Smyrna FUMC Sets Egg Hunt

Some 17,000 eggs are being stuffed with candy and treats as Smyrna First United Methodist Church prepares for “Easter in the Park” on Saturday, April 20, at Cobb Park in Smyrna.  Members of Smyrna’s largest United Methodist Church host nearly 1,000 people each year for the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Hotdog lunch beginning at 11 a.m.  This event is free to the community and everyone is invited to join fun as hundreds of children hunt thousands of eggs.

Interim Children’s Ministry Director, Kathryn Davis, Children’s Council Chairwoman, Jennifer Young, and Outreach Chairs, Kelly and Sherry Vinings, are joining forces to lead what is expected to be the largest event to date.  What began nearly 20 years ago, as a mission project to show the love of Jesus to children in struggling families has become one of Smyrna’s largest Easter Egg hunts.  It has grown more than founders, Wayne and Judy Waldrip, who are still hiding eggs, manning grills, and handing out homemade desserts each year could have ever imagined. 

The mission of Smyrna First United Methodist Church is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ who Make Disciples of Jesus Christ” and Senior Pastor, Derek Porter, will tell you “we do that by loving the person in front of us”, a theme repeated often by members of the nearly 3,000-member church.  Easter in the Park is one of many events the church hosts to support the Smyrna Community. 

Smyrna First United Methodist Church, located at 1315 Concord Road, will host Easter Services on Sunday, April 21, at 7:30 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 8:55 a.m. and 11 a.m.  For more information please visit www.smyrnafumc.org.

From the April 2019  issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Mamma Mia’ Is At Mable House

The Theatre Project presents its production of ‘Mamma Mia!’ April 12 – 14 at the Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre.

The music of ABBA’s hit songs tell the hilarious story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. This sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

Above, The Dynamos singers include, from left, Sophie Faust, Kaylan Royston, and Gracie Price. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at ticketmaster.com.

General admission tickets are $10 and children 12 and under are free.

From the April 2019  issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Dining In The Dark Is Unique

Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia invites you to a unique sensory awareness experience that will give you a glimpse into the lives of those who are blind.  Enjoy a culinary encounter while blindfolded as your table host shares their intimate journey of vision loss.

Dining in the Dark will be May 5 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy, Atlanta. Parking is free.

Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia (VRS), based in Smyrna, is dedicated to assisting individuals, of all ages, who are blind or visually impaired so they may function independently in all of their environments. VRS provides practical tools and proven techniques to help our clients carry out their daily activities.

Dining in the Dark is a unique sensory awareness experience that gives guests a first-hand glimpse into the lives of those who are completely blind, taking them on an unforgettable journey in the dark. Created in Germany, Dining in the Dark is a one-of-a kind concept that has been enjoyed by many people across Europe before moving to America in 2005. It’s a culinary encounter of heightened senses that has been experienced by thousands wanting a peek into an unfamiliar world.

Guests check in at 5 p.m. during a silent auction and cocktails. From 6 to 9 p.m. is the dinner and a 50/50 Raffle. Tickets are $100 per person. Contact VRS at 770-432-7280 or  scroyle@vrsga.org for tickets.

From the April 2019  issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

New Building To Replace Clay, Harmony Leland Schools

In Fall 2020, some students in the Cobb County School District will step into a new state-of-the-art school building in Mableton. The Cobb Board of Education voted January 17 to award the contract for the combined replacement elementary school for Clay Elementary School and Harmony Leland Elementary School to Nix-Fowler Constructors, Inc.

“We are excited, along with the community, to see the construction start on what will be a first-class school,” said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “All the additional space, technology, safety, and security upgrades will help our teachers and staff better serve our students. We’re thankful to the Cobb community members for helping to make the new school possible by voting to approve Ed-SPLOST V.”

The new facility will feature 76 classrooms across 186,930 square feet of space. That means the replacement school could house three schools the size of Clay Elementary School and still have room left over. Clay covers 55,412 square feet, and Harmony Leland encompasses 65,127 square feet.

