N WG A' S P R E M I E R F E AT U R E M AG AZ I N E JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
YOU ARE NOT ALONE END SLAVERY GEORGIA IS LEADING THE FIGHT TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING
JAN UARY 2 01 8
C RE 4
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JAN UARY 20 1 8
Happy New Year from the Family & Staff at Henderson & Sons Funeral Home and Rome Memorial Park
“Rome’s Locally Owned Funeral Homes” Barry R. Henderson
Joe Paul Henderson (1919-2008)
JAN UARY 2 01 8
JANUARY 2018 COLUMNS 11
With the new year comes a new color. HOLLY LYNCH, our local go-to for trends, pulls back the curtain for Ultra Violet.
College football fans across the country have pled their case for an eight-team playoff bracket, and JIM ALRED has a testimony worth hearing.
Jason Lansdell and his team at HIGH VOLTAGE PRINTS mark the 20-year notch for their business. This month they tell us how they keep their eye on the ball and on the cutting edge of everything print.
Setting goals is the first step in the long road to weight loss. Lucky for us, JOSE DEL REAL knows just how to get where youâ€™re going.
BERRY COLLEGE suits up to conquer DIVISION III as we remember the road to the playoffs for this new and promising football program.
Clear the line because THE BANDIT HIMSELF, BURT REYNOLDS, recalls why Georgia is his choice for cinematic productions and how the people here always welcome him home.
V3 examines the cold and terrifying world of HUMAN TRAFFICKING and hopes that organizations like END SLAVERY GEORGIA can halt those responsible for good.
JAN UARY 20 1 8
NEW YEAR! Renaissance Marquis would like to wish you the best this New Year!
3126 Cedartown Hwy | Rome, GA 30161 | 706-295-0014 | renaissancemarquis.com JAN UARY 2 01 8
OWNE R & CEO Ian Griffin
So here we are…it’s 2018. That happened fast. 2017 seemed like the blink of an eye, but then again, the years just seem to slip by faster and faster. Some hold more significance than others and 2018 will mark my 20-year high school reunion. So, wrapping my head around the fact that two decades have passed since Rome High deemed me eligible to move on to higher education makes this year a little more pronounced for me. I went to my 10-year reunion, which doesn’t seem like it was 10 years ago, and it was about what I expected.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE I enjoyed catching up with old friends and acquaintances, and outside of that it seemed like a measuring stick for what everyone was doing with themselves. Other than a few over-served classmates who were hell bent on proving they were on the up-and-up, only to look the exact opposite, it was a nice little trip down memory lane. I had a pretty tight class and I have stayed close with many of my good friends from high school. I also moved back to my hometown, which was never my intention, but turned out to be quite a blessing. My kids go to school with the kids of my classmate’s, I’ve coached them in soccer, and formed a new connection with them. I now see the importance of recognizing that what is good for our community is good for our families. I’ve gained a new appreciation for many that I only knew in passing, so that makes the dynamic of a reunion a little more inviting for those of us who have chosen to remain in Rome. As for those who have made their lives in other cities, states and countries, the social media bubble allows us to keep up with one another, but life runs a lot deeper than what people choose to post on their news feed (leaving the over sharers out of the mix on that assessment of course). The sentiment that you know everything you need to know about your old friends from what you see on social media just falls flat to me. It’s optional to attend, so if you hated your classmates or despise answering the same inevitable questions about marriage, kids and what you do for a living, perhaps sitting it out is the best option. I like to hear people’s story. And, as strange as it may be in this modern age, I’m ok with hearing it in the form of a conversation, not in 140 characters or less. Perhaps we have all seen too many movies where the reunion is a glorified opportunity to prove what you’ve become to your peers. Sure, there is an element of that you can’t remove from an event of this nature, but I find “judgy” people pretty easy to ignore. For me, it’s the 20 years that have passed I find hard to ignore. If anything, I expect to see less hair, more body weight, and a perhaps some humility that only 20 years of life in the real world can provide. We can’t stop time from passing, so we might as well celebrate it. Here’s to you, Rome High School Class of 98. Happy 20 years and Happy New Year!
Ian Griffin, Owner
JAN UARY 20 1 8
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 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 email@example.com CREATOR Neal Howard
NEW YEAR, Same Trusted LEADERSHIP Heritage First Bank, YOUR Banking Partner.
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Your Wedding. Our Passion. The Perfect Match.
CATERED EVENTS & PRIVATE DINING 413 broad street rome ga 30161 / www.lascalromega.com / 706.238.9000 / 706.238.9011 10
JAN UARY 20 1 8
Kitchen Designed by LMS Designs
ULTRA VIOLET: An Essay in Contradiction
trends & traditions with Holly Lynch SOOO, THE COLOR of the year for 2018 has been announced by Pantone. Ultra Violet, they say. Purple, if you ask me. I’m not a fan of purple. It Ranks just above my least favorite color, orange, on my scale of colors (green, you know, is my number one color). I usually look forward to the announcement – often the color prediction is right on target with what I’m hearing from clients about colors they want to use in their events for the coming year. Last year, Greenery was the color of the year, and most of my clients incorporated plants and other natural elements that invoked greenery into their events. Two years ago, two colors were selected, and the pale pink of the year (called Rose Quartz by Pantone) was seen everywhere with the popularity of rose gold. In other years, the color of the year was not very well received, nor used. 2012’s Tangerine Tango (orange) was, in my opinion, a huge faux pas. And just three years ago, in 2014, Radiant Orchid was selected as the color of the year. Purple. I did, ultimately, embrace Radiant Orchid because of it’s value as a name and what it inspired. So, let us consider Ultra Violet and what it means. In the press release from Pantone, the leading global authority on color standardization, they reference creativity and technology in describing Ultra Violet. In the graphics they use to display the color, there’s an other-worldly quality to the graphics – a blend between something space age and an almost mystical image. To me, there’s a romantic sense to this color, while being cool and modern. Initially, I heard “purple” when the color was announced. My designer friends all texted me, but with a lot less enthusiasm than when Greenery (my favorite color) was announced. All of us are a bit
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perplexed – is this a modern purple, for technology? Or a mystical purple, reminiscent of royalty and grandeur. Maybe, this violet is just meant to help us remember Prince and his “Purple Rain” album. Like previous years, Pantone is challenging us to think of color as more than just a trend for design but more as a goal or inspiration for the year. Since I doubt everyone will be changing their drapes at home to include violet and I have yet to hear from a bride having purple bridesmaid dresses, I think that’s really Pantone’s intent. They, like many other modern brands, want to use their position and platform to promote ideas and agendas (I don’t necessarily mean that in a political way). Can a color make us feel or act a certain way? Well, yes. Red lights make us stop. Green tell us to go. Orange means caution. Purple can be more complicated – I guess because it hasn’t been commandeered by the Department of Transportation. (Wouldn’t that be something – purple signs could mean scenic overlook?) So, can Ultra Violet make us look to the future? Can a color make us want to use technology in more ways (my goodness, how many more ways can we rely on technology?). I seriously doubt that Ultra Violet is going to move me to behave differently, but the announcement has given me reason to reconsider purple as, perhaps, not the worst color in the world.
