Life with Gracie

This Life with Gracie: Of cakes, children and Christ: Moral dilemmas abound

This Life with Gracie: Of cakes, children and Christ: Moral dilemmas abound

It’s understandable, given what’s happening at our nation’s borders, if you’ve forgotten the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. News these days seems to come in torrents with many important issues arising every day only to be forgotten because of new outrages. We’d barely been able to digest the Supreme Court decision from earlier this month, when news of immigrant children...
This Life with Gracie: YWCA helps achieve a win for domestic violence victims in Georgia

This Life with Gracie: YWCA helps achieve a win for domestic violence victims in Georgia

In the winter of 2009, Melissa Waller was nearly five months pregnant and in a relationship that was becoming increasingly hostile. When her boyfriend’s anger finally exploded into violence, Waller knew it was time to leave. That should’ve been simple enough, but when Waller spoke to the property manager at her apartment complex, she was given two options. She could either break her lease...
This Life with Gracie: Are suicides really preventable?

This Life with Gracie: Are suicides really preventable?

Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in this country, and yet we still talk about it in whispers — if we talk about it at all. Time, though, has a way of demanding us to say something, do something. That time came in quick heartbreaking succession last week when fashion designer Kate Spade and author/chef Anthony Bourdain had both died from apparent suicide, and well, we had a reference...
National Guardsman solicits prayers for injured daughter

National Guardsman solicits prayers for injured daughter

Longboarding was still a relatively new sport to Kali Shultz, but she loved it. Heck, she loved anything that got her outdoors. Softball. Hunting with her dad. You name it. An athlete at heart, she was good at them all, including her newest love, longboarding. If the sport is new to you, catch up. Unlike a decade ago when mentioning the word longboard to anyone unfamiliar with skate culture produced...
This Life with Gracie: Grown kids back home? It could be you

This Life with Gracie: Grown kids back home? It could be you

My daughters, ages 27 and 29, flew the coop years ago. It happened long enough ago, in fact, that I’ve finally started to feel giddy when they return for visits. As happy as I am they’re gone, it’s a good guess that they are much happier than me and their dad. Well, maybe not their dad, but I doubt even he would want to see them move back in for good. Which gets me to Michael Rotondo...
This Life with Gracie: Honoring those who give hope, direction to foster kids

This Life with Gracie: Honoring those who give hope, direction to foster kids

At any given time, there are more than 13,000 Georgia children in foster care because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned. That number spiked recently to over 15,000, the most the state has ever seen. If you have to ask why, you’ve somehow missed the fact that we’re in the midst of a deadly opioid epidemic that’s leaving children without someone to care for them. But that&rsquo...
This Life with Gracie: Women’s gains at ballot box are part of a movement

This Life with Gracie: Women’s gains at ballot box are part of a movement

At the end of Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globe acceptance speech early this year, the media mogul declared to rousing applause that “a new day” is on the horizon. That night, she acknowledged the significance of becoming the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. I couldn’t help remembering that moment a couple of weeks ago when Stacey Abrams...
This Life with Gracie: WWII vet gets surprise help raising funds for Camp Corral

This Life with Gracie: WWII vet gets surprise help raising funds for Camp Corral

Just days before the Memorial Day weekend, Francis Turner headed to the local Golden Corral off Ga. 20 in Buford, where he has been a regular for nearly a decade. The popular buffet has been a favorite of his, but that’s not why the World War II vet keeps coming. Supporting Camp Corral, having the chance to pass out replicas of Old Glory, to teach children proper flag etiquette and share a story...
This Life with Gracie: R&B singer Ronnie DeVoe, wife Shamari promote Married 4 Life

This Life with Gracie: R&B singer Ronnie DeVoe, wife Shamari promote Married 4 Life

Late last month, Ronnie and Shamari DeVoe took a walk, hand in hand, with some 300 other couples to Kennesaw Mountain National Park. The 2-mile Married 4 Life Walk, the brainchild of Martez and Woodrina Layton, from Grace Community Church in Marietta was both symbolic and sincere. Married couples willing to prayerfully stand together will be stronger for it. Not only will their ability to communicate...
This Life with Gracie: Villa Rica teen’s got sport stacking skills

This Life with Gracie: Villa Rica teen’s got sport stacking skills

Fans of the Whistle Sports’ “No Days Off” met P.J. Ball weeks ago when he was featured in the second episode of the short form docuseries airing on YouTube and Facebook Watch. I had the pleasure just days ago when he and his parents joined me for a chat about sport stacking. If you’ve never heard of such a thing until now, join the club, but sport stacking, the art of stacking...
This Life with Gracie: Morehouse valedictorian headed to Harvard Law School

