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ROCK CITY celebrates Christmas with a garden of lights and a million-dollar view.

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We Care Completely for your health & happiness


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December 2017



This month, J. BRYANT STEELE recalls some of his favorite phrases and encourages the brave women in the news to continue to speak up.


HOLLY LYNCH says that we don’t have to be royalty to adopt meaningful lessons from one of history’s most beloved princesses, Diana.


Now that the deck isn’t stacked against them, JIM ALRED says that high school athletes in Georgia have a better chance of finding a championship under their tree.




Grab something warm to drink and see how these Romans celebrate the holidays in their new HARDY HOME.




This organization is working to ensure our children know they are worthy of a celebration, and that each year is filled with BRIGHTER BIRTHDAYS .


Perched atop of Lookout Mountain is a destination that knows how to light the path of Christmas cheer, and tells us why everyone should “SEE ROCK CITY ” for the holidays.

celebrates 20 years of making every day merry and bright for seniors in Northwest Georgia.

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Merry Christmas! Renaissance Marquis would like to wish you the warmest of greetings, and a very blessed Christmas season!


PEACE • L OV E • JOY 3126 Cedartown Hwy | Rome, GA 30161 | 706-295-0014 | renaissancemarquis.com B december 2017

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December 2017

OWNER & CEO Ian Griffin EDITORIAL MANAGER Oliver Robbins MAG ART & DESIGN Ellie Borromeo WRITERS Oliver Robbins, Erin deMesquita, Holly Lynch, J. Bryant Steele, Lauren Jones-Hillman, Jim Alred, Emory Chaffin, Abbie Smith, Jennifer Luitwieler, Greg Howard EXECUTIVE PHOTOGRAPHER Cameron Flaisch

OW NER & CEO Ian Griffin

On a chilly Sunday afternoon in November, I got a little bored and decided it was time to bust out the Christmas decorations. Ok…so that’s a lie, I actually went to put something in my crawl space and the Christmas decorations were blocking the door. My hand was forced, so I reluctantly dragged them up the stairs. Before we started the process of digging through the bins of treasured memories and ornaments we were gifted and can’t stand (back of the tree fodder), I wanted to make sure we had everything we needed to complete the task at hand. That required a trip to our storage shed. As I opened the swinging doors, several yard tools came crashing down and an all-too-familiar feeling of guilt took over me. I have a storage area problem, and every year the holidays expose it. This is hard to admit because I'm really a neat freak. The latest edition to our clan certainly makes keeping the house clean a challenge, but even the “Terrible Twos” can’t completely shut this train down. My wife and I are a good team, but my latest trip to the bowels of our home and our storage shed have shown me that what I can’t see doesn’t bother me…until I need to find something that should reside in those places. Now it’s like the room is calling my name in those precious moments of rest and relaxation. “Ian”…”Organize me”…”Purge me of all these unneeded possessions”. It’s haunting, but it’s also football season, so Santa can send this guy some storage shelves and containers, because I’m deflecting this project to the New Year’s resolution list. The holidays may expose my organizational flaws, but the holidays are a busy time, and that’s a full two days of work that I just can’t justify. I will get to it in time…it might just be in even worse shape than its current disorder when I do. Out of sight, out of mind. With that said, it might just be next Christmas before I get to it. I appreciate you guys for letting me work that out. I wish you all a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

Ian Griffin, Owner


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CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Andy Calvert AD SALES + CLIENT RELATIONS Chris Forino Greg Howard AD DESIGN Laura Allshouse Ellie Borromeo PUBLISHER V3 Publications, LLC CONTACT 417 Broad Street Rome, Ga. 30161 Office Phone 706.235.0748 v3publications@gmail.com CREATOR Neal Howard


May The Wonder and Magic of The Season Be With You and Yours EBANK: Always Open at www.heritagefirstbank.com MAIN OFFICE: 501 Broad Street 706.378.5300 WEST ROME: 2211 Shorter Avenue 706.378.5305 ARMUCHEE: 2950 Martha Berry Blvd. 706.314.0560

Thank you for another great year!


