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Good Grief: Life After Loss

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Debbie and Mike Mason

Part 1 of 2

As weighty a topic as grief can be, I felt compelled to address it as we approach National Grief Awareness Day on August 30. I wanted to provide support to those who are weathering losses. Even when life delivers one of its most powerful blows, we can share in the certainty that we will regain our equilibrium.

Opening up a space to discuss bereavement has been cathartic for contributors sharing their stories and will be for those who read them. Talking about loss is healing, even as tears are choked back at times. For readers enduring their own losses, there is comfort in the simple reassurance that we’re not alone.

Grief is unavoidable; it’s part and parcel of the human condition, the inevitable equalizer across the board in the game of life. We’re all bound to experience the tragedy and melancholy of having lost loved ones and tasked with picking up the remaining pieces of our lives to continue our journey without them. 

How we deal with grief depends in large part on our personality and the relationship we had with the deceased. Thus, the process is singular to each of us. There can be no one-size-fits-all type of guide.

Losing a spouse can leave one person feeling shattered while another may face the same loss without much incident. The loss of a parent can result in one sibling handling it more easily than another, although they’ve lost the same person.

Neither reaction is right or wrong. Grief is as individual as our fingerprints. No two people will move through it in the same way. 

Consider this two-part article an invitation to give yourself grace while navigating the harrowing journey through loss. Provided no one is being harmed, it’s important to recognize first and foremost that all grief is “good grief.”

Get by with a little help from your friends – and a professional 

When it comes to death, as prevalent as it is, we can all be pretty terrible at dealing with it, whether we’re experiencing the loss or trying to comfort someone else. Advice from a pro can go a long way when we don’t know the best things to say or do.

To that end, Danielle Edwards, MSW, LCSW, of Edwards Psychotherapy and Consulting LLC, a grief, trauma and domestic violence recovery therapist, was kind enough to share her expertise.

First and foremost, Edwards advises any bereaved individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide to call or text 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or to go to the nearest ER.

“Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance — the stages of grief. I don’t use them. There’s this idea that you’re supposed to move through denial, anger and once you hit acceptance, you can tie it all up and put it on a shelf. But it’s not a linear process,” Edwards said.

She advises people that they should eliminate any expectation that they should be further along. “There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not off track, your journey may be riddled with detours and U-turns. Expect a slew of other pit-stops along the way like remorse and relief, that can also be part of your experience,” she added.

Mayor of Peachtree Corners, Mike Mason

Toiling in the garden, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason paused to survey his work and asked aloud, although he’s alone, “Well honey, what do you think? How does that look?” Having lost his beloved wife of 49 years this past January to an aggressive form of uterine cancer, he is left to only hope the late first lady of the city, Debbie Mason, would approve. 

Maintaining their beautiful garden is a labor of love and one way Mason honors his late wife. “We created a habitat in our backyard for birds, squirrels, pollinators and predators. From the sunroom, you can appreciate the color palette and shapes of the pots and flowers,” Mason said. 

He recalls telling Debbie, who was always at the helm of their projects, that she was an artist, painting with landscape, hardscape and texture. She had responded, “I’m glad you see that.”

Grandiose memorial suggestions from well-meaning constituents, like naming the bridge or City Hall after Debbie, did not appeal to Mayor Mason. He doesn’t feel they’d accurately capture her essence. The City of Peachtree Corners will soon announce what is yet to blossom in the first lady’s memory. 

In the meantime, Mason actively seeks healing through group counseling at the YMCA and reading books like Alan D. Wolfelt’s, “Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart.” He has graciously agreed to share some personal anecdotes in hopes of helping others.

Work through it 

In moments when tears cannot be contained, Mason has learned to embrace the process of grieving. After gardening, you might find him tearfully sipping wine, reminiscing about how he and Debbie once delighted in that effort together.

Hearing a country western song while driving may require him to pull over. Listening to artists that Debbie loved from his vinyl collection, like Linda Ronstadt, cues the waterworks.

YMCA Grief counselor, Elli Garrett, sagely advised him, “You can’t stop listening to the music you love. You’ve got to work through the grief, keep experiencing life the way you and your partner did. Right now, those thoughts make you cry, but eventually listening to those songs will make you feel better because they remind you of her. You have to work through the grief to get to that point.” 

Attempting to recover from the jolt of facing life devoid of the emotional intimacy he once enjoyed with his best friend, Mason repeats the mantra, “work through it,” as he continues. 

“Move on means you’re trying to leave something behind. That’s the wrong approach. You have to continue. Ask yourself,‘What’s next?’ and plan it,” Mason said.