This Life with Gracie: Morehouse valedictorian headed to Harvard Law School

Two years ago this summer, Derrick Parker was hunkered down studying for the LSAT in a room at the Harvard Law School. Having been invited to participate in the prestigious Harvard/NYU TRIALS program (Training and Recruitment Initiative for Admission to Leading Law Schools), he felt good. His dream of graduating from college and going to law school was so close he could taste it. As he sat there alone...
This Life with Gracie: Jewish program manager’s personal story informs work in opioid crisis

This Life with Gracie: Jewish program manager’s personal story informs work in opioid crisis

For years now, we’ve been hearing about the opioid epidemic and the devastation it has wrought here and across the country. No race, no religion, no age group, no community has been untouched. If you ever talked to anyone in the Jewish community, though, you might have missed that fact. Drug addiction is still a taboo topic fraught with shame, said Mandy Wright, program manager of HAMSA...
This Life: DACA student: ‘We just want to better ourselves’

This Life: DACA student: ‘We just want to better ourselves’

The Georgia Supreme Court decided last week not to hear a case in favor of allowing immigrants with temporary permission to stay in the U.S. to pay in-state tuition to attend college. It was yet another blow to Sergio Blanco, who’d held out hope that instead of working full time and attending Georgia Highlands College part time, he could finally make education his top priority. “We pay...
This Life with Gracie: Half of women with PCOS don’t know they have it

This Life with Gracie: Half of women with PCOS don’t know they have it

In some ways, Sasha Ottey was lucky. For many women with polycystic ovary syndrome like her, it can take years and untold doctor visits before they get a correct diagnosis. All too often, doctors end up treating the vast array of symptoms caused by the hormonal disorder. Severe acne. Sleep apnea. Obesity. Or thinning hair and excess hair growth on the face or body. But Ottey’s OB-GYN pinpointed...
This Life with Gracie: How these siblings are honoring moms everywhere

This Life with Gracie: How these siblings are honoring moms everywhere

She had hopes of surprising her mom, but knowing Carrie Salone isn’t likely to sit still long, Alleah Salone let her mom in on her secret. To celebrate her love for Carrie, she’d be arriving home from Boston sometime Saturday in time to attend church with her, enjoy pampering at a local spa and then a late dinner. “If I hadn’t told her, she would’ve planned a day full...
This Life with Gracie: Sometimes, even good students need push in right direction

This Life with Gracie: Sometimes, even good students need push in right direction

Come Saturday, Indigo Gill will be a college graduate, holder of a bachelor of science degree in biology from Xavier University, and in a year, on her way to medical school. Gill always knew she’d attend college. She excelled at Lithonia’s Martin Luther King Jr. High School — in academics and extracurriculars. On paper, she shined. Then in the winter of 2011, she wore a beanie to...
This Life with Gracie: What you should know before choosing a summer camp

This Life with Gracie: What you should know before choosing a summer camp

Few of us will soon forget Benjamin “Kamau” Hosch III, the 5-year-old who drowned last summer during an outing with his day camp at Cochran Mill Park in Chattahoochee Hills. Kamau, officials said, went missing sometime during a lunch break on one of the park’s nature trails. His little body was found a short time later in a pool of water near a creek, where he and the rest of the...
This Life with Gracie: Was Chaplain Conroy really canned for praying for the poor?

This Life with Gracie: Was Chaplain Conroy really canned for praying for the poor?

It goes without saying that not all Christians think alike. Still, I couldn’t help wondering what in the world Speaker Paul Ryan could’ve been thinking recently when he forced the Rev. Patrick Conroy to resign. As recently as a few days ago, it wasn’t immediately clear why the House chaplain was dismissed. Some said it was because of lawmaker complaints that the priest wasn&rsquo...
This Life with Gracie: Grady’s chief nursing officer straight outta Compton

This Life with Gracie: Grady’s chief nursing officer straight outta Compton

In a fifth-floor conference room at Grady Memorial, away from the constant sound of medical devices, doors slamming and whispered conversations, the hospital’s chief nursing officer indulges a visitor’s question. What makes you special? Without hesitation, Jacqueline Herd insists she isn’t special at all. “I just think I’m blessed,” she said. There’s no doubt...
This life with Gracie: Sandy Springs artist’s creative longings find a target

This life with Gracie: Sandy Springs artist’s creative longings find a target

Imelda Marcos had her shoes. Eve Mannes has her handbags. Lots of them. There are “gambling” bags. Butterfly ones. And some made of Japanese floral designed papers. No matter the design, all of them have Mannes’ signature trademark — chopsticks, upholstery cords, and imported paper. But unlike Marcos, who was known for her extravagant and opulent lifestyle, including her special...
Life with Gracie: What United Way is doing to improve children’s well-being