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The Worth of Words

cents & sensibility with J. Bryant Steele

THERE ARE WORDS that stick with you from childhood, memorable words that shape your personal philosophy and conduct in your formative years, Here are a just a few off the top of my head, from history and from literature:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

This was their finest hour.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Walk softly but carry a big stick

Half a league, half a league onward‌ We hold these truths to be self-evident ‌ 12

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Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright … But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out. …and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes. And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past. If you don’t recognize all of those, or if you have your own list, let’s get together for munchies on Broad Street and talk. I had memorized The Gettysburg Address by eighth grade. I don’t remember if we were required to, or if I just read it so often I could recite it in its entirety. But we grow up, and eloquent phrases yield to the necessities of daily living; self-actualization succumbs to shortcuts. The words that grab my attention now are more plebeian and prosaic: Dishwashersafe. Wrinkle-free. Fullyrefundable. Noassemblyrequired. And the Holy Grail of all who seek the easy way: Microwaveable. That’s what life does to aspiring idealists, who aren’t fortunate enough to work in ivory towers and ponder all day long. Then there are the words of warning that clutter our memory space, such as this or that pleasure causes cancer or will clog your arteries. Cook thoroughly. Pay by tomorrow to avoid disconnection. Keep out of reach of children (which now includes a certain former Alabama judge; more on that in a bit.) Like many. I am a fan of Yogi-isms, words that Hall-of-Fame catcher Yogi Berra may or may not have said. Generally, they make him out to

be a dunce. But you don’t call a perfect game in the World Series (1956) with a middling pitcher (Don Larsen) on the mound if you’re a dunce. My favorite Yogi-ism is funny at first glance, but actually rather wise if you think about it: You can observe a lot just by watching.

Biz Bits

The first thing I noticed about her was that she was a rather attractive, if older, woman. The first thing she said was: “Empty your pockets.” Next, she led me to a bed, fluffed my pillow, and tucked me in. “Scoot your behind over. … No, not that much, back this way some,” she said. This might not be so bad after all, I thought. But the rest was incessant, ear-shattering noise. Just like a lot of my dates, I thought. Except that I didn’t even buy her dinner first, and we still had our clothes on. No, what I’ve just described is an MRI exam, if you’re facing one and wondering what to expect. Except I can’t promise your nurse will be an attractive woman. I just seem to luck out that way. McDonald’s is all set to phase its dollar menu back in next year. Simultaneously, the American Heart Association will begin a fund-raising drive. (Just kidding, but when Clark Howard, the Atlanta-based consumer advocate, reported the announcement, he spun it as good news. I like Clark Howard; I once assisted him on a few stories, but it does bother me that he only looks at the bottom line, and doesn’t factor in considerations such as whether fast food will eventually run up your medical bills.) The Boy Scouts have decided to admit girls. I have given this a lot of thought and decided it’s good for gender equality and so forth. And it’s better for our nation that all of our children learn survival skills, like building a campfire and

roasting marshmallows, in the event the British ever attack us again. But what keeps me wondering is animportant question: Who’s going to come around to sell me Girl Scout cookies now? On a serious note: The flood of allegations by women concerning sexual misconduct and outright assault is overdue. It’s time these men were held accountable. Harvey Weinstein’s no longer a movie mogul, but he’s rich, so small penance. Charlie Rose is no longer a journalist. The list is long and growing, but Roy Moore rightly garnered the most attention because several of his accusers were teenagers – at least one a minor --at the time of the alleged incidents Why now, all of a sudden, some are asking? I think it’s because women were culturally indoctrinated for centuries to either succumb or tolerate it and keep their mouths shut. Women didn’t even have the right to vote in America until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. And it was almost another 50 years before the modern women’s movement gained traction. So this is just the next phase: Women are using their voices when men use their power as advantage. In the course of my career and personal life, I have conversed with five women who were victims of sexual assault, to varying degrees. Their coping ranged from guilt to rage to silence. One was groped in an elevator by a co-worker; two were attacked in their own homes, one was raped in a parking garage. And in a couple of cases, I was the only person the woman had talked to. I wish had known more how to help, beyond just lending an ear. So I’m glad women are speaking out now. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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What Would Diana Do? 16

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trends & traditions with Holly Lynch THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markel has hit the news! You know this columnist has been waiting for this announcement since news of the relationship was made public last year. Because of the announcement, commentary on the original people’s princess, Princess Diana, begins again. This year, being the 20th anniversary of her fatal car crash, lots of commentary about her life and memorials have been made. Given that Ms. Markle is an American, the concept of the people’s princess is again evident. Over these last few months of anticipation, I considered many of the simple lessons of Princess Diana‘s life. These five things specifically came to mind. Visit people in the hospital. When my dad was sick this past summer, it was so helpful and refreshing to have family and friends come by for visits. Some would stay for several hours so I could work or go home; others stayed just a half hour to break up the monotony of the hospital. I’m either case, the visit was special and needed and appreciated. Years ago when I was in the hospital for a femur fracture, I had many visitors and I loved every minute of the visits, however brief. I learned then and was reminded again this past summer that misery does love company. So, if you know someone is sick in the hospital (and can handle visitors), go. Even if you go for just for a few minutes. Your presence will give some relief to the boredom of a hospital and a needed break for your friends or family. Teach your kids about a world beyond your own. Princess Diana did this very well, exposing her sons to the homeless population and teaching and showing them other cultures and experiences. Both Princes have continued to try to have “normal” experiences in their adult lives, serving as active military and learning practical skills. One of my favorite photos of the late princess is of her with her sons on a water flume ride at an amusement park. They are all soaking wet and laughing heartily. That isn’t the kind of experience you would expect from a future monarch, but it was one example of how Diana taught her kids about life beyond their immediate and expected surroundings. The world is a big place and being different is not always wrong (sometimes it is). But show your children other cultures. As a kid, my parents loved a good summer family vacation. One particular trip, we visited Pennsylvania and experienced some parts of the Amish Dutch community. I was fascinated by a world without electricity. I think

