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Fake It to Make It

Community Groups in Action

fake it to make itIt’s time for one of the year’s favorite fundraising events. Fake It to Make It, a lip sync challenge to raise funds for SafeHomes Inc., will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 26 at the Miller Theater.

SafeHomes offers support to victims of domestic violence through advocacy, education and awareness. Founded in 1979, the organization affects the lives of more than 2,000 individuals and their families each year. Offering services for women, men and children, SafeHomes can house up to 24 individuals at one time in its emergency shelter. The nonprofit also provides outreach programs to nonresidential victims.

Other services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal advocacy, a support group, counseling and life skills classes. The organization serves a 10-county area including Columbia, Richmond, Lincoln and McDuffie counties.

fake it to make it“SafeHomes has truly filled a real need for over 30 years to many who have been unfortunately abused and that require confidential and caring help,” says Phil Alexander, CallingPost founder.

Seven contestants will vie for the Lip Sync Championship. Each contestant will prepare two performances to wow the audience and to work toward a fundraising goal of $10,000 for SafeHomes’ Domestic Violence Center. A championship belt will be awarded to the judges’ choice winner, and a second belt will go to the top fundraiser.

“Fake It to Make It has allowed SafeHomes to connect with the community in a unique way by engaging community members to participate in raising funds for our mission, as well as to do fake it to make itsomething that is outside of their comfort zone and normal routine,” says Jennifer Frantom, development director.

Tickets for the show are $15, $30 or $50, and buyers can “credit” their ticket amount to one of the contestants at the time of purchase. For more information, visit safehomesdv.org.

Life’s a Beech

Credit: Sam Dean Photography

Credit: Sam Dean Photography

Head for the hills where a North Carolina ski resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season.

Some might argue about which ski resort is the coolest in North Carolina. However, there is no denying which one is the highest. At an elevation of 5,506 feet, that would be Beech Mountain. In fact, the slopes at Beech Mountain, which opened in the winter of 1967-68, are the highest east of the Rockies.

And snow bunnies can have plenty of fun at Beech Mountain Resort as it celebrates 50 years of skiing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina this season. When it made its debut, Beech Mountain was the only North Carolina resort built around an alpine village and remains that way today. 

“Skiing in the South was just being developed, and this was a unique facility at 5,506 feet in elevation with a Swiss Bavarian village. It exposed the Southeast market to something new,” says general manager Ryan Costin. “That continues to be one of our strongest assets – a layout where you can navigate the village and experience all the wintertime activities we have here.” 

Courtesy of Beech Moutain

Courtesy of Beech Moutain

Something to Celebrate
To celebrate the half-century mark, Beech Mountain Resort is offering season-long throwback prices for night sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. The resort will offer 1967 lift ticket prices of $9 for ladies’ night every Tuesday and for men’s night every Wednesday. On couples’ night each Thursday, the first lift ticket will be available for $16 and the second ticket will cost $8.

The resort will hold a special golden anniversary celebration January 20-28 with activities, contests, live music, games and fireworks. First, however, the annual Winterfest Beer Festival is on tap for Saturday, January 6 from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The event, which will fill both levels of the Beech Tree Bar & Grille, will feature more than 50 ales and ciders from North Carolina craft producers.

 The festivities continue with the seventh annual Totally ’80s Retro Ski Weekend February 22-25. Think big hair, leg warmers, bandanas, Members Only jackets, ski suits with shoulder pads and lots of ’80s-era activities. 

With the addition of 65 high-tech, automated SMI Super PoleCat snow guns in recent years, the ski resort has undergone a snowmaking transformation. Adding more snow guns to its arsenal this winter, the resort will have its highest snowmaking capabilities in its 50-year history. The 5,506-foot elevation of the mountain complements the resort’s snowmaking abilities, leading to an average annual snowfall of 84.6 inches.

This winter a new streamlined check-in process will get skiers on the slopes faster than in years past. Customers purchase lift tickets and rental equipment at a central location and then go straight through the fitting process. Another new feature this winter is the opportunity to buy multi-day tickets and rentals to avoid repeating the same process each day.

“Going into the 50th year, we took a hard look at not only the product on the mountain, but the process, too. That’s one of the elements we needed to make easier,” says Costin. “We want people to spend as much time outside enjoying activities as they possibly can.”

Sam Dean Photography

Sam Dean Photography

Beech Mountain also offers much more than skiing to entice winter sports lovers to the resort. Other activities include snow tubing, ice skating and learn-to-ski programs for adults and youths. Snowshoeing on the town’s Emerald Outback trails at the mountaintop is becoming another popular wintertime activity. Snowshoes are available for rental from the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department, which offers guided winter hikes throughout the season as well. Beech Mountain also is home to a free sledding hill next to the visitors’ center in the heart of town. Complete with its own snow gun, the hill is open all winter for kids ages 12 and under.

Courtesy of Beech Moutain

Courtesy of Beech Moutain

Après Ski
For après ski, the resort is located in the town of Beech Mountain, where lodging, shops, restaurants and nightlife are within walking distance or a short drive of the slopes. Lodging options include ski lodges, condos, ski-in chalets, inns and larger rental homes.

The resort also has invested millions in upgrades during the past five years, adding a craft brewery, a skybar at the top of the slopes and a new terrain park with its own dedicated surface tow lift, lighting and snowmaking.