Mission impossible

Though wanting desperately to change Debbie’s circumstances, her illness was complicated by side effects and a stroke. Based on his research, the plan was to get her into remission and have five more years of seeing her smile, holding hands, flirting, snuggling and the daily tête-à-têtes with the partner he had built a life with as they worked together to create the City of Peachtree Corners.

“Nobody’s kidding themselves. There wouldn’t be a city without Debbie Mason,” he stated.

He had remained laser focused on being a cheerleader and would’ve done so forever if it would keep her alive. But two years after her diagnosis, Debbie was gone, leaving Mason to feel like he had somehow failed.

“My mission was gone. That’s a loss, too. Taking care of her didn’t work. Now I have to do what she told me several times towards the end: start thinking of the future,” he recounted. 

Unable to think of life beyond Debbie until there was no choice, Mason abruptly met with solitude. “You wake up after the funeral, after everybody has gone back to their homes, and it’s just you and the house. All of a sudden, the house is quiet, the bed is empty,” he shared. 

Facing the new normal is physically and emotionally exerting. As Edwards informed me, there’s no white knuckling someone’s passing, it doesn’t go away.

“Make room for the grief. Tend to it,” she said. And the mayor is doing just that. 

Late night visits from the past

For Mason, the most difficult part of grieving has been the sleepless nights.

“Grief is insomnia,” he said. “Your mind won’t stop. You can be very sleepy, lay down and then, all of a sudden, you wake up and it’s that never-ending woulda, shoulda, coulda. It doesn’t matter that you intellectually understand [you shouldn’t do this]. You have to reason with yourself at two in the morning.” 

Tormented by things he wishes he had done differently, Mason reviews past incidents. “People change. You’re not the same person now as you were when you first married. That’s where my mind goes — how I would’ve handled things as the man I am now,” he said.

Recognizing one should only learn from the past — it’s futile to beat yourself up about it — he endeavors to focus on today and tomorrow. “You can’t change it. Forgive yourself. Don’t make those mistakes again. Relentlessly remind yourself of that,” he said.

On a lighter note, one that couples can appreciate, the mayor realizes that if Debbie were aware of what he’s wracking his brain over today, she’d probably laugh and remind him of incidents he hasn’t even thought of yet. 

Being a caregiver will change you

The difficulty of providing the most intimate care while watching a loved one as they’re ravaged by an unstoppable disease leaves a mark. Supporting the emotional and physical needs of a spouse at their most vulnerable, as they become forcibly dependent due to sickness and approaching death, imposes a disarming honesty and frankness.

“You will not be the same person. I don’t have much of a filter anymore. It’s not normal for a politician,” Mason said. 

Forced to slow down while providing end of life care, the mayor has also noticed a change in his formerly fast-paced, herky-jerky ways. Now he adopts more of an unhurried disposition.

According to Edwards, some may wish to return to the person they were before the loss. But loss becomes part of your journey, and it does change you. The only question should be, “What does moving forward look like?” 

“I love you in spite of, not especially because.”

It’s a family saying, or “Debbieism,” used in times of disagreement when the late first lady reprimanded their sons about things she may not have approved of. “‘I love you in spite of, not especially because.’ The three of us were outmatched by her,” the mayor reminisced. 

Masons’ sons had markedly different reactions to the loss of their mother, in keeping with their own temperaments and individual bonds with her.

The eldest, Matt, spoke to Debbie before she passed and came out saying, “We’re OK.” He had become skilled at speaking to his mother in his best “help desk voice” whether assisting her with technology or resolving any differences.

Nick, however, had a more confrontational approach growing up. “He and Debbie could really push each other’s buttons,” Mason shared. Cancer didn’t leave much time for reconciliation. Though Nick is content with how things concluded, any residual burdens will be discussed with a therapist.

We’ve been friends through rain or shine for such a long, long time – Gordon Lightfoot

Remembering how Debbie left this world provides some comfort. “It ended well,” the mayor said. He stopped everything for two and a half years to focus first on saving her, and then on taking care of her. 

“She knew I loved her, and it ended that way,” Mason said. He had given her a dose of morphine for the pain and helped her to relax with her favorite, a soothing foot rub.

“I touched her as gently as I could and said, ‘There you are sweetie, a good foot rub. Nothing like that to make a girl take a nap.’ She took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. That’s how she passed. It was a moment of love,” he said. “You do the best you can for as long as you can and then you continue.” 