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about that community every time the power goes out. I have read books and visited again as an adult, seeking understanding of a society that is foreign to me. I’m sure I could stretch myself further, seeking understanding of a culture that is more foreign to my own. Instead of learning about cultures without hair dryers and microwaves I should probably visit places without clean water. I’m not quite ready to face that fear yet, but knowing that world is out there is a step in the right direction. Do things that scare you. Princess Diana hugged AIDS patients at a time when the disease was very new (and scary) for the rest of the world. She stood up for herself against the media. She embraced a life outside of anything she had ever known twice - once becoming a princess and once again when she left the monarchy. I don’t live in the public eye and I’m trapped by fear constantly. I am often afraid to try new things. But like the Princess showed us, being afraid does not change the status quo. Know yourself before you marry anyone else. Diana married too young. She was barely out of her teens after having a protected, naive upbringing. She was embarking on a marriage that brought a career with it for an intense, prestigious “institution”, the monarchy. I would say that her sons have (hopefully) been wiser, waiting until they were in their 30’s before making the commitment



to marry. They have each selected women who were also more mature, both in age and in personality. Prince William’s wife Catherine had many years to learn the responsibilities and benefits that a royal position would hold. It seems Ms. Markle is also very confident and seems well-guided, by her prince and also by her own intelligence and poise. Princess Diana was not as mature when she married and found herself awkwardly navigating unfamiliar waters. I meet brides every day. I often pray they know themselves well, particularly if they are marrying husbands with strong, dominant careers or where a geographic move is imminent after the wedding. Marriage should not be rushed into, and husbands and wives should certainly be confident with who they are before trying to share themselves. I’m not saying younger couples are at a disadvantage just so long as they know themselves well. Wear your seatbelt. I think we can all agree we wish we could know what else Princess Diana could have taught us if she hadn’t died in the car accident (don’t get me started on the conspiracy theories - that’s a column for another day). So, please, wear your seatbelt. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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The Season for Hope for the love of the game with Jim Alred


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DISCIPLINE. DRIVE. DESIRE. Hard Work. Dedication. Perseverance. Tenacity. Coaches interject these words or ones similar into their speeches to players and during interviews with the media. All of them are good and deserve a spot in any book about preparing athletes to compete. Each has it merits, but one word needs to come before all of them. Without it, no matter how much coaches preach the other words and players show them in practice and on the fields of play, the end result falters. Flashback to two years ago, when the Georgia High School Association enacted reclassification, a process which moves schools up or down a division based on student population. A key thing happened in Class AA. The GHSA mandated a new rule, which for all practical purposes moved all the Greater Atlanta area private schools out of the classification. During the previous decade those private schools accounted for more than 82 percent of the state championships in Class AA and also accounted for more than 80 percent of the top four finishes across the spectrum of high school sports. Local schools that reside in Region 7-AA, primarily Model, Armuchee, Pepperell, Rockmart and Chattooga, fought and played hard. Many teams had phenomenal seasons but saw playoff and state title hopes dashed by one of those metro private schools. A quick aside here. I’m not talking all private schools, but instead the conglomerate in the metro area, which can pull from multiple counties and have campuses that rival some major universities. Several times coaches and players of Region 7-AA teams, when asked how long they might stay in the playoffs, pointed to the round where they knew one of the said private schools waited. Our local teams competed and won a few of those games but for the most part, the private schools feasted on our local public schools and public schools from around the state while filling oversized cases with state title trophies. At the time, the head of the GHSA made comments about how participating in sports isn’t about winning state championships. That’s a great thought and for most of the schools in Class AA a true sentiment. Because while private schools collected more hardware than a weekend home improvement warrior at Home Depot, public schools scavenged for crumbs and found top four finishes few and far between. When the GHSA changed this the word left out from the top of this column entered the conversation. HOPE. It deserves capitalization. For the first time in almost a decade, Region 7-AA coaches could preach the other words and know that if their

