JANUARY 2019: Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Monthly Magazine

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JANUARY 2019 Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Community & Family Magazine


Lawrenceville Snellville Lilburn Stone Mountain Tucker

Up Close with Athens Orthopedics Clinic, see story on page 5

8 12 17 18

Service with a Smile at CFA in Tucker: Meet the “Mint Lady” Parkview Athletic Society Begins a Legacy of Excellence Getting to Know: New GCPS Board Member Everton Blair Community Spotlight: 2019 Lawrenceville MLK Day Parade

#EquipToThrive OPEN HOUSES “Dr. Simmons is are going on NOW!

Providence is equipping students to lead, serve, and embrace faith in Christ while providing top-tier academics, competitive sports,to award-winning fine arts, a nationally-recognized proud offer Botox andandDermal Fillers. Call STEM program. Come and see how we prepare the next generation to be hard-working, articulate and gracious young people who live out their faith and thrive in an ever-changing world.

to u r p r ovi den ce .o r g

the office to schedule your consulta 2018


Providence Christian Academy admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its admissions policies, educational policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other school administered programs.

isJohn honored to beIV, we are committed to providing you with the high AtDr. the Simmons dental office of W. Simmons, comprehensive dental care, focused on both the function and beauty of your smile. A one of only nine dentists improving in patient care and comfort are our primary concerns. We are proud to run a practice that treats ea Georgia to have passed the kind, gentle, and caring manner, just like family. We offer a full range of the latest cosmetic a rigorous required to long-lasting, earn procedures thattesting concentrate on ensuring brilliant results you will love, and others

Cosmetic Dentistry The cosmetic procedures we offer can dramatically enhance the appearance of your smile. We offer a wide selection of procedures that can correct almost any dental imperfection.

• Porcelain Veneers • Teeth Whitening • Dental Bonding • Gum Recontouring • Dental Implants • All-Porcelain Crowns



Compassionate Dentistry Our superior services can recapture the health, functionality, and youthful appearance of your natural smile. Our practice focuses on providing Before After long-lasting results and promoting overall dental health. Hexcellent e a lt H y • B e a u t i f u l • i n s p i r e d PAGE 2

accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. His state-of-the-art equipment and updated technology allow him to affordably serveDENTAL CARE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY D.M.D., P.C. • SUPERIOR his patients by providing healthy, beautiful smiles. Our experienced team provides five-star service, personalized care, and an extraordinary commitment to your health and well-being. Please join our Call for an Appointment family by scheduling a new patient exam.


2381-B Main Street E Snellville, Georgia 30


John W. Simmons, IV, DMD, PC

2381-B Main Street East www.smilesbysimmons.co Snellville, Georgia 30078 Hours: Monday 9:00am - 7:00pm Tuesday 7:00am 770-985-2437Office • smilesbysimmons.com Wednesday 7:00am - 6:00pm Thursday 7:00am - 2:

Dr. John W. Simmons, IV

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Our Town

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Educational Entertainment




Be entertained while you learn!

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FANCY FEATHERS 3180 Oakcliff Industrial Street, Doraville Georgia 30340 Open 10-2 Monday through Friday and from 10-12 Saturday. Also open by appointment. Offering all parrot/bird supplies at wholesale prices. We sell hand fed BABY PARROTS and cockatiels. Finches and parakeets offered occasionally. Please call 770-986-0661. Featuring Zupreem, Pretty Bird and Dr. D’s pelleted diets, laAvian seed diets along with our own mix, Fancy Feathers, of seeds specialized for parrots, cockatiels, parakeets, finches and Gouldian finches. PAGE 4

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Our Town

On the Cover: Bringing the Best Care to Every Community By Kristen Eleveld In 1966, Dr. William “Butch” Mulherin opened a small clinic off South Lumpkin Street – the very first Athens Orthopedic Clinic (AOC). But this clinic wasn’t just another doctor’s office. The staff sought to provide their local community with specialized orthopedic care that would truly make a difference in the well-being of those who needed help. Today, the Athens Orthopedic Clinic doesn’t just help their local community. They now serve patients in over 13 locations – Greensboro, Madison, Covington, Loganville, Monroe, Snellville, and, most recently, Hamilton Mill – providing comprehensive orthopedic care in both adults and children. “We wanted to fill the community’s need for great orthopedic care, without having to make them travel to the Atlanta area,” explained Regional Marketing Director Jocelyn Wykoff. Their mission is simple, but powerful: Athens Orthopedic Clinic believes that every individual deserves the opportunity to enjoy good health and be physically active. With specialists in most every musculoskeletal discipline, and comprehensive facilities for imaging, surgery, rehabilitation, and performance, AOC strives to provide a superior experience across the entire spectrum of orthopedic care. Beginning in December, AOC extended their urgent care hours to 7:00 p.m. at their Loganville location to give their patients more opportunities to get the care they need. “It’s been amazing,” Wykoff stated. “AOC has been so well received by everyone in the community.” And in between providing excellent and specialized treatment, many of AOC’s doctors and specialists are participating in medical research that will allow them to give their patients even better care. It’s no secret that patients come first to all of their providers, and AOC is proud to offer a level of attention that goes above and beyond the standard requirements. One such physician is Dr. Omar Abdul-Hadi, who has pioneered a new technique for Total Hip and Knee Replacements using the Mako robot that is located at Eastside Medical Center. While new to the state of Georgia, Dr. Hadi has had over a decade of experience in solving orthopedic challenges for the hundreds of patients who walk through his door. With services ranging from rehabilitation and physical therapy to disease diagnosis and management, it isn’t surprising to learn that the clinic has added so many new locations and staff members to ensure every patient is given state-of-the-art service that is backed by decades of experience and research. “We hope each community sees how our superior customer care and excellent orthopedic care makes us stand out above the rest,” said Wykoff, who joined the company in 2012. She is also a Certified

Medical Assistant and an Orthopedic Technician, so she is no stranger to this unique and engaging line of work. Indeed, it seems that every member of the Athens Orthopedic Clinic staff is not only good at what they do – they are one of the best in their fields. They have even provided medical services to the University of Georgia sports teams since 1966. If you are looking for excellent care, updated technology, an amazing staff, knowledgeable doctors, and the best patient experience of your life, then come to the Athens Orthopedic Clinic – for that’s all they know how to do. More information at athensorthopedicclinic.com.




770-860-8110 LI C ENS ED & I NSURE D • highprio rity pl um b i n g. co m Our Town

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$29.99 Quick Start Program 3 classes / week + T-shirt

Our Town Gwinnett/NE DeKalb Community & Family Magazine

Publisher/Owner Ryan T. Sauers Ryan@EndResultZ.com Creative Director Elsie Olson Elsie@EndResultZ.com Editor Catherine L. Osornio Editor@EndResultZ.com Cover Photographer Marcie Reif Photography


MAJOR TAEKWONDO 4068 Five Forks Trickum Rd Lilburn, GA 30047


Distribution Coordinator DeeDee Chapman Feature Writers Heidi Campbell K. Coats Kristen Eleveld Emily Haney Kim Hill Amy Ney Traci Sanders Beth Volpert Johansen Contributing Writers Jack Bolton Bill Crane Tanisha Turner Carol Tuttle Pam Walker

— An EndResultZ Media & Communications firm EndResultZ.com

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 2019 by Our Town Gwinnett. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden in any media without written permission from the publisher.

