built on slabs, should be tested, too. Radon levels can vary due to seasonal effects, weather, wind direction, and speed. The EPA recommends that homes should be tested every two years. We encourage home buyers and owners to test for Radon. Use an inspection company, which does not mitigate, so they are not motivated to find elevated readings. For more complete information, you can find “A Citizen’s Guide To Radon The Guide To Protecting Yourself And Your Family From Radon” published by the EPA. More information at www.dsmurphyinspections.com

Manna Fund Continued from page 9

It It begins begins with with aa plan plan

Planning is everything, particularly when it comes to your Planning everything, particularly when it comes to your long-termisfinancial objectives. long-term financial objectives. Chris Buckley

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partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient. Manna Fund provides scholarships for inpatient and residential and local treatment for the last three levels of care. They also provide counseling for other issues. They are the only group on the east side of Atlanta offering such comprehensive services. Dr. Burnett has a vision for growth. She says Manna Fund will eventually open four additional centers, including further east toward Athens and south in Stockbridge. Great care must be taken when approaching a loved one suspected of having an eating disorder. Patients feel all kinds of emotions, not the least of which is an immense amount of shame. Dr. Burnett explains, for example, anorexic behavior may be an effort to “shrink” because the emotions he feels inside are so overwhelming that when he looks in the mirror he sees himself as much larger than his actual size. Those with eating disorders are quite aware they have a problem, and pointing it out to them is not going to reveal anything they don’t already know. In fact, telling someone with bulimia that you are concerned about her suddenly getting thin may even give her a sense of pride that it’s working. This can make it hard for those who care to know what to say. Dr. Burnett says the best thing to do is give them an invitation to talk. Don’t mention someone’s appearance, but ask about their underlying feelings that may be showing up through their behavior. An example would be to say, “You seem upset today. Want to talk about it?” And a great response is just to listen to their answer. More information at www.mannafund.org.

To become an Our Town advertising partner email Info@OurTownGwinnett.com or call 678-825-2049

Chris Buckley Financial Advisor Chris Buckley

Our Town


Robert Cunningham Stars Continued from page 9 industry professionals like Nic and Selma. I had never acted in a movie before, and ninety percent of the time I didn’t know what I was doing. I had to trust myself and the director.” With only six months until his college graduation, Cunningham continues to keep himself busy with theater. His most recent theater experience is in the musical Ragtime, which opened at the end of January. He has also performed in numerous other Northwestern performances including Parade (Jim Conley/Newt/Riley), Hair (Hud), and In the Red and Brown Water (Ogun Size). His upcoming play, Ever in the Glades, will spend two weeks at Northwestern and then transfer to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. “The coolest experience I’ve had,” Cunningham shares, “was when I was Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. All of our performances were in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was my first time leaving the country!” Cunningham, who enjoys Netflix, writing, music, museums, and “sometimes playing sports,” enjoyed his visit home to Lawrenceville to spend time with his family over the holidays. He plans to pursue his acting career once he graduates. He most likely will stay in Chicago since the “Windy City” has opportunities in theater, film, and TV. “I really love Chicago, and I’m also open to coming back to Atlanta,” says Cunningham. “I always had intentions of leaving Georgia to pursue a career in entertainment. I never thought that Atlanta would become such a huge entertainment hub!”

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Smoke Rise Baptist Continued from page 8 are cold or they don’t have good clothes that they are not going to be able to be healthy and happy, and this is a way they can help. “It’s just part of the culture we are creating,” says Ms. Lowder. “I think that is one of the things parents appreciate about what we are doing. It lines up with the values that they want their children to learn.” The school’s community roots run deep. Many siblings of former students are now students, and in some cases even children of former students attend, but the school is also reaching out to the newer families in the community who may be looking for the type of program Smoke Rise offers. An Open House will be held for prospective parents and students on Friday, February 9th from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. There will be tours of the facilities and a chance to meet the staff and teachers.

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SportsTalk with Middle School Golf League By Our Town Staff Registration is now open for the Middle School Golf League’s spring season that will begin March 11th. “We almost doubled in size last fall with seventy-eight middle school golfers, and we are anticipating additional growth this spring,” says Les Witmer, Middle School Golf League Director. “We are happy to announce that we have added Collins Hill Golf Course in Lawrenceville for our spring season.” This anticipated growth is based on returning students from the fall season and a waiting list of students whose parents contacted the league after the beginning of fall season. Students who register are assigned onto teams based on their attending school, and they each receive a golf shirt that corresponds to their school colors. Witmer adds, “Recognizing that ball striking for beginners and for those that played before can be challenging, we’ve developed a program that that teaches these young golfers the fundamentals of golf and through team best ball play has provided a positive environment where everyone participates no matter whether just a beginner or an accomplished junior player.” During the first weeks of the season, beginning golfers will spend time becoming more proficient at ball striking and understanding golf rules and etiquette. They will then take that knowledge onto the golf course, joining repeat Middle School Golf League players or the more advanced junior golfer playing as team members in the best ball “Lauderdale” format. Players play from forward or junior tees based on ability. “We will again have four weeks of 9 hole team best ball play for all, including a week where we plan again on having a high school player play with each team, and then introduce our players to stroke play where they play their own ball for an individual score,” explains Witmer. “We will culminate our fall season again with a very popular Pitch, Putt, and Drive competition, party, and awards presentation.” League play and/or clinics will be held on Sundays, normally at 4 p.m. Each team has a volunteer 11884_Dr Chris 1_4is page 4.875wide x 4.9369in tall.pdf 1 11/27/2017 12:58:00 PM team “Marshall” who responsible for team lineups and who supervises the play on the course. Continued on page 15