My mother loves purple. Seriously LOVES purple. At one time, she was in a “red hat” club, that, despite its name, embraced the wearing of purple. Mom and I recently travelled to Nashville together for some girl time, and she brought an assortment of sweaters, blouses, sweatshirts and pajamas, all in some variation of purple. I refrained from mocking her much, and never even mentioned that awful dinosaur from my babysitting days. (Mom reads this column, so I’m counting on her to laugh!) For my mother’s sake, I guess I can tolerate some Ultra Violet for the year. Purple is the color of one of my favorite local schools, and many events take place at that school. So, on behalf of the local Darlington Tigers, I can like purple a little bit. Purple is the color of royalty, and I am expecting a VERY exciting year of royal news with Prince Harry’s wedding and Prince William’s third child. Get ready, dear readers, because 2018 columns might be full of trends from across the pond. So, if Ultra Violet is supposed to evoke creativity and technology, I guess I can get on board. But I still don’t see a lot of this color infiltrating wedding looks or home décor. But I’ve been wrong before. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.
JAN UARY 2 01 8
The Exchange Club Family Resource Center Invites You to Attend
the 18th Annual Night at the Movies Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00PM Hors d’oeuvres and Libations Your Choice of Six Blockbuster Movies
Doors Open at 6:00PM | Movies Begin at 7:00PM $50 Per Person or $90 Per Couple $40 Groups of 10 or more
Ashley Griffin cut + color
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706.346.0457 1105 E. 2nd Ave. • Rome GA 12
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“I COULDN’T COMPLETE MY WORKOUT.”
For my heart, I choose Redmond. Danny
Open Heart Surgery
At 52, Danny was a world champion power lifter and could not imagine he had heart disease. But when he experienced symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea, his daughter suspected he was having a heart attack. He was taken by ambulance to Redmond’s ER where the heart team determined he had blockage in six arteries and needed immediate open heart surgery. Three years later, Danny is back to the sport he loves, telling his friends about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Danny is thankful for Redmond, the only hospital in Northwest Georgia performing life-saving open heart surgery.
Learn more about heart symptoms or tell us your story at
MyRedmondStory.com 501 Redmond Rd NW, Rome, GA 30165 • (706) 291-0291
JAN UARY 2 01 8
And Then There Were Eight for the love of the game with Jim Alred
JAN UARY 20 1 8
THE QUESTION LINGERED IN THE AIR FOR FAR TOO LONG.
players miss less class time than almost any other sports’ athletes.
“Do you want to get tickets to the Peach Bowl?” My brain pondered it for about three nanoseconds, but it took my mouth much longer to respond. “Nope. Why in the world would I pay premium prices for a ticket to a meaningless game?” It’s rare I can sum up my feeling so succinctly, but on Sunday, December 3 at about nine in the morning I managed. The night before, Georgia savaged my beloved Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. Even before the final results of the College Football Playoff rankings listed Georgia and Alabama as participants, my use for a $100 to $150 ticket to what isn’t even a consolation game failed to pique my interest. Heck. I’m not even sure if you handed me four, free 50-yard-line seats I’d take them. Instead, I’ll watch on television and then prepare to help cheer for the SEC and two teams that Auburn savaged play in the national semifinals. Before I get accused of being a spoilsport or sour grapes or some other list of words about sore losers, understand I began pulling for a college football playoff in the early 1980’s. And when the powers that be finally acquiesced and granted us said playoff, I began pushing for an expanded field. A four-team playoff is great, but an eight-team one is even better. I know the arguments against are plentiful, but few hold water.
Hogwash. Schools and conferences along with major sponsors and networks have done everything possible to add games. Feel free to go back to an 11game season instead of 12 or get rid of the conference championship games, which are useless anyway.
FOOTBALL PLAYERS WILL MISS TOO MUCH CLASS TIME.
Basketball and baseball players miss six to seven times as many classes as football players. In fact, at most major Division I schools, football
THERE ARE TOO MANY GAMES.
IT RENDERS THE REGULAR SEASON MEANINGLESS.
Really? It hasn’t done that so far, and we saw key game after key game almost every single weekend. Alabama’s comeback win over Mississippi State, Iowa crushing Ohio State, Pitt manhandling Miami after Miami did the same to Notre Dame, the list goes on and on. If anything, the regular season means even more now than it ever has. And before the SEC bias argument explodes into your mind, please note I would have welcomed the eight-team field every year of the playoff. Even those times where the Big 10 could have placed three teams or Notre Dame finished in the top eight in the final poll. Before any other arguments can form, think about this. How many of the 40 bowl games will be watched? To fill all of the bowl slots, 15 teams with a .500 record will be playing. Talk about mediocrity and watering down the postseason. I’ll more than forgive the general public if they don’t tune in to see two 6-6 squads, Utah State and New Mexico State, battle it out in the Arizona Bowl. Now close your eyes and think about an eightteam playoff this season. Imagine the buildup, the games, the emotion. It would be must-watch TV at its finest.
The first-round matchups offer plenty of these things and more. Defending national champion Clemson handling Southern Cal, Alabama facing Ohio State and Urban Meyer, hungry for revenge after the beat down the Buckeyes handed the Tide three years ago. Georgia playing a still smarting Wisconsin with a chance to prove the SEC is more than a one-team conference and help bolster Southern football spirits. An Oklahoma offense led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and all-around jerk Baker Mayfield facing a legitimate defense against Auburn. The crazy thing is that it’s not easy picking these games. A solid case could be made for any of these teams to win. Clemson probably has the strongest edge and argument so let’s give Dabo’s bunch the win. If Bama is healthy the Tide beats Ohio State, if not the Buckeyes win. I can’t see Wisconsin beating Georgia especially giving Smart and company a few weeks to prepare, so let’s say the Bulldogs advance. I’ll be nice and give the Sooners a win over Auburn although a full-strength Tiger’s unit would put up a fight like no other. So, while my prognostications have the same final four as we currently have, I honestly believe I’m off and at least one of the lower seeded teams grabs a win. That’s one of the big reasons why the eight-team playoff is better. All eight of the teams in this scenario could make a run at the title. The BCS Championship rendered all other bowls moot. The playoff has rendered 37 of the 40 bowls pointless. My system isn’t perfect but give me seven major, meaningful games over the Arizona Bowl any day of the week. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.