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Read Online: OurTownGwinnettOnline.com @OurTownGwinnett @OurTownGwinnett @OurTownGwinnett

Visit the Our Town Community Forum for real time interaction throughout the month.




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5 On the Cover: Bringing the Best Care to Every Community 7 From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion 8 Service with a Smile in Tucker: How One Chick-Fil-A Hostess Changed a Community for Good 9 T-shirt Quilts – Giving New Life to Old Shirts 10 Holiday Fun Photos: Lawrenceville, Lilburn & Snellville 11 Crane’s Corner: The Bush League 12 Parkview Athletic Honor Society Begins a Legacy of Excellence 12 Travel Tales: To Monaco and Back in a Flash 13 Tentacles, Siblings, and Leadership – the World of Jason Brooks 14 Church Spotlight: Victory Temple Atlanta Church 15 Health Matters: Tips for Busy Moms 15 Photo of the Month: Helping a Neighbor 16 Op-Ed: Remembering Diana Preston: The Dreamer of Lilburn 17 Getting to Know: New GCPS Board Member Everton Blair 17 Up Close with Gwinnett School of Dance 18 Learning Lessons: Nurturing Good Character Traits in Preschoolers 18 Leadership, YOU are the Difference - 2019 Lawrenceville MLK Day Parade 19 Feeling Unmotivated? Remove “Should ” from Your Vocabulary in 2019 20 Providing a New Home for the Holidays

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

Our Town

American Heritage Animal Hospital

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


Goodbye 2018. Welcome 2019! New ideas, resolutions, and dreams come with a new year. With that said, this column is written to provide inspiration as we seek to make 2019 an incredible year in our world and in the Our Town community. My question is simple: How bad do you want to grow as a person this year? Do you want to be part of the solution in making our community/ world a better place, or be part of the problem? If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to achieve it. You desire to solve things and make life better for everyone. In contrast, if you do not, you will find an excuse and complain about all the things “happening to you and around you.” Simply said, it is the way human beings are wired. So you see, we have two choices. The first is to stand around and complain and be frustrated with how things are. The second is to do anything in our power to develop a plan and/or find a way to make things better. In this new year, I challenge you to push harder and dig deeper in every aspect of your life. Get in the game and off the sideline. Don’t be afraid to fail. As my little green friend Yoda said in a recent Star Wars movie, “The greatest teacher... failure is.” So very true. My recommendation is simple. We must all: quit complaining, stop making excuses, and bring passion and ideas to the table. We must do this while listening to others in a caring manner. Winners find a way to succeed in any situation. They find an opportunity behind each obstacle. Whiners will tell you about every problem in their way and why these issues hold them back. Are you someone who complains, yet has no solutions? Or, do you find a way to succeed/make things better no matter the circumstance? I encourage you to choose the latter and make things happen in 2019. There are three types of people in the world: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder what happened. The Our Town community needs #MakeThingsHappen people. Continued on page 11

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Service with a Smile in Tucker: How One Chick-Fil-A Hostess Changed a Community for Good By Kristen Eleveld When you go to your local Chick-Fil-A, you probably expect to be greeted warmly, helped quickly, and served a delicious meal that never disappoints. This restaurant has quickly and permanently established a place in each of our hearts. But at the Tucker Station Chick-Fil-A, you might find yourself walking away with an even bigger smile and minty-fresh breath, all thanks to one dedicated hostess. Her real name is Ruth, but the local guests often refer to her as “The Mint Lady” because she is always around to offer you the perfect final touch to your meal in the form of a delightfully refreshing Chick-Fil-A mint. Ms. Ruth, who works every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. during the lunch rush, has spent the last two decades welcoming guests into Chick-Fil-A and helping them however she can. The last fifteen years have been spent at the Tucker Station location, where she quickly endeared herself to the community. “All of our hosts and hostesses have special connections with our guests,” said Jacob Fair, who is the managing partner at the Tucker Station restaurant. “But Ms. Ruth is ‘The Mint Lady,’

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Tuesday evenings 7:00-9:00pm January 15th – March 5th

Our Town

T-shirt Quilts – Giving New Life to Old Shirts By Our Town Staff With the availability and affordability of screen printing, t-shirts have become more popular than ever. They are the most common souvenir these days – outpacing coffee mugs, key chains, and bumper stickers. Does anyone even collect snow globes anymore? We even say, “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” You can now get them for most events: road races, family reunions, clubs, concerts, VBS, school, and especially anything sportsrelated. For many of us, our closets are bursting with t-shirts of which only a small percentage actually get worn. It’s common to have a sacred collection of shirts – be it from high school, college, a fraternity, or otherwise – that we simply refuse to throw away. But while our memories may be plentiful, storage often is not. Walk through any second-hand store, and you’ll see plenty of discarded shirts from various occasions. Particularly sad are the uniforms that are donated. As graduation season looms, many parents may be wondering what will become of their senior’s piles of shirts since they aren’t “allowed” to get rid of them. Bags of clothes sit around in closets, garages, and attics, waiting for nothing. So what’s to be done with these fabric memories? A lot of people have found that making them into t-shirt and memory quilts is an excellent alternative. The shirts are seen once again and put to good use. There are plenty of local folks who, in addition to several online companies, offer this service. However, since quilting itself is an art form, not all services will result in the same product or quality. If you’re interested in getting a quilt made from your t-shirts, uniforms, or any other clothes, here’s a helpful guide on how to ensure the best quality product. Blanket – is it actually a quilt or a blanket? A quilt is different from a blanket in a couple of major ways. A blanket may have one or two layers, but a quilt will have three – a front, back, and middle (called batting) – that are sewn together with a design. This sewing of the layers together is called “quilting,” and it’s what separates a quilt from a regular blanket. It’s why they last many years longer than a blanket. Materials – what’s included with the price? The batting and backing of a quilt can be quite expensive. Quality batting can cost anywhere from $30 to$60+. The backing fabric can require anywhere from 4-8 yards of fabric, and quality fabric can run anywhere from $8 to $15 a yard. So when you look at a price, remember to check and see what that price includes. A seemingly small price can add up quickly if it doesn’t include the backing and batting. Stabilizer – do they use it? If you’ve ever cut a t-shirt, you’ll notice that the material, jersey knit, rolls and shifts a lot. When making a quilt from fabric like this, a quilter needs to use a material called a “stabilizer” to ensure the fabric doesn’t roll, shift, or bunch up as the quilt is sewn together and later quilted. When used, a stabilizer gives the shirts a clean look that is flat and straight. Batting – what kind of batting do they use? Batting can be made of several different materials. Polyester is the most cost effective, but it doesn’t last as well over the years and it isn’t as warm. Cotton is warm and washes well over the years. Wool batting is the most expensive as well as the warmest, but it does come with the same tricky washing guidelines that all wool products do. Most t-shirt quilts will go for polyester or cotton. Cotton is generally more reliable and longer-lasting. Quilting – the closer the quilting design, the longer it’ll last. The quilting that goes throughout a quilt holds it together and makes it last over the years. That being said, most batting does well with a quilting pattern that is spaced 10” or closer. It also drapes better and lasts through multiple washes longer. Quilting patterns spaced too far apart will often result in batting that shifts or bunches after a short while, leaving a lumpy and unattractive quilt. The “Movie Test” – a short self-check that is an easy gauge of a t-shirt quilt or t-shirt blanket’s quality. If you put on a full-length movie and sat down with scissors and a seam-ripper, would you be able to disassemble that entire quilt or blanket by the end of the credits? If you could, then the quality was lower. A good quilt takes ages to take apart because of the materials and close-set quilting design. These are some of the basic elements that will vary greatly among t-shirt quilt services. Don’t be afraid to ask them for specifics and options. Pinterest has a lot of great ideas, but be careful in matching your design expectations to costs. The fancier the design, the more time and materials will need to be invested into it. Online services offer lower prices, but local services can offer more customization. Whichever way you decide, here’s to reviving those happy memories and freeing up storage space all in one product! K. Coats is the owner of Quest Quilts. More information at www.questquilts.com.