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BusiNeighbor Veteran’s Recreation Center Goes Online! By Kim Hill Through sheer determination and perseverance, Charmelle Scott has done it. Her dream of over two years of starting a Veteran’s Recreation Center has become a reality. As a veteran herself, Ms. Scott knows the horrors of combat, something no one but another veteran who has seen active duty can fathom. According to the Veteran’s Administration, twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day. Ms. Scott’s goal has been to open a center where veterans can come to improve their quality of life by meeting and interacting with other veterans in ways they are unable to do with even their closest family members. Now she has found a location where healing can take place. “What a difference a year makes,” she says. “God is so good!” Tucked away in a quiet Stone Mountain neighborhood, the BusiNeighbor Veteran’s Center (BVC) will offer a food pantry, clothing pantry, exercise room, computer lab, library, a TV/media room, and a day room with a pool table. Located on a bus route, the center is seven miles from the VA hospital, three miles from Stone Mountain, and three miles from Georgia Military College. Many donations have come in, and many more are needed to complete the furnishings and actually purchase the property, which BusiNeighbor, a non-profit, is currently renting. The facility can benefit veterans in many ways, even offering homeless veterans an address from which to mail resumes for employment applications. The center can accommodate 8-10 visitors a day, so veterans can make an appointment to spend the day. The center will be open Tuesday through Thursday, closed on Mondays and Fridays, and open again on Saturdays. Ms. Scott is very excited to have recently become associated with two other veterans’ groups dedicated to furthering her cause. The BVC was chosen by the Veteran’s Media Corporation for the US launch of the Veteran’s Channel, a 24/7 broadcasting channel with an initiative to help veterans around the world. It has launched out of the UK and Canada, and now out of Stone Mountain, GA! A mini-summit was held and filmed at the center for broadcast. Ms. Scott put an invite on Facebook seeking veterans who might want their stories heard. About thirty veterans showed up. Founder Henah Ji of the Canada office says of the mini-summit: “What they did in fellowship today is life-saving – calling the center a Team Home where they want to come for a ‘tune-up,’ get their ‘alignment.’ I believe this is the proper place for us to have done this launch because she [Ms. Scott] has done this from her heart completely out of love and compassion.” Ms. Ji explains that the channel updates every day as another veteran from another country is interviewed, so the network is continually growing. Ms. Scott says the veterans told their stories and Ms. Ji wrote down every complaint that needed to be addressed and will hold BVC accountable to make sure veterans are supported. The channel will do a document series and return to follow up to see how the center is progressing. Ms. Scott is optimistic about the potential this exposure will give the center. Ms. Scott also made contact with Larry White of the Ritz Group, an investor’s group for veterContinued on page 15

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Five Brookwood High Friends Earn Eagle Scout Rank By J. Rice Brookwood High School students Nathan Cung, Calvin Harris, Stephen Ito, Ethan Jennings, and Jack Reeves have been classmates, neighbors, scouting buddies, and good friends for more than ten years. All five are members of Snellville Boy Scout Troop 553, and in 2017 all five earned the rank of Eagle Scout. During the Eagle Scout honor ceremony recently held at Cannon United Methodist Church in Snellville, each student spoke about the positive impact scouting has had on his life – preparing them for leadership, training them to work together in groups, and stressing the importance of service to others. The boys were also able to show their gratitude and appreciation for the support and encouragement given them by their parents by presenting each of them with Eagle Mom and Eagle Dad pins. The boys had to complete their own Eagle project that required each to actively demonstrate the ability to lead others while performing a service or while developing a project that would benefit the community. Nathan Cung led a team in constructing six hexagonal tables to be used for outdoor lunchroom and classroom activities at Alton C. Crews Middle School in Lawrenceville. His team also worked to landscape the area, removing unsightly and overgrown plants and installing some crepe myrtle trees. Cung, a senior at Brookwood High, is a member of the BHS Philharmonic Orchestra, the track and field team, and three honor societies. He hopes to study industrial engineering at Georgia Tech or Duke University. Calvin Harris led a project to demolish an old barbeque pit for the Cannon United Methodist Church men’s group, and to construct a new one. When it was discovered that a drainage system was needed in the pit area, they took that on as well. Harris was a Class of 2017 graduate and a member of the BHS band and fencing team. He currently attends Middle Tennessee State University, and is studying to become a professional pilot in the aerospace program. Stephen Ito constructed a weather station for Brookwood Elementary’s fourth grade science classes. He also led a team of fellow scouts in the construction of a half dozen picnic tables for the playground area. They further improved the landscaping by planting more than 600 Blue Liriope plants to prevent soil erosion. Ito is in his senior year, and is a member of two academic honor societies as well as multiple clubs including the fencing club. He would like to further his studies at UGA or the University of British Columbia. Ethan Jennings took on the construction of four wooden donation boxes to collect used baseball and softball equipment, and placed them at three Gwinnett area parks. Once completed, it took only two weeks to receive almost 100 donated items which he sent to “Pitch In for Baseball,” a charity that distributes equipment to underprivileged children in the United States and overseas. Jennings, a senior, plays a variety of sports, is an officer in the Brookwood Outdoors Club, and serves on student government and the National Honor Society. He plans to study engineering or another science-related field at Georgia Tech, Duke, or Clemson. Jack Reeves’ project was building eight planter boxes on the campus of Alton C. Crews Middle School. Each box is twelve feet long, and will be used by students to grow fruits and vegetables for use by the school cafeteria and to feed impoverished families nearby. Reeves is a senior who spent three years in the BHS marching band. He would like to pursue a doctorate in chemistry at UGA.