Construction for the new school, which will be located on Factory Shoals Road in Mableton, is scheduled to begin in Spring 2019.?The construction of the school is slated to be complete in May 2020.

Harmony Leland Elementary has served students in Cobb for almost 70 years, while Clay Elementary has educated thousands of Cobb students over the course of about 60 years.

When Clay Elementary School’s estimated 380 students walk through the doors of the new school, they will meet new friends. About 600 Harmony Leland students will join them when the combined replacement school opens in Fall 2020.

Together the new classmates will be able to explore the new opportunities that the advancements included in the new school facility will provide for them and the thousands of the students who come after them.

From the February 2019  issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Girl Scout Cookies Season is coming this month.  The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world.  In buying these cookies, you power the scouting experience. All proceeds stay local with the individual troops or the Greater Atlanta Council.

Girls in the Greater Atlanta Council have been going door-to-door or taking digital orders since January 1.  The cookies arrive in Atlanta Feb. 16 and girls will be delivering them after that date. You will see Cookie Booths pop-up all-over town.  Scout leaders ask that you support these girls as they work to raise funds to use to expand their scouting experiences through travel, enrichment, and of course, camping.  Another option girls have is to donate cookies to support their communities.

Cookies are $4 per box for Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Savannah Smiles, Tagalongs and DoSiDos and $6 for the Specialty cookies, S’mores and Toffee-Tastics.

In 2018, a local scout with the support of long-time customers Judy McMillan and Janet Rau, both of Smyrna, was able to donate 60 boxes of cookies to The Center for Children & Young Adults (CCYA), a non-profit in Marietta.  CCYA provides a home for youth who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their caregivers. The Center is located on a 4.9-acre comprised of three residential programs: Another Chance (co-ed ages 12-15), Open Gate (girls ages 12-15) and Life Works (co-ed ages 16-18).  The Center provides comprehensive services, including housing, food, clothing, care, supervision and transportation for 40 youth.

The scout was asked by her donors to find a place that would accept “sweet treats” that youth would not normally receive. CCYA resonated with the scout, Courtney Waybright, a sophomore at Campbell High School’s IB program because “this is a place I or any of my friends could come to if something happened and we needed a safe environment.” She was impressed with the facility and its innovative practices of incorporating music, art, horticulture and animal therapies, community partnerships, a culture of care and a unique collaborative model to assist youth in overcoming childhood maltreatment, exposing them to new opportunities and allowing them to learn and practice life skills. The mantra of CCYA is that the “Best is Yet to Come!”

To support Courtney and her troop’s next philanthropic adventure, email the troop at GirlScoutTroop1872@gmail.com; they will gladly collaborate with you and develop a plan for donating to a mutual cause.  In the past, the troop and Courtney have donated cookies to fire fighters, police, and veterans.

To learn more about the cookie program, please see https://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies/support-girls-success.html.

From the February 2019  issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Group Plans For City In South Cobb

Mableton could be the “the next best city in Cobb County” within two years if the South Cobb Alliance wins funding and support from the legislature.

Enthusiastic supporters recently held a town hall meeting at South Cobb Regional Library.

“The time has come for us as a community to determine if it is feasible for us to become Cobb County’s next city,” said Tre Hutchins, an organizer of the cityhood effort. “This will allow us an opportunity to customize our needs as it relates to the quality of life we deserve in South Cobb.”

Mableton, an unincorporated community in south Cobb, would be joined with the unincorporated part of Austell to create Cobb’s newest city, which would also be called Mableton.

The new city would be bordered on the north by Hurt Road just north of the East-West Corridor, on the west by Austell, on the east by Smyrna and go southward all the way to Cobb’s southern tip.

The first step is having a bill introduced in the General Assembly. Hutchins said State Rep. Erica Thomas, D- Austell, has agreed to do that.