The Mason jar gets bigger 

Edwards shared an uplifting visual. Picture a series of three Mason jars, each with a black ball of grief inside. The grief appears to get smaller from left to right, but in truth, it is the Mason jars that are getting progressively larger. 

“People think grief will get smaller and smaller. But we grow around our grief. The jars get larger. Grief remains; we change and grow around it,” Edwards said.

Physical separation is difficult but personal growth still occurs after losing someone we love. There will be enjoyment again.

Edwards suggests releasing any guilt you may feel for having joyful moments because the deceased can’t share them with you. Embrace new people and new challenges. Do the things you’ve always enjoyed.

Developing new social contacts and having new experiences is allowing for Mason to slowly grow around his grief, like the Mason jar imagery.

He found this message communicated to him by Pastor Lori Osborn at Mount Carmel Church, to be most helpful. “The reason why, right now, talking to your friends is so hurtful, your grief is so profound, is that you live in a world where all your friends knew Debbie. Keep meeting new people so the size of your group of friends expands to include people who didn’t know her — you won’t leave them crying. Don’t be afraid to do new things,” Mason recounted.

When asked for any advice he’d like to share with mourners, he replied, “Get up every morning and try to do just that, but be kind to yourself. If you had planned to do something and suddenly you don’t want to, change the plan. Do the stuff you loved before.” 

As for the mayor, he’s benefitted from a return to listening to music, perusing bookstores and reading. He is determined to keep his set point at happy and positive. It’s no easy task for the man who had tissues at the ready when he teared up during our interview. 

“You get a little battered, bruised, but have to stand up and regain your balance. You can’t be a good partner if you’re too dependent upon the other person, but you do connect and lean on each other,” he said. 

Feeling esteem for our city leader who so dearly loved his wife, it is my most sincere wish that when he’s ready, Mayor Mason will find a new partner with whom to create traditions and make memories, just as his departed wife had wished for him. 

Caroline Manning

Caroline Manning lost her husband of 42 years in 2018. Thoroughly entrenched in the community, when he wasn’t at his law firm, John coached baseball and played tennis. He was the first Chairman of the Board at the Robert Fowler YMCA where he served on multiple committees thereafter. 

He also hosted the Good Friday breakfast for thousands of people and delivered sermons to the children at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church every Sunday for 30 years. Needless to say, John was a busy man. 

John and Caroline Manning

He died as he lived, assisting others. He was having fun with dear friends while helping a parishioner who had been evicted. They were boxing and transporting her belongings to an apartment on a hot September day. John, who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for 25 years, was seen jovially directing traffic. No one noticed he was declining.

In addition to taking insulin to keep blood sugar levels steady, diabetics must also remain vigilant and eat at certain times. Thinking he’d be home by noon, John had overextended himself in the warm weather, likely fueled only by a donut breakfast with his church group.

Probably feeling shaky by 2:00 in the afternoon as his blood sugar plummeted, he announced he was going to get something to eat. 

“He was too busy to pay attention. He knew how to deal with it but would get so wrapped up in whatever project he was involved in. I would say, ‘John, you’re a grown man. If you feel bad, you need to stop and get something to eat.’ This was before FreeStyle Libre that checks your blood sugar and keeps you posted,” Caroline said.  

At home preparing to receive guests, Caroline was contacted by a Duluth policeman with news that John had gone to Burger King, choked and passed out. Someone performed the Heimlich maneuver and John was rushed to Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital.

She was told to get to the hospital immediately.

The unexpected

Upon arrival, the receptionist sent her to a room. When a grief counselor introduced herself, Caroline thought she must have the wrong person.

Then the doctor came in and abruptly delivered the message, “I’m sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Manning, but your husband has passed away.” The choking had caused a heart attack. John was 70. 

Caroline alerted the church that John wouldn’t be giving the Sunday sermon. She and her daughter Catherine fielded a barrage of questions as doctors sought to determine the cause of death. Her eldest, Sarah Frances, rushed home from Hilton Head.

John and Caroline Manning with their grandchildren

Anticipatory grief

Edwards explained anticipatory grief. If you can see it coming, whether it’s a terminal illness, an addiction, a loved one’s behavior that could cause their demise, grieving begins while the person is still alive. 

“When you fear you’re losing this person, in the back of your mind you know unless something changes, this is likely going to end in their death, you’re already grieving,” Edwards said.

Those suffering anticipatory grief may wonder why they’re not more sorrowful once the individual passes away. “I ask clients to tell me about before. Before was full of so much grief or worry. Afterwards, it’s almost like a sigh of relief. Grief is more than sadness,” Edwards said.