Life with Gracie: What United Way is doing to improve children’s well-being

A year ago, United Way of Greater Atlanta invited community residents and leaders to join a campaign to improve the lives of metro Atlanta children. At the time, a Child Well-Being Index the agency commissioned revealed that nearly 500,000 youths across its service area lived in neighborhoods with some of the highest rates of poverty and lowest rates of economic mobility of any region in the country...
This Life: Atlanta a hot spot for sugar daddies willing to pay college tuition

This Life: Atlanta a hot spot for sugar daddies willing to pay college tuition

We’ve known for some time that Atlanta is considered a hub for sex trafficking. But who knew metro Atlanta is also known for having an abundant number of, ahem, sugar daddies — older men seeking the companionship of college-age women? According to SeekingArrangement.com, Georgia ranks sixth in the country, behind places like Arizona, Philadelphia and New York. Over the past few years,...
When hate strikes in North Fulton, a community comes bearing gifts

When hate strikes in North Fulton, a community comes bearing gifts

Last Friday, not far from the place where six teens allegedly scrawled anti-Semitic drawings on Hilary Karp’s driveway, Erik Schefstad, his wife, Carson, and one of their two children came hoping to communicate a decidedly different message, and it blew Karp away. Actually, they came bearing many messages, about two dozen total that, taken together, simply said, “We love you.” &ldquo...
This Life with Gracie: How you can help this campaign to feed the hungry

This Life with Gracie: How you can help this campaign to feed the hungry

The fifth annual nationwide “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign has been up and running for two weeks now, but there’s still time to get in on the action. You can either make a donation during checkout at any Walmart store, participate through social media or log onto walmart.com/fighthunger and give that way. If you’re lucky enough to not have to worry about where...
Life with Gracie: Why Taylor Swift and Gucci Mane are wrong about the haters

Life with Gracie: Why Taylor Swift and Gucci Mane are wrong about the haters

There’s a lot of stuff bothering us. Politics. Social issues. Societal changes. You name it, there’s someone or something to loathe. It’s safe to say that we’ve always been this way, but for Wes Parham, an organizational analyst with WEEW consulting and author of “Be a Hater: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset,” our refusal to engage with our dissenters dates back...
Life with Gracie: In fighting ‘summer slide,’ Horizons Atlanta giving kids better future

Life with Gracie: In fighting ‘summer slide,’ Horizons Atlanta giving kids better future

The gap between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next can wreak havoc on student learning, erasing as much as three months of academic achievement. Summer slide, experts call it. But for nearly 825 metro Atlanta students from three school districts, that won’t likely happen. Instead of kids falling behind, children fortunate enough to participate in Horizons Atlanta are...
This Life with Gracie: Boomers leaving suburbs for fun in the city

This Life with Gracie: Boomers leaving suburbs for fun in the city

Twenty years ago, it seemed everyone was moving out into the suburbs. And now, depending on who you talk to, everyone is moving back to the city. That’s especially true among baby boomers, those of us born between 1946 and 1964. Why? Their nests are empty. They are over the big houses, with big lawns and swimming pools in constant need of maintenance. And when you happen to be one of the largest...
This Life with Gracie: Dunwoody resident remembers night 1998 tornado destroyed her home

This Life with Gracie: Dunwoody resident remembers night 1998 tornado destroyed her home

On Monday, the 20th anniversary of a deadly tornado that destroyed her home and the Dunwoody neighborhood she’d called family since the 1970s, Laurel Sybilrud, 69, will be 250 miles away somewhere on the Satilla River. That isn’t to say she won’t be thinking of her daughter Libby, Fontainebleau Forest and the families who live there. She most certainly will. But 1998 hit Sybilrud...
This Life: Bobby Dodd, AADD merge to better serve developmentally disabled

This Life: Bobby Dodd, AADD merge to better serve developmentally disabled

Late in March one morning, Jeff Piazza bounded upon the stage in the Cobb Galleria ballroom and offered a hearty thanks for having been selected Employee of the Year. That was it. Thank you, he said with a big smile. And then, nattily dressed in a gray suit, Piazza turned and walked away. If anyone was sitting after that, it was hard to tell. It seemed everyone, about 550, was standing. Applauding...
This Life: Motivated by love, millennial-fueled nonprofit takes action