charges employed them, the potential for top state finishes were possible. Last year, several local schools made deep runs into the playoffs, securing top four finishes and even a couple of state titles, bolstering the team’s coaches and players and showing that HOPE did exist. An off-season of hard work and listening to their coaches has produced what might be one of the strongest fall high school sport seasons in Greater Rome history. A year after falling just short in the state volleyball finals, Coosa became the first nonprivate school to hoist the big cup, knocking off St. Vincent’s, one of the few private schools remaining in Class AA, via a three-set sweep. Almost as impressive, Region 7-AA cohorts, Armuchee and Chattooga, joined the Eagles in the state semifinals. In cross country, Armuchee’s boys grabbed second and Pepperell finished fourth. On the girls’ side, Rockmart finished third, Armuchee fourth, Coosa 10th and Model 13th. In softball, Rockmart won the state title and Armuchee finished fifth. Cheerleading occupies another tier here, because Region 7-AA teams have dominated the event for just about forever. Armuchee won the title this year. At press time, football isn’t done but a couple of 7-AA teams have chances to play themselves into the state quarters or semis if things go well. For those keeping count, that’s an eye-popping three state titles and 12 top 10 state finishes by Region 7-AA teams, and Region 7-AA schools are just getting started. Basketball, wrestling, track, tennis, soccer, golf and baseball are still on the horizon. I’m sure some local schools are basking in the state title glory, and coaches from the other sports are pointing to their athletes and reminding them a key thing. That if they work hard, they have a chance to do just as well if not better. The GHSA’s move has leveled the playing field and allowed local schools and athletes to experience the benefits of their hard work and effort, and raise a few big trophies along the way. While coaches preached all of those words for the past decade, the lack of state title banners adorning the stadium and gym walls seemed to contradict them. When local coaches began preaching them now, they can tell stories of those teams and players who worked, sweated, fought and persevered and finished among the state’s best. It’s funny. The talent has been here. The coaching has been here. The hard work has been here. All that was needed was the final ingredient. Adding hope into has made a world of difference. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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The Family and Staff of Henderson & Sons Funeral Homes would like to give a special thanks to all of our first responders who bravely serve and protect our community.

‘Tis the Season to Give Thanks Merry Christmas

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A Home for the Holidays There’s nothing like sharing your Christmas traditions and décor with loved ones in a space that is timeless. text ABBIE SMITH



he first Christmas after moving into a new home can be equally as exciting as it is daunting. After unpacking, opening the Christmas décor might seem like adding one more box to the list. However, when the temperatures drop and the holiday spirit begins to stir, it’s difficult to ignore the urge to celebrate. With a helping hand from Hardy Realty, for Kipp and Chris Slicker, their first holiday season in their historic home between the rivers is a lovely one indeed. “Honestly, it’s the first time in a long time I’ve been excited to decorate for Christmas,” Chris says. “When we lived in Texas we had a cookie-cutter, very generic house. We did a little bit there, but this house really lends itself to doing traditional Christmas decorations, so that’s been fun.”

The couple moved to Rome in February after Kipp accepted a position at Harbin Clinic as one of Rome's newest Cardiologists, so they had some time to settle in before tackling the wreaths, garlands and lights. Over the past few months, lots of love went into the home. Chris owns her own interior design business, Dovetail Interiors, and put her keen eye into action. From wallpapering to knocking down a wall, the Slickers turned the 1910s house into the home of their dreams. “This was actually built as the parsonage for the Methodist church. Looking at the layout and the pocket doors, you can imagine weddings and funerals and all that kind of stuff happening here,” Chris says. “I, for one, love the staircase and the big entry.”


Walking through the front door, you find yourself face-to-face with a striking entry, featuring a vintage piano and the beautiful wooden staircase. The piano, once belonging to Kipp’s grandmother, looks right out of a greeting card and has seen many Christmases prior to this one. “When I was a little kid, that piano was in my grandmother’s living room and I would open my Christmas presents under it, so that holds a neat tradition,” Kipp says. To the left of the entry is a formal living room. Chris’s penchant for the eclectic is evident in this room, the bright yellow and velvety-blue seating