After the initial shock, Caroline experienced a sense of calm. It was the end of her distress every time John left the house. She no longer had to worry about him living on the edge. It may seem unusual to those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, but it is indeed, part of grief. 

She and her daughters had witnessed more of John’s risky behavior and cautioned him repeatedly. 

Wishing he’d had FreeStyle Libre to beep at him, Caroline shared, “We worried constantly. He’d stay too long at the office or go to a meeting and not eat. By the time he’d get home, he’d be shaking and sweating. We’d get mad.”

Fearing the worst, Caroline insisted on moving his office from Buckhead back to Peachtree Corners; John was having episodes of feeling light-headed driving home.

She had asked him, just months before he passed, what his wishes would be for his funeral. She knew he’d have specific requests for songs and Bible verses, and she noted those. 

Losing a patriarch 

John’s departure was swift. “Because we didn’t see any suffering, what we had to do is learn to live without him,” Caroline said.

She was at ease assuming the role of hostess. “People were coming over. I was explaining what had happened and making everyone feel comfortable,” she said. 

Sarah Frances, who worked in public relations at the time, kicked into PR mode. She wrote the obituary, planned the funeral, created the program and contacted everyone. She was in full-blown funeral mode.

“That’s how Sara Frances handled her grief. She wanted it to be the most perfect funeral, if there is such a thing,” Caroline said.

John and Caroline Manning enjoying a special occasion together

Diabetes can kill you

Stressing the seriousness of diabetes — a disease that can unexpectedly kill you — Sarah Frances also contributed to a cautionary article for a legal publication. The response was surprising. Caroline heard from several attorneys with Type 2 diabetes who never thought they could die from it. 

The family was stunned by comments like, “I’d just get a Coke and a candy bar to bring my blood sugar levels up,” Caroline said.

Wives reached out declaring they had never fretted, having no idea this could happen. “I don’t know what doctors are doing wrong. People think they can eat and do whatever they want, as long as they’re taking meds. So much to learn,” Caroline sighed. 

Count your blessings

John’s doctor provided some consolation, pointing out that he could’ve gone into a coma. “I firmly believe God took him quickly as opposed to letting him stay in a coma. He would not have liked to have a debilitating disease. He died the way he would’ve wanted — doing what he loved with people he loved — and not in bed, sick,” Caroline said.

“He was never sick. He never missed church or work. I think we’d all hope to die like that — quickly, no suffering, no putting your family through struggles. I count that as a blessing,” she added. 

No time for a meltdown

Fraught with projects, there was no time to stop. It was likely self-preservation that had her functioning on autopilot. “I didn’t have a real meltdown,” Caroline said.

She’d been suggesting they downsize and encouraging John to either close his office or work from home for years. Not wanting the task of maintaining their family home alone, Caroline was quick to get it on the market.

She also closed down John’s law firm. It was a daunting undertaking; he had practiced for over 40 years. 

Just days prior to his passing away, the couple had started cleaning out their basement — a job she was left to complete on her own.  

Same loss, different grief

“I had all those projects lined up. I was consumed with all that. I think the girls have struggled more than I have. They were both very close to their dad,” Caroline said. 

Each of the Mannings’ daughters would tell you they were John’s favorite. Sarah Frances, who inherited John’s exuberant personality, sought grief counseling.  

Advice

Selecting Crowell Brothers Funeral Home on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard proved to be beneficial. “They were wonderful to work with. They handled everything,” Caroline said.

They fought for three months to obtain the certificate of death without which one cannot sell property or collect life insurance. They remained in constant contact with Caroline, who deems them “fabulous.”

According to Caroline, grief must be processed one step at a time. She has moved from one step to the next with the help of her girls and her grand-girls, who are a huge part of her life.

Decisions, decisions

The hardest thing for Caroline was facing choices alone. She was glad to have the support of her daughters.

“When you’ve been married for 42 years, the hardest thing is making a decision by myself,” Caroline revealed.

Without an equal partner to help weigh ideas, she realized that whatever happened going forward, was going to be her call. It was daunting at first, but now she’s more comfortable with it.

“I’m loving being in charge,” she chuckled.

The company of a man

When Caroline and John were together, the couple enjoyed mutual respect and a lot of fun. They loved cooking and entertaining, music and theatre.

Caroline misses his humor, companionship and the fun surprises he’d plan, like scavenger hunts and progressive dinners spanning multiple restaurants.

“John liked to go and do,” Caroline smiled. “Not having any men in my life has been challenging. They do bring a lot. I’m only now reaching that point.”