Our Town

Happy New Year 2019 Chris’ BARBER SHOP

Serving the Lilburn area for over 20 years!


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Holiday Fun from City of Lawrenceville

Holiday Fun from City of Lilburn

Holiday Fun from City of Snellville


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

Our Town

Crane’s Corner: The Bush League

PowerHouse Electric, LLC

By Bill Crane

One Man’s Opinion Continued from page 7 Thus, plan your work and work your plan and you will grow – in all parts of your life – in a deliberate, purposeful, and intentional manner. With such a mindset, this will lead to a great 2019 (no matter what you encounter), and you will help everyone in our community grow to even greater heights in the process. Thanks for being part of our amazing community. Let’s make 2019 a great year by growing together and focusing even more on positive happenings. And now and as always, thank you for continuing with me on the journey of my town, your town, Our Town!

Our Town




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


“I was offered a job on Wall Street by my uncle. But I wanted to get out. Make it on my own kinda thing,” George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), the 41st President of the United States to his biographer. Perhaps not our most articulate president, Bush was among the most genuine of the modern era. Born possibly with the silver spoon that former Texas Governor Anne Richards so derisively spoke of, George H. W. Bush, the son of a former Wall Street banker and powerful US Senator, Prescott Bush (R-Connecticut), graduated prep school and at age 18 joined the Navy. By age 19, he became the US Navy’s youngest aviator and aircraft tail-gunner. Shot down over the Pacific in 1944, Bush would parachute out of his flaming aircraft after also hitting most of his assigned bomber targets. Following a post-war graduation from Yale, Bush broke out for Texas and a shot at the oil business with his young bride, Barbara. While Bush had modest successes in the oil business, he would soon begin to cut a path of public service. Bush was elected to Congress, representing suburban Houston. He later was a twice unsuccessful candidate for the US Senate. President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations, and then Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate years. Bush was one of the first voices to publicly call, in a written letter to Nixon, for the president to resign for the good of the country. Ford would later appoint Bush as US Envoy to China, and then Director of the C.I.A. When Bush began his campaign for president in 1979, he was joined early by a prominent Georgia Republican Paul Coverdell, and their strong friendship would last for decades. After winning the White House in 1988, Bush appointed Coverdell as US Peace Corps Director, and in 1992, Coverdell left the administration and returned to Georgia to seek the US Senate seat held by incumbent Democrat Wyche Fowler. Coverdell faced four statewide elections that year, including the state’s first US Senate run-off. On that long runoff election night, three weeks after Bush had lost his own re-election to President-elect Bill Clinton, President Bush was attempting to keep tabs on the race of his pal Coverdell. But in 1992, Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, and the Associated Press did not track results of state contests for national wire distribution. The president’s eldest son, and family campaign manager, George W. Bush, was constantly calling my mobile phone for updates to relay to his father, who had lost the White House three weeks prior, and his beloved mother Dorothy Walker Bush the week prior. With election results swaying back and forth all night, only the north metro Atlanta suburbs remained to be tallied, George Bush asked me via mobile, “What’s still out?” I told him what we knew was that most of North Fulton County was still out (some things never change). Amidst the sound of rustling papers W. said, “You mean places like Roswell, and Alpharetta?” I had forgotten at the time that the president had kicked off his re-election campaign in nearby Woodstock. “Yes, those are still out,” I said. “Well,” W. said, “Dad carried Roswell by more than 70 percent, and Alpharetta by nearly 80. I’m going to go ahead and tell him that Paul has won.” Before I could tell him to wait, or to make it across that ballroom to Coverdell with the phone, the unmistakable voice of Poppy Bush came on. “Congratulations, Senator,” he said. I apologized and asked the president to repeat himself as I thrust the phone into the hands and ear of my boss, soon to be Senator-elect Paul Coverdell. The slightly premature congratulations boosted Coverdell’s ego. A smile beamed across his face as he thanked the president for bothering to keep track. “You’ll be our 51st senator, Paul...this one is more important than either of us.” The Bush family’s favored biographer, Jon Meacham, has often referred to 41 as “The Last Gentleman.” I don’t think that is quite accurate as George W. Bush (43), his brother Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, and a few others in public life still remain in the arena, but it is a shrinking league, which was once a much larger league of extra-ordinary gentlemen. Thankfully, the Bush bloodline isn’t quite done serving America yet, and thankfully there are still a few stars America hasn’t met quite yet in that Bush league. God bless you, Mr. President. Crane is the senior political analyst with WSB Radio and TV and owns the full-service communications consulting firm, CSI Crane. More information at www.CSICrane.com


Parkview Athletic Honor Society Begins a Legacy of Excellence By Kim Hill

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Lilburn Grayson Lawrenceville 4615 Highway 78 2057 Grayson Highway 106 Depot Street Grayson, GA 30017 Lawrenceville, GA 30046 Lilburn, GA 30047 Lawrenceville Sugar Hill (770) 982-0640 (404) 106 Depot Street (770) 962-4001 245 Peachtree Industrial Blvd963-8628 Lawrenceville, GA 30046 Sugar Hill, GA 30518 (404) 963-8628 770-945-3663

What is a Physiatrist? Inside Rehabilitation

Ruben Diaz, M.D.