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Travel Tales: A Whale of an Adventure in the Sea of Cortez By Pam Walker Wow, wow, wow is all I can say. I am aboard the Lindblad/ National Geographic Sea Bird in the Sea of Cortez with an unbelievable crew. We have Greg Marshall who invented “critter cam” and Jeff Litton who is a National Geographic photographer and film maker who has created many programs for National Geographic Channel. There are also two Mexican nationals who grew up in the area and have filmed and taught classes in biology and have trained naturalists around the world. I arrived late at night after traveling for a day from the East Coast. Rocking and rolling getting up to Loretta Bay, the entire crew and fifty guests received an early wakeup call to have our first sighting of Humpback whales off the bow. Amazingly, the whales were surrounded by long nose dolphins and hundreds of Frigate birds, all trying to scoop up the bounty of a huge school of fish. It was a veritable feeding frenzy! I am so impressed by this company. A long-time subscriber to National Geographic and an avid follower of their cable channel, I can hardly believe that we are sailing with so many National Geographic experts whom I have both seen and read about. Imagine sitting down to lunch or dinner with them, or meeting them on the deck to learn how they photograph wildlife. And this is just the beginning. I have a whole week with these folks. This afternoon, even though water temps are chilly, we will snorkel with sea lions and hike on Danzante Island – and still have time for sea kayaking and paddle boarding. During the week there will be more to see, topped off with the whale breeding grounds at Magdalena Bay where the cruise ends. Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions is proving to be one amazing journey into nature. I admit, I am not a cruise person, but after this special trip, I might be converted to do more. Watch out whales...we are on our way! Pam Walker is a Virtuoso Travel Advisor. More information at Pam@walkeradventures.com www. walkeradventures.com

Community Member Spotlight: Meet Pete and Kelsey Everett By Joanna Shackelford If anybody believes in community spirit, it’s Pete and Kelsey Everett. Travel anywhere in the Lilburn area and you’ll most likely run into one of the Everetts. From the fields of Mountain Park to the hills of Smoke Rise, this family is vibrant and involved. As Pete puts it, “It takes a village. And this community has embraced us!” Pete Everett, a first generation Gwinnettian, grew up in Norcross then moved to Lilburn when he was in the eighth grade. Once at Parkview High School, he found his niche on both the baseball and football fields. “My teachers and coaches in the community really had a huge impact on me,” he says. “All of these people helped shape me and placed their thumbprint on my life.” Pete went on to play football for Wofford for two years, later transferring to the University of Georgia to pursue a degree in business. Along the way he became involved with Young Life, a nonprofit ministry that works to make a difference in the lives of kids in the community. It was Young Life that led him to meet Kelsey. Albany, Georgia native and GA Southern grad, Kelsey aspired to be an educator. While securing her Master’s in Special Education in Milledgeville, she joined a Young Life group, staying involved even after graduation. It wasn’t until a leadership retreat at Grayton Beach that she and Pete finally met. “I tried hard to impress her all weekend,” Pete says, recalling the story. When their group went out dancing, he was finally able to get her attention. The two ended up dating long distance, and a Continued on page 21

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Advocacy Institute. Mr. Rodriguez is a Cancer Survivor and has been cancer free for 25 years. 2. PUT down the phone - I imagine most of us have drunk

dialed or texted...at least once. The president, perhaps drunk with Crane’s Corner: Political Insights from Bill ANN-CAROL PENCE (Associate Producer/Co-Founder) arranged thehis music forevery day. Though he credits power, rants with Tweets most this “reach around” the media and Crane Aurora’s first Christmas Canteen in 1996 and was hired full-time in September of ‘fake news crowd’ with his election victory, it is probably the largest single factor driving his

1998 as Resident Musical Director. An education major at James Madison approval rating downUniversity, from 45 percent at the time of his swearingin lastAs January, to 35 percent she now...the lowest of any modern she used her background to develop Learning Library (or L2). a musician, president at this point in his administration. To get down to 35 “Presidential Resolutions...We Can Hope.” created Aurora’s Musicals by Moonlight, and Aurora’s New percent, Gerald Musical Initiative. She R. Ford pardoned Richard Nixon “It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions,” Marcel Proust (18713.    Make and stick to your commitments -  A short list of 1922), novelist, criticas andpianist essayist, considered by critics and other writers to be one of nationally the most has French performed and/or music director both (Goodspeed Opera honored campaign promises has seen incumbent after incumbent influential authors of the 20th century. House, Pasadena Playhouse, The Cleveland Playhouse, The re-elected.  Kennedy and is that his commitments The Center) president’s challenge I have found it personally helpful for at least a couple of decades now to use part of the last week and promises The can change, with the season or even days of the oflocally each calendar year to conduct a bit Theatrical of personal and professional assessing what works (The Alliance, Outfit,inventory, Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Horizon). week, making it hard to keep track of what he is committing to and what doesn’t, where improvement is needed, and inevitably making a handful of resolutions As a proud citizen of Gwinnett, Ann-Carol is most proud of Aurora win-today on what we are going do. Where is theTheatre needle for example which I generally stick to. But all said, my resolutions won’t matter much to my readers, much to do about the DACA kids? less the nation...so I thought I’d offer some resolution guidance our President for 2018, towardsThis goes well with her 4 ning the first ever Pinnacle Award forto Large Non-Profit. 4.  Simply and credibly...look in a mirror - The president, I making a few modest adjustments of his own, which might vastly improve his track record of Suzi Awards for Outstanding Music Direction for Mary Poppins andhasLes Misérables, am told, tremendous energy, charm (though I’ve not actually achievements. that),Affair and abilities persuade. Use those sales talents, First, I want world to acknowledge that beingof newClyde to Washington and politics, Trumpand has A witnessed Aurora’s premiere ’n Bonnie: A President Folktale, Catered andto her close a few more deals. Stop crowing constantly that you are the brightest, smartest, most expert had several successes, and I want to give high marks where he earned them.   multiple nominations for In the Heights, Memphis, A Year with Frog & Toad, on EVERYTHING; it onlyAnnie makes your failures more spectacular and causes others to root for you President Trump appointed a solid Constitutional conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court, to stumble. Try eating, on occasion, just the tiniest slice of humble pie. and his Your administration stacking the federal bench with newly appointed Get Gun,is Godspell, Singin’ inyounger the Rain and A conservatives Chorus Line. She is a participant President Trump, of course, did not ask for my advice, nor is he likely to follow it. But he has and Republicans. On the international front, Trump activated and enforced President Obama’s in this year’s Atlanta Regional Leadership Institute. said, time and again, “I’m here for you.” His electoral success is in part rooted in busting up the red line in the deserts of Syria, supported the Israel government’s desire to move their capital to By Bill Crane