is accented with a sparkling Christmas tree. Moving towards the rear of the house, the formal dining room is fit for a holiday extravaganza with Christmastime table settings, and small tarts and cakes in the kitchen just waiting to be munched. “Food is always a big part of Christmas, making a big breakfast or a big dinner is always a part of the festivities,” Chris says. “On Christmas Eve, my family would always host a fondue dinner and then go to the midnight Mass. Kipp’s family lives here, so we’ll also go have Christmas dinner with them. Entertaining has always been a priority to the Slickers, but it gains a whole new meaning during the holiday season. Chris speaks fondly of Thanksgivings and Christmases when her

family would open their doors to friends and members of their community. “We spend most of our time in the kitchen. It’s not that big, but people tend to gravitate towards it. So we wanted that to be part of the entertaining space. And during the holidays, we like inviting friends over if they don’t have anywhere to go,” she says. “To me, that’s really what the holidays are all about, sharing it with other people.” The home has plenty to offer in terms of entertaining. The kitchen opens to a screened-in porch, which is where the Slickers and their pets spend their time in warmer weather. “This is our third home that we’ve owned, and this is definitely my favorite house so far,” Chris says. “I love the architecture, all the details of older homes, like the hardwood floors and high ceilings that you just don’t see in newer homes. Also, with the ability to walk downtown and having great neighbors, it’s just a really fun neighborhood.” The Historic District is known for their older constructions full of charm. As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is carved, it’s not long before the neighborhood begins to resemble an assembly of gingerbread houses. The Slicker residence is no exception. “I definitely got the decorating stuff from my mom; she was always really good at decorating

for Christmas,” Chris says, pointing out a few metallic birds tucked in the centerpiece on the dining table. “Like these, we always had birds in the tree. We had an Aunt Birdie, so we always liked to do things for her.” Moving into a new house, carrying on holiday traditions past is a wonderful way to make a place feel like home. However, it also offers an opportunity to start new traditions as well. “We don’t have kids, so Christmas morning isn’t as big as it would be if we did. So, I like the tradition of sleeping in!” Chris laughs. Though the songs call the holidays “merry and bright”, the stresses of planning and gift buying can cloud an otherwise cheerful time. However, with a little elbow grease and string lights, the first Christmas in a new home can be a memory to hold dear for years to come. “The holidays can be hectic, you know, but our life is good,” Kipp says, gesturing to the walls around him. After all, it’s hard to be stressed out when you’re living in a home as stunning as this. For additional information about the property or to schedule a showing, please contact Hardy Realty at 706-291-4321.





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Heaven on Earth Text L AUREN JONE S-H I L L MAN

Photography C AM ER O N F L A IS C H

Join us in celebrating a 20-year milestone for one of Rome’s most desirable senior living facilities.


lack and white photos - infinitesimally grainy, but authentically film - hang evenly-spaced on serenely colored walls in a cozy, spacious common room. The photos harken back decades to nostalgic eras of downtown Rome and Cedartown, scenes that residents recall all too clearly at the Renaissance Marquis. On October 12th, that same common room was filled with laughter and cheer as a crowd of family, friends and staff gathered to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Floyd and Polk Counties’ Premier Senior Living Community. Mayor Jamie Doss, along with other distinguished guests, commemorated the occasion by marking the past, present and future of senior care locally, knowing that generations to come will experience the comfort and compassion at the Renaissance Marquis.

Mayor Jamie Doss with guest


Living History

Established in 1997, Renaissance Marquis began as a single building erected on the property of what had once been the site of a drive-in movie theatre. In fact, many residents have said they remember going to that theatre when it existed, says Executive Director Blake Ray. Over the years, the Renaissance Marquis grew into the three-tier system it is today, extending its care services to seniors who can live independently, 30

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Executive Director, Blake Ray

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seniors who need more hands-on care and those coping with dementia and Alzheimer’s and need round-the-clock servicing. Living in a retirement community is anything but boring. With in-house entertainment, planned excursions, a library, a coffee shop, an aviary perfect for conversing with fellow residents and a peaceful, scenic courtyard for relaxation and enjoyment, residents quickly feel at home. The dining room is almost always occupied with the 120 residents who enjoy everything from daily activities to special occasions, such as holiday feasts. Each Christmas season, Food Services Manager Mary Wilbanks crafts impressive, intricate Gingerbread Houses that draw onlookers for miles. “One year she did a replica of the Renaissance Marquis building,” Ray says. “This year, she’s doing Santa’s Workshop. She starts making it a month and a half in advance of Christmas. It’s amazing.” But the party that honored the 20th Anniversary of the Renaissance Marquis was alive with meaning the likes the community had never seen. “It was our way of saying thank you to Rome and to Cedartown,” Ray says. “We’re giving back for all the support we’ve had all these years. Our owner and chief operating officer came in and


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gave roses to our women residents and a sweater to our men. It was our way of saying thank you for choosing us.”