Beech Mountain Brewing Company, one of the nation’s only breweries owned and operated by a ski area, handpicks the finest ingredients for its brews. The bi-level brewery features a large fireplace and hardwood flooring. Accessible to all visitors, Beech Mountain Brewing Company is open to the general public and does not require people to participate in resort activities to visit. Guests can try the brewery’s latest creations Thursday through Sunday or enjoy a flight of its various brews. They can enjoy live music on Friday evenings and trivia nights, beer bingo, karaoke and more during the ski season.

In 2013, Beech Mountain added a skybar called 5506’, paying tribute to the elevation that gives the resort the distinction of being the highest ski area in eastern America. The facility features a glass roundhouse with a bar, barstools and tables, a snack bar, a Bald Guy Brew mini coffee shop and heated restrooms. The full-service bar provides a selection of well and top-shelf liquors, mixed drinks, wine and Beech Mountain Brewing Company beers on tap. Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are available as well. The skybar’s 2,800-foot deck – complete with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables – offers a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

During the winter season, 5506’ is only accessible to skiers and snowboarders with a valid lift ticket. After riding the chairlift up the summit, guests are required to ski or snowboard back down the mountain. There is no ride available to go down the chairlift.

BeechMtnGazebo-CREDIT-Mark-File“It’s an exciting year for us, and we look forward to another half century of serving skiers across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions,” Costin says. “A lot of people are surprised at just how good a winter season we have. Our infrastructure provides a strong product all winter.”

For more information, visit beechmtn.com or call (800) 468-5506.

Tips for Your First Day at Beech Mountain

  • Take a ski/snowboarding lesson from a professional instructor. You’ll safely learn more in a one-hour lesson than you will all day on your own.
  • Obtain proper equipment, and be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly.
  • Rent or wear boots that fit firmly around your foot.
  • Dress in layers to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. Wear thin woolen socks, a windproof and waterproof jacket, waterproof pants and non-cotton thermal underwear. Wear fleece for warmth or a down jacket or vest if it is really cold.
  • Be prepared for changing weather. Wear something to keep your head and ears warm. Wear insulated, waterproof gloves or mittens.
  • Know your limits. Learn to ski and snowboard in control, and take a break if you get tired. Most injuries occur when people are fatigued. 

By Morgan Davis

All is Bright

In The Home
All is Bright

Photography by Haley Lamb

From shiny gold balls and shimmering ribbons to whimsical themed Christmas trees, the holiday décor in this Magnolia Ridge home blends elegance and fun.

Most of the year, all is calm at the Evans home of Karen and Clarence Malcom. After all, they built their house nine years ago on three acres of tranquil wooded property in Magnolia Ridge. 

On Christmas, however, that heavenly peace turns into a flurry of activity when about 50 family members celebrate at their house with them. The Malcoms enjoy the holiday with their three children and seven grandchildren as well as Karen’s siblings (she’s one of five children) and their extended families. 

“Christmas is the only time of year the entire family can get together,” she says. 

Making the yuletide gay long before the guests arrive, however, Karen decks the halls with Christmas décor that ranges from the traditional to the whimsical.

“I love to decorate,” says Karen. “I like to try different things and see what works.” 

Front-Porch-2Gold Standard
Christmastime is evident at the Malcom home before visitors even cross the threshold through the front door. Wreaths with festive gold bows adorn the outside windows, and a trio of small trees strung with white lights sits in containers along the garage.

Two more wreaths with gold bows and gold poinsettias hang on the front doors that are surrounded with greenery all aglow with white lights. On the flagstone, covered front porch, two poinsettias sit in planters by the doors. A pair of decorated trees with red skirts guard arched windows. Three lighted decorative presents – one green, one red and one white – rest on the porch as if St. Nick has just stopped by as well. A bench, where a Christmas pillow rests on the seat, occupies each corner of the porch, and two wooden reindeer sit on the walkway that leads up the front porch steps.

The holiday finery continues inside with three large Christmas trees in different rooms in the house.

An elegantly decorated tree draped with red and gold ornaments stretches toward the two-story ceiling in the living room. “We call this my tree because I want it to look like this,” says Living-Room-Nativity-SceneKaren. Presents wrapped in gold paper and tied with red ribbon for the teenaged family members sit beneath the tree.

And the location of the tree in the center of the room doesn’t occur by happenstance. “A friend of mine told me that I built the living room around being able to put the tree in the middle of the room,” Karen says. “She was right.”

On the mantel above the gas fireplace, figures of Mary, Joseph and the Christ child are nestled in rows of greenery and gold balls. A full nativity sits atop a blanket of gold fabric on a table behind the couch.

Red oak flooring is found throughout the house, and an arched door to a hall leads to the master suite. The master bedroom, which features a four-poster bed, opens onto a covered porch. More touches of gold highlight the master bath décor, including gold balls in a white bowl by the tub and gold silk poinsettias and greenery in a vase by the tub.