cabal of money, lobbyists, inefficiency, and corruption that exists in Washington, D.C. Behaving Jerusalem, and began the wind-down and withdrawal for the United States from the Paris climate D.H. MALCOLM, III significantly (General Manager) Aurora Theatre in 2007 in a waypart-time that his school teachers and my mother would be proud of him isn’t a bad way to go. It accords. The president and Congress reduced corporate and joined personal income tax rates, won’t negate all the things he thinks brought him to the dance. He might even find a few new and on the regulatory front, the Trump Administration has reversed or repealed more than 60 fedas the bookkeeper and business manager for the new facility. Now in charge of willing dance partners. eral rules and regulations considered burdensome to industry and economic growth. day-to-day D.H.a handful manages the Aurora budget, spearheads We wish you well, Mr. President. But as you often say, it’s always best helping those who first To make the aboveoperations, list longer, I’m suggesting of impactful resolutions, a few ofTheatre which help themselves. God speed, sir, and God bless America. my mother, father, and others suggested tothe me over the years –with sound business advice. development andalso provides theatre His background 1.  Pick and choose your battles – Some of President Trump’s longest and choicest battles of this includes graduating from Marist School, a BS Duke andwith WSB Radio and TV and owns the full-service communicais theUniversity senior political analyst year were with senators in his own party. Hardly a day went by when obtaining the leader of the free worldfrom Crane tions consulting firm, CSI Crane. More information at www.CSICrane.com wasn’t picking a fight somewhere with someone. This dissipates energy and focus, and makes one later an MBA from Georgia State University. D.H. has extensive management appear small…not more of a strongman. It makes a person look like a bully.

experience in both entrepreneurial and large businesses. He serves on the board of the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Lawrenceville. In his other BusiNeighbor Continued from a page 12 Middle Golf League Continued from page 12 life, he is an avid golfer and professional club fitter for Callaway Golf. School D.H. has two ans. She attended achildren, meeting and was given thirty wonderful Katie andseconds Camto speak. She shared how she has a rec- Parents are welcome to walk or ride carts along the course as spectators, but must remain on the reation center whose goal is to promote recreation for mental illness. She told them the center was cart paths. in Stone Mountain on a bus route, and(Associate that she needed help. Mr. White, a Vietnam veteran whobeen“And as a special we will again have an optional Adult/Player best ball scramble on May JUSTIN ANDERSON Artistic Director) has based in addition the metrohas a passion to help, was in attendance at the mini-summit. He explained how military training 6th,” Witmer concludes. area teams: since 2009 and a full-time witha region, Aurora since 2014. as-and there will be a parent orientation on February 20th that isAtlanta steeped in building a squad, a platoon, company, a battery, a global – it’s allJanuary Registration closesArtistic February 19th, based on teams. He says when veterans leave the service, they realize they don’t have a team. “We will provide more detailed information sociations include Theatrical Outfit, Synchronicity Theatre, and Serenbe Playhouse. about the season schedule, play and courses, and golf equipwant to create the team right here, so they can come here and discuss any issue. The value is in the ment. A Q&A session will also be held with League Director Les Witmer and SGAA’s Tim Gains. While at Rutgers Justin had the privilege to work team and tostudying have each teamdirecting member responsible for some otherUniversity, team member, buddy to buddy. As new people in, everyone starts having a purpose, which helps them quit focusing inward. More information atHe https://www.middleschoolgolfleague.com with Amycome Saltz, Pamela Berlin, William Carden, and Deborah Headwall. holds That’s how you start solving the problem.” He adds that the video will give Ms. Scott a format, and a ongoing BA inplace Theatre Campbell University andIt becomes an MA an to show it.Arts Veteransfrom can go online and see what the center is doing. a in Theatre Studies from model for other centers – the pilot for the world. Regent University. His work has been seen at regional theatres in the Southeast Ms. Scott is thrilled that the center has been chosen for this project. “I am hoping with this new including Express, Theatre, Dad's Garage Theatre Company, Florida partnership I can Actor's build awareness and can get Aurora some sustaining donors,” she says. “When somebody believes in you, youTheatre, don’t even have the words toTheatre express.” Company, Serenbe Playhouse, Stage Door Repertory Horizon More information at info@BusiNeighbor.org or www.BusiNeighborVeteransCenter.org

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Up Close with Deborah and Anthony Garner By Amy Ney At 3:30 a.m. on April 25, 2017, Deborah and Anthony Garner of Lilburn say God was present. “God woke me up and I told Anthony to call 911 and take me to the hospital,” Deborah says. “I had a horrific headache that felt like it was moving up and down my spine.” She then passed out and had a seizure. “I immediately followed the ambulance in my car,” says Anthony. “And before we even got there, the doctor called me in the car, wanting me to make decisions.” This is when he knew the situation was very critical. “The doctor had impressed upon me Deborah’s condition was very critical, and her chance of surviving the first surgery was 50/50, so I sat down to wait even more scared than before. That’s when a great calm and peace came upon me, and I knew Deborah would survive. God does not say we will not have trying times. He says he will always be with us.” Deborah and Anthony have been married twenty-nine years and have lived in Lilburn for twenty-one of those years. Deborah is the Itinerant Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher (DHH) for eighteen schools in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Their two children, Kevin and Mariah, both graduated from Parkview in 2011 and 2014, respectively. “Prior to the accident, I worked full time, and I walked three to six miles a day. I’d completed two half marathons. I volunteered at my church, and when Mariah was at Parkview, we lived on the soccer fields. We were rarely home,” explains Deborah. “Then [an artery] ruptured at my brain-stem, which led to three brain surgeries, a vocal cord procedure, and twenty-eight days Continued on page 18