This Life: Motivated by love, millennial-fueled nonprofit takes action

Taos Wynn sat on a Haitian rooftop, surveying the damage to the impoverished Caribbean nation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thinking. In just seven days on the island, he’d seen more poverty, more suffering than he cared to remember. As he recorded his thoughts on the pages of his journal that hot summer day in 2013, he thought of his hometown. He’d seen the twin challenges of poverty...
This Life with Gracie: Providing children with developmental disabilities therapy that works

This Life with Gracie: Providing children with developmental disabilities therapy that works

Long before Children’s Therapy Works opened its doors in 1998, Shelley Margow could sense when a child’s brain wasn’t properly integrating the onslaught of information it was receiving. They were anxious, prone to tantrums and unable to perform to their potential in the classroom, issues parents of children with developmental disabilities lived with every day but had no idea how...
This Life with Gracie: Where is Jenna Van Gelderen?

This Life with Gracie: Where is Jenna Van Gelderen?

It has been seven months since Roseanne and Leon Van Gelderen learned their daughter, Jenna, was missing. Seven months. Seven months of being stuck in the gray area. Seven months of not knowing. Seven months of feeling helpless. It’s a horrible place to be, but every year, according to DeKalb County police, somewhere around 500 people go missing. “I’ve been advocating for Jenna my...
This Life with Gracie: Just how bad can an eating disorder really be?

This Life with Gracie: Just how bad can an eating disorder really be?

To look at her now, you’d never guess Megan Higgins once avoided eating and didn’t care if she lived or died. But for years before her parents realized she had a problem, Megan was rarely eating, and purging when she did, because that was the one thing she felt she could control. She is hardly alone. The reality is somewhere around 30 million Americans from all walks of life will be affected...
This Life with Gracie: Gun violence: Instead of a walkout, Roswell students walk in

This Life with Gracie: Gun violence: Instead of a walkout, Roswell students walk in

At exactly 10 a.m. last Wednesday, when students across the country walked out of their schools to protest gun violence, students at Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell were holding a walk-in. It wasn’t that they weren’t in support of the demonstrations held by their peers. They were. But instead of looking to elected officials to do something to stop the gun violence plaguing...
This Life with Gracie: Choose words wisely when offering comfort to Tripp Halstead’s family

This Life with Gracie: Choose words wisely when offering comfort to Tripp Halstead’s family

Less than 24 hours after little Tripp Halstead passed away, his mother somehow still managed to be gracious. We spoke only a minute or so in which time she could only say—through tears—that she and Tripp’s dad, Bill, weren’t talking to others just yet. It made perfect sense. There are no words. Tripp, who survived a traumatic brain injury after a tree limb fell on him five...
Life with Gracie: Which 5K/10K improves lives, qualifies you for AJC Peachtree Road Race?

Life with Gracie: Which 5K/10K improves lives, qualifies you for AJC Peachtree Road Race?

A week from now, City of Refuge will host its fifth annual Refuge Run, a 5K and 10K trek across Atlanta’s Westside that organizers hope will help improve the lives of people living on the fringes. Every step we take on their behalf, they will be able to walk across a graduation stage; enter a job interview with confidence; buy a home or all of the above, most likely for the first time in...
This Life with Gracie: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ actress using paintings to empower women

This Life with Gracie: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ actress using paintings to empower women

Any time now, Tanvi Lonkar will begin work capturing the faces of South American and European women on canvas, hopefully, for the world to see. She will first study their culture, then zero in on women’s history. If at all possible, she will interview a woman and then paint a mini drawing that incorporates what she learned to study and hopefully glean more ideas for the final piece. This, the...
Life with Gracie: Dunwoody couple put spotlight on childhood cancer

Life with Gracie: Dunwoody couple put spotlight on childhood cancer

In less than a week, Donal Fleming will take a seat along the Atlanta St. Patrick’s parade route in midtown and get his head shaved, a ritual born in 1999 to raise funds for childhood cancer research. The Dunwoody father of two has been doing this now since 2003, the year after his daughter officially completed treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer that is found in children...
Life with Gracie: Will high school activists make a difference in gun debate?

Life with Gracie: Will high school activists make a difference in gun debate?

The wave of high school students walking out of class to protest gun violence and honor the victims of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting is nothing short of inspirational. If you’re prone to historical flashbacks as I am, you couldn’t help remembering the student led sit-ins of the 1960s and feeling proud that once again our kids are taking the lead and, in this case, standing against...
Life with Gracie: SCAD student finds hope in a roll of duct tape. Now what?

Life with Gracie: SCAD student finds hope in a roll of duct tape. Now what?