Levels of Care

Within its three-tiered system of care, Renaissance Marquis strives to understand all facets of senior adulthood. With its independent living program, residents who are able to care for themselves live in apartment homes and are by and large self-sustaining. “We encourage them to be as independent as possible,” Ray explains. “They can drive and come

and go as they please. We just provide oversight for them. If they want assistance with anything, we can do it for them, but we encourage them to be as independent as possible.” The next level of care, Ray says, is personal care, a program designed for seniors who need help keeping track of their medications, who need help physically and have other needs that come with aging. This level includes all the activities of daily living at the Renaissance Marquis, but with the compassionate, helping hands of staff. The highest level of care, memory care, is tailored for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The program, called The Harbor, is the safe shelter from the storm for those seniors. These seniors live in a secure unit which has a color scheme reminiscent of the outdoors, since they must spend a lot of time inside. “We want our Harbor to feel like the safe place for our residents that are struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia; it’s a full level of care,” says Ray. Specific to the Harbor is our Purposeful Day program. Every day is structured and has a goal.” Through the Purposeful Day program, residents stay engaged and mentally stimulated. After

breakfast, they do sittercise - exercises while seated - have devotions and a time of song. “Singing is very important,” Ray says. “As we age, we lose control of a lot of our faculties, but the ability to sing stays with us longest. You may not remember your daughter’s name, but you remember a hymn you sang when you were younger. So we try to sing every day.”


Dedication to Seniors

Ray says the staff at the Renaissance Marquis truly sets it apart from other retirement communities insofar as their compassion and care for residents.

“We have a team who is dedicated to our residents, they love our residents,” he says. “We have some of the best staff I’ve ever seen at any assisted living facility. You can tell they want to be here and they love what they’re doing. They’re not just here for a paycheck.” While some seniors may mark the transition of moving into an assisted living home as a loss of independence, they may soon find they gain more than they thought they would.

“After coming to live here, there’s generally a significant shift in mood, it’s something to do with the social side of it,” says Ray. “There’s not a good way to quantify it, but it’s very, very real. Even just coming to the dining room for three meals a day and conversing with other people… the more interactions we have, the happier we are.” The Renaissance Marquis is a place of comfort and family, and after two decades or care, the staff are looking forward to devoting more decades to the seniors of Northwest Georgia. “We’re very blessed to have been able to serve hundreds of seniors for 20 years,” Ray says. “It’s our purpose to help make their lives as happy and comfortable as possible, and we’re thankful to continue to do just that for years to come.”

Blake Ray, Bryan Cook, Jamie Doss, Renita Carnes, Barry Ray

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Learning Environment


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Photography AN DY C A LV ER T

This angel and her organization are making children’s birthdays special.


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It only comes around

once a year, and is gone again in a flash. Long awaited, often celebrated with cakes and candles, gifts and good times, a birthday is a day to remember. Friends and family gather to celebrate life and share memories on the one day a year most people set aside for themselves, the star of the show. It’s somewhat of a custom for many people that no one should pay for anything on their birthday when out with friends, and usually sought after items are delivered wrapped in bows and boxes. However not everyone experiences this generosity on their birthday. For whatever reason, be it the time of the year or the lack of means, some folks’ birthdays go forgotten and celebrations forgone. For a child this can be a devastating blow, leaving them heart broken and forlorn. Though a birthday shouldn’t be about the receiving of gifts, for many young children the gift of love and appreciation, and the gathering of family may be a little out of their grasp. They see friends, neighbors and schoolmates alike receiving gifts and having parties, and wonder why they don’t get the same on their big day. On a personal note, I can remember one infamous birthday where nobody bothered to show up for my party. My family had rented out the equivalent of Kangaroo Jake’s and sent out invitations to my whole first grade class. I was so excited I could barely contain it, I couldn’t wait for the big day – it was all I would talk about. When

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Thank You Best Bank


for voting us the

in the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards!

the party finally rolled around we showed up early, got set up and waited for my classmates to start arriving. Much to my dismay, not a soul darkened the door that day. I was devastated. Anyone who has experienced anything like this will cringe at the memory of their own neglected birthdays and immediately understand why Brighter Birthdays is partnering with the local school systems to help bring the joy of a birthday to underprivileged children across Rome and Floyd County. Christin Warden, a local financial coach and the mother of two girls, is working hard to see that as many children as possible will never have to experience the heartbreak of a forgotten birthday again. It started in 2015 when she was searching for community service opportunities for her daughters.