With River City Bank by your side its OK to dream big. Big or small…purchase or refinance — we’re here for you. Kathi Watson, Mortgage Specialist NMLS# 1502758 Office 706-236-3534 T BES
JAN UARY 2 01 8
The Rome Band is ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR
New Uniforms For the 2018 Season.
Please Mail Checks to:
Rome HS Band Boosters Attn: New Uniforms 1000 Veterans Memorial Hwy | Rome, GA 30161 donate online at www.romebands.net
Orders must be placed by Feb. 1st | Please make checks out to Rome Band Boosters. For additional info please email Trina Rohner at: firstname.lastname@example.org *all donations are tax-deductible*
One Community United Presents 3rd annual hearts united gathering event “Racial Healing & Reconciliation” Featuring Guest Speaker:
Rev. Eric S.C. Manning of Mother Emanuel AME Church Charleston, South Carolina February 15, 2018 at 6:00pm
The Wilder Center at Rome 1st Methodist Church "It takes someone of significance to say, 'We are going to de-escalate this. We are going to walk together. We're going to talk together because there is one commonality that we all share — we are all human beings.'"
FREE EVENT • SEATING IS LIMITED
JAN UARY 20 1 8
Pick up your ticket at: V3 Publications | Yellow Door Antiques | Schroeder’s (Broad St. Location) Kroger’s | Heritage First Bank (All Locations) For More information visit the One Community, United (Rome, GA) Facebook Page.
Image by Katherine Birkbeck
celebrating 25 years of Keeping your Coosa Basin
I N I T I ATI V E
YO U R U P P
CO O S A
WE BROUGHT IT
CELEBRATE WITH US! R
IT STARTED WITH A
You are invited to our ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING Tuesday, January 30 2018, 6:00 pm. ECO Center, Rome GA.
(706) 234-2244 • www.theseasonevents.com
www.coosa.org JAN UARY 2 01 8
JAN UARY 20 1 8
Text GREG HOWARD
Photography CAMERON FLAISCH
FULL COURT PRESS H I G H V O LT A G E P R I N T S
With technology and talent at the helm, this group of local professionals stays in the game using speed, efficiency and a winning business approach. AMERICANS LOVE THEIR t-shirts. In fact, over 62 percent of Americans claim to currently own more than 10 t-shirts as part of their wardrobe. This alone means that there are 1.5 billion t-shirts that have been printed and sold. These shirts, lined end to end would be enough to circle the globe over 34 times. The t-shirt is a way we promote our favorite brands, organizations, teams and just about anything else. So’ who do we owe our thanks to? You can start with your local screen printer. For those around Rome, you might pay a visit to High Voltage Prints. High Voltage Prints was founded in part by Jason Lansdell. This year marks Landsdell’s 20th year in screen printing, a passion he built from his first job as an entry-worker in a small print shop. Lansdell quickly fell in love with the craft, turning
his fire for the industry and the skills he learned from every position he held, into his own business. But he wasn’t alone. When Lansdell opened shop on his own in Rome, which was no easy feat, he brought with him a team of skilled workers and experts of the trade. “It was certainly tough, but my team already had a lot of experience. We’ve all been in the business for a long time, so it felt like coming in to do what we have always done well,” says Lansdell. “We certainly had to work hard to establish good business in Rome. It just takes a few customers to give you a chance and to see the kind of product a quality printer can deliver. Word certainly gets around.” Lansdell and his fellow team members opened High Voltage Prints to combine the most up-todate printing equipment and methods with the art of their in-house designers, delivering custom t-shirts and apparel to the customer. Aside from printing, Lansdell’s shop also offers embroidery services and a wide variety of specialty advertising products from key chains and pens to banners and signs. According to Lansdell, the key to success in the printing industry is simple. “First it starts with great art. And second, delivering the job on time,” says Lansdell. However, after a simple walk-through of the High Voltage Prints workshop, one can see that the process between art and neatly pressed shirts in a box is far more complex. When a customer has an idea for a quantity of shirts, hats or other apparel they would like to have designed and printed, the first stop is the High Voltage Workshop on North 4th Avenue in Rome, Ga. After a greeting from Jason, Alyson, or another member of the team, it is time for a consultation. According to Lansdell, it all begins with the design. “Some people come in knowing exactly what they want, bringing art files to simply hand off to the team,” says Lansdell. “Others come in not entirely sure of what they want and ask us to develop the art. Whichever way we have to go about the job, at the end of the day it is all about a quality product and a happy customer.”
JAN UARY 2 01 8
“We certainly had to work hard to establish good business in Rome. It just takes a few customers to give you a chance and to see the kind of product a quality printer can deliver.” The art for the product is digitally designed in-house. Lansdell relies on his team of artists, who eat and breathe graphic design, to develop art that will not only stand out, but exceed the expectations of the customer. This is where the magic happens. Once the design has been approved by the customer, it is now up to Lansdell and his shop-crew to exemplify the art of their trade using some of the finest tools on the market. In the shop, one can hear the whirring of machines and view the screen printing tools that appear almost like a carousel of robotics. Each individual task has its station, from creating the screens to the drying station. The first step in the shop is to create the screen that will be used in the printer. All of the artwork designed by the team is sent to a computer located within the shop that is connected to a device which writes the files digitally onto the screens made from synthetic threads, that can be used to manufacture thousands of prints. For a printer, having the ability to manufacture screens in house is not only a way to get the product to the consumer quicker, but a way to differentiate the shop from competition. At a normal professional print shop, it can take as long as 15 minutes to manufacture one screen. However, with Lansdell’s machine, this process takes less than two seconds. After this process is complete, the screens are taken to a bay where they are sprayed with water. Now they are ready to be used in the printer. The printer is the heart of any print shop. The quality of the printer not only determines the speed at which a professional printer can deliver a product 20
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to the consumer, but it also determines the final quality of the product produced. High Voltage Prints is happy to be a beta shop for what stands as the world’s fastest and one of the best quality printers available. The product itself resembles the skeleton of a merry-go-round, having arms containing the ink and screens to print on the shirts as they rotate around the machine.
This product, made by a company based out of Chicago called M & R, currently holds the world record for the fastest printer on the market, boasting an astounding 2600 shirts or printed materials per hour. Although High Voltage Prints doesn’t print at this speed, the overall quality produced by this machine gives the shop a true edge on the competition. From here, the shirts are taken off the machine by a member of the crew, and placed in the dryer. The ink used for the shirts can only be dried at a high temperature; a professional dryer is used to complete the job. This dryer heats the shirt to precisely 325 degrees, the temperature needed to completely dry the ink, and is then delivered out of the back as a finished product. In the end, Lansdell and his team hope to carry on their trade well into the future. And the future certainly holds a lot in store for High Voltage Prints. For Lansdell and his team, this is only the beginning of the journey. But for now, they will continue to design and print a quality product, and stand as leaders of their industry.