New life

“I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be,” Caroline shared.

She’s moved to a home she loves in a conveniently located neighborhood of both young families and empty nesters. “It’s a nice mix. A great group of people. The women get together for happy hour at the pool,” she said. 

Embracing a new career, Caroline adores substitute teaching at her granddaughters’ school. They bring their friends by to meet their “Mimi.”  

Caroline is ready for the next chapter in her life.  

Bottom line

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Tell your people how much you love them often and treasure the special moments you are able to share with them. 

Part 2 of Life After Loss is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine.

For a therapist who will meet you wherever you are on your grief journey, contact Edwards at 470-668-5930 or email info@edwardspac.com

  • John and Caroline Manning

  • John and Caroline Manning with their grandchildren

  • John and Caroline Manning enjoying a special occasion together

  • Debbie and Mike Mason

    Debbie and Mike Mason

  • Debbie and Mike Mason

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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Non-Profit Protecting Kids from Predators Hosting Beloved St. Paddy’s Event

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Revved Up Kids' training group courtesy of Alli and David Neal

Alli and David Neal and their non-profit, Revved Up Kids, have been working diligently for the past 14 years to address an issue that most would prefer to avoid altogether.

During that time, Revved Up Kids has equipped more than 45,000 Atlanta-area children and teens to be safer from sexual predators and traffickers.

“We recognize the challenge that this issue presents on so many levels,” said Alli Neal. “It’s scary, it’s horrible, it’s unsavory and it’s challenging for parents to talk about it with their kids.”

“That’s why we founded Revved Up Kids. We believe wholeheartedly that the easiest target for a predator is a child who doesn’t know predators exist. We want to help families with this difficult dialogue and equip kids with a response if they’re ever approached,” she added.

Revved Up Kids is uniquely positioned in the Atlanta metro area. It is the only Atlanta-based non-profit focused solely on sexual abuse prevention training.

Based in Peachtree Corners, they partner with youth-serving organizations, municipalities and private groups across the metro area to provide exceptional prevention training programs for children, teens, parents and other organizations.

Revved Up Kids charges tuition when groups can afford to pay, but one of the top priorities for its Board of Directors is ensuring that all children have access to this critical training. Whenever a group pays tuition for training, Revved Up Kids trains at least one other group at no charge.

Revved Up Kids relies on community donations, corporate sponsors and grants to provide free training programs for low-income and high-risk groups. Hosting special events is vital to their ability to reach more children.

“That’s where the community comes in,” said Neal. “Our signature fundraising event, Shamrock ‘n’ Roll, will take place at the Crowne Plaza in Norcross on Saturday, March 9, and we want to sell out this year.”

Shamrock ‘n’ Roll is an adults-only event that features casino-style gaming, dancing, an exciting raffle, auction items and exquisite food and drinks. Tickets are on sale now, and sponsorships are also available for the event. Visit revvedupkids.org/shamrock for details.

“The support of our community, including our amazing sponsors, has a huge impact on our ability to reach more children with our life-saving training. This event is a fun way for everyone to join Revved Up Kids in protecting children,” said Neal.

Scan the QR code to learn more.

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Changes at Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries Help Further Community Mission

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Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries vegetable truck

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries has been battling poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, among other crisis events, in southwest Gwinnett, for 27 years. In total, NCM served more than 25,000 individuals in 2023, through direct support and personal empowerment programs.

Over time, the county’s demographics have changed, meaning the organization has needed to adapt to serve the community.

Families now face long-term needs due to fixed incomes, homelessness, abuse, language barriers, single-parent homes and many other circumstances, according to the NCM website.

NCM now serves 50 to 70 families each day from a 12,000-square-foot facility. In addition to a food pantry, NCM offers job readiness classes, on-site hiring events, money management courses and regular health fairs.

A new course of leadership

Perhaps one of the biggest changes took effect this January. After almost 30 years of service to NCM, Executive Director Shirley Cabe will now give her primary focus to what she loves the most, the organization’s clients.

Cabe has been with NCM since its inception and has helped grow the organization tremendously as needs in this service area have drastically changed.

NCM’s Board of Directors supported Cabe’s request and developed a new role specifically for her. She will now serve as Director of Client Operations, allowing her to use her exceptional gifts and talents to serve those in need.

Additionally, Cabe will lead the expansion of the food program as refrigerated products will be added to client food offerings. Healthier food options such as protein, produce, reclaimed food and more will also be added.