One day recently, Ronnita Whipple sat in a second-floor conference room at Atlanta’s Savannah College of Art and Design remembering the moment her dream of attending the elite university came to her. She was heading God knows where with her friend and mentor Katherine Hutto, who mentioned the school as a possible place for her after graduation and, well, it stuck in the back of Whipple&rsquo...
Life with Gracie: ‘Black Panther’ puts black hair front and center on the big screen

Life with Gracie: ‘Black Panther’ puts black hair front and center on the big screen

For an entire week before she saw “Black Panther,” Debra Shigley had been thrilled by the buzz the movie was receiving about the natural hairstyles the men and women were sporting. Client after client had copies of the Afros, the dreadlocks, the Bantu knots and even the shaved heads they’d seen on the big screen, hoping their stylists could re-create them. “The closest thing...
This Life: Former co-chair of 1994 crusade says Billy Graham was man of integrity

This Life: Former co-chair of 1994 crusade says Billy Graham was man of integrity

Funny what we remember about people when they’re gone. In the hours after Billy Graham’s death Wednesday, swollen ankles filled the mind of the Rev. Cameron Madison Alexander. Weeks before Graham’s 1994 Atlanta crusade, the preachers had just wrapped up a meeting in Alexander’s office at Antioch Baptist Church North, when Graham asked to use the restroom. That’s when...
This Life: Vietnam vet says AR-15 has no place in civilized society

This Life: Vietnam vet says AR-15 has no place in civilized society

In the days since the Florida school shooting, we’ve heard a lot about assault weapons and the AR-15 in particular. It is the same semi-automatic style weapon Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspected shooter, is said to have used to kill 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. It was also the choice of weapon in which 27 were killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School...
This Life: Cumming sibling duo creates app for when you’re not OK

This Life: Cumming sibling duo creates app for when you’re not OK

A week or so ago, Hannah Lucas and her brother Charlie sat at their kitchen table in Cumming describing the moment the two of them put their heads together to create a digital panic button. Hannah, they said, was in a pretty dark place. Not only was she suffering with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, a dysautonomic medical condition that causes her to pass out frequently and...
Life with Gracie: Cobb teen engages kids with disabilities in martial arts

Life with Gracie: Cobb teen engages kids with disabilities in martial arts

On most any Friday night, you can find Marcus McAbee on the mat at Karate Atlanta Kennesaw. It isn’t the kind of thing most 16-year-olds will give of their time to after a long week of AP classes, but make no mistake, Marcus isn’t a typical kid. Never has been. Even at just 10, he knew as any good fighter does that sizing up your opponent before the first strike lands is essential to successful...
This Life with Gracie: Prison chaplain gets a pardon

This Life with Gracie: Prison chaplain gets a pardon

For a long time, Omar Howard had waited for his answer, but when it came, when he saw the letter from the Georgia Department of Pardons and Parole in his mailbox last week, he couldn’t bring himself to open it. He was just too scared it was another “no,” and he’d grown tired of the rejection. “I didn’t open it,” he said recently. “I kinda pulled it back...
This Life: Counselor’s compassion to family helps anchor student’s future

This Life: Counselor’s compassion to family helps anchor student’s future

So often we get so caught up in our differences that we forget, whether we admit it or not, that at our core we’re all the same. We all bleed red. We all want to be loved and accepted. We’re all human. Keep that in mind as you read the story of 15-year-old Jemariya Patterson and her mom La Toya, who at just 34 years of age has been battling heart disease now for nearly a decade. Keep in...
This Life: What hurting teens in school may need most: A listener who cares

This Life: What hurting teens in school may need most: A listener who cares

In any given school week, Kara Thompson sees as many as 38 students who need her help. Sometimes the need is as simple as a word of encouragement and other times as complicated as finding them a place to stay. As often as she can, she does whatever it takes to fulfill those needs. However and whenever she can. At just 29, Thompson, a site coordinator for Communities In Schools, is little more than...
This Life: #MeToo movement inspires Marietta mom to seek justice

This Life: #MeToo movement inspires Marietta mom to seek justice

For the longest time, Empress Rellise accepted other people’s impressions of her. She was, in their eyes, a promiscuous whore, a nymphomaniac. The problem with that is she never had a choice in the matter. No 5-year-old girl, or boy for that matter, ever does. Most 5-year-olds know their address and phone number. They can recognize most letters of the alphabet and they can count. But they don&rsquo...
This Life: Gate City Bar president helping the village that helped him

This Life: Gate City Bar president helping the village that helped him

Clyde Mize was attending a forum last year at Douglass High School, when a handful of teachers stood to lament the proposed shutdown of their elementary school in southwest Atlanta. They weren’t just a school, they were a close-knit community that not only provided classroom instruction but emotional support to students and even supplies and food with money from their own pockets. Moved...
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