Inside Track to Fun
If the living room reflects Karen’s personality, then the study is all Clarence. And Clarence, undoubtedly, is an avid NASCAR fan whose favorite drivers are the late Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A NASCAR-themed tree is filled with auto racing-related ornaments, including balls bearing the number 3 and the number 8 in honor of the Earnhardts – Dale drove the No. 3 car and Dale Jr. once drove the No. 8 car, gas pump ornaments and racecar ornaments. Clarence also collects model cars, and part of his collection is parked on top of a tree skirt made of – what else? – black-and-white checkered fabric.

Dining-Area-2NASCAR stockings are draped on top of wing chairs covered in NASCAR-themed fabric. “I don’t think he’ll ever let me cover these chairs again,” Karen says.

French doors lead into the study, which has black trim around the room, and more of Clarence’s car collection is displayed in a curio cabinet. A Monopoly game table sits in one corner of the room, and a small jukebox stands in another corner. “My 5-year-old grandson loves the jukebox,” says Karen. “He loves to turn the lights on and off.”

The third tree in the house in the family room has an inside track to merriment as well. “This is a fun tree,” says Karen. “Any time we go to Disney World or Key West, we buy an ornament for this tree. It also has several ornaments that sing when you push a button.”

Packages swaddled in shiny lime green paper and bright red ribbons are piled under this tree to await the younger grandchildren on Christmas morning. Greenery brightens the arched TV opening above the mantel of the stacked stone fireplace. A red poinsettia guards the fireplace, and Santa figurines rest on the built-in bookshelves. 

The colorful, fun theme continues into the adjoining breakfast nook, where square red plates with lime green polka dots top the table that is tucked into a bay window. Ornaments dangle from the light fixture above the table.

Kitchen-1The kitchen, which also is connected to the family room and breakfast nook, showcases Karen’s creativity with its pale green ceiling and tri-colored cabinets.

“I didn’t want any white ceilings in the house. I wanted to paint the ceilings different colors,” says Karen.

The kitchen cabinets are a combination of walnut stain, old world finish and black paint. “I like all of the finishes, so our cabinet man said, ‘Let’s do all three,’” says Karen. 

Striped Christmas balls hang from the light fixture above the island, which features a walnut stain and a sink. Other cabinets and the hood above the stove feature a walnut stain. The kitchen also includes stainless steel appliances, a tumbled stone backsplash and granite countertops.

“This is where we live,” Karen says of the connected rooms. And the kitchen sees plenty of activity during the holidays. While everyone brings food to share, Karen says the best part of Christmas is spending time with her family and making her children’s favorite sweets.

“I always make a chocolate layered cake for my son,” she says. “One of my daughters loves plum cake, but two years ago we didn’t even cut the cake so I made her take it home.” 

Covered-Porch-1Outdoor Décor
Even if they don’t have a chance to enjoy all of their holiday desserts, the extended Malcom family always spends time outdoors during the holidays and all year round. And why wouldn’t they? From their covered back porch, the Malcoms can hear birds chirping or catch sight of deer, wild turkeys and red foxes.

“We love to be outside, so I do a lot of decorating outside,” says Karen.

The wraparound covered porch features tile flooring, and Christmas decorations include a round glass table topped with a red lantern, red ornaments and greenery. A small tree sits in the center of a wrought iron table. Greenery with strands of white lights is wrapped around the railing.

A lighted wreath with a red, a green and a gold ball adds Christmas cheer to the landing on the stairs leading to a lower covered porch that features elements of Key West, Florida.

The lower porch features a bead board ceiling that they installed themselves, terracotta tile flooring, colored lights laced in greenery on the railing, a bar that Clarence built, a TV, grills and prints on the wall by Key West artists.

“We go to Key West every year,” says Karen. “It’s laidback, relaxing and fun.”

Just like the holidays at the Malcom home. 

By Betsy Gilliland


Master’s Table Soup Kitchen

Community Groups in Action

calling postThere’s a good reason the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen, a Golden Harvest Food Bank initiative, operates each day of the year in downtown Augusta. 

“People are hungry every day,” says Ann Visintainer, Golden Harvest’s marketing manager. “There are not a lot of grocery stores or food resources in the downtown area. There is also a high concentration of people downtown who lack transportation to get food.”

The Master’s Table serves a hot lunch to 200 – 250 people every day at its Fenwick Street location. On holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the soup kitchen serves about 300 people.

“For Christmas dinner we’ll have ham or turkey and traditional sides,” says Ann. “Our volunteers decorate the tables, and we’ll put up a Christmas tree.”

Executive-Director-Travis-McNeal-serves-food-at-our-Christmas-season-toy-giveaway-event-last-yearIn other holiday plans at the soup kitchen, Concerned Women Inc. will give away clothing, shoes, books and toys Saturday, December 9; volunteers will give away clothing and toys Monday, December 18; and Project Inspire will give away bags filled with hygiene products Saturday, December 23. 

The majority of Master’s Table guests are not homeless. The soup kitchen also feeds families and elderly people with small incomes. During the holidays when children are not in school, families can face additional hardships to put food on the table.

The Master’s Table also grows fresh vegetables in a garden, and this year the organization has partnered with Augusta Locally Grown to create a new Healthy Plate Program. 

Numerous volunteer groups such as 15-20 churches as well as businesses, the military and local community organizations help the Master’s Table each month.

calling post“Volunteering at the Masters Table Soup Kitchen is a rewarding experience to the receiver and the giver. Looking deeply eye to eye, heart to heart, removes pretenses and reveals that we are all equal and loved in God’s eyes,” says CallingPost founder Phil Alexander, who has volunteered at the soup kitchen numerous times.