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Wonder Movie: Resonated with Gwinnett Family By J. Rice When Rebekah Edmonds started her new job in 2007 at My House, a group home in Atlanta for medically fragile children, she had no idea her life would change profoundly and permanently on the very first day. Jose, a boy with craniofacial syndrome who is deaf and non-verbal, had just turned three and had been living at the group home since he was born. “My first day on the job, our eyes met, our hearts connected, God spoke, and I knew that he was mine,” Edmonds declares. “Over the course of the next year, I began the rigorous process to adopt him.” Little did she know that God was also preparing her heart to fall in love with a wonderful man named Chris. “I met Chris and watched him fall in love with Jose as he began volunteering at My House,” Edmonds says. “Chris knew that Jose and I were a package deal. As complicated as that was, Chris still managed to sweep me off my feet. We got engaged, got married, and exactly one year after meeting that spunky little guy, Chris and I brought Jose home just in time to celebrate his 4th birthday – but his first birthday with his forever family.” Fast forward ten years, Jose is now fourteen, and a big brother to Charlie, 4. He is a Disney fanatic, a lover of roller coasters, an excellent LEGO® builder, and a super baseball player, and has an outstanding sense of humor. He is an avid train enthusiast, and his dream would be to fly to Chicago to take Amtrak’s California Zephyr through the Rockies all the way to San Francisco! The joys with Jose are great, but the challenges the family has faced are many. Edmonds credits the support of extended family, church family, friends, and neighbors with seeing them through. “We have an incredible support system,” Edmonds says. “Our church, Smoke Rise Baptist, has embraced our family and works diligently to ensure that Jose is included in all areas of the life of the church. Anytime we are in crisis with health related issues, they literally carry us through some really dark and scary days. His years at Arcado Elementary were tremendous. The teachers and staff were a huge support and many of those individuals will always be part of our family. Any family of a child with special needs really does need a village. I think ours is the best!”  “Jose and his family are dearly loved members of the Smoke Rise Baptist Church Family,” says Pastor Chris George. “Jose is an active participant in so many of our church programs like Sunday School and children’s choir. He brightens the room with his smile and lifts our spirits with his presence! We think of Jose as not just a part of our church, but a leader in our congregation. He learns and he teaches. At Smoke Rise, we believe that all children are precious in God’s sight, and we give thanks to God that Jose Edmonds and his family are a part of our church.” Edmonds was already quite familiar with the Wonder book series by R.J. Palacio when she and Smoke Rise Baptist Children’s Minister Rebecca Caswell-Speight heard the news that a movie based on the series would be released in 2017. The two came up with the idea of taking an entire church group to see the film, starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. “Everything about this movie and the book are so, so good,” Edmonds declares. “The Wonder series and the #choosekind movement are powerful, and the message is something our world desperately needs. But for us, this story is personal. Jose is real. Hospitalizations, surgeries, fear of the unknown, awkward stares, pointing, laughing – this is the reality of our lives, day in and day out. The line [in the movie] that gets me every time – because it resonates with me so deeply – is when Auggie’s mom earnestly prays, ‘Dear God, please let them be kind.’ I really do think that is one of the hardest parts of having a child with any craniofacial syndrome – dealing with all the unkind people who cross our paths.” “Jose is our real Wonder,” Edmonds declares. “His radiant joy in the face of 54 surgeries, communication struggles, the everyday bullies, and all that he must overcome shows his inner strength and courage.” Pastor George agrees. “Jose has endured many setbacks and surgeries, but still finds Continued on page 21

