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The Transformative Trail: Dr. Sunit Singhal’s Journey to Wellness



The highest peak in Tanzania also known as the “roof of Africa" // Photos courtesy of Dr. Sunit Singhal

For more than two decades, Dr. Sunit Singhal has been a member of the Peachtree Corners community. In February 2001, he opened Suburban Medical Center, making a significant contribution to community healthcare. Under his leadership, the medical center has expanded, notably by introducing Suburban Med Spa next door.

A 1988 graduate of the University College of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India, Dr. Singhal furthered his expertise in the United States, completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Harlem Hospital Center in New York.

An awakening at the Grand Canyon

A few years ago, the 60-year-old physician had an eye-opening moment about his own health. Most of his life was spent being overweight, which he accepted and managed the best he could.

“It’s not a secret that I was overweight. Anyone could see it; it’s how I was my whole life,” said Dr. Singhal.

The pivotal moment for Dr. Singhal was his attempt to join friends on a hike at the Grand Canyon a few years back. Despite his determination, Dr. Singhal was unprepared for the hike’s demands.

“I thought, okay, I will meet my friends one-third of the way down the canyon from the opposite end. That way, I can keep up with them towards the end of the hike,” he shared.

The trek up Mount Kilimanjaro

Even starting much later, Dr. Singhal struggled greatly with the hike. He experienced knee pain, breathlessness, and exhaustion. His struggle not only slowed him down but also his friends, who had been hiking for an additional 12 hours before he joined them.

The ordeal ended in the middle of a cold night, leading to a physically taxing recovery period that left Dr. Singhal sore for days.

Despite the arduous experience at the Grand Canyon, Dr. Singhal didn’t retire his hiking boots. Feeling motivated to conquer the obstacle, he began walking long miles with friends to get into shape.

A few months later, the call of the canyon echoed again, and friends proposed a new challenge: hiking from the South Rim to the river and back. While less daunting than their previous endeavor, the task was intimidating.

“This time, I was able to make the hike without holding anyone back,” he shared. Dr. Singhal already saw the difference his efforts were making.

His triumphs over physical and mental barriers were clear and exciting. Dr. Singhal’s return to the canyon increased his resilience and personal growth.

Conquering Kilimanjaro: a test of determination

Following a series of hikes through the Grand Canyon as his health improved, Dr. Singhal and his hiking group set their sights on Mount Kilimanjaro. They regularly engaged in 10-mile hikes each week to prepare for the trek.

(left to right) Singhal, Kashish, Vani and Mahender Gupta.

“It was never on our minds to simply skip or cut the hike short because we didn’t feel like it that day,” Dr. Singhal said. Even family members occasionally joined, keeping pace with the senior group with varying success.

When the time arrived for their Kilimanjaro quest, they needed to identify the number of days their group would need to complete it.

“There are different levels you can choose for hikes. If you are very athletic, the 5-day hike is for you. It goes all the way up to 9 days if you need to go slowly,” Dr. Singhal explained.

The friends chose the six-day option. It seemed like a good balance of their confidence in their fitness coupled with a conservative approach. Yet, they completed the ascent in five days.

“We couldn’t believe we finished at such a quick pace. We weren’t straining ourselves to do it. It was the natural pace we wanted to go, and we finished with the group we viewed as the most fit and athletic.”

Mount Everest on the horizon

The hiking group isn’t resting on their laurels, though. The crew continues to meet and train for their next goal, climbing Mount Everest.

“There’s a lottery to be accepted to climb. We entered and are hoping to be selected for a hike this fall,” Dr. Singhal shared. When asked if he felt intimidated about this potential hike, he confidently replied, “No, not really.”

The team of friends will hear this summer if they are selected to climb.

Health and hope

Dr. Singhal’s health journey is the perfect example of the potential for change at any stage of life. It also highlights the importance of self-care, perseverance and pursuing one’s goals, regardless of the starting point.

His patients can rest easily. He isn’t walking away from his practice for the mountains full-time. Dr. Singhal is committed to his practice and patients. He firmly believes and displays that personal improvement and professional dedication can coexist harmoniously.

“I want my patients to know that I am equally dedicated to being here for them and their own health journeys.” When he’s not hitting the trails, Dr. Singhal can be found spending time with his family in Duluth or at his practice in Peachtree Corners.

Kristen Corley is an Atlanta native with over a decade of experience in content creation. She lives in Historic Norcross with her family and writes "Young Norcross," a weekly newsletter that focuses on building community and local engagement.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier



Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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Local Youngsters Learn Life Lessons Through Community Service



Images courtesy of Young Men’s Service League

What started 20 years ago with two Texas moms looking for ways to get their sons involved in community service projects while spending quality time together turned into the Young Men’s Service League (YSML).