People also can support the program by making donations online at goldenharvest.org. Each $1 that is donated provides $9 worth of food to feed the hungry. After all, as Ann says, “Christmas doesn’t end with Christmas.”

Merry and Bright Ideas

In The Home

Photography by Haley Lamb

Do you need a boost to your holiday décor? Check out the creativity at Augusta Ballet’s annual holiday home tour.

Every family has its Christmas traditions, and those customs typically include holiday décor. Whether people prefer the latest decorations or favorite family heirlooms, however, everyone can use a new decorating tip from time to time. And the Augusta Ballet Holiday Tour of Homes is full of ideas. 

This year the fifth annual Holiday Tour of Homes, which benefits Augusta Ballet, will showcase homes in Summerville. The event will be held 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9 and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, December 10. Tickets will cost $20 and be available online at augustaballet.org until Friday, December 1. After that date, they will be available for $25 online and at the door. Tickets also will be available at some interior designers’ locations. However, the event not only offers the latest in Christmas décor. 

“The home tour gets a lot of people aware of the ballet,” says Larry Baratto, Augusta Ballet executive director. “It lets people know who we are and what we do. This is another way of working with the community, and Augusta has a thriving arts community.” 

Burlap, Bouquets and Ballerinas
Last year’s tour featured four homes in River Island. Three homeowners decorated their own houses, and local interior designers showcased their talents at the home of Stan Stanton.

Fleur de Lis designers set the tone for the home by decorating the mailbox with greenery and red berries. More greenery surrounded the front door, and lanterns hung from the garage.

In the foyer, where Brooks Haven Floral & Flowers designed the décor, a wreath with a gold bow and red and gold balls, hung on the mirror. A small bouquet of flowers peaked out of a small red package on the chest, and a pair of topiary reindeer dressed in a green wreath with a gold bow looked as if they were ready to fly to the rooftop. A narrow tree with gold balls and ribbons guarded the front doors, and greenery adorned with more gold ribbon and red and gold balls topped the doorways.

Dining-Room-TabletopBallet symbols were found in various parts of the house, including the dining room that was decorated by Brittany Wallace Interiors. In one corner of the room, a tall black soldier’s hat was perched atop a mannequin torso clad in a red tutu and red epaulettes with gold fringe.

“Every year Brittany Wallace does the ballerina,” says Jan Hodges Burke of the Augusta Ballet board of trustees.

White, fur-trimmed ballet slippers were tied to the china cabinet with red ribbon, and a white flocked tree decorated with red balls and red ribbon occupied a corner of the room. Topped with a white tablecloth and a red table runner and round red placemats, red and white was the color scheme for the table setting as well. Red goblets sat in the middle of white plates, and the centerpiece featured white pillar candles atop tall red candlesticks.

Royal Stewart tartan plaid throws were draped on the two head Chippendale chairs. Eye for Design added a red lacquer finish and painted fabric seats, which offer a pearlescent look, to the two chairs. The local interior design shop employs veterans to paint, wax or custom finish “rescued furniture” and décor.

Snowflakes that were handmade by Augusta Training Shop employees hung from the chandelier, which was decorated with greenery, ornaments and strand of clear beads.

The hardwood flooring in the house continued into the kitchen, which featured granite countertops with a leathered finish and a brick backsplash, and Cynthia C. Balentine Interiors added lots of greenery to the room. Greenery was tucked into fruit bowls on the counter, and two small, live trees with white lights reached for the ceiling from stockpots on the island.

Breakfast-AreaA rustic manger scene on a side cabinet featured handmade papier mache figures that were wrapped in wool.

Vince Smith of Indigo Floral Studio trimmed the breakfast area with red and lime green décor. A centerpiece of red roses with shimmering lime green balls situated in greenery sat atop the wood planked tabletop. Red plates topped with lime green napkins were wrapped with red and green ribbon that was tied in a bow. Wreaths hung from the windows by ribbon, and greenery with a red and green bow adorned the chandelier.

Greenery and burlap made up the décor by Home for the Holidays in the butler’s pantry. A trio of wreaths with snowflakes and burlap bows hung on cabinet doors, and wooden boxes filled with pinecones, greenery and burlap twists were arranged on the countertop. Greenery was tucked into the wine racks as Hallway-Treewell.

The Sound of Music
Home for the Holidays also decorated the back hallway and study. In the hallway, brown paper packages tied up with string sat beneath a tall Christmas tree trimmed with burlap ribbon, ribbons made of sheet music and homemade snowflakes. A handmade snowflake even served as a tutu for a ballerina ornament. Swag on the staircase railing included greenery interwoven with burlap, gold berries, balls and lights.

A pair of reindeer and a red lantern sat on one end of the kidney-shaped desk in the study, where a tree was decorated with red and brown burlap ribbon and poinsettias. Ornaments included burlap boots with fur trim, owls, antlers, pinecones and red and burlap balls. A reindeer head poked out of the burlap tree topper.

Pinecones on red ribbon dangled from greenery on the shutters and from a framed map on the wall behind the desk.