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Book Review: Bear Town is a Novel Filled with Characters from Our Own Towns By Heidi Campbell Fredrik Backman, the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, has taken his writing to a new level in his latest novel, Bear Town – a story set in a small “hockey town” somewhere in Sweden. Bear Town will resonate with nearly every reader, and could just as easily be set in any northern town. It is a place everyone can envision because many have lived in this town. The novel calls into question numerous issues prevalent in our modern times – bullying, homophobia, victim shaming, and the treatment of immigrants, to name a few. Backman manages to speak from the perspective of more than a handful of narrators, and in the end the reader can internalize nearly the entire town. The book claims in its early pages that “this is a hockey town, and there are plenty of things you can say about those, but at least they’re predictable. You know what to expect if you live here.” As the story unfolds, however, the irony of that statement becomes evident. Indeed, in a town where winning is more important than ethics, one should predict that the star athlete might believe he is a superhuman – someone who can have whatever he wants. This mentality leads to a rape which has the town supporting the villain and shaming the victim. Very few people are willing to take the less-traveled path of doing what is right because money, jobs, and reputation are at stake. Indeed, careers and reputation are two important elements in this story. Right from the beginning readers are made aware of the town’s desire to replace the long-standing hockey coach with a new, younger model – one who guarantees to bring home the gold. When Peter, the manager of the town’s hockey arena, questions the decision, the president of the board says, “Do you know what happens to coal if you apply enough pressure to it, Peter? It turns into diamonds.” The board of directors, as well as the parents of the players, clearly indicates their desire for winners, and they don’t believe that a nurturing coach can take the team to the top. Group-think wins small victories over and over, both with the adults, and the teenage bullies. When violence ensues, Maya, one of the main protagonists, decides to bring it to the police, an act which causes most of the town to turn down a dark path of protecting the villain. Venom pours from the mouths of many, and people take sides. Backman, the puppeteer, knows precisely how his puppets will behave in light of the violent act. He writes, “…the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe—comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.” Backman’s analysis of human nature, so cleverly braided into the novel’s fabric, is completely on the mark. Thankfully, not all of the characters in the book are lacking in virtue. Amat, the novel’s immigrant and one of the story’s few teenagers with a backbone, upholds a strong morality thanks to his single mother, Fatima, who is a positive role model for him. She works through intense back pain to support her son’s love of hockey, but always stresses honesty over all. She gives him, right from the start, a poem that he keeps taped to his bed that begins with lines that truly resonate later in the novel: “If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway…” Throughout the novel Backman seems to highlight that the decent, honest kids in town have people in their lives to care for them and spend time with them – parents who care about more than winning. On the contrary, Kevin, the story’s antagonist, has parents who are cold and distant – never supporting anything other than winning. The stark contrast between the two types of families becomes unmistakable as the story ensues and the reader peels apart more and more layers to learn the dynamics of numerous townsfolk. The characters in Bear Town are fictional, yet real. They are flawed, and they face life’s difficulties without knowing what to do. Characters like Benji, who struggles with his own sexuality, cannot bring himself to support a villain, and must decide whether or not he can maintain a friendship with a rapist. The novel also delves deep into the love a parent has for a child. It examines what a parent is willing to give up, whether it is peace, honor, reputation, or even truth, in order to protect his or her children. Parents sacrifice, but the sacrifices aren’t always visible. Maya’s mom, Kira, shares her parenting stress throughout, and is perhaps one of the more honest characters in the story. She says, “…being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.” This novel is one that nearly anyone could connect with, and readers should not be scared away thinking this is just a book about hockey; it is so much more. The story weaves clever repetition throughout, particularly the mysterious “Bang-Bang-Bang,” which the reader wonders about until Continued on page 19

Our Town

ANWAN Regenerative Center Continued from page 5 the event include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and WellStar Hospitals, which distribute their own health-related materials including information on the detrimental effect that lifestyle can have on one’s health and longevity. Once a year Dr. Christie organizes a medical team to travel abroad and offer treatment for diseases such as malaria, typhoid, dysentery, and malnutrition. So far he and his teams have carried out medical missions in Honduras, Nicaragua, Columbia, Panama, Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and this year they will travel to Senegal. An annual black-tie fundraiser helps with some of the financing, but most of it comes from Dr. Christie and the Board of Directors. “I do this because I believe in giving back,” Dr. Christie says. “It is better to give than to receive.” For more information on ANWAN Regenerative Center, visit anwanregencenter.com, or call their direct line at 678-822-9555. To learn more about the 5K Run/Walk, the mission trip to Senegal, and the black tie fundraiser, visit pohfoundation.org.

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PAGE 17


Deborah and Anthony Garner Continued from page 16 in the hospital. I was on a feeding tube because I couldn’t swallow. I could only talk in a whisper. I couldn’t sit up or walk. I had double vision and no depth perception. Bladder issues magnified my situation. I was on over twenty medications.” And their world changed. In the hospital and rehab hospital, Deborah started five different therapies. She was able to relearn how to swallow and walk, although other things, like her vision and bladder, took time to heal. Outpatient therapies followed for three additional months at a brain injury clinic. Deborah had therapy before, but this time it was different. “Therapy for brain injuries is very different than for physical injuries, like the knee replacement I had two years before. Through this situation, God placed the most fantastic specialists in my path who helped me overcome unbelievable deficits. My ‘new normal’ is much closer to my ‘old normal’ than what I thought was possible. My specialists are in awe of how far I have come.” And while she isn’t fully healed – her one vocal cord is still paralyzed and her vision isn’t fully restored – Deborah has advice to people who are affected by a brain injury. “Pray for peace as well as healing. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time to heal. It could take a year or more.” The most surprising part of Deborah’s medical issues for the Garners was the Lilburn Community’s response. “We knew our family and close friends would help us, but we had so much help we actually turned help away!” Deborah said people from their church, their neighborhood, Arcado Elementary, the DHH Team for Gwinnett schools, as well as family and friends, supported them with gifts, visits, financial support, food, and prayer. “It was amazing and humbling to feel so loved and supported,” said Deborah. Sometimes people will see her around Gwinnett and not realize anything happened. “It surprises me! I feel different, but my heart and soul are the same. It pleases me people are not judging me on the challenges I am struggling with.” Since the incident, the Garners are getting back to their routines. Deborah is back at work. They can often be found at their favorite Lilburn restaurant, El Torrero. They look forward to seeing everyone again, but she asks kindly, “Don’t tell me you are glad I am back to ‘normal.’ I know you mean well, but it says to me you can’t handle me different than I was. I will never be the same as I was. I have a new normal that I am adapting to. Thank you for loving me as I was and as I am now.” She adds, “I praise God for all the wonderful things that have come from this horrible situation. He loves us and will walk through all of life’s situations with us.” Deborah Garner is currently the Itinerant Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher (DHH) for Gwinnett County Public Schools and has taught for more than 18 years.