The national organization has dozens of chapters in 20 states, including Georgia.

Peachtree Corners mom, Heather Fleming, heard of a chapter in the northeast part of metro Atlanta, but it was pretty much at capacity.

“The way the chapters work is each class can only have around 30 boys,” she said.

“The more people you have in your chapter, the harder it might be for people to get hours in and just managing that number of people [can be difficult],” she added.

Taking matters into her own hands

Fleming partnered with another mom whose son couldn’t get into the chapter either to start their own.

“She was determined that she wanted her boys to be able to have this experience,” said Fleming.

“Our chapter started with a full ninth-grade class , and then the tenth-grade class was a little bit smaller, with around 20 boys,” she added.

Even though it’s a good way for public school students to earn community service hours, most of the participants attend private schools that don’t have that requirement.

They do it to do good in the community and to have fun hanging out with their moms.

“The whole point is that we only have four years left before our sons go off to whatever their next step is after they graduate from high school,” said Fleming.

“It’s just to have that quality time together, serving the community and then also to give them the opportunity to hear from speakers they would not ever necessarily have access to,” she added.

Preparing the next generation

Fleming’s son Luke graduates next year and he’s found fulfillment in YMSL.

“It has been fun serving our community with many of my friends and their moms. I have also learned a lot from the various speakers we have had over the years,” said Luke. One of my favorite speakers was Tyler Hannel, who spoke about how to be a better version of yourself.”

There are many charities that need volunteers, and many align with the skills and interests of the young men.

“My most memorable experiences were serving with BlazeSports at their annual Big Peach Slam basketball tournament the last two years,” said Luke.

“Watching kids my age play basketball from a wheelchair was so inspiring. I am thankful for an organization like BlazeSports that gives kids and adults with disabilities a way to still compete in a variety of sporting events,” he stated.

Tracey Shell and her son, Carson, have similar views.

“Our first year was last year, so I didn’t know about this organization when my older son was in high school,” said Shell. “They learn about things like life skills and leadership, … but the real heart of the organization is volunteering in your community and learning about local philanthropy.”

Each YMSL chapter works with a certain number of nonprofits each year—usually nearby. Although this chapter is called the John’s Creek Young Men Service League, it has members from Peachtree Corners, Norcross, Berkeley Lake, Alpharetta and John’s Creek.

YMSL donates time and energy, not money

Every year, each chapter does what it calls the ultimate gift. This time around, the Johns Creek chapter went farther outside its boundaries and helped the Atlanta Music Project (AMP). It’s a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to provide tuition-free world-class music training and performance opportunities in under-resourced communities.

In October, AMP presented its first event, which brought together its entire community of performers for an afternoon of music and fellowship. The AMP Experience took place at Pullman Yards and featured performances from past and present students, with about 500 participants in total.

To pull off such a feat, AMP needed many volunteer ushers and stage crew. That’s where Johns Creek YMSL stepped in, with nearly 80 local YMSL volunteers who gave 246 service hours. Mom and son volunteers loaded instruments, set up and cleaned up, served as parking lot attendants and greeters and supported social media outreach.

Both Fleming and Shell have seen their boys grow and mature and are proud of the young men they are becoming.

“They become more aware of the different nonprofits and philanthropy that are just right in our own backyard that they might not have known about,” said Shell.

Fleming echoed that sentiment. Her older son Andrew is a sophomore at Clemson University, and she’s seen him carry the lessons learned at YMSL into his daily life by being actively involved with service projects in his fraternity and a mission trip over Spring Break.

“He definitely has a heart for helping others, which … is the ultimate goal. When they’re not living at home, and I’m not necessarily making them serve, they want to do this on their own in college and beyond,” she said.

For more information, visit ymsljohnscreek.org.

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Decades of Doing Good at Annandale Village Celebrated with Golf Fundraiser



Annandale Village began in 1969 as the dream of Dr. and Mrs. Maxwell Berry, parents of a young woman with developmental disabilities.
Adam Pomeranz at a 5K race // Photos courtesy of Annandale Village

Peachtree Corners resident Adam Pomeranz will celebrate 20 years at a place of hope where hundreds of adults are served each day. That place is Annandale Village, a residential community for adults with developmental disabilities or brain injury. At least, that’s how it began.

Adam Pomeranz

Today, it’s not solely a residential community because it now serves people who don’t live on the campus in Suwanee. A newer, smaller program now offers options for a wide range of needs.