Hutchins said the group needs $30,000 for a Feasibility Study.

“We have 1/3 of it and need another $20K to make sure this happens,” he said. “The South Cobb Alliance is dedicated to securing the funds to complete the study. For more information: www.SouthCobbAlliance.org/.

Hutchins said he thinks the study will show the city of Mableton will be able to provide at least three of the 16 state constitutionally mandated municipal services currently provided by the county without raising taxes on its residents.

Darlene Duke Reflects on Service To Sweetwater Mission

For more than two decades Darlene Duke has been helping feed, clothe and educate people in south Cobb and Douglas Counties.

She stepped down as executive director of Sweetwater Mission at the end of the year but will continue part-time as business director.

Brian Hamilton took over as executive director this year. He is retired as General Manager of Georgia Operations from Thompson Tractor, the Caterpillar Dealer in Alabama, where he worked 34 years.

“Darlene has set a high standard of Excellence that I am committed to continue,” he said.

Sweetwater Mission, located at 6130 Hotel St., Austell, began in 1968 as members of several churches came together with a plan to help low-income families in their community. Volunteers formed a small used clothing distribution center and soon began to offer food and financial aid to neighbors in need. Community Action Mission Program or CAMP was formed – later known as Sweetwater Valley CAMP and now simply Sweetwater Mission.

Mrs. Duke began her career at the charity in 1994 as a volunteer though her church. The first Director, Ruth Reed, later asked her to join the board of directors. As it grew, the board sought to hire two part-time employees and Mrs. Dukes suggested they combine the jobs to make it full time. She went to work full time in 2003 and became director in 2005.

“I was doing client intake in the morning and financial aid appointments in the afternoon. That’s how I was able to do both jobs,” she said. “Since the first day there, it’s been a pleasure to go to work every day.”

Sweetwater Mission now serves some 1,500 clients per month with some 200 volunteers and four full-time and four part-time staff. Some 75 clients a day visit Monday through Saturday for donations of food, clothing and educational programs.

“We had some record breaking days right before Thanksgiving with 105 to 108 people back to back.” She said.

The agency may be small, but has gotten noticed by United Way of Metro Atlanta which placed a pilot program, Kid’s Home Initiative, to deal with homeless students at Sweetwater.

Comparisons to other agencies are difficult, but Mrs. Duke said that “Annual report to annual report, on a half million dollar budget we’re giving away more food, more items of clothing, and more financial aid than MUST was doing on an $8 million budget. But it’s a different model.”

Sweetwater does not government money. That allows them to assist undocumented clients.

“If the federal government will pay to send them to school, don’t tell me that I can’t pay to feed them,” she said.

The food program relies on cash donations from business, churches and individuals to stock a food pantry with items from the Atlanta Food Bank.

“It’s a walk in service – there’s an easy sign in process – but it doesn’t require a Social Security card and anyone can get food,” she said. “We rely heavily on donations of clothing and personal care items.”

While they have a good selection of women’s clothing, there is a need for men’s clothing and clothing for school-aged children.

On her two days off from work Mrs. Duke will stay busy with her volunteer work. She is Vice-President of Georgia Church Women United and wants to get more involved in United Methodist Women’s group at her church, Powder Springs United Methodist. She is active in the South Cobb Rotary, serving as past-president and treasurer.  She chair as backpack program and is on the board of the Douglas County homeless coalition.

What is she most proud of in her term with Sweetwater?

“It’s a tossup,” she said. “I love the food program because of how it really helps people. I’m also proud of the kid’s home initiative.”

“We have two people on our staff who formerly received assistance from us,” she said and it’s wonderful to have them feel good about the experience.

Keep Smyrna Beautiful Wins Awards

Keep Smyrna Beautiful was honored with a 2nd Place award for its overall programs in 2018. The award was presented by the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation on Dec. 6, and marks the 23rd consecutive year the local non-profit has been recognized for excellence in environmental efforts.