“Healthier intake directly correlates to improved health and more productivity,” said Cabe in a news release. “This new initiative is huge for the clients we serve. We want to positively contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty. I am excited about the opportunities ahead for NCM and grateful to transition into this new role, focusing on more impactful service to our clients.”

With Cabe’s new role, former Director of Community Relations Ryan Jones will take over as Executive Director.

Jones has been with NCM for three years. Under Jones’ leadership, the organization held its most successful fundraising event to date, bringing in over $519,000 to continue its mission of making a difference one family at a time.

“Building out our team and people is the next step in the process,” said Jones. The big thing with the staffing change is just honoring Shirley and her years at this organization and allowing her to serve people, which is the heartbeat of our organization; that’s how she best serves–interacting with our clients in our community.”

Cabe’s larger role in the food program will help keep it running smoothly, he added.

There is already an established pickup schedule from Publix and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Jones explained that about 40% of food in the United States is wasted.

With new resources in place to access surpluses from supermarkets, restaurants, distributors, farmers and more, NCM can put a sizeable dent in southwest Gwinnett county’s share of the waste.

“We hope to use food as a resource, as we have more touch points with families that we see. So, as things come up in their lives, they’re seeing us more often, and we can step in when unexpected emergencies happen and try to address kind of the issues that have brought them to us in the first place,” Jones explained. “And with that comes just a lot more work.”

Dedicated board members

Les Harper, who succeeded Elizabeth Gross, has taken over as chairman of the board of directors to help with the vision for that work.

“My wife and I have been involved with Neighborhood Coop for a long time, volunteered through the church, and supported financially through the church over the years,” said Harper.

When I retired from working a couple of years ago and was looking for opportunities to give back to the community … one thing led to another, and I had the opportunity to join the board,” he added. “I started on the board a couple of years ago, and then last year, I was asked if I would consider stepping into the board chair role [this year], which I was excited to do.”

Harper’s experience on the board and working closely with Gross for an entire year allowed him to step in almost seamlessly into the new position.

“Elizabeth and I had a chance to work together in some leadership roles at church over the years. So, we have chaired and co-chaired a number of things over the years,” he said.

“For the past 12 months, she’s been great at including me in everything and making sure that I was up to speed on everything, fully involved, and ready to go,” he said.

Anyone involved in large-scale non-profit activities appreciates the time, energy, and resources that go into community organizing. To be good stewards of community trust, funds and well-being, NCM has focused on making operations run smoothly.

“NCM is definitely a feet-washing ministry, especially with the food. … A lot of times it’s heavy, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it,” Jones said. “I’m moving from strictly fundraising to overseeing all aspects of the organization and strategic oversight of all the initiatives that we have going on. … I was born in Gwinnett County. “So, really, the big reasons that I left my corporate job to come to NCM is how impressed I was with the board and the staff when I met them before coming on and the fact that it serves an area where I grew up that has a lot of need,” he commented.

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries
500 Pinnacle Ct
Norcross, GA 30071
www.ourncm.org
770-263-8268

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15 Upcoming Kids’ Summer Camps in and around Peachtree Corners

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We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
UFA Norcross Academy summer camps

Many of us can probably recall fond childhood memories of camp. I know I can. From conquering my fear of heights on a rock wall to learning how to throw pottery and perfecting my serve in tennis, summer camps allowed me to explore my curiosities and try new things.

I can still remember Jenna, my favorite camp counselor, blasting Queen’s famous “I Want to Ride My Bicycle” while a gaggle of 13-year-old girls sang at the top of their lungs.

Now more than ever, it’s important for kids to feel safe in a fun environment, free of stress, where they can make similar memories that will last a lifetime.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area. Whether at a local school, park or museum, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect summer camp for your children.

Community camps

1. Pinckneyville Park Community Recreation Center, located off Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Berkeley Lake, is offering two Summer Specialty camps for children ages 8 to 12. From Tuesday, May 28, to Friday, May 31, campers will learn old and new world drawing, painting, and sculpting techniques to create their very own masterpieces.

2. The second Summer Specialty camp is for the young actors in the family. From Monday, July 8, to Friday, July 12, campers will stretch their creative muscles and showcase their passion for performance.

There is a $40 supply fee due to instructor Chris Harris on the first day of camp. Campers are advised to bring lunches and snacks with them. Registration is now open. Call 678-277-0920 for more information.

3. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) is offering a mind-blowing ten weeks of summer days camps from May 27 to August 2, for children of all ages. MJCCA has a diverse range of activities, including sports, dance, faith, leadership, arts and cooking.

