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Since 1976…Atlanta’s Orignal Frozen Custard

Catching Up with Community Connections By Michelle Watson

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Community Connections is celebrating its fifteenth year of helping foster families throughout Gwinnett County and the metro Atlanta area. Karen Jackson and Linda Coil met as social workers at the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS). They saw there was a need for non-profit support to foster families, so they co-founded Community Connections. Community Connections seeks to help all foster families with vital resources and training. Their specialty, though, is children with developmental delays and the medically fragile. Children in their program range from age 0 to 21. Dispelling the myth that children “age out” of the foster care system once they turn 16 or 18, Jackson says that upon turning 18, young adults do have the option of voluntarily staying in the foster home they are currently placed until they are 21. This allows them to have some stability while they finish high school or attend college. The children who come to Community Connections do so in the custody of DFACS. This means the children often have very little or nothing with them. Jackson and Coil’s vision is to help the foster families these children are placed with get started in the right direction. If a child comes to them without any extra clothes, school supplies, medical equipment, diapers, or baby wipes, etc., as is often the case, then Community Connections ensures that the foster family receives the necessary items for the child. Community Connections serves an average of 100 children per year, with as many as sixty-five children in foster homes at any given time. Training for foster families is held at the center. Each family is required by the state to complete a 23-hour pre-service training program, and then, once approved, each foster parent attends 15 hours of training per year. The training covers topics of interest to foster families. Once approved, staff and volunteers provide free childcare for all the children in the home (born, Continued on page 16

Community Spotlight: Be Someone, Inc. By Michelle Watson

HOURS: Open Monday – Thursday 10 am – 9 pm Friday & Saturday 10 AM – 10 PM Sunday CLOSED

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860 Duluth Highway, Lawrenceville, GA Hwy 120 & 316 next to Starbucks PAGE 12

Be Someone, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses chess to get kids to think about the effects of their decisions. Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. As a teen, he joined a gang and started getting into a trouble. A teacher, the only white teacher at an all-black school, determined that Hudson’s life would turn out differently. He took Hudson aside and taught him to play chess, and Hudson’s life was truly forever changed. He went on to be the first African-American to win the Birmingham City Chess Championship. Actress Jane Fonda, who wanted someone to come to Atlanta and teach chess to elementary students, found Hudson by contacting the US Chess Federation. Once in Atlanta, Hudson stayed and founded Be Someone, Inc., a mobile program that allows him to take his life-size chess board and pieces to any school or event in Gwinnett County and the state. Be Someone’s Win by Choice program uses chess to teach youth the same life lessons Hudson learned through the game. He says there are many ways in which chess parallels life, and after just a few minutes with him, one begins to devise personal lessons by applying the rules and strategies of the game. Hudson says the most important thing you can do is, “Take time to think things through. You can make one move in life and never recover.” Every action has the potential to affect the rest of your life. Teaching young children chess is easy. They relate to patterns naturally, and are taught to recognize them by their teachers. When Hudson beats fifty-nine students at one time, he is able to further relate to them and what they are already learning by showing how he uses pattern recognition to win. Hudson’s pattern for winning at chess – and at life – is easy: Plan, Prioritize, Position, and Predict. When you plan and prioritize, you can adjust your own position and predict the moveContinued on page 15

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Our Town

MAR 2017: Our Town Gwinnett/Walton Monthly Magazine  

Welcome to the MARCH 2017 Our Town Monthly Magazine for Gwinnett/Walton county.

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