Family-Room-TreeIn the family room, which featured a coffered ceiling, LMT Designs trimmed a Christmas tree with red and gold ribbon and ornaments that range from elegant gold leaves and branches to whimsical Disney characters and red berries. The mantel was covered with magnolia leaves, gold ribbon and red silk flowers. A self-playing grand piano filled the home with Christmas music.

Even the laundry room, designed by Kim Landrum Designs, was awash with Christmas spirit in a scene straight out of the North Pole. Looking as if he had made a clean break from his toy-making duties, an elf poked out of a sudsy bed of snow in the washing machine. A clear bowl, filled with peppermints and a silver scoop, sat on a bed of greenery on top of the dryer. Three red-striped ‘Santa Baby” sleepers hung on a rod while a pair of elf boots sat on the countertop.

Santa’s freshly laundered red suit was laid across a plaid chest on the tile floor, and oversized mugs of hot chocolate filled with artificial marshmallows and candy canes sat on a tray on another countertop.

Green wreaths with red berries hung by red ribbons from hooks in the adjoining mudroom where three stuffed bears, along with a stuffed Santa and a Christmas pillow, lined a built-in bench.

All Snug in Their Beds
Christmas was celebrated in the bedrooms in the home as well. The master bedroom, which was designed by Martina’s Flowers and Gifts, featured an outdoorsy theme. A Christmas tree by the window included burlap ribbon, giant mushroom cluster ornaments, red beaded balls and gold balls. While a pair of owls and twigs topped the tree, small burlap trees surrounded the base. Birdhouses were set on a bedside table and at the end of the four-poster bed, and bright red cardinals were perched on the tables as well.

A grapevine wreath with red berries and cardinals hung on a wall, and a box on the upholstered bench at the foot of the bed was filled with pinecones and red berries.

The theme spilled into the master bath, which also was decorated by Martina’s. An arrangement on the vanity was filled with greenery, sticks, red berries and cardinals, and swag on the walls featured red bows and burlap poinsettias.

Continuing the natural décor, another bedroom, decorated by Peacock Hill, included stuffed bears and a wreath with pinecones above the bed. One bedside table included a Santa and a small lighted tree, and the other featured reindeer, greenery and pinecones. A needlepoint pillow on the bed said, “Like Friends, It’s the Old Ornaments That Mean the Most.”

In a basement bedroom, S.E.E. (Stage + Embellish Enterprise) placed a white tree on a bed of turquoise fabric on a white dresser. Bright pink, purple and turquoise ornaments dangled from the branches, while pink and purple nutcrackers stood at attention on the dresser. A trio of acrylic and collage canvases depicting ballerinas by Lillie Morris Fine Art hung on the walls, while four golden turtledoves nestled beneath a gold tree decorated with angel wings, gold leaves and gold branches in a corner of the room. A pair of golden ballet slippers sat on a glass-topped table.

Back-Porch-2Brooks Haven Floral provided the décor, where burgundy and gold dominated the color scheme, for a second basement bedroom. A tree was trimmed with red and green ribbon, gold ornaments and red berries. Two small cone-shaped trees stood at the base of the Christmas tree in front of a picture of jolly old St. Nick on the wall. A wreath hung on the wall above the bed while another wreath was tied to the footboard with gold ribbon. Gold busts of the three wise men were nestled in greenery on the TV cabinet.

Another tree in the basement by the billiards room, also decorated by Brooks Haven Floral, featured gold balls and red and gold ribbon. The red and gold ribbon, along with leopard-print ribbon, formed the bow at the top of the tree. More leopard-print ribbon was intertwined with greenery in the light fixture above the pool table, where the pool cues were tied together with red and gold ribbon.

The theater room had a touch of Christmas spirit as well. Brooks Haven Floral topped the coffee table with a white flocked tree trimmed with turquoise ribbon, plaid ribbon and bows, and white twigs. For a finishing touch, even a wooden sled was tied with a turquoise bow.

By Betsy Gilliland

Join the Club


Photos courtesy of the Augusta Gaelic Sports Club

Local hurling and Gaelic football players try to ignite interest in the Irish sports 

The people of Ireland have a gift for storytelling. Even though their history is filled with strife, the Irish always seem to bring the tales they weave to a glorious conclusion. I’m not Irish, though, and it wasn’t too long ago that my saga linked to the Emerald Isle had no happy ending in sight.

The story began in 2004 when I visited Ireland for the first time and fell in love with its music, history, culture, and especially its sports. Yes, they play soccer, rugby, and basketball there. But those are foreign sports, and all of them fail to capture the essence of what it means to be Irish. 

For that, we have to look back more than 3,000 years to when the Celts introduced warrior training practices to the green fields of their homeland. They used flat, curved wooden sticks to propel a stuffed, leather ball toward a goal, fighting off opponents along the way. “Hurling,” they called it. And it hasn’t changed much over the millennia. Warriors in every corner of Ireland still play, simply for the pride of their home parish. 

_Main-Hurling-game-3Growing in Number and Skill
When I was in Ireland, a stadium in Dublin full of 80,000 exuberant fans woke me from a sporting slumber. I bought a stick, or “hurley,” and brought it home, hoping I could find some way to be part of what I had just witnessed.