The center also has a brand new outdoor aquatic center for summer 2024. This facility offers a zero-entry pool, shallow areas with multiple options for all ages, an in-pool sundeck, a water slide, a shaded pool, deck areas, renovated locker rooms, picnic areas and more!

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
MJCCA summer day camps

At MJCCA, summers are truly life changing. Campers will master new skills, form friendships that will last a lifetime and strengthen their Jewish identities. Visit mjccadaycamps.org/camps to see the full lineup of camp offerings.

4. Summer is a time for kids to find their sense of adventure and expand the limits of their imagination. From exploring nature to building imaginary worlds, Robert D. Fowler YMCA focuses on social-emotional learning and offers kids new experiences to discover what they love.

Robert D. Fowler YMCA has over 100 half-day and full-day traditional and specialty camp options happening from May 28 to August 2.  

Specialty camps allow kids to expand their interests and learn new skills. Whether it’s cooking, basketball, drama or STEAM, children will have space to grow stronger, try new things and build their confidence in a safe and nurturing environment.

The traditional campers will have fun engaging in a wide variety of games, activities and team projects, in an environment that allows them to connect with new people.

Preschool-aged children, teenagers and everyone in between can find their perfect camp at ymcaatlanta.org/camp/day-camp.

5. Give your child a summer adventure to remember at Duluth’s Shorty Howell Park. Campers ages 7 to 13 can choose from four diverse day camp options.

From natural wonders to cultural traditions, campers will explore every corner of the globe during Around the World from June 24 through June 28. Mix it Up features a variety of classic camp activities to keep kids entertained and engaged. This camp will take place from July 8 to July 12.

The Shorty Howell Olympics are also back from July 15 to July 19. Campers can go for the gold through friendly competition, athletic showdowns and inter-camp games. The last camp of the season, Build It, allows participants to unleash their creativity and design their best craft creations from July 22 to July 26.

Lunch is provided, but campers are welcome to bring their own. Registration is now open and can be completed by calling 678-277-0900.

School camps

6. Greater Atlanta Christian camps are where active play, enriching experiences and true relationships meet.

With more than 30 summer enrichment programs in athletics, arts, academics and fun, campers can make new friends, discover new talents and explore in a safe, Christian environment.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
Greater Atlanta Christian School summer camps

With a group of trained counselors, your child will be encouraged and celebrated in all they do.

GAC parent Erica Pierre was thrilled with her children’s camp experience. “From the contagious smiles of the counselors that greet them in the mornings to fun times at the pool, this camp finds so many ways to create not only a fun, but also a meaningful time for each child.”

Learn more at greateratlantachristian.org/campus-life/summer-camp.

7. Marist School invites children and teens, ages 5 to 17, to enjoy a summer filled with a wide array of camps that cater to a myriad of interests. For those with a passion for athletics, multiple sports camps are available. Budding musicians and producers can explore their talents in the music technology and production camp.

For students seeking to boost their academic skills, Marist School provides a personal essay startup workshop and an intensive SAT/ACT boot camp.

STEM fans will find the science camp both educational and exciting, while those interested in health and wellness can dive into the sports medicine camp.

Future broadcasters can develop their skills in the sports center and entertainment tonight broadcasting camps. Additionally, the theater camp is the perfect stage for aspiring actors and performers to shine.

These programs run from June 3 to August 2, promising a summer of learning, fun and personal growth for young individuals at Marist School. For the full list of available programs, visit maristschoolga.myrec.com/info/activities.

8. For nearly three decades, Pinecrest Academy has hosted an array of summer camps filled with fun and educational value. These camps play a pivotal role in boosting confidence, fostering friendships and imparting new skills to children in a secure and caring Christian environment.

Pinecrest welcomes children of many ages, from rising kindergartners to 12th graders, at their 68-acre campus.

The schedule of activities includes a Coding Camp, Spanish Immersion Camp, Culinary Arts Camp and many more specialized programs like Paladin Boys Basketball Boot Camp, Play-Well TEKnologies and Sewing Camp.

The camps are scheduled from June 3 to July 19. Registration is forthcoming and the complete camp lineup can be found at pinecrestacademy.org/campus-life/summer-camps.

9. Wesleyan School’s summer camps have been a highlight for kids ages 5 to 14. With a blend of arts, athletics, STEM and life skills, these camps offer a rich mix of activities for kids. Wesleyan offers flexible half-day options starting at $175 and full-day camps for $400, fitting both schedules and budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
Wesleyan School summer camps

This summer, the fun runs from June 10-28 and July 8-19. These camps have everything from sports like soccer and lacrosse to creative pursuits like chess and sewing.