Pet Perch: Is Your Cat Suffering from Whisker Fatigue? By Terie Hansen I feel as though I am pretty knowledgeable regarding cats. I’ve owned cats all my life, and up until recently I had never heard of Whisker Fatigue. I’ve always known that whiskers are sensitive and they help cats determine if they can fit through or in something (whiskers are usually about as long as a cat is wide). But in researching the topic of Whisker Fatigue, I learned some new things as well. Most people know that a cat’s whiskers are thicker, longer hairs, but did you know they are more deeply rooted than regular fur and the area around each has a generous supply of nerves and blood? Cats typically have 8 to 12 whiskers on each side of their nose as well as above their eyes. They also have whiskers on their chins and on the lower back of their front legs. Whiskers are super sensitive because each has a sensory organ at the end called a proprioceptor. This organ can detect the slightest vibration or change in air movement, which helps cats when catching prey as well as navigating in the dark based on how air currents change. But because of these ultrasensitive proprioceptors, it is painful for your cat to eat if his or her food and water dishes are not shallow enough. When cats are fed from a typical bowl, their whiskers endure unnecessary contact with the sides of the bowl, causing fatigue and even pain. This can turn mealtimes into a stressful, even aggression-causing scenario. For symptoms of Whisker Fatigue, visit our blog at http://gooddogcoaching.com/whisker-fatigue-cat-suffering/ What can you do? Change out those dishes, fast! Choose wide, shallow dishes that allow your cat to eat and drink without whiskers touching. Don’t mess with or even cut your cat’s whiskers! Terie Hansen is Owner of Good Dog! Coaching & Pet Care. More information at www.gooddogcoaching.com

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By Amy Ney If you have been to Atlanta’s Best Wings on Highway 78, you may have seen Matt Olson, professional first baseman for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics. “I’ve been going there since I was in high school with a bunch of my buddies, and they have a lot of good food,” says Olson. Born March 29, 1994, Olson attended Parkview High School and graduated in 2012. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. Olson explains, “After Parkview, I got drafted by the A’s and played throughout their minor league system before getting [called] up to Oakland – mainly playing first base, but some right field along the way, as well. Now, it’s looking like I will primarily be playing first base.”  He made his professional debut in 2012 for the Arizona League Athletics, and also played for the Vermont Lake Monsters. He played in fifty games and hit .282/.352/.521 with nine home runs.  Olson says, “I’m probably looking forward most to the chance to bring back a winning culture to the A’s and to try to be a part of some good, hard playing teams.” Olson is off to a great start. In 2017, he hit twenty-four home runs, including thirteen in the month of September (a rookie record) with a home run in five straight games. He was tied for third-most home runs in a player’s first sixty-five career games in MLB history. Still, he is a modest guy and you will not find too much about him in the tabloids or on Wikipedia. Olson laughs as he replies, “I wouldn’t say I’m too private, so I can’t explain the short Wikipedia page. That being said, I’m not out saying everything about my life on social media, etcetera.” Olson has a great reputation from his Panther days. Chan Brown, Parkview’s Varsity Coach who was recently inducted into Georgia Dugout Club’s Hall of Fame, coached Olson. “Matt is the type of person that makes everyone around him better,” says Brown. “It is no surprise that Matt Olson is having the success that he is. We look forward to watching Matt’s career unfold.” Coach Brown and Matt’s parents, Scott and Lee, all flew out to see him play his first major league game last September. “It was terrific fun,” his mom adds. However, being drafted has not been all glory for Olson. He says, “I would say the thing that has surprised me the most about pro ball is that it’s not all the glamour that it is perceived to be by people on the outside looking in. Especially in the minor leagues, there are a lot of long nights where you ride the bus through the night or wake up at 3:00 a.m. to make a 5:30 a.m. flight and have to play that night. A lot of behind-the-scenes things.”   Olson’s parents, who still reside in the Parkview cluster, love watching Matt play. “We definitely don’t get to see him as often as we would like,” Lee says, “especially this summer splitting his time between AAA ball and the majors. But we love that he’s been with the Athletics since being drafted [in 2012].  They’ve treated him well.” Olson laughs and agrees, saying, “My parents would first probably say they wish it was for a team closer to Atlanta than Oakland, but they are very proud of what I have accomplished so far, and they just want to see me succeed.”  With the off-season just wrapping up, Olson explains what he has been up to. “My off-seasons are spent with workouts, preparing for the next year, hanging out with my family, girlfriend, and friends. I take that time away from the game to get a physical and mental break.” As the New Year kicks off, Olson, like many readers, has made resolutions and set goals for the coming year. “I just always have a goal to progress, as a baseball player and as a person – to be the best first baseman and person that I can be.” The Athletic’s Opening Day is March 29, 2018 where they will take on the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. That day is also Olson’s 24th birthday. Matthew Olson is first baseman for the Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics.

Bear Town Continued from page 16 the very end. Is it the hockey puck hitting the goal, or is it something more sinister? Backman has truly created a masterful story, one entrenched in current issues. This is a very important read. Backman begs readers to consider their actions and the ripple effect those actions have. He asks human beings to think for themselves and not fall prey to any sort of mob mentality. And, perhaps most importantly, he reminds us to love our children enough to want to guide them down the path of goodness and honor. This novel will not disappoint.