Like it always does, life got in the way. Two jobs, rent, car repairs, and before I knew it, years had passed with nothing to show for it. It took the death of a close friend to remind me that we aren’t guaranteed time to accomplish our goals.

Within four months, I was learning hurling from an Irish coach in Atlanta. Months later I was teaching three friends everything I had learned. From there, the Augusta Hurling Club was born.

We invited friends and family, but not having enough for our own full team, we played with the Atlanta club every chance we got. We grew in number and skill. We were doing the unimaginable, something that blew the mind of every Irish person I spoke to: Developing a club of American-born hurlers in a small Southern town.

Six years ago, we aimed to introduce hurling to more people. They came, and we were glad to have them. Since that time, the sports have taken off across the country. In the Southeast alone, the number of clubs has grown from five in 2011 to 20 today.

To attract soccer and rugby players, we began playing hurling’s sister sport, Gaelic football, in 2012. We even changed our name to Augusta Gaelic Sports Club to reflect that we included both of Ireland’s national pastimes. Those changes paid dividends as well.

Group-PhotoResurrected Dream
Like every good story, though, complications must arise to create drama. As time pressed on, many of our members drifted to other pursuits. Some found jobs and moved away. Some got married, or joined the military. By spring of 2014, weekly practices had dwindled to a twosome. After months of futile effort reminding everyone we knew about these awesome sports, we decided to pack it in. The dream was over.

For two years I didn’t touch a hurley. The bags of equipment I bought for others to try, all sat in the dark corner of a closet I never opened. I returned to a familiar old pastime – playing pickup basketball with a couple of former Club members, Appling residents Chuck and Will Renfro, on Tuesdays.

Hurling eventually came up during between-game conversations. They missed it, they told me. I did too, but there was no sense in disturbing that ghost. Then another Appling resident, Nathan Montgomery, overheard us.

“Now, what sport is that?” he asked.

_Main-Hurling-game-5We explained it the best we could: “Kind of like a cross between field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and rugby, but like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

I showed him some videos on my phone, then dusted off my hurleys and brought them the next week. To our surprise, Nathan was excited to give it a try. Still skeptical, I scheduled a trial event to gauge interest in restarting the club. We planned to meet on a September Sunday afternoon last year at Patriots Park. Then the floodgates opened.

The first was a Navy man, Erik McTaggart, who had played hurling at Purdue University. He had just completed his training and been stationed at Fort Gordon. He was praying that our club was still functioning. Then came a sergeant in the Army, Sean Fox, who had seen hurling and Gaelic football in Ireland and wanted to play.

Next was Thomson resident Kim Jenkins. While living in Seattle, she had played both sports after being introduced to them during Irish Week. She was ecstatic to again have a place to play. Then came Lee Doby, a lacrosse coach from Grovetown, looking to connect to his Celtic heritage. He was followed by USC-Aiken professor, Eric Carlson, who had played in the early days of the Milwaukee Hurling Club, now the largest club outside of Ireland.

Football-2Competition and Fellowship
One by one, the messages came through email and social media. Our past members wanted to give it a go once more, and people new to the area or new to the sports were eager to try. As we continued to play, the new folks brought their friends, who brought their friends.

“I literally couldn’t stop thinking about how I wanted to play more,” Montgomery remembers. “Kris let me borrow a hurl, and I would just hit the ball from one end of my yard to the other, over and over again.”

In the year that has passed, we held our own tournament and are doing so again on Saturday, November 4. We participated in tournaments in Atlanta and Charleston and helped two former members who had moved to Athens start a club of their own. We even got a club sponsor, Cornerstone Granite Company, allowing us to order authentic Gaelic jerseys.

At recent practices, we’ve had between 15 and 20 participants. But we’re still growing and spreading the word. In fact, despite how far we’ve come in such a short time, we still have a long way to go. Our story isn’t over yet. But with testimonials from people like Montgomery, who has dragged his entire circle of family and friends to the park to join us, we are sure the games will catch on to an even larger audience.

“I love the sport and the character of the guys and girls who play it here in Augusta,” he says. “Even though it can be a physical sport, American hurlers have this incredible respect for each other on and off the field.”

While our members love to play, once the competition is over, the fellowship afterward is what many anticipate most.

“Practice and food,” Jenkins says, listing the two club events she looks forward to most. “I love the camaraderie. The team is very welcoming to all skill levels and is very inclusive.”

Football-1Come One, Come All
We haven’t even considered that there’s any other way to be. For other sports, there may be a tryout, or organizers may only gather people they know are talented enough to help the team win. We are on the other end of that spectrum; we don’t discriminate. We accept everyone, from the person who has never played any sport in his life, to the Irishman who grew up with a hurl in one hand and a Gaelic football in the other.

We take pride in teaching new folks how to play. We play hard while on the field, and we shake hands after the final whistle. Then we share a meal and drink together while weaving our own tales of the battle that just ended. 

If this sounds like a story to which you want to contribute, don’t hesitate. Joining us is easy, and we will welcome you with open arms. Anyone can reach us at facebook.com/AugustaGaelicSportsClub, at twitter.com/AugustaGaelic, or at augustahurling@gmail.com.

By Kristopher Wells

Dogs on Deployment

Community Groups in Action

AMI-Dogs-on-Deployment-5When members of the military are deployed overseas, they need to make arrangements about a number of issues before they leave. One worry they shouldn’t have, however, is care for their pets while they are gone. 