Kids can also dive into science with robotics programming or get artistic with photography. Each session is led by skilled counselors and coaches, ensuring a safe and engaging experience.

Contact Kelly Weatherly, Wesleyan’s Director of Auxiliary Programs and Outreach for more information at kweatherly@wesleyanschool.org.

Arts, sports and STEM

10. Creativity and fun await at Spruill Summer Art Camp! This summer, young artists ages 5 to 14 are invited to an extraordinary journey of discovery. From May 28 to August 9, each camp has its own captivating theme.

Camp hours are set from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with additional before-care and after-care options available to accommodate various schedules.

For the younger age group (5 to 10 years), campers start with a morning session led by a teacher, followed by a lunch break, and then an afternoon session with a different instructor.

This format allows children to create an array of artworks, which are then showcased to parents at week’s end. A dedicated team of volunteers, including many former campers, is always ready to assist, ensuring that each camper receives the necessary support to thrive.

For rising sixth to ninth graders, the Spruill offers specialized Studio Art Camps. These sessions are conducted by professional teaching artists who introduce new art skills, assist in refining techniques and provide opportunities for campers to express their creative ideas. Visit spruillarts.org/camps to register.

11. This summer, the High Museum of Art invites young artists to immerse themselves in fine art through its weeklong camps designed for first through eighth graders.

The 2024 Summer Art Camp, opening for registration on February 13 (early access now available for members), offers a unique way for children to explore the Museum’s galleries and learn about its collections.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
High Museum of Art summer camps

They will also get to visit special exhibitions and develop their artistic skills in drawing, painting and design.

Guided by professional teaching artists, campers will engage in activities that enhance their creativity and allow them to experiment with new techniques.

The camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., during various weeks from June 3 through August 2, with morning drop-off starting at 8:30 a.m. and afternoon pick-up until 4 p.m.

There is also an aftercare option available until 6 p.m. for late pickups at an additional cost. Members of the High Museum are eligible for discounts and early registration, and non-members can easily add a membership during registration.

For more details or assistance, the Museum provides a Camp FAQ and can be contacted at HMAcamps@high.org or 404-800-0547.

12. The 2024 season at Top Dog Volleyball Club is underway, focusing on teams from 12U to 17U. This summer, the club is planning clinics and open gyms for May and June, which are open to everyone, not just club members.

Key dates to watch out for include the club tryouts scheduled for July 12-14. For the latest events and registration, the club suggests subscribing to their newsletter and is open to queries at info@topdogvolleyball.com or 678-333-0982.

13. United Fútbol Academy Norcross will host its 2024 Summer Ball Mastery Camp this June and July. Players of all skill levels born between 2011 and 2018 are welcome to participate.

Directed by Juan Cruz, this camp is an excellent opportunity for young soccer players to improve their ball-handling skills, foot speed, 1v1 moves, stop/start techniques, and clever maneuvers that keep opponents guessing.

The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, with sessions scheduled for June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21 and July 8-12.

The Academy meets at Summerour Middle School in Norcross. Participants must bring their own ball, shin guards, plenty of water or ice, snacks or sports drinks and any necessary medications or EpiPens.

Parents can reach Juan Cruz at norcrosscamps@unitedfa.org for further information or to register their children for this rigorous training experience.

14. Club SciKidz believes that every child is a scientist and that they can become better scientists!

This summer, Club SciKidz will introduce a new format with many different camp options for a wide range of age groups.

For Pre-K to Kindergarten, camp themes include “Jurassic,” “Little Scientist” and “Mini Medical School,” among others. First through third graders can choose from “3D Creator,” “Junior Robot Engineer,” “Video Game Maker” and more.

Fourth through seventh graders have more advanced options like “Emergency Vet,” “Forensic Detective” and “Young EcoExplorer.”

Camps run Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, parents can contact Club SciKidz at 678-483-5651 or support@clubscikidz.com.

15. Paul Duke STEM High School in Norcross is hosting an array of Summer STEM camps for ages 7 through 12, with dates including June 3-7, June 10-14 and June 17-21.

Campers will learn tons of new skills like Scratch, game development, Roblox, Python and robotics, with an emphasis on hands-on learning and building technological acumen.

The camps have small class sizes and a 7:1 student-to-instructor ratio and are taught by vetted instructors from top universities.

Paul Duke STEM provides full-day and half-day options, along with pre-camp and post-camp care for additional fees. Half-day summer programs are also available for younger participants, specially tailored for those at least five years old, focusing on educational Minecraft lessons and creative projects.

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