Our Town

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Community Business Spotlight: Lilburn Distillery By Joanna Shackelford Hope springs eternal for Betsey Dahlberg and Paul Allen, local Gwinnettians who took a chance three years ago and launched their very own distillery in Old Town Lilburn, the first distillery in Gwinnett County since prohibition. Betsey and Paul started their venture to avoid retirement. According to Betsey, who spent years working as a lawyer and most recently as a glass artist, “We wanted someplace to go every day, and we wanted to do something fun.” City officials in Lilburn welcomed the pair and their startup distillery proposal with enthusiasm, steering them to the perfect space. Nestled just behind the old Builders Steel Supply building off Main Street in Old Town Lilburn, and a stone’s throw from the Greenway Trail, Hope Springs Distillery found a home. “We have visited distilleries from Texas to Scotland,” says Betsey. “And the best ones were in small towns.” The relationship they have kindled with the downtown community, police force, and even the fire department has proven to them that Lilburn was the right choice. “For every day I’m pulling my hair out with federal papers and regulations, someone pops in and reminds me that it’s all worth it,” says Betsey. In turn, Hope Springs Distillery has vowed to offer the same support through their business. “Our first choice is always local,” she says. Their labels are printed in Norcross and other packaging products come from Lawrenceville. As for the wheat – 700 pounds for every batch of Vodka – Betsey says it must be purchased from the Midwest since Georgia farmers don’t offer it milled. The couple faced a steep learning curve after purchasing their state-of-the-art hybrid still, but after tremendous hours of preparation, nearly two years of building, studying, traveling, researching, permitting, and perfecting their craft, they finally bottled their first batch of Vodka for sale in July of 2017 and now distribute to restaurants and package stores across Georgia. “The only way to learn about distilling is to do it,” says Paul, whose background in manufacturing and industrial engineering has come in handy. “You can’t just read a book and expect to know what to do.” Their hands-on approach is obvious. Every part of the process is managed on a micro level by Paul, Betsey, and master distiller Jaz Jarzewiak. From pitching the yeast after the wheat converts to sugar, all the way to bottling at precisely the correct temperature, every final product has their fingerprints on it and their stamp of approval. Top Hat Vodka, Hope Springs Distillery’s chief product, is made from wheat, triple-distilled, and handcrafted in small batches. Peer at the label to see their subtle reference to Old Town Lilburn. The man donning the dapper top hat is none other than Lilburn Trigg Myers, general superintendent of Seaboard Air Line Railway in the 1890’s and Lilburn’s namesake. Now his legacy remains not just along the tracks that still run a few steps outside their distillery door, but also on their bottles. Hope Springs also produces Jetty Absinthe made in micro batches. They craft this beverage using eight different herbs to create a classic flavor. “If you like the flavor of anis or licorice, then you’ll find ours very, very good!” says Betsey. Their big vision for this small-town distillery is only just beginning. They hope to start producing gin in the spring. Most importantly, thanks to Senate Bill 85 that took effect on September 1st and allows distilleries and breweries to now sell directly to the public, plans are in the works to build a tasting room where they can personally showcase, serve, and sell their products. In the meantime, you can pick up a bottle of Top Hat Vodka at Royal Package, Lilburn Bottle Shop, and 29 Package, among many others. Or ask for it the next time you eat at 1910 Public House, Barebones Steakhouse, or even Shorty’s in Tucker. As Paul and Betsey say, “Please drink responsibly, but have a good time!” More information at hopespringsdistillery.com

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Wonder Movie: Continued from page 16 the strength to smile,” states George. “He may struggle to articulate and communicate some ideas, but he has a deep and abiding faith in a loving God. He is one of the most courageous people I have ever met. He is an inspiration to me and so many others.” What does Edmonds want others to know about children like Jose? “Apert syndrome (the type Jose has) and other craniofacial syndromes are not diseases,” Edmonds explains. “They are not contagious. Just because someone looks different or communicates differently, does not mean they are not smart, funny, or full of life. As a family with a medically fragile child, we face a lot of hard and scary things, but nothing is as painful or as gut-wrenching as seeing other kids point and laugh at our child. Or hearing other kids scream ‘MONSTER’ when we bring our child to the playground.” She continues, “Please teach your children to be kind. Teach them to be accepting. Model for them in your actions and words how to embrace all people. Ask someone their name. Smile. Choose ‘kind’ – just like the message of the movie says! It means the world to these kids and their families. One of my favorite quotes from the book and movie is when Auggie says, ‘I can’t change the way I look, but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see.’ I think Jose would tell us the very same thing.” Edmonds was encouraged by the support from her Gwinnett community when the movie was released in theatres last year. She rates the film a “10” and hopes its message has been taken to heart by moviegoers worldwide. “Just look at how many from our church and community came to support us as we watched Wonder together!” she says.  “It was a beautiful reminder that Jose, and our entire family, do not walk this journey alone.”

Community Member Spotlight Continued from page 14 year later, on the same retreat, Pete proposed to Kelsey on the beach where they first met. Now, after fifteen years of marriage, Pete and Kelsey stay active raising their four children (Brenna 12, Ansley 11, Campbell 8, and Peter 4), working, and volunteering in the community. “I loved Lilburn so much that we moved back ten years ago from Grayson to raise our family in this ‘pocket community’ and be close to family,” says Pete. Kelsey now teaches at Trickum Middle School while Pete commutes to Marietta, and somehow they still maintain a highly active life outside of work. “Our philosophy is art in the fall and sports in the spring,” Pete says. Whether it’s piano lessons, drama productions at Smoke Rise Baptist, gymnastics, karate, soccer, softball, or lacrosse, the Everett family is there. And Pete’s most likely out there coaching it. Even at their busiest, family and faith remain at their core. One way the Everetts rejuvenate is through a big family event at Windy Gap, a Young Life Camp in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s something they look forward to all year, or “Count Down to Windy Gap,” as Kelsey calls it. Every year on Labor Day weekend, Pete and Kelsey load the kids up in the van and head to camp for a long weekend of freedom and play. “It’s better than Disney World!” their daughter Ansley says. Pete and Kelsey lead music all weekend for the 500+ crowd, just as they have for the past fifteen years. “They’ve watched us grow as a family,” says Pete. Back in Lilburn daily life, the Everetts work hard to stay involved in the community and stay centered as a family. If you haven’t already met the Everetts, walk through the halls of St. John Newman Catholic Church, or look out on any ball field. Step inside a school PTA meeting, or sit in the audience of a local drama production or music concert. One of them will be there. Extend a hand and introduce yourself. You’ll be greeted by a warm smile and a friend for life.

Our Town

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FEB 2018: Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Monthly Magazine  

Welcome to the FEBRUARY 2018 (BLUE) Our Town Monthly Magazine for Gwinnett/NE DeKalb.

FEB 2018: Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Monthly Magazine  

Welcome to the FEBRUARY 2018 (BLUE) Our Town Monthly Magazine for Gwinnett/NE DeKalb.

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