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It is well known that Parkview High School is ranked among the top schools nationally in athletics. Many Parkview athletes, however, are not only working to bring home more state titles, but are also striving to earn top grades in one of the most rigorous school districts in the nation. As leaders in the classroom, these student athletes serve as examples for younger students by demonstrating how to successfully balance their time between sports and school work. Physics teacher Kelly Hart began a conversation with athletic director Nick Gast last school year regarding the implementation of an honor society specifically for athletes. “I teach many athletes,” she explains, “and I am aware of their schedules and the effort it takes for them to keep their grades up.” The school has honor societies for subject areas and for the fine arts, and Gast agreed it would be a great idea to start one for athletes. The new organization, called the Parkview Athletic Honor Society (PAHS), is the first of its kind in Gwinnett County. With Gast’s encouragement, Hart and fellow teacher Kelly Voss partnered up to sponsor the new honor society, which they see as a way for members to be honored and to be given a platform on which to be role models to younger athletes coming up to Parkview. The founding members are very enthusiastic and excited to be associated with this unique organization. The membership consists of senior varsity athletes representing almost every sport, and the honor society will serve as a culmination of what these students have accomplished through their high school years. Members will be recognized at Honors Night and will receive an honor cord to wear at graduation. Requirements are a 90% average or 3.5 GPA without rounding, and a clear discipline record. Justin Henry, a varsity track athlete who is also involved in theatre and many other school activities, serves as president. “We’re all proud of him,” says Hart. “He’s doing a great job of getting things moving.” Monthly meetings are held in the mornings before school to accommodate the athletes’ practice schedules. “At Parkview, I feel like it’s important for all types of students to be able to have an impact on not Continued on page 19

Travel Tales: To Monaco and Back in a Flash By Pam Walker Have you ever wanted to attend the Grand Prix in Monte-Carlo? I have! Although I could not be there when the actual race was in progress, the next best thing was to run the circuit in a 1988 Rolls Royce Convertible. I was on my way to Cannes, France for a meeting in early December and decided to get to know Europe’s southern coast a little better prior to joining 9,000 of my peers in the travel industry. Invited to stay at the amazing Hermitage in Monte-Carlo, I spent the weekend learning how to gamble at the amazing and glitzy Casino de Monte-Carlo (yes, I didn’t know much more than the slots in Vegas); eating at the famed Café de Paris right on the famous Casino Square; checking out the other hotels (Hotel de Paris/ Metropole, and more); enjoying the people watching (the rich and famous are everywhere); visiting the Palace of the Prince; and driving the circuit in my antique car! There are other car options to choose from – a convertible Mercedes, a Jag, or a Maserati, to name a few. But having never had the pleasure of the mahogany dash and the leather seats, I opted for the Rolls! I didn’t get to drive, but I sat in the back seat like a queen, waving at the commoners along the route of the famous race. To really see the Formula I cars and the famed race, you must book now for the May 23 to May 26 event in 2019. There is still space available, but you have to book quickly. Prices also skyrocket during that time both in Monaco and nearby Nice. And tickets also are not cheap. The least expensive is $284 on the beginning Thursday of the race. But if excitement and glamour is what you want, then Monaco has it all. Pam Walker is a Virtuoso Travel Advisor. More information at Pam@ walkeradventures.com

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Tentacles, Siblings, and Leadership – the World of Jason Brooks By K. Coats Being a young adult is hard. You feel frustrated, overshadowed, and helpless in the face of so many other people in your life that always seem to “know better” than you. Finding your own feet is hard enough, and becoming a leader in these circumstances can be downright heroic. Well pre-teens, parents, world – meet EJ Lee! EJ Lee – created by local author Jason Brooks – is a character who shows us, adult and pre-teen alike, that leadership is within everyone. She is the youngest of three siblings and often feels forgotten. That is, of course, until she is pulled into another world with creatures that have tentacles and where she is personally tasked with defeating a monster. Drawing heavily from both his English degree background as well as his leadership focus, Brooks emphasizes the opportunities for leadership we all have daily. He uses his character – a young girl who feels powerless – to demonstrate that potential. He says, “Since leadership is what I study everyday as part of my work with [leader and speaker] John Maxwell, I want this book to help kids to get a better picture of leadership. EJ’s journey isn’t just about getting back home; it’s also about learning how she can influence people and circumstances for the better. I want kids to understand that they can make choices that impact and inspire others.” This is one of the main reasons that EJ is the youngest. Jason chose that birth order on purpose because the youngest sibling often gets left behind. EJ’s journey is more than just a physical trek into an alternate dimension. She is also on a much bigger journey of self-discovery. And in this, Brooks places his character alongside many other literary characters from the classics like Bilbo, Dorothy, and Alice, on to more modern ones like Kenny Watson and Arnold Spirit, Jr. Brooks explains that journeys don’t even have to be “epic” – like the one EJ makes – to be important. “I think every journey is an epic journey,” he said. “We just choose to frame them in small terms, sort of suck away the mystery and wonder. My journey as a man, husband, father, writer, etc. is a continual battle against daily obstacles, some big, some small. I think every person is living an incredible story each and every day, even if no one else notices, and this book reflects that.” Brooks meant for EJ to have a wide appeal. He explains, “My life – and the life of my family – is completely bound up within this book. I drew from my own childhood experiences and memories, and borrowed liberally from my wife and my kids. EJ is essentially an amalgamation of the four people who live in my house, so while she’s not perfect, she’s kind of awesome.” Through this character, Brooks hopes to inspire young adults at a pivotal time in their lives. The young adult (YA) genre is booming in the book market, and it’s a place where authors are writing for an audience that is highly tolerant of experimentation in both topic as well as writing style. And it’s an age group that Brooks feels is continually underestimated, especially in regards to leadership. “I have two YAs in my house, and I was a youth pastor for the better part of fifteen years. The YAs are a smart audience that doesn’t get enough credit – nor do they get enough in the way of positive messages. As a result, I wanted to create something for younger readers that would inspire them to lead and read.” Brooks cites both C.S. Lewis and Lewis Grizzard as some of his stronger influences for his writing. The idea for EJ Lee and the Golden Door came from his time working with John Maxwell. “I developed a curriculum to help parents become intentional about teaching their kids to become leaders. The company decided not to pursue the project, so my boss (and writing mentor) Charlie Wetzel told me I should take the idea and explore it further to see if there was more to the story. Turns out there was.” Brooks would go on to develop an entire new dimension for EJ to explore and learn about herself and her potential outside the shadows cast by her siblings and the distractions of everyday life. One last detail that stands out rather profoundly is the H.P. Lovecraft-esque addition of the creatures sporting tentacles. For adults, “aliens” in our stories tend to be rather humanoid. Luke Skywalker is an alien. Dr. Who is an alien. But tentacles? It’s just wild enough to draw in that YA audience that loves something unusual. When asked about the tentacle element, Brooks interestingly responded, “The tentacles were carefully chosen. I can’t go into more detail because it would give too much away; but in order for me to illustrate how people from different cultures/worlds can connect, I needed to make the differences between EJ and the creatures as stark as possible. And also, tentacle creatures from another world are just kind of classic, you know?” As a final thought on what Jason Brooks hopes readers will gain from EJ Lee and the Golden Door, Brooks states, “I know everyone writes a kids’ book with the desire to communicate something, but I truly wanted this book to help at least one kid realize that she could be a leader, or that he could choose to be someone that makes a difference in the lives of others. I also wanted kids to understand that they live in a world full of opportunities – and even though some of those opportunities would stretch them or even cause them to fail, the end result of choosing to see more before others do always creates more opportunities.” Congratulations to Brooks on his novel. We look forward to seeing the new generation of leaders it inspires! Jason E. Brooks is the author of EJ Lee and the Golden Door. More information at https://www.deedspublishing.com/brooks/ .