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Givingthem the Real Be inspired by the story of a couple’s journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Text ABBIE SMITH
Photography CAMERON FLAISCH
"lose a few pounds!"
This phrase, or similar ones, have been scrawled across New Year’s Resolution lists for years. Seeming attainable in January, this can turn into a challenge that might be ultimately abandoned by February. If you need a little push, this is just the guy you need to meet. “I was a big kid,” says Jose Del Real. “Honestly, I was big all my life. I loved food, I still love food, but I found out I could love food and live a – quote unquote – healthier lifestyle.” Jose Del Real is a walking, talking motivational poster that you never want to take down. A Roman native, the 26-year-old is a chef with dreams of becoming a firefighter, going into
the Army or Navy, owning his own business and eventually, his own gym. These aspirations are huge and diverse, but for Del Real, they’re just more boxes to check on his to-do list. He attributes all his drive and commitment to one summer between middle and high school. In a few months, he went through a huge weight loss transformation that laid the groundwork for a life of healthy choices. “I was at 220 my last middle school year. My freshman year, I got to 135,” Del Real recalls, almost as if it wasn’t a big deal. “That was the biggest transition I ever made. That was the biggest achievement in my whole, I guess, weight loss journey. Call it whatever you want, I just wanted to do it.”
After “What I kept from then is my discipline. That mentality that, if I want something, I’m going to get it, I’m going to do it. I try to apply it to everything, to work and to my goals ”
JOSE DEL REAL
Before Obviously, Del Real doesn’t mind talking about numbers when it comes to weight loss. In fact, he almost enjoys it if it inspires someone else. “The biggest I ever was, I’d say, was probably around 260,” Del Real says. Then, his tone shifts. “I was a kid, a kid at 260 pounds. That’s bad. You know what else, I didn’t have diabetes or anything. I thank God for that, really. If you do the math, thinking about 260 then to me now at 26, it’s scary what could have happened.” Del Real was an active kid. Even before the weight loss between 8th and 9th grade, he played pee-wee and mite football, but activity was always present in his adolescent life. “Outside of school, I just played with my friends,” Del Real says. “We played football until the sun went down, we rode skateboards around 26
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the neighborhood, just to be out there, to do something. I played baseball, I wrestled, but I was always big.” Around middle school, Del Real started noticing his eating habits more and more. “I guess being a Mexican-American and coming from my family, my mom loves to cook. Good food was always around. And I knew nothing about diet. What kid does?” Del Real says. “Like, I remember coming home from school, getting a snack, something like chips or whatever. Then, about 30 minutes later, I’d walk to the shop down the street and get myself a coke and a candy bar. That was just a normal day for me. I started realizing that something had to change.” So, how does a teenage kid decide to lose all that weight so quickly? For Del Real, it was simple. “I wanted to see how far I could push my body,” Del Real says. “I’m sure everyone’s story is different, like a girlfriend, a boyfriend, family problems or a doctor saying, ‘Hey, you need to lose weight’ can start it. I’m sure there were other reasons too. People saying ‘No, you can’t do it’, ‘You’re going to be big all your life’, ‘It’s a waste
of time’, stuff like that bundled up and made me decide to start. I saw the end goal, I saw what I wanted to look like by freshman year, and honestly surpassed my expectations.” Of course, the big question remains: How did he do it? “Honestly, what I did was drop the soda, drop the junk food and I stopped going out to eat and fast food,” Del Real says. “I remember going out to eat with my family, say, at Golden Corral. My dad would pay for me to eat at the front and I just… wouldn’t. I wouldn’t eat. I remember thinking that all of the food on the bar was bad. My dad would get so mad, my mom too and asking why I wouldn’t eat. I would just wait until I got home, fix myself something small and eat then.”
REASONS TO CHOOSE US: Dropping 85 pounds in one summer is hard for anyone, but for a teenage kid, one can only imagine how stressful it might have been. Those formative years are spent looking to friends or family for guidance and support, in one way or another. “It’s sad now, but felt like I could never please them,” Del Real says. “I have a big family, and my uncles would pick on me. When I was big, they would make fun of me, call me names and stuff. When I was skinny, they would call me small or weak. My mom, too, would say ‘You’re too small, you’re too skinny’. I couldn’t make anyone happy. Looking back, I’m glad they did, though, because it just pushed me to do what I wanted.” Such a drastic change at a young age is inspiring, but keeping up a healthy lifestyle past that is even more incredible. “I carry around my middle school ID card and my freshman ID card in my gym bag. If I showed them to you right now, you probably would not recognize me. I carry them with me because sometimes I walk into the gym and think, I don’t know, maybe not today. That’s when I pull out the photos and remember why I started.” The difference between the two IDs is striking. Even placed side by side, they look as if they belong to two different boys in the Rome City School system. “I wanted to see how far, mentally and physically, I could push myself, and I did, and I’m still doing that.”
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706-676-2519 • www.GrinderzStumpGrinding.com After his weight loss, Del Real went on to wrestle for Rome High. Still active, his weight would fluctuate, then plateau, but he always had the same drive. “What I kept from then is my discipline. That mentality that, if I want something, I’m going to get it, I’m going to do it. I try to apply it to everything, to work and to my goals.” Now, Del Real works multiple shifts, always keeping busy in one way or another, but he is still maintaining a healthy lifestyle and chasing his dreams. “I work out six days a week. I usually spend about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, in the gym. That’s not for everybody, but that’s what makes me feel good. On my off days, I’m active. I’ll go hiking. And nutrition, nutrition is key. I count my macros, I keep track of fat, protein and carbs too. My girlfriend and I keep up the healthy meals so that we can reward ourselves with one ‘cheat meal’ on the weekend, like a good burger or something. I’m always looking forward to that burger,” Del Real laughs. “My girlfriend and I both struggled with weight loss and together we started an athletic lifestyle brand. It’s not about looking better than the person next to you, it’s about feeling better and performing better. It’s called Ohana Athletics. I’m not Hawaiian, but ohana means family, and family is so important to me. You can
live an active lifestyle and not have it take over your life. I still spend time with my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and that’s so important.” Del Real acknowledges that living a lifestyle committed to personal health has its challenges. The hardest part for him is something we can all relate to, no matter our goals. “The hardest part is just the excuses. All the time, I think, Man, I have so much to do today or I just don’t have the time, whatever it is, that’s the hardest part, just pushing past those excuses. The best part, though? The food. That burger at the end of the week!” For all those wanting to make a change in their lives, Del Real has a few words of wisdom. “My advice is to set small goals and achieve them. Like, your goal could be to go to the gym four days in a row. So, go out and achieve that. Also, not meeting those goals is okay. Just keep trying. Also, just living a healthier lifestyle that’s good for them and for the people they love. “You just have to think, I can do this. I know that sounds really cookie-cutter, but it’s real life,” Del Real emphasizes. “There are people out there with bigger transformations than me, and I’m sure they had a mindset like that. You just have to believe you can do it, and you can.”