Annandale Village began in 1969 as the dream of Dr. and Mrs. Maxwell Berry, parents of a young woman with developmental disabilities.

“They did not like the very limited options that they saw in the country and the local community and beyond for their daughter,” he said. “She was entering adulthood, so after seeing a similar model, but not the exact model, on a vacation to Europe, they decided to try and do something on their own here.”

Annandale’s mission

The 55-acre campus in Suwanee serves individuals in the facility and outside of it.

Annandale Village

“One of the things that truly differentiated Annandale was that, a little over 20 years ago, it decided to embrace a new phenomenon in the world of working with people with intellectual disabilities: the aging person with developmental disabilities,” said Pomeranz.

For many years, people with developmental disabilities had shorter life spans than folks without those challenges for many reasons. Now, advances in medicine and other factors help people with developmental disabilities live much longer lives, some very close to the lifespan of people without disabilities, said Pomeranz.

“Shortly before I came, Annandale decided to embrace that aspect of the population. And we opened up a 16-bed skilled nursing facility solely for that population to complement the cottages and apartments that we had spread out through the campus at the time, said Pomeranz. “And so, the nursing home filled up very quickly and it became apparent that this was a huge need.”

Expanding services

Over the next several years, Annandale opened an assisted living building and also expanded the nursing home. Although the facility is aimed at ages 18 and up, some are younger and some are considerably older.

“The idea is that Annandale provides progressive life assistance. As the individual’s needs change, the services we offer can change with them. So someone could come to Annandale at 22 or 23 years old and conceivably live here the rest of their lives, and we can meet their needs as they change throughout that adult lifespan.”

A few years ago, Annandale added and new service to its continuum of care.

“On occasion, some folks gain skills when they’re here and then leave to be more independent elsewhere, either in our independent living program or some other option,” said Pomeranz.

The All In program has about 16 people who need about 10 to 12 hours of support a week. They live in apartments in Suwanee or other parts of metro Atlanta. They’re required to work or volunteer to be eligible for the program.

Keeping Annandale affordable

Annandale’s founders wanted an affordable private pay model. Their philosophy was to charge families about 75% of what it costs to care for their loved ones, and the philanthropic community would take care of the other 25%.

With rising health care costs, that 25% is getting harder to come by, but Pomeranz and his staff are making it work.

“Now, almost 55 years later, when you look at our bottom line at the end of the year, you will see that about 75% of our revenue is fee-for-service revenue, and about 25% is philanthropy,” he said.

“At the same time, we are still mostly a private-pay organization, and it’s become very expensive to provide the care. But we have wait lists, so clearly there’s a market for what we do,” he explained.

Annandale does take Medicare and Medicaid in the nursing home. It also has a relatively small day program for which it takes Medicaid waiver funds. But everything is supplemented with fundraising.

Annandale’s fourth annual golf tournament

Before COVID, Annandale threw charity events with dinner and dancing like many other nonprofits. For about 26 years, the annual fundraiser was called The Jazzy Thing, which then became shortened to Jazzy. It took place on the last weekend of April. In March 2020, the pandemic struck, and everything was canceled.

Annadale group picture

The staff had to pivot and find something to take the place of Jazzy. 

“Our chief development and marketing officer had done golf tournaments [for a] previous employer and felt like we could do one and that it would be successful,” said Pomeranz.

To make it a little different, the tournament honored a long-time board member. The tournament was very successful, so the tradition continued. This year, however, Pomeranz is the one being honored.

“I was out on a brief medical leave when there was a board meeting; first board meeting I missed in 19 years,” he said. “They voted to make me the honoree of this year’s tournament to celebrate and honor my 20 years here at Annandale Village.”

Sponsorships are pouring in with congratulatory praise for Pomeranz.

“Some of these folks I’ve known for 20 years,” he said. “Their sister or brother has been in our care that long or maybe even a parent has had their child in our care.”

Annandale’s fourth Annual Golf Tournament is on May 6 at The Country Club of the South. Registration is open for foursomes. More information can be found at annandale.org/event/golf.

What folks have to say about Annandale Village:

  • “Congratulations on 20 years!! I am so proud of all you have accomplished.” — Ina Enoch
  • “Congratulations! Please give us 20 more!” — Jody Hoffman
  • “Have a great game!!! Hope the weather is great!” — Denise Fitzpatrick
  • “Thank you for all you do, Adam.” — Maureen Doran
  • “In memory of Eric Pomeranz”— Felice Catalano
  • “Wow!  20 years!  Amazing achievement!”— Honey Strauss
  • “Congrats on 20 years of devoted service!!”— Seena Axel

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