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Victory Temple Atlanta Church (VTAC) is a new ministry to the Lilburn area. After four years in Norcross, Pastors Marc and Merisa Davis recently moved their flock into a newly-renovated, much larger church home that used to house the former Lilburn Library. While their new facilities are gorgeous, the Davis family believes that God is not impressed with buildings, budgets, or programs. “We know that God is truly impressed with people, and the positive changes in our lives,” shares Pastor Merisa. VTAC is a multi-cultural, Bible-based, Spirit-filled fellowship that focuses on the needs of the Christian intellectual. The Davis’ have a unique “tag-team” style of preaching and teaching, where both pastors minister from the pulpit together on Sunday mornings. Married and residing in Gwinnett County for 24 years, the Davis’ live in Lilburn and have been heavily involved in Gwinnett County as parents, coaches, and educators. Their son, Marc Jr., graduated from South Gwinnett High School, and is currently enrolled at Florida Southwestern State College on a full baseball scholarship. Their daughter, Charissa, is a graduate of Greater Atlanta Christian School and attends Liberty University in Virginia where she studies Cyber Security. Pastor Marc is a cum laude graduate of Norfolk State University and is working on his MBA. He is a bivocational pastor and successful business owner of the Davis State Farm Insurance Agency in Stone Mountain. Pastor Merisa is in the PhD program at Liberty University School of Divinity, where she is working on her doctorate in Theology and Apologetics. The church emphasizes integrity and building solid Christian character. Their mission statement says, “Victory Temple Christian Church is a fellowship established to fulfill the Great Commission by soul winning, sound Biblical teaching and loving discipleship, thereby strengthening Christian families and helping believers become victorious overcomers through practical life application of the Word of Continued on page 22

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Health Matters: Tips for Busy Moms

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By Our Town Staff Mothers are the CEOs of the home. Organizing schedules, paying the bills, taking care of food shopping, managing pick-ups and drop-offs, and making sure everyone is healthy are just parts of the job. Unfortunately, because they are so busy taking care of others, many moms often put off taking care of themselves or scheduling their own health appointments. Making your health a priority can help you stay healthy and keep illnesses at bay. Here are a few tips to help: Sleep consistency: You harp on the kids about the importance of a good night’s sleep, but when it comes to your own sleep, it’s often the first thing that’s sacrificed. Sleep deprivation is common among moms for a variety of reasons. Make it a priority to get 7 or 8 hours of quality rest each night. Keeping the bedroom quiet, cool, dark, and free from the distractions of devices such as cell phones and tablets can help you relax and sleep. Annual physicals: Just like with your kids, proactively seeing a doctor every year can help you tackle health issues head on rather than putting them off until they become a bigger problem. During wellness visits, your doctor will use health indicators like weight, blood pressure, and heart rate to screen for common conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Doctors can then recommend treatments to help you stay healthy and feel your best. Fill prescriptions: Your doctor’s treatment plan may include a prescription medication. Doctors advise that it’s important to fill and use the medication as prescribed. If you are not insured, or if your health insurance plan doesn’t cover the medication you were prescribed, you can check a free prescription savings program called Inside Rx which can help save an average of 40 percent off brand-name and 80 percent off retail on generic medications. Boost Nutrition: You meticulously pack your kids’ lunches, but when it comes to your own, you sometimes eat whatever you can grab. Eating well helps fuel the body and mind, so skip the junk and instead eat wholesome meals three times a day with healthy snacks in between. Stock the fridge and pantry with nutritious foods that are easy to eat on the go and always have nutrient-packed snacks, such Continued on page 22

Brian Batiste of Lilburn post office is making a difference. Brian noticed a lady whose car battery was dead and came to her assistance. Great job Brian!

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Op-Ed: Remembering Diana Preston: The Dreamer of Lilburn

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I met Diana Preston back in 1994. We were both active in the Lilburn community so our paths would cross often. She served on the city council, and I was serving as chairman of the planning commission and we became good friends working on a number of projects together. Over time we discovered we had very similar ideas to help improve Lilburn’s future, and we developed a great working relationship by supporting each other’s ideas, causes, and initiatives. After my 2004-2008 term as mayor, I felt I had achieved my goals and decided not to seek reelection. I encouraged Diana to fill my seat. Though it is unusual for a sitting mayor to endorse another candidate, I campaigned for her because I felt so strongly about her leadership abilities and how she would carry the torch on continuing to grow Lilburn. And I couldn’t have been more right. Diana became the first female mayor of Lilburn, and she made a lasting impact on the City. In 2010 Diana was instrumental in rebranding Lilburn with a new logo that captured the energy and vibrancy of the City, creating the tagline, “Small Town. Big Difference.” ATTENTION Double check ad for that ALLhouses content. And she breathed life into that tagline. In- fact, Lilburn’s new building City Hall and a ATTENTION - Double check ad for ALLand content. Phone, web, address, coupons, etc. branch of the Gwinnett Public Library, the preservation of the Wynne Russell House, ATTENTION - Double check ad for ALL content. the construcPhone, web, coupons, etc. tion of the popular Assume Camp Creeknothing Greenway Trail were all a address, direct result ofisDiana’s hard work. Reply back that ad approved once Phone, web, address, coupons, etc. Diana was a dreamer;ALL however, she always found a way to take action andad getACCURACY. things done. Sheonce never Assume nothing Reply back that is approved ITEMS HAVE BEEN CHECKED FOR Assume nothing - Reply back thatweaddiscussed is approved once met a stranger and she wasn’t bashful about asking for help. When the need for a Lilburn ALLITEMS ITEMS HAVE BEEN CHECKED FOR ACCURACY. ATTENTION - Double check ad for ALL ALL BEEN FOR ACCURACY. Community Improvement District (LCID),HAVE as mayor, sheCHECKED couldn’t officially advocate for the CID, so Phone, web, address, coupons, e she formed the Lilburn Community Partnership (LCP). Through the LCP, she was able to campaign Assume - Reply that ad is ap and help establish the LCID by recruiting members. The City nothing of Lilburn then fundedback the loan to LCP to help create the CID, which was paid in full earlierALL this year – just seven years later. CHECKED FOR A ITEMS HAVE BEEN When I talked to Emory Morsberger, LCID executive director, he told me that the CID is forever in Diana’s debt – figuratively speaking, of course – and that the City of Lilburn is a better place because of her. He was impressed with how she helped get the police department organized, and is pleased to Continued on page 21

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Getting to Know: New GCPS Board Member Everton Blair

Up Close with Gwinnett School of Dance

By Our Town Staff

Kelly Bowlin has been a champion for arts education in Gwinnett County since 1984 when he founded the Gwinnett School of Music. Today the music school has grown to five locations in Gwinnett. One of those sites, 2057 Grayson Highway, is located in the historic Victorian era McConnell House. Behind the house sits an old rock barn, dating back to the 1800s. The barn was used as a livery stable when the old Grayson Railroad used to pass right behind it. Kelly had long envisioned repurposing the old barn for use as a dance school and events venue. Today that vision has come to fruition. The Gwinnett School of Dance now occupies the newly re-constructed building. The barn’s original warmth and charm are still evident in its rebirth, and now not only is this site home to the dance school, but it is rented as an events center hosting weddings, receptions, birthday and graduation parties, corporate events, and more. The building has a full catering kitchen complete with a pass through for bar service, and it boasts one of the best dance floors anywhere with a floating 2500 sq. ft. hardwood floor. Nina Baldridge is Artistic Director of the Gwinnett School of Dance. Her passion for the arts is evident when she talks about the school. “Our students learn more than just dance,” she says. “They learn cooperation, determination, tenacity, and more. It is so important for me that our performances and classes reflect our aspirations and our values. I’m always saying that we are changing the world one dancer at a time!” Nina’s passion for the arts began with a scholarship with the Houston Ballet at seventeen years old. She later moved to LA and was in the music business before shifting back to dance by relocating to Arizona where she founded The Arivaca Performing Artists Company. It was music that brought her to Gwinnett County, where she served many years as studio manager to the stars at Tree Sound Studios. Continued on page 19