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Ducks Unlimited Annual Dinner Event
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ON THE BREEDING GROUNDS AND IN GEORGIA Ducks Unlimited works for Georgia hunters like no other waterfowl conservation group. Only DU performs habitat conservation both in our state and on the breeding grounds where our annual migration originates. Ducks Unlimited is the largest wetlands conservation organization in the world. We are also a 501c3 charity group so every donation is tax deductible. A GREAT FUN NIGHT OUT IN ROME WITH THE SAME GREAT CATERING AS LAST YEAR. Merchandise on hand for fishermen, deer hunters, duck hunters, turkey hunters, people who do not hunt at all. Shotguns, rifles, handguns, coolers, fishing rod & reel combos, house decor items.
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COCKTAIL HOUR 6:00PM - 7:00PM LIVE AUCTION AT 8:15PM
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VIKINGS With the wind in their sails, the Vikings have put in the work to become one of the premier football programs in Division III play. Text JIM ALRED Photography J & S PHOTOGRAPHY
TAKE IN THE SCENE. More than 3,000 fans fill Valhalla Stadium, leaving seating scarce. The noise level rises as the seconds tick down to kickoff. Coach Tony Kunczewksi stands on the sidelines talking to coaches and players and leveling his gaze at the opponents. The loud speakers play music and remind fans often that today’s game is the first football playoff game for Berry. Roughly 2041 days after being introduced as the first Berry head football coach, Kunczewski and his charges stood ready to check another mark off a long list of firsts. 30
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The undefeated and two-time Southern Athletic Association Vikings follow the script early, grabbing a 6-0 lead. But special teams play puts them in a bad spot and early in the second quarter the home standing Vikings find themselves trailing Huntingdon 10-6. After the Hawks’ point after sails through the uprights, Kunczewski nods his head and implores his players. What he says is lost over the din of noise but this is far from the first time his Vikings have faced adversity. Flashback to a hot, humid late September afternoon in 2014, Kunczewski finishes talking to his players gathered at midfield at Barron Stadium, remember Valhalla wasn’t finished yet. Berry’s defense stood tall against the defending SAA conference champion Rhodes College that day, allowing only 131 rushing yards and holding them to 12 points. Unfortunately, Berry’s offense came close but couldn’t add any points of its own. The game marks Berry’s 12th consecutive loss. The Vikings have yet to taste victory. They’ve come close, but the secondyear program is itching to break through and get the first win. The Vikings played hard. When told this, Kunczewski nods. He agrees, but quickly notes he doesn’t believe in moral victories. “I told the players we want to show our fans what we can do in all phases of the game and we’re excited to get back and play on the 100th anniversary of Mountain Day.” The next week trailing 23-10 in the fourth quarter, Berry’s offense responds scoring two late touchdowns including a 63-yard gem from then quarterback Dale Jackson to Trey Ciresi to tie the game. A touchdown pass in overtime wins it, setting off an epic celebration.
A smiling, elated Kunczewski celebrated with the team afterwards. “It was looking bad there for a while, but I couldn’t be prouder of our guys they hung in there and fought to the end.” Hanging in there and fighting to the end. Two things Berry fans have become accustomed to seeing from these Vikings. The never-say-die attitude has helped the Vikings compile an impressive 4-1 record in overtime games. But it also serves the squad well when things don’t go as planned. “We don’t get flustered. We have a lot of guys that have been here before. We understand that throughout the course of the game there are going to be good things that happen and there are going to be bad things,” Kunczewski says. “We don’t get too low on the bad things and don’t get too high on the good things.” Huntingdon’s ensuing kickoff sails through the air and lands in the capable hands of CJ Stone standing at the 10-yard line. He explodes past two defenders and the field opens. He cuts left and races for the sideline not stopping until he reaches the back of the end zone. Berry’s sidelines explode, the fans yell and Coach K nods. He expects his charges to step up to the challenge, but they’re not done yet.
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Berry’s defense, ranked as one of the tops in the nation shuts down Huntingdon’s attack, and the Vikings’ offense jolts to life with Adam Taylor scoring on a 27-yard pass from Tate Adcock and Ciresi scoring on a 12-yard pass from Slade Dale, giving the Vikings a 27-10 halftime cushion. The energy ripples through the crowd. The feeling is palpable in the stands and on the field. The faithful gathered at Valhalla sense another Berry win and yet another milestone for the fifthyear program. Flashback to five years two months and two days before the playoff game and the first milestone for Berry football occurs. Valhalla stadium exists only on paper; it will eventually be constructed in one of Berry’s numerous cow pastures. The Berry eagles are capturing attention but have yet to become an Internet sensation and standing in front of a small crowd in the Cage Center is a man named Tony Kunczewski. Until a few moments before, he was an assistant football coach at nearby LaGrange. And now Athletic Director Todd Brooks tells everyone Berry couldn’t have found a better man or better coach to start its football program. Kunczewski decked out in a nice suit and tie flashes a warm, genuine smile. A smile many people will see, including numerous parents and recruits. It’s the kind of smile that warms a mother’s heart and reassures a dad that this man plans to be a good role model for his son. And along with the smile, comes the words. The verbiage so many coaches utter that can sound cliché but in this setting and with this man rings genuine. “Berry is one of the most beautiful and impressive campuses in the world. It’s truly a unique place that combines excellent academics with a strong history of success in athletics,” he says. “We are going to make Berry College and the Rome and Floyd Community’s proud of this football program both on and off the field.” The wins have come. Back-to-back conference titles, a playoff berth and along with that a slew of academic all-conference honorees, sportsmanship awards and a group of players who give back on campus and in the community. A funny thing about milestones, right when it looks like it’s passed, something can halt the progress. And Huntingdon has no willingness to exit the playoffs quietly. The Hawks flip the script on Berry, launching an 18-play drive, which gobbles more than nine minutes off the clock and ends with a touchdown. The score cuts Berry’s lead to 27-17. A field goal later in the quarter brings the score even closer, 27-20, and the sense of excitement and enthusiasm from the Viking faithful turns a bit nervous. While nerves may be showing in the stands, the players refuse to have any of it. The Vikings don’t get flustered. They remain on an even keel and before the quarter ends, Dale hooks up with 32
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Mason Kinsey for a 59-yard touchdown reception, staking Berry to a two-touchdown lead heading into the fourth quarter. The noise ratchets up again and now something else permeates the sidelines. The players exchange looks. Some of the larger ones just nod. The Vikings know they have the advantage. Kunczewksi’s defensive pedigree remains unquestioned. A two-time all conference performer at Grove City College at cornerback and linebacker, he spent several years coaching linebackers, defensive backs and as a defensive coordinator helping build solid players and a solid unit. Upon arrival in Rome, he noted that he was a defensive guy, but would still have a good offense. He was right on both marks. Berry’s defense is tough minded and loves to battle. And now with 15 minutes to go and a two-touchdown lead, the defenders wave their hands in the air and implore the crowd and get ready to wreak havoc on Huntingdon. Huntingdon’s offense mounts two serious scoring drives, but both times Berry’s defense rises to the occasion, forcing two turnovers on downs. Four quarterback sacks help lead the way as Brandon Palmer records two, Tyler Bertolini adds one and the big man with the big name, Mamadou Soumahoro has one too.