“When I learned just how many of the students locally require assistance for their daily needs I knew that we needed to do whatever we could to help make their birthdays special.”


v3 magazine B december 2017


After considering angel trees among other projects, she happened upon a program called Brighter Day. Brighter Day, in connection with Laureen Gilbert and Rome Action Ministries, works to help bring meal bags to children in the county school system. Taking inspiration and guidance from Brighter Day, Warden and several other homeschool families in the area started what is now known as Brighter Birthdays. The statistics on homelessness and poverty Warden uncovered are startling to say the least. “It was extremely eye-opening to learn of the need in our local school systems. When I learned just how many of the students locally require assistance for their daily needs I knew that we needed to do whatever we could to help make their birthdays special,” says Warden. 46 percent of city


and 33 percent of county schools students receive government assistance, are homeless or are in the foster system. A shocking 68 percent of county students qualify for free or reduced lunches, and more than 200 county students are homeless. With numbers like these it’s not hard to imagine the need for a program like Brighter Birthdays. Last year alone 250 birthday bags were delivered to appreciative students, containing a variety of items from toiletries and school supplies to toys, candy and party supplies. This year Brighter Birthdays is aiming high hoping to donate at least 1000 bags according to their webpage, BrighterBirthdays.org. After their early efforts gained the attention of local systems, one city school district joined with the organization to provide 500 bags, enough for the whole school,

and more schools have been requesting birthday bags for their own underprivileged students. Brighter Birthdays stepped up from a volunteer organization to a 501(c)(3) non-profit in the spring of 2016, and are branching out in an attempt to fill the needs of all the schools who are requesting bags for their students, but the numbers are overwhelming. Currently employing two teams of “baggers” to fill the need, they are relying on word of mouth to secure the donations they need to continue their heartwarming work. Despite generous donations from local businesses, professionals and organizations like the Rome Braves, the need is growing faster than the funds can keep up. “We are so grateful for those that help us either by donating items or through financial donations. These donations will help over 1,000 children in our community celebrate their birthdays this school year alone! We have companies that donate larger quantities of items to put into the bags. The dentists and orthodontists in town have been

extremely supportive giving us toothpaste and toothbrushes. We even have private citizens and churches that donate party items and school supplies on a regular basis or do drives for us. We survive on these donations even if they are small quantities,” Warden explains. The best way put birthdays in bags, and bags in happy hands is to get involved with Brighter Birthdays through cash or item donations or volunteering to help out yourself. “We are always looking for party supplies like plates and napkins. We can always use school supplies like pencils and pens. Right now we could use donations of both of these to finish out the year. We ask that they not be girl or boy specific and be appropriate for elementary students. We are trying to make a difference in these children's lives by honoring and celebrating them on their birthday. It is an extremely rewarding project that brings smiles to the faces of children whose families struggle daily,” says Warden.

There is a donation link on both The Brighter Birthdays Facebook page as well as the website, along with contact information for the organization. If you are interested in becoming a part of the Brighter Birthdays team, or just want more information on needed items you can also email info@brighterbirthdays.org. All donations are greatly appreciated, and are going to help a great cause. With the help of Warden and Brighter Birthdays, the local schools have finally found a way to bring a smile to the children who would otherwise go without on their special day. Every child deserves to have a birthday filled with joy and happiness, and you can be a part of it as well. So this year, take a moment to give something back to your community and give or get involved. After all, a smile is one of the best things you can give, and these children are guaranteed to be beaming when they get the surprise they never thought they would see. december 2017 B

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v3 magazine B december 2017

Christmas time IN THE CITY

Rock City has turned their magical mountain top into a winter wonderland for all to enjoy. Text GR EG HO WA R D

Photography C A M ER O N F L A I S C H

SEE ROCK CITY, a phrase any southerner has seen, whether in pictures or in person, painted on an old tin roof of a barn or on a bird house in their neighbor’s garden. This season, as you stand at the base of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., you may notice a familiar star hanging from the ledge. Once again, Rock City opens their gates to awe visitors with a brilliant light display they call the Enchanted Garden of Lights. Since 1993, one of the greatest traditions of Rock City stands as the Enchanted Garden of Lights. This year, Rock City is celebrating 23 years of the holiday tradition that families have made a very special part of their holiday season. What started off as just a few lighted frame scenes - such as the large doves and a gingerbread house that are still on display today - has grown into a display of over one million LED lights. V3 Magazine was invited to tour the park and see what else is to be expected from a place that has continued to impress guests for decades. The history of the Rock City Gardens as an attraction traces back to the days of the Great