By Our Town Staff

Our Town Magazine (OTM): What do you want our readers to know about you personally (background, family, experience, etc.)? Everton Blair (EB): My name is Everton Blair, Jr., though most people who know me well call me EJ. I’m a first-generation American, born and raised in the Lilburn/Snellville communities, but tracing my roots on both sides to Jamaica. I attended all Shiloh cluster schools, graduated from Shiloh High School in 2009, and taught high school math in Atlanta Public Schools for two years. (OTM): What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? (EB): From a very early age, the importance of taking advantage of educational opportunities was instilled in me. In doing so, the act of serving others by ensuring that those same opportunities that you had were available for others was also modeled by my entire family while growing up. My parents are hardworking professionals and my grandfather is a selfless pastor. Everything that they have been able to accomplish in their lives was a result of opportunities that someone provided for them and of which they deliberately took advantage. They taught me the payoff of educational attainment and the obligation to pay it forward when you did. They were right. (OTM): For you, what is the key to success in life? (EB): To me, the key to success in life is using the information available to you to create and pursue meaningful pathways. In 2018, that’s using LinkedIn. You can figure out what others did, where they went to school, what they studied, how they got to their first and second job opportunities. People’s whole resumes are just sitting there on the Internet. For free. That’s how my most successful millennial friends are able to accelerate through rigid bureaucracies or to just create new technologies that uncover and meet people’s needs altogether. We’ve got so much more information than so many of our predecessors did. Accordingly, we’ve got to adjust our conception of what skills students need to have in order to be successful and how they develop them. (OTM): What role does faith play in your life? Continued on page 21

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Learning Lessons: Nurturing Good Character Traits in Preschoolers By Tanisha Turner

Leadership, YOU are the Difference - 2019 Lawrenceville MLK Day Parade By Beth Volpert Johansen

Every parent wants his or her child to develop character traits such as compassion, generosity, and kindness, but how do you get from point A to point B? Are preschoolers capable of learning and understanding these traits? And if so, how can parents and caregivers support their development? According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, the early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for a wide range of important developmental outcomes like self-confidence, mental health, and the motivation to learn. The earlier these softer skills are fostered in young children, the more likely they are to be successful in school and later in life. And while it may seem like your child is too young to grasp these concepts, the foundational behaviors needed to develop empathy and other social-emotional skills that make us good people are actually nurtured in the first years of life. Oftentimes the best way to teach young children about these intangible skills and traits is to provide hands-on learning opportunities and to reinforce the concepts in a variety of ways. Primrose Schools suggests the following tips for parents and caregivers to use at home: • Build an understanding of different traits. Even at a young age, children begin to build their understanding of traits like generosity, respect, and gratitude. Read books such as I Can Share by Karen Katz (ages 2-5) and When I Care About Others by Cornelia Maude Spelman (ages 4-7) with your child and take the opportunity to discuss the positive traits that the characters possess. Ask questions and help your child apply the concepts in the book to real-life experiences. • Introduce important life skills. Even very young children can begin to learn about essential life skills, such as manners, safety, and caring for the environment. Letting children take care of their very own plant will promote responsibility while also teaching the importance of caring for the Continued on page 20

With Gwinnett having just celebrated its 200th year, the county seat of Lawrenceville is more vibrant and relevant than ever. While the historic courthouse square plays center stage to tempting restaurants, delightful shops, a bookstore, and even a brewery, Lawrenceville is also the anchor for blending the past with the future in one of the most dynamic communities in the metro Atlanta area. Part of the attraction is the diverse nature of the residents and the variety of outreaches from all walks of life. To celebrate that diversity of leadership, the 2019 Martin Luther King Day (MLK) Parade theme will be “Leadership, YOU are the Difference.” Originally conceived by the United Ebony Society’s Robbie Susan Moore, the annual MLK Day parade has grown from an idea to a day-long community celebration. Known for embracing all neighbors, the United Ebony Society has long held the parade and community events following the parade at Moore Middle School as a time for positive interaction. “The whole day is about representing cross-cultural diversity,” says Rory Johnson of the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrenceville. “If we operate in our strength, if we see diversity, not just in ethnicity, but with our youth and elders, then we are realizing the dream.” With Johnson having been an integral part of the United Ebony Society’s early ideas of a parade, the youth of the Boys and Girls Club are deeply involved in the parade and community event. The members participate as a day of service and fill many vital roles in the parade, hosting at the Moore Middle School community event, and providing the introduction for the keynote speaker. “We are very proud to honor the past, invest in the present, and reflect on the future of the dream and legacy of Dr. King,” says Johnson. Furthering the connection to Gwinnett County’s 200th birthday is local resident, Rubye Neal, who has spent nearly two years collecting the stories of a variety of Gwinnett residents for the Story Continued on page 20

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Legacy of Excellence Continued from page 12 only their school but their community as a whole,” says Justin. “I think PAHS can have that ability; to help fellow Parkview student-athletes thrive academically as well as to mentor and coach younger teammates to prosper athletically.” To serve the community, the honor athletes are joining forces with the NFL and the Atlanta Super Bowl Committee on a donation project called Super Kids – Super Sharing, collecting used sports equipment, games, and books for underserved communities. This initiative begins January 7th and the group looks to rally the support of the Parkview community. As a new organization, PAHS inducted its 27 founding members in September. Going forward, the new member induction will take place in the spring so service projects can begin early in the school year. Also in the spring, members will provide study skills sessions for the freshmen athletes at Parkview and for younger student athletes in the Parkview cluster. “Our members want to share the skills needed to be successful both on the field and in the classroom,” says Hart. “I think that’s the most important thing, for them to show that you can be a top-notch athlete at Parkview High School and also have straight A’s.” Through PAHS, students receive recognition and are able to give back to the Parkview community. “A vision that I have for the Parkview Athletic Honor Society is to leave a legacy on Parkview,” shares Justin. “I want the members to be able to say that they left their mark on the Parkview community. Being the founding members means we can heighten the standards for all Parkview athletes by showing excellence in the classroom, and that is exactly what we intend to do.” The members of Parkview Athletic Honors Society value input and ideas from the Parkview community. They may be contacted at ParkviewAHS@gmail.com.