Dogs on Deployment, a national nonprofit organization, provides an online network for service members to find volunteers who are willing to board their pets during their deployment. In addition to helping military personnel find volunteer boarders, the organization provides them with peace of mind during their service commitments and resources to help them.

To promote responsible pet ownership, Dogs on Deployment helps military members cover the cost of pet care during emergencies before and during deployment. The nonprofit provides military members with resources about responsible pet ownership and connects with community organizations to ensure that Dogs on Deployment resources are available to military families. The organization also offers financial assistance to get military pets spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. 

Dogs-on-Deployment-1“Dogs on Deployment can relieve stress for soldiers by making sure their pets are taken care of while they serve our country,” says Phil Alexander, CallingPost founder. “It’s a great way for folks with a heart for animals to support our military personnel.” 

Dogs on Deployment was founded in 2011 when a dual service couple, Alisa and Shawn Johnson, received simultaneous military orders. When they realized that no one could care for their dog, they decided to start an organization that would connect military members with volunteers who are willing to board their pets during service commitments. 

According to the organization, volunteer foster homes are available in all 50 states and military members should be able to find a boarder within 50 miles of the base where they are stationed. As of early 2016, almost 900 military pets have been placed in foster care, and more than $200,000 has been awarded to military families in need.

Dogs on Deployment sponsors directly affect military members and their pets by improving morale, stability and overall livelihood. For more information, visit dogsondeployment.org.

Ghoul Power

In The Home

Photography by Haley Lamb

There’s no disguising a lifelong love of Halloween – or a weakness for witches – in this West Lake home.

Ever since she was a little girl, West Lake resident Debbie Clark has loved Halloween. 

“I grew up in a small town, and Halloween was a lot of fun,” she says. “We always had a big party at our school.”

The party has continued into adulthood for Debbie, and her family and friends have joined in the fun along the way. Every year Debbie decorates her home, where she and husband Lee have lived since 2003, with Halloween decorations that she has accumulated for 30 years.

Surrounded by witches and pumpkins and candy corn every October, Lee has no choice but to love the holiday. And Debbie can decorate with no double, double toil and trouble because Lee has one job to perform each year.

“He brings all the stuff down from the attic and puts it back up in the attic,” says Debbie.

Side-Porch-1Witches, Ghosts and Pumpkins
Evidence that the Clark residence is a happening Halloween house is apparent before anyone even steps foot inside. Two pumpkins sit on the brick front porch, where a quartet of witches could hold a convention on four black rocking chairs. One pumpkin rests beside a witch while the other sits next to a trio of black cats. Six white columns stand in a row along the porch, but one of them is the true marker that Halloween has arrived at the Clark house. The column is the landing spot for a gray-haired, black-clad, pointy purple-hatted, broom-riding witch that has crashed into it.

“I have had the witch for the longest time,” says Debbie. “That was my daughter’s favorite decoration for Halloween. She’s now 31, but I still put it up.”

Healthy ferns – that look as if they have been fed a magic potion to help them grow – spill out of the sides of two black planters, which could double as cauldrons for a witch’s brew. 

Across the threshold through the front door, even the pumpkins dress up for Halloween. At the foot of the stairs, two pumpkins clad in wedding attire greet guests. The “bride” wears a white veil and a white boa while her well-dressed “groom” sports a black top hat and black bowtie. Spider “rings” dangle from each of their hands. Debbie put the bride and groom pumpkins together for a fall wedding shower for a friend’s daughter, and they fit in perfectly with her décor. The faceless couple are typical of the pumpkins – not jack-o’-lanterns – around the house. “I can sew a costume, but I can’t carve a pumpkin,” Debbie says. 

Dining-Room-Table-CengterpieceIn the dining room, the table features an orange polka-dotted table runner underneath a shorter runner with spider webs on either end. A pair of black, oversized witch’s shoes filled with burlap, gourds and pine cones serves as the centerpiece.

“I found the shoes several years ago. I fell in love with them. I thought, ‘They have to go home with me,’” Debbie says. “I just thought they were cute and fun. I fill them with something different every year.”

There are signs of Halloween throughout the house – literally – as well. A cloth banner on the back of a dining room chair says, “Come fly with me.” On the dining room table, a small sign reads, “Hanging with my Ghoul Friends.”

 Debbie really takes those words to heart. Every October she has a Halloween costume party for the women in her neighborhood bunko group.

On a small chest, ghost and witch candles keep a close eye on all of the Halloween happenings around the house. The candles are nestled in gobs of candy corn that fill clear candleholders of all sizes. Showing her practical side, Debbie saves the candy corn from one year to the next.

On the opposite side of the room, a three-tiered stand is covered with Halloween petit fours. Round orange pumpkin petit fours are mixed together with square cakes with white icing that are decorated with ghosts or pumpkins. 

“All of this is an accumulation of things,” says Debbie. “Most of my friends know I love Halloween, so a lot of this stuff has been given to me through the years.”

Den-Witch-&-PlanterWords to Live By
A collection of witches can be found throughout the house – Debbie has a thing for witches –  and her favorite decoration is a papier mache witch stationed by the fireplace in the den. A jack-o’-lantern planter filled with spider mums sits next to the witch, which is dressed in green from her pointy hat to her pointy shoes.