Berry fans know about Sumahoro and opposing lineman, running backs and quarterbacks have nightmares of the soft-spoken 6 foot 2, 235-pound lineman. Sumahoro, a two-time All-America selection and two-time SAA defensive player of the year, holds a slew of Berry’s defensive records. Over his four years he’s tallied an eye popping 37.5 sacks, 49 tackles for loss, forced nine fumbles and generally wreaked havoc and chaos upon any offense unlucky enough to line up against him. But in typical fashion, after the Huntingdon game when asked about the defense and the six
sacks the unit accumulated, Sumahoro makes sure everyone gets their due. “We were physical up front. We were getting pumped up to be the most physical team, and we did that for the most part,” he says. “We sack as a unit. I had two sacks, but Brandon had two big sacks too. We had six total sacks as a team. We were just getting after it as a defense.” Indeed, Berry’s offense didn’t score again, but it didn’t need to. The defense pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings players and fans celebrated the schools first playoff victory.
Hopefully our guys will learn from this from begin on a bigger stage. And hopefully we can take that in the future and be better be better for this experience When asked about the big win Kunczewski’s face changed into the big smile, but he also kept ahold of the discussion. “It’s obviously a huge victory for us as an institution, but I also think it’s huge for our conference. We had the heartbreak of being 9-1 last year and getting shut out of a potential at-large bid to the playoffs,” he says. “We wanted to win because of our institution, but it’s a great win for the Southern Athletic Association as well.”
A big win. A playoff victory. The first for the school. A week later the Vikings travel north to Minnesotta to national power St. Thomas. The script didn’t read well for Berry early, as the home standing Tommies jumped to a 22-0 lead. Right before halftime, the Viking’s get a chance to cut into the lead and have the ball inside the 10yard line. St Thomas’ defense holds though, and the Vikings turn the ball over on downs. A huge blow, but not the death knell it might be to other teams. “We knew this was going to be a battle. We knew we were going to get smacked in the mouth, but we knew we were going to get back up and smack them back in the mouth,” Kinsey says. “That’s how we’ve played all year. We weren’t going to lay down, and we were going to keep fighting. Not getting in (scoring at the end of the half) didn’t make us quit. It made us come back and keep on fighting, and that’s going to carry on to next year too.” Berry did respond scoring two touchdowns but wasn’t able to shake the early deficit falling, 29-13. A couple of close calls seemed to go St. Thomas’ way during the contest but Kunczewski shot down any talk about it. “This is the fifth year of our program, and we don’t make any excuses. We got beat by a good team by a really good program. You’re going to get breaks sometimes and breaks are going to go the other ay sometimes,” he says. “Those calls had
nothing to do with the outcome of the game. We are going to own it. Hats off to them. They are a great program and played a great game.” A year ago, Berry won nine games and found itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs. This year the prefect record ended in the playoffs second round. But as Kinsey’s previous words attest, the Vikings won’t dwell too much on the season before getting back to work. “Hopefully our guys will learn from this from begin on a bigger stage. And hopefully we can take that in the future and be better be better for this experience,” Kunczewski says. “Hopefully it will help our conference and put Berry on the map in Division III football.” A day after that 12th loss for the program in 2014, a sportswriter penned a column saying to hang with the Vikings, because the team showed a ton of promise. The piece ended by saying that the wins would come, but it may take time. Since that day, Berry has won 29 games, losing only 10. They have won two conference titles, accumulated more all-conference players than it’s easy to count and not only reached the Division III playoffs but also won a playoff game. Five years ago, Kunczewski promised a team and a program that would make everyone proud and the man with the hard to spell last and the winning smile has more than delivered on his promise. JAN UARY 2 01 8
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BREAKER BREAKER ONE-NINE Interview Questions MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL MEDIA Intro OLIVER ROBBINS Photography CAMERON FLAISCH
The stir of morning foot traffic on the streets of Downtown Rome is heavy for a Thursday. As newcomers from all over the world leave hotels and local homes, staff and volunteers of the 14th Annual Rome International Film Festival are hard at work in preparation. Screening movies that were produced worldwide is enough to get the attention of movie buffs. However, this year’s guest list includes a silver screen legend who paved the way for the recent filmmaking surge in the Peach State. One older lady strolls in the front door of the brand new V3 Magazine offices with the grin of a kid who just discovered mom’s stash of Nilla Wafers, and says in a voice just above a whisper, “Is he here?” Normally, the staff just rattles off directions to Merle Norman (the lovely cosmetics boutique that has moved to Central Plaza, in case anyone else needs to know) and points down Broad with a smile. But not today. Folks who wander in are not in search of foundation and hand lotion. She pulls out a poster, edges brown from time and the color two shades lighter than new, and tells us, “I’ve been waiting all my life for this moment.” On what seemed to be her most prized possession, was the one and only Burt Reynolds posing for one of his famous (uhmm) photoshoots. Yes, THE BANDIT HIMSELF , graced us all with a visit to Downtown Rome where he screened his latest flick, “Dog Years” and V3 had to honor of hosting one of his local press conferences. After being so gracious to everyone who wanted to meet a legend, he was still kind enough to answer some questions and show Rome why he’s still running away with movie fans’ hearts. JAN UARY 2 01 8
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I PRESS POOL (PP): While making the movie “Deliverance”, what were some of the things that inspired you to become a huge voice in the push to make Georgia a location sought after by film makers and movie production? BURT REYNOLDS (BR): The locations in northern Georgia were just perfect and I really can’t say enough about how welcoming the people are here. And Ed Spivey (former Georgia film commissioner) was one of the best men you could get, in terms of handling pictures. Also, we had a governor in Florida, my home state, and I went to him and told him that I had never made a movie in Florida. I think his name was Askew. I told him that if he
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allowed us to make a movie in Florida, we would leave about a million dollars in the state. He told me that he did like me or my pictures and I told him I didn’t care too much of him as a governor either! (laughs). So, I think everything worked out for the good and I told him I wouldn’t be back to see him until the next election! I really didn’t care to see him then either! It’s the damnedest thing, that some people don’t understand that the movie industry does not come in and trash the cities. They come in and make things better and often leave it in better shape than they found it. Now, when I go into a piano bar and I hear, bum baa baa baa baa bum, it scares the hell out of me!