Gwinnett School of Dance Continued from page 17 Today, under Nina’s guidance and direction, the Gwinnett School of Dance students have garnered many accolades, with several students awarded scholarships to the Joffrey Ballet. The dance company has won first place in competitions, and the students have been featured in music videos. The school is very proud of the hard work the dancers have done. Ultimately, Kelly and Nina recognize that dance, along with all the arts, play a necessary role in the Gwinnett community. The school is about teaching and learning life lessons together. They are manifesting a creative vision which applies to every part of life. Gwinnett School of Dance offers instruction in ballet, hip hop, modern contemporary, tap, jazz, lyrical, and musical theatre. More information at gwinnettschoolofdance.com

Feeling Unmotivated? Remove “Should ” from Your Vocabulary in 2019 By Carol Tuttle Pause for a moment and think of that thing you needed or wanted to do last year but did not get around to it. The idea or project is just sitting there, and the fact that it is unfinished is weighing on you. But when it comes down to doing it, you seem to have lost all motivation. So how do you recover motivation to do something you think you should do? You can start by giving up should in 2019 and replacing it with something much more powerful! Say goodbye to the S-word...Should. I’ve found that whenever I used the word should, I would procrastinate and avoid the activity or project I thought I “should” do. That’s because the word should in the dictionary indicates a meaning of obligation or duty. Notice how often you might say something like: • I should go work out. • I should lose 10 pounds. • I should clean that closet. • I should eat healthy. • I should get out of debt. • I should learn how to ____. Why should can sabotage your success Whatever it is for you, it might even be a necessary or good idea such as organizing a closet, cleaning out the car, taking a class, or planting a garden. But if you’re trying to force it, you either just won’t make the time or have the energy, or you’ll probably keep putting it off because you don’t enjoy it. Or it might be a good thing to do, but maybe not for you to do. Get clear on what you want first Now, for every should statement you say, ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” Or do you think you should do it because someone told you to, or you feel under some obligation to do it? Sometimes our choices are influenced more about what others want than we want. Although they might all be great choices, we will not be motivated to follow through until we personally own them for ourselves. So, the first step to healthy motivation in the new year is to examine your should and get clear on what it is YOU want. You can also clarify what it is you want so it matches the outcome you want to create (i.e. I want to clean the closet, so I can always find what I need). Continued on page 22

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Learning Lessons Continued from page 18 world around them. Modeling these life skills is also a great way to introduce them, especially for younger children. • Make time for hands-on learning. Children get most excited about giving back when they are able to experience it firsthand. Introduce your child to helping those in need by starting small in your community. Whether it’s collecting coats for a clothing drive or making cards for the local nursing home, it’s rewarding to see your child begin to understand the huge impact a simple project can have. Young children learn through repetition and observation. One of the best ways for you to nurture positive character traits is to lead by example and consistently model what it means to be a good person. Sooner than later your child will start imitating you and be on their way to becoming a kind and caring individual. Tanisha Turner is Owner of Primrose School at Sugarloaf Parkway. More information at www. PrimroseSugarloafParkway.com


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Providing a New Home for the Holidays By Emily Haney The holiday season was merrier for one Gwinnett family this past December. Robin and her sons, who have not had a permanent home in 13 years, moved into a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment right before Christmas. Everything for inside their new home came together in just nine days. To make the family’s home a reality, There’s a Better Life for Everyone (TABLE) Ministries, a local nonprofit dedicated to aiding the homeless community where the family had been a client, connected with Boy Scout Troup 506, and S3 Sisterhood, a network group for businesses. The different groups acquired everything needed for the family’s home and set it all up. S3 Sisterhood provided the furniture, while the Boy Scouts acquired decorations and food in collaboration with the Flowers Crossing neighborhood. Troop 506’s efforts, led by Life Scouts Trevor Spake and Trey Frink, went beyond what the family needed. “There were board games and cards, and I donated my TV,” said Trey. “We had all this stuff to go along with what they needed. I wouldn’t want to come home from school without something to do, and we wanted to make sure they could play goldfish or something like that.” The apartment was also completed with Christmas decorations. “Seeing a tree around this time just brings your spirits up,” said Trevor. “The added touches are just as important as some of the other stuff, too.” Everyone credits the final result of the apartment as a testament to their community. They would find donations left by their doors and garages when they returned home and even received around $500 in donations, although they did not ask for money. This led them to be able to purchase bedding and other essential items for the apartment. “It shows how good of a community we have,” said Trevor. “This brought all of us together. It helps our community and makes everyone happier. It makes me happier.” Giving back to the community is not new for Trevor or Trey. Each year, Trevor and his sister sell mistletoe door to door and donate the proceeds. This year they will be donating to TABLE Ministries in the hopes of helping another family. Trey donates some of his allowance and helped provide Christmas presents for a family. Helping others and developing leadership skills are what parents and scoutmasters want the boys to learn. “Everything is boy-led,” commented Trent Spake, Trevor’s father and scoutmaster. “We supervise and encourage them, but it’s all their work. It’s cool to see young people making an impact.” Trevor is considering focusing his upcoming Eagle Project on helping TABLE Ministries. He hopes to help more families feel safe and secure and to show them other people care about them. Troop 506 and S3 Sisterhood hope to work with TABLE Ministries in the near future to help another family. As for Robin’s family, they’re enjoying their new home.

2019 Lawrenceville MLK Day Parade Continued from page 18 n Traditional, private elementary, n Accredited by the GACmiddle and high school Georgia Accrediting Commission n Non-traditional high school n Accepted to all Colleges n Credit Recovery and Universities n Accredit homeschool work n Hope Scholarships/Dual n HIGH ACT/SAT scoresEnrollment Way above state averages

CHOICE Educational Academy 5510 Lilburn Stone Mountain Road Stone Mountain, GA 30087 Phone 770.921.3690 n Fax 770.921.3693 admin@choiceeducationalacademy.com www.choiceeducationalacademy.com PAGE 20

Vault Project (www.Gwinnett200.com). “I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it has been to have been able to interview and collect these stories so they are preserved on video,” says Neal. The stories will be just one of the ways Gwinnett’s history of racial segregation can be told. Adding to the Story Vault history will be the museum located in the former Hooper-Renwick School, which was the segregated school serving Gwinnett’s Black Community. “The whole project is interconnected with the United Ebony Society, the parade, and our scholarship in Robbie Susan Moore’s name,” says Neal. “We have enjoyed tremendous support from our Lawrenceville leadership.” That scholarship, founded by Neal, has been offered to the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year recipient, Karissa Jackson. Her involvement in the Club and in the MLK Day parade has been extensive for the past few years. She was also awarded the Beyonce’s BeyGood initiative and Jay Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation scholarship earlier this year. This year’s parade will feature Gwinnett’s first black mayor, Craig Newton of Norcross; Lawrenceville mayor, Judy Johnson; and Georgia House Representatives, Brenda Lopez Romero and Sam Park. “This group will serve as our Grand Marshalls,” says Rory Johnson. “They are leadership with vision and they make a difference in our community.” Jackson will introduce the keynote speaker at a short ceremony prior to the parade. “I believe the clarion call for diversity is what is necessary in this day and time,” says 2018 keynote speaker, Theresa Bailey. “Seeing children present and how they react to diversity gives me hope for the future; for they are the next soldiers in the battlefield.” The United Ebony Society members are pleased to welcome everyone to attend the address, parade, and community activities at Moore Middle School on Monday, January 21, 2019. The opening remarks will take place at 11:00 a.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center at 75 Langley Drive in the Veterans’ Memorial area. Following the opening remarks will be the parade stretching from the Center along Hwy 29 for two miles, and ending at Moore Middle School. After the parade, Moore Middle School will host a community event featuring a variety of activities. More information at http://www.gwinnettmlkparade.com