Depression. In 1924, a serial entrepreneur and native of the Tennessee hills, Garnet Carter, launched his plan to build a residential community named “Fairyland”, named in honor of his wife Frieda’s love of European folklore on top of Lookout Mountain. Carter grew up taking in the beautiful views that could be admired from Lookout Mountain and the large oddly-shaped boulders that would later become known as “The Rock City” by local Tennesseans. One of the features of his new community would be the presence of a golf course. However, the course took longer to develop than expected, leading Carter to develop a miniature version of a golf course that he hoped would entertain his residents. The game was well received by Carter’s residents and soon the rest of the nation. The entrepreneur in Carter promoted the game he deemed “Tom Thumb Golf” and founded a company. While he was busy traveling the nation representing his new venture, Frieda decided she would busy herself by developing a small section of the 700 acres of Fairyland into a rock garden. She would take daily walks around the garden, pulling along a string with her to mark the december 2017 B

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way. Today, her walks are some of the very same trails that wind their way through the rocks of one of Tennessee’s most well-known attractions. During this holiday season, as guests stroll and even sometimes squeeze their way through the trails that wind around Rock City, they will be immersed in a world of lights that glow in a boast of tradition, dance to the beat of Christmas carols, take them to a world of ice and snow, or even lead them to meet the man in the red suit himself. Will Jackson, senior manager of innovation for Rock City, and his team may have the most daunting task of the holiday season in Tennessee. Jackson’s job is to run the department of Rock City that holds the sole purpose of enhancing guests’ experiences and developing new ways to impress those who have come to “See Rock City.” “One of our responsibilities is producing the designs for all of the events of Rock City, and it's something we are planning year round,” says Jackson. “For the Enchanted Garden of Lights, this means creating event plans, color palettes, brand guides for each realm - really creating each one to be a unique experience. All year we are asking ourselves what guests would really enjoy or what would spark a child’s imagination, and then we do it. Jackson and his crew began work on the light display the day after Labor Day, and traditionally open the Enchanted Garden of Lights to the public the Friday before Thanksgiving. One of the biggest additions this season to the garden is what Jackson calls, “The Dancing Christmas Trees.” This display 44

v3 magazine B december 2017

“ For the Enchanted Garden of Lights, this means creating event plans, color palettes, brand guides for each realm - really creating each one to be a unique experience.” allows guest to walk through an array of lighted trees, lighted frames, and string lights that are all synchronized to flicker and flash to the beat of upbeat Christmas music. “We started planning for the Dancing Christmas Tree Show with all of the computer synchronization and sound in late April, designed it in May and have been working on it all through the summer. It is the biggest thing we’ve added this year,” Jackson states. The Enchanted Garden of Lights is separated into four “realms”, each having their own specific theme and color palette. Guests begin their journey at the ticket plaza, beside the original gatehouse that has been around since 1932. Their first stop (if following the map) will be the Magic Forest, where guests are introduced to

the dancing trees, walk through an elf village, and even go through the Fairyland Caverns. Next, guest will begin their walk through Yule Town, where they are greeted by a brilliant twentysix-foot Christmas tree in the Garden’s Gateway Plaza. In this realm, guests can admire a lighted nativity scene, gaze at massive lighted-frame doves just above their heads, squeeze through the boulders of Needle’s Eye, and end by walking through a row of Santa’s toy soldiers. Guests then find themselves at the gates of the Arctic Kingdom, the icy realm where Inara the Ice Queen and Jack Frost live and are happy to take a selfie. Here, guests will see Christmas trees in all white and blue, twinkling penguins and polar bears, and trees with electric white leaves. Your journey ends at the last realm, The North Pole Village, where an old stone bridge will take you across a deep drop and open your eyes to arguably the best view in the state of Tennessee named “Lover’s Leap” after a tale from Native American folklore.

Every year since 1971, Rock City hangs a beautiful star that symbolizes the hymn, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” above High Falls. In this realm, you will get to meet Old Saint Nick himself, listen to carols in the North Pole Lodge, and even do some Christmas shopping. Since the Enchanted Garden of Lights tradition began, it has grown not only in lights but in those who attend each year. Meagan Jolley, who serves as the Public Relations Manager for Rock City, is thrilled with what the event has become. “We’ve certainly grown in attendance every year – and yes, this past Thanksgiving weekend we had a record number of guests attend the event,” says Jolley. “Attendance has continued to increase annually. We can say it’s truly become a tradition which follows right in line with Rock City’s mission, to create memories worth repeating for our guests and our partners!” This year, take time to get away from the hustle of the holidays and become immersed in a world of light and natural beauty.

For more information about Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, or to find out about what’s happening on the mountain all year long, visit www.seerockcity.com or call 706-820-2531.

december 2017 B

v3 magazine



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