But we had some of the best people, best crew and best experiences while working on “Deliverance” here in Georgia. I PP: I’ve heard many people say that you use to tell them that you were from Waycross, Georgia but we’ve learned from reading your autobiography that Florida is really your birthplace. Can you tell us how that rumor started? BR: I’m not originally from Waycross, but I’ll tell you how that got started. My dad came back from the war when I was four. He and my mother went on a second homey moon and when they returned
Georgia because I never had a bad time making pictures here, and I’ve made six pictures here. They were all successful, like “The Longest Yard” which is a picture we were supposed to make in Florida, but we ended up shooting it here at a prison in Georgia. All the towns in Georgia are such amazing towns and all the people are such amazing people. And it helped to ask Governor Carter to shoot here and find that he was one of the nicest men on the planet.
Top left, top to bottom: Seth Ingram, RIFF Creative Director and Cameron Mcallister, RIFF Executive Director with Burt Reynolds Terrell Sandefur, RIFF Development Director asks question Rome, GA Mayor Jamie Doss declares November 10th, 2017 Burt Reynolds Day
they told me they were moving to Florida. We drove down, and I remember having visions of alligators in my back yard and all that, but we stopped in Waycross. I remember thinking that this was a great town and if I was born anywhere else in the world, I wanted to be born right here. I always felt that
way. So, I just say I’ve been born there, whether people like it or not! I PP: I wanted to ask you about your role in the early seventies, with then Governor Carter, in starting the Georgia Film Commission. How were you a part of that process? BR: Ed Spivey was really the driving force behind it all and deserves all the credit. Because my governor, Mr. Askew, told me he didn’t like my pictures, I was quoted in one of the papers saying he was dumber than a peach orchard sow. One of the media folks asked, “What is a peach orchard sow?” I never answered him. (laughs). I just fell in love with
I PP: What do you think about Georgia’s film industry being a multi-billion-dollar business today and how does it feel to have been a part of that? BR: I don’t know if I had a big part in getting it started, but I’d like to think I did have some part in starting it. Every time someone wants to make a movie with me, I ask if we can shoot this in Georgia. (laughs) It doesn’t matter if the movie is about Africa! I love coming here. The friends I have made in Georgia, even some new ones I have made today, are friends I’ll have for all of my life. That’s what makes the difference here. It’s a lot different that LA-LA Land! In Los Angles they love you, as long as you’re doing well!. JAN UARY 2 01 8
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saving jane Text LAUREN JONES-HILLMAN
Photography CAMERON FLAISCH
No one likes to face the harsh realities of our community, but victims of abuse need our help in the fight.
END SLAVERY GEORGIA serves survivors of
sex trafficking *Name has been changed for protection Jane* didn’t hesitate when she saw he’d left the door unlocked. He had just finished; another faceless man in a suffocating sea of the same faceless men who filtered through her life every day as they had for the past five months. “They normally locked the doors to the rooms,” Jane recalls of that day. “But he forgot to, and I didn’t even think about it. I ran.” Adrenaline exploded through every cell in her body, pushing her legs as fast as they could go, out of the spacious, beautiful house, fleeing down urban streets. She huffed to a halt in a gas station. She worked to level her panic, to push her emotions down like built-up bile. “I was freaking out… I didn’t want to cause a scene,” says Jane. But it was hard for Jane to control the ripping anxiety, fearful that the man who had imprisoned her for nearly half a year would walk through the door at any moment; the man who had become her sex trafficker.
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How it Started Comparatively, Jane had a normal life growing up, quite unlike the grainy, desolate images that come to mind when one thinks of sex trafficking. She was brought up in a middle-class home and never knew poverty as a kid. She was also fiercely independent during her late teens. “I was working a part-time job and going to college full time, but money was super tight,” says Jane. “I was living pretty much on my own. I had roommates, but we weren’t close.” Under financial stress, Jane spoke to her cousin about finding another job. It was from her cousin that she learned how to meet men for money online. “That’s how it started. I went on a website because my cousin was doing it, and then I found out a whole bunch of other women were doing it and it was going fine for them.” Jane would see men who would take her on dates, have sex with her and pay her well. One man in particular paid her the most and requested to see her the most often.
e JAN UARY 2 01 8
WOULD COME, AND HE WOULD PIMP ME AND THE OTHER PEOPLE (HE WAS HOLDING CAPTIVE) OUT. AT THAT POINT, I DIDN’T HAVE ANY CONTROL.
“I started seeing only him,” she says. “I’d been seeing him for a while. His house in Atlanta is huge. But the two top stories, they were kept from me. I never knew what was up there.” One day after entering his home like any other day, she wasn’t allowed to leave. The cables holding her world together snapped and fell away. She went from seeing men on her own terms to being imprisoned on those top floors and pimped out on a regular basis. “Other men would come, and he would pimp me and the other people (he was holding captive) out,” she says, her voice fading. “At that point, I didn’t have any control.” As she looks back on that nightmare, Jane says she sees now that her pimp strategically and purposefully targeted her based on several factors. He knew she wasn’t close to her parents and didn’t talk to her family often. She was isolated. Furthermore, he didn’t reflect the stereotypical mental image of a pimp. He looked normal and even had a legitimate job, Jane says. “But he didn’t work at it very much, I later found out,” she says. “Most of his money was coming from women. Also, he would occasionally have us get on our social media sites and post a random status, so it looked like we were okay. Like we were still there.” Jane escaped a month before she turned 21.
Plunging into Addiction Sex trafficking is an immensely prevalent criminal market in the United States, though most instances go unreported. So far, there have been 3,186 reported cases of human trafficking in the country this year, 150 of which were in Georgia, 44
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according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Traffickers target victims and then use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims in the sex industry for profit. Sex trafficking knows no socioeconomic boundaries and exists within a plethora of venues and businesses, such as fake massage businesses, escort services, residential brothels, truck stops, strip clubs, hotels and motels and even public streets, among many other places. Once Jane escaped her captor, she began working random jobs to keep her head above water. She was ill-equipped to deal with the stress and trauma she had endured for months. To numb the
violent reality of her past, her present was hazed by chemicals and her therapist became drugs and alcohol. “I’d never had addiction problems before. For a little while, it seemed like I could pretend none of it ever happened. Using (drugs) was the only way I was getting through the days. I was using so much so I couldn’t think about (what happened to me) to the point where I was almost killing myself every day. I must have gone to the ER more than 20 times.” After so many hospitalizations, Jane couldn’t deny she needed treatment. A hospital put her in touch with a Crisis Intervention program. She was later was sent to Highland Rivers in Rome, to the Women’s Outreach program.