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Everton Blair Continued from page 17

Chick-Fil-A Continued from page 8

(EB): Believing that you deserve something you are working hard to accomplish requires a great deal of faith along the way. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have faith that my steps (and missteps) are ordered, and that the work that I am setting out to do is important. (OTM): What are your hobbies or favorite things to do? (EB): I love to travel and to experience different ways of life. It helps me get outside of my comfort zone and make connections with other people. In Gwinnett, that includes trying new restaurants, especially different ethnic cuisine across the county! (OTM): What excites you (what gets you out of bed and excited to start the day)? (EB): Opportunities to engage with people directly! I’m a shameless extrovert. So no matter how early or with how little sleep, I can get through my day without missing a beat if I am having stimulating conversation with people. (OTM): Favorite music/movies/shows? (EB): I listen to a little bit of everything: rap, soul, pop, gospel, acapella. I’ve got Gumbo by PJ Morton on repeat right now. I tend to play an album for weeks until I get tired of it, and then choose another. I watch a lot of documentaries and conscious biographical dramas. The last movie I saw in theaters, however, was Creed 2, which I highly recommend. (OTM): What are your most recent personal/professional endeavors? (EB): I’m currently working to support educators across the country as they unpack high-quality curriculum. In addition to serving on the Gwinnett County school board, I’ll also be pursuing a parttime doctoral study in education policy, which should be highly relevant. I like to keep a current grasp on theory while implementing practice!

and everyone knows her!” Jacob noted that the kids in the restaurant were especially fond of Ms. Ruth, as she spends much of her time interacting with them and helping them in and out of the playground. Indeed, it seems that Ms. Ruth has become as much a part of Chick-Fil-A for local patrons as the restaurant chain’s famous chicken sandwich. If Ms. Ruth is out of town or off for the day, Jacob says many guests ask about her and when she will be back. “A couple of months ago, Ruth went on vacation to see her family,” Jacob recalled. “The guests kept asking me where she was and why she wasn’t at work! They missed her.” Ms. Ruth has certainly enjoyed her many years of working at Chick-Fil-A. “What a wonderful 15 years it has been working for a great company, and people who are just as great,” she said of her time at the restaurant. “I have made so many friends here.” After years of hard work and service, Ms. Ruth recently decided to retire from her position at Chick-Fil-A in order to spend more time with her family. The local guests will miss her, but they have a wonderful opportunity to wish her well on January 16th at her retirement party. And the retirement isn’t the only event to be celebrated that day. In January, Ms. Ruth will turn 90 years old, and she is ready to mark the day with some of her favorite people – the local guests at the Tucker Station Chick-Fil-A! The party will take place during her regular working hours – 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – and it is a great opportunity for the guests to give The Mint Lady a proper send-off. “She not only brightens the guests’ atmosphere, but team members’ atmosphere, too,” said Jacob. “She helps the guests make personal connections while the team is busy serving food and doing the many other jobs around the restaurant.” Ms. Ruth will certainly be missed at Tucker Station Chick-Fil-A, but the team wishes her all the best. And they hope the community will join them in celebrating Ruth on January 16th. If you’re in the area, stop by during lunch to get a mint from one of the best Chick-Fil-A hostesses in Tucker. “How can I express how much I care for you all?” said Ms. Ruth, reflecting on her upcoming retirement. “There is some sadness in leaving, but it is time to hang up my apron. I’ll be seeing you at times and can truthfully say it has been my pleasure.” Jacob Fair, Managing Partner, Chick-Fil-A Tucker Station. More information at http://www. cfatucker.com/.

Remembering Diana Preston Continued from page 16

report that Lilburn now has the lowest crime rate in Gwinnett County. He admired how she always put Lilburn and its people first. It’s going to be hard to imagine a Lilburn without Diana Preston. Everything happening in the City now is happening because of her. The people she hired, like Bill Johnsa as city manager, continue her legacy by adding excellent staff members to run the City professionally and advance her initiatives. Diana Preston was a selfless, caring person who loved her family and community. She dreamed, took action, and made a big difference for our small town. We will all miss her dearly.

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Feeling Unmotivated? Continued from page 19

Victory Temple Atlanta Church Continued from page 14

Once we claim a choice for ourselves, we then can declare them with “I am” statements. Replace “I should” with: • I am losing 10 pounds. • I am cleaning that closet. • I am working out • I am debt free. • I am learning how to ____. • I am eating healthy. Take your choice even higher with gratitude An even higher vibration of belief is to act as if you have already accomplished it and to imagine your success with these statements of gratitude: • I am grateful I am debt free. • I am grateful I choose to workout. • I am grateful I cleaned the closet. • I am grateful I eat healthy. • I grateful I have learned how to ____. • I am grateful I lost 10 pounds. This simple but powerful shift can make a world of difference! Remember, when you declare your intentions, you uplift your energy so it can support you with the motivation to do it when it is right and timely for you. Carol Tuttle is a teacher, speaker, and author. More information at https://ct.liveyourtruth.com/.

God.” The ministry places a strong emphasis on the arts, and has world-class musicians and recording artists who perform for various events. Grammy, Dove, and Stellar Award-winning Gospel Keyboardist Ben Tankard was in concert for their Annual Christmas Banquet on December 15th at the Smoke Rise Country club in Stone Mountain. The ticketed outreach event was open to the public as the church strives to make their presence known in the community. Victory Temple Atlanta Church was established in 2013 as a second location for the parent ministry in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Pastor Merisa is a two-time author, with expertise on the African-American family. She honed her writing skills in the newsroom of NBC-29 WVIR-TV in her hometown of Charlottesville, VA where she worked as a reporter and anchor. Her 2018 book release, Demons, Drugs, and Deliverance, was authored to combat the onslaught of substance abuse and to assist in stemming the tide of evil in families brought about by drugs, both legal and illegal. Pastor Merisa co-authored the book with Dr. Woody Martin of Victory Temple Church in Tennessee. “Our book is full of real-life stories, highly effective prayers, and practical tips and wisdom to help addicts and their families overcome the struggles and bonds of addiction,” says Pastor Merisa. She and Woody believe that substance abuse is a problem that the church today must deal with head on. Pastor Woody has over 50 years of successful experience in the Deliverance ministry. “VTAC is in a NEW location with a NEW beginning,” Pastor Merisa says. “The Davis family cordially invites you to come see what God is doing. New faces are always welcome, so please join us as we lift up the name of Jesus and celebrate this time of growth and expansion!” Victory Temple Atlanta Church meets Sundays at 11:00 a.m. in the Lilburn Activity Building located at 788 Hillcrest Rd in Lilburn. The ministry plans to soon add a weeknight Bible Study, along with special Youth services. More information at victorytempleatlanta.org

Health Matters Continued from page 15 as dried fruit or nuts. Meal planning can help everyone enjoy healthy homemade foods throughout the week. These simple tips will help you prioritize your health as you take care of your family so you can feel your best today and in the future! You are the CEO of the home, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your loved ones. (BPT)


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