Keep Smyrna Beautiful’s programs touch on water quality, solid waste and recycling issues, trees, beautification, community sustainability (the community garden and outdoor market), mobility (bike racks), and community involvement (Adopt-A-Mile and other volunteer programs).

As Keep America Beautiful recently stated:

“Today, Americans are moving faster and doing more with the modern conveniences our society provides. But this comes at an expense to our natural resources, beauty and community cohesion we work every day to improve.

“Our national challenges with litter, recycling and beautifying communities will be even more relevant in the years to come as they were in 1953 when national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful was founded … more than in 1967 when canine TV star Lassie appeared as a mascot for our anti-littering public service campaign … and more than 1999, when we launched the Great American Cleanup.

“Because of our history, many people believe Keep America Beautiful is just an anti-litter organization. After all, “Every litter bit hurts!” But we are much more!”

As Keep America Beautiful is more than anti-litter, so is Keep Smyrna Beautiful.

“We are the official organization for all things environmental in the City of Smyrna. We have begun to work on projects such as Atlanta Regional Commission Green Cities Designation, EV Charging Stations, a Tree Save program. We are moving forward every day to help the City of Smyrna be the best it can be”, said Janet Liberman, Executive Director.

To volunteer, please contact Julie Barwig at jbarwig@smyrnaga.gov. To learn more about Keep Smyrna Beautiful, https://www.smyrnaga.gov/your-government/departments/keep-smyrna-beautiful

Barbara Hickey Named South Cobb Citizen Of Year

Volunteer, philanthropist and community leader are among the many titles that Barbara Hickey has accumulated in the past two decades. In November she was named South Cobb Citizen of the Year by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the South Cobb Business Association and the South Cobb Rotary Club.

“This person has had a long history of service… She has been everywhere in the community, contributing, really pouring her heart into whatever need is there,” Cobb Chamber President and CEO Sharon Mason said. “Many of us know her as a great friend, as a mentor in our lives, whether it was her leading Diaper Day or forming the Cobb County Coalition of Business Associations (CCBA) to bring all the business associations together or meeting pretty much any need that was out there for non-profits, she has been there for so many people in this community.”

Wayne Dodd, president of the South Cobb Business Association, said Mrs. Hickey “saw a need and came up with a solution.”

“Her heart and her love has always been in South Cobb,” Dodd said. “Her past efforts will pay dearly for years to come.”

Albert McRae, president of the South Cobb Rotary Club, said Mrs. Hickey was always elegant and well spoken. “She’s a doer, a person of action. Barbara Hickey represents service over self,” he said.

Austin Eads, a past Rotary president said, “now most likely The world is a much better place because of Barbara Hickey, especially in South cob.”

Hickey, who is suffering from health problems, was not at the meeting. Her son and daughter-in-law Sean and Cecilia Rowe accepted the award in her place.

Sean Rowe said his mother loves Cobb County and its people, refusing to leave even when her husband Jim Hickey was offered a prestigious job elsewhere.

“She is a beacon of light,” Sean Rowe said. “We are so proud of her as a mom, as a citizen, as a grandmother, as a friend… For those of you who loved her for so many years, just know that it didn’t go missed. She knows it. She felt every ounce.”

‘Legally Blond, The Musical’

The Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts at Pebblebrook High School will present “Legally Blonde: The Musical” Jan. 31 through Feb. 3 at the Anderson Theatre, Cobb Civic Center, 548 S. Marietta Parkway, Marietta.

Based on the hit movie, Legally Blonde: The Musical follows Elle Woods as she traverses the halls of Harvard. After her break up with boyfriend Warner, Elle sets out to win him back by attending Harvard Law School. While there, she experiences the ups and downs of student life but sets out to prove herself to the world. This fabulous and action-packed musical will delight and enthrall with its memorable songs, charming characters, and scandal.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb.1, Feb. 2, and a matinee at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3. Tickets are available at www.andersontheatre.org/encore-series.