But she ended up checking herself out of the Women’s Outreach program, which specializes in drug and alcohol addiction, but not the sexual abuse roots of her trauma. Jane set off into the streets one night and sought shelter near a gas station. She had few belongings, no money and no working phone. Running out of options, Jane tried to get in touch with some people she knew in Atlanta, who would pick her up and take her back to her life, much as it had been before. “I knew that’s where I was going to wind up, but I always told myself that it would be different,” says Jane. “It would be okay. It becomes such a part of you that you just go back, and you don’t even realize what’s happening to you.”
End Slavery Georgia Feeling unsafe at the gas station, Jane recalled a church nearby. She headed toward it with plans of sleeping in the parking lot. “I figured it would be safer to stay there,” says Jane. “They were having some sort of dinner in the church.” That church was Journey Church where Debbie Crumbly pastors. Crumbly, her daughter Danielle Mullen and several other women were dining in the church, having a Ladies Ministry meeting. “We were talking about what we could do for outreach services, to really put some meat to the bones when it comes to helping people in the community,” says Debbie, “when across the parking lot walks what we thought was a 12-year-old.” Debbie and Danielle invited Jane to come inside and eat with their church group. Debbie says naturally, the women weren’t going to let Jane stay in the parking lot and planned to get her a room at a hotel for the night. The next day, they would develop a game plan to help her more. “We were driving to the hotel and something told me, ‘Ask her if she was okay with staying there,’” Danielle remembers. “It was a nice hotel but I asked, and she hesitated, and I just knew. So, I called my husband. She ended up staying with me that night. And for the next year, she stayed with us.” After sharing her story with Debbie and Danielle, Jane lit the fire of the cause for which the women were searching. End Slavery Georgia was born from there to serve and help a population that often goes forgotten. “It flipped the light on for us,” says Debbie, adding that with Rome’s expansive medical community, range of services and local support,
Northwest Georgia is in the perfect position to help survivors of sex trafficking. End Slavery Georgia became incorporated in April of 2016, and is a 12 to 16-month program serving female survivors of sex trafficking ages 18 and older. By partnering with community groups such as the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia, drug and alcohol counseling and other therapeutic services, End Slavery Georgia will focus on holistic healing for survivors. “Our aim is to help them get their lives back on track,” says Debbie. “We’ll help them work through their trauma, find employment that could turn into a career and work with them to get housing. We want them to be self-sustainable and safe.” One of the biggest issues with sex slavery in Georgia is local law enforcement not being educated on recent legislation and red flags, Debbie explains. “A lot of them haven’t been educated and updated on new laws and resources that they have,” Debbie says. “They’re doing a great job, but a lot of that information has not been passed down. It’s the same with our medical community, too.” But rescuing trafficking victims goes beyond detecting red flags. It’s about broadening your horizons and looking for other factors. “They see a young lady who they’d normally consider a prostitute, but they need to be looking around for the trafficker because he’s close by,” she says. “At the hospital, don’t just look at the patient and what’s going on with them, but look at the people with them. Those are red flags that could allow us to rescue someone.” Debbie says the average trafficker makes $32,000 a week on seven to 10 women, and that Atlanta is a hotbed for trafficked women who are Hispanic.
JAN UARY 2 01 8
“It’s absolutely everywhere,” she says. “It crosses every societal barrier. We deal specifically with adult female traffic survivors, but we take calls from anyone and get them help. We get a lot of calls about children. If the victim is underage, my first call is to GBI’s Child Exploitation Division and DFCS.” Both Danielle and Jane say that the internet makes human trafficking dangerously easy and accessible. “It’s all online now,” says Jane. “That’s how it all starts. And you don’t realize what you’re getting yourself into because so many women don’t have that same experience. The jokes about getting a sugar daddy… you don’t think about what that could mean.” “Traffickers have started used emojis to communicate what they need,” says Danielle. “They used to text the words ‘I want a girl here at 12 o’clock.’ Now, they send emojis with a girl symbol, an umbrella symbol and the number 2. That tells them they want a girl, they’re going to do intercourse but wear a condom, and they want her at 2 o’clock.” Social media is also a tool utilized by traffickers to prey on underage girls. Danielle says middle school-aged kids are a prime target because they’re active on social media, are at an age where they have low self-esteem and may be experiencing familial issues along with the stresses of puberty. “There are so many kids now that have phones and they get in contact with these people who promise them everything,” says Danielle. “When parents look at their texts and messages, they think they’re talking to another kid using emojis. When really it could mean a lot more.”
The Next Right Thing When people engage in victim-blaming, saying the women always had a choice, that they should have known better and that it’s all their fault, Debbie and Danielle say their experiences spent serving victims and survivors discount that completely. “It’s hard for us to imagine what it’s like to have lost all hope,” says Debbie. “But they truly reach that point to where they don’t see hope anymore. But that’s what we do at End Slavery. In everything we do, we help them find a way to put hope back in their lives again.” For Jane, her year with Danielle was a challenge, but also one of the best things that ever happened to her, she says. “I didn’t really understand the whole addiction aspect, how it was rooted in my trauma,” says Jane. “I stayed clean when I was with Danielle for the first couple of months, but I ended up relapsing. She helped me go to detox. I tried again. And I relapsed again. I look back and I cringe sometimes. She kept pushing me to get help. She never lost faith in me.” 46
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Jane has since received in-depth trauma treatment which has helped her cope with her victimization and her subsequent addiction. She is currently in a Sober Living home in another state, has a great job and a community of women supporting her. “We’re all alcoholics and addicts, and we’ve all been through trauma,” she says. “We don’t all have the same trauma, but when you’ve heard someone’s deepest, darkest secrets, and you’re able to share yours, it’s hard not to make friends.” Jane says she knows her journey is uphill, but it will be worth it. She plans to fight for and savor every day of being clean and free. “I’m literally just trying to do the next right thing every single day, if that makes sense,” she
says. “There are times when it gets hard. But the important thing is having people around me, having community. Once you’re around people who love you, even though you absolutely hate yourself, no matter how hard you fight it, you realize you can’t anymore. And then you realize people aren’t lying to you. They actually care.” Of End Slavery Georgia and her adopted family in Rome, Jane says her heart is full of hope that their mission is becoming a reality and scores of women will be rescued, just as she was. “I’m so proud of them. That first year I was with Danielle, she was talking about how she wanted to start End Slavery. It almost makes me want to cry that she’s doing it. I’m so grateful for her and I’m so proud of her. She’s my best friend.”
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