Witch legs clad in silver-and-black-striped stockings and red heels poke out of two black cauldrons on the mantel, and an orange grapevine wreath, topped with a purple witch’s hat, occupy the center of the mantel. A cluster of black or white painted pumpkins, decorated with polka dots or stripes, is grouped in front of the wreath. 

The den features hardwood flooring and built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace. Using a bit of Halloween sorcery, Debbie wrapped orange netting around a stand that she topped with a witch hat and placed on the bookcase. “I thought the stand was kind of ugly, so I just wrapped it to make it look a little better,” she says.

Gold pumpkins line the top of a secretary, and a Department 56 Halloween village is set up on the writing area of the secretary. Another witch, which was given to Debbie by a friend, dangles from the ceiling fan chain. Small orange, black and white painted pumpkins, also adorned with stripes and polka dots, fill a big bowl on the round glass coffee table in the den.

In the adjoining kitchen, which features granite countertops and hardwood flooring, a two-tiered stand on the counter is full of gourds. Orange pumpkins are scattered around the kitchen as well, and two wine bottles clad in witch and ghost costumes stand sentry on a side counter.

Of course, since Debbie has her practical side, the kitchen isn’t as decorated as the rest of the house. “I can’t work around all my decorations,” says Debbie, who likes to cook.

A pumpkin filled with spider mums bring a touch of the holiday to the deck off of the den. On the side porch, a pumpkin, a witch hat and a sign that says, “Come On In My Pretties” add to the Halloween décor. The doormat reveals Halloween words to live by – “Eat, Drink and Be Scary.” 

Side-Porch-2Tastefully Tacky 
The Clarks have lived in the area since 1979, and Debbie thought it would be fun to decorate for Halloween after they bought their first house. She starts decorating for Halloween at the end of September, and it takes her a couple of days to finish the décor. Of course, those boxes of Halloween goodies that Lee brings down from the attic are carefully labeled and stored. (He’s better than waving a magic wand.)

And one of Debbie’s favorite thing about her Halloween décor is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. She gets a lot of her decorations from discount stores, and Fat Man’s was one of her favorite haunts back in the day.

“I’m always on the lookout for things,” she says. “I started with it because it can actually be tacky, and it’s OK. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

While Debbie celebrates the holiday all month long, the festivities come to a thrilling, chilling finish on Halloween night with a neighborhood block party on their cul-de-sac. “We set up tables and wear costumes, and we have lots of trick-or-treaters,” says Debbie. “It’s so much fun.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Pat Goodwin CEO, CSRA Wine Festival Inc.


CEO, CSRA Wine Festival Inc.Number of years in position: 12

Family: Daughter and two grandchildren

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: We chose to reside in Columbia County, relocating back to Georgia from Birmingham, Alabama. I became involved in the area as I attended Leadership Augusta, Class of 2001. I learned a lot about our entire community, and I’ve met some wonderful people living here. A friend, who knew I enjoy food and wine, shared details about a culinary event held at Hilton Head Island. I attended the event and was convinced that we needed to have a food and wine event here. I felt that if I could create an event it would accomplish two things.

First, the event could raise funds and give back to a nonprofit organization or entity. Second, it could bring diverse people together for a common cause. That was my focus as I began developing the wine festival event in a volunteer role. As the event has grown, this has allowed us to provide funds to the Culinary Endowment Scholarship at Augusta Technical College. Looking forward, I want to see the event grow and have more educational components. I also want to invite local top chefs to be a part of this process.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: It’s important we contribute to making our communities better. Through the CSRA Wine Festival, we have given back to the American Cancer Society, CSRA Humane Society, the arts and primarily, the Culinary Endowment at Augusta Technical College. We added Easter Seals to the event this year, and we’re happy to help this wonderful group to continue and support its mission.

Both causes help support individuals who are productive and are a contributing component to the economic impact in our area. If you haven’t toured the Easter Seals facility, make a call and do so. If you haven’t observed or attended an event at Augusta Technical College conducted by the culinary class, you are missing out on a wonderful treat.

I also have been a volunteer on Leadership Augusta and Leadership Columbia County, assisting the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce in developing its first leadership program. I am passionate about economic development, and I was honored to serve on the Development Authority of Columbia County as chair of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau for several terms. I also have served the Augusta Chamber of Commerce, volunteering with the Red Carpet Tour, and as chair of the Capital Campaign Planning Committee and as chair of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta. Currently, I am serving as secretary of the Columbia County Chamber and as a member of the Government Affairs Committee.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: It’s always a challenge to be able to change and adapt at any given time, and to stay calm and think through the what if’s. With the wine festival, I shared the concept with a local distributor, who laughed and told me I would never be able to make it happen. We both laugh about it now. I admit, I doubted myself at first. But as I did my research, I found that there were many obstacles and old laws on the books in Georgia. As a project manager, this helped pave the way to communicating with people and learning what I could and couldn’t do legally

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Always learning from each life experience and involving others. I previously worked at Southern Company for 29 years and at the Medical College of Georgia for 13 years, and I’m thankful I have been allowed to hire employees that have great potential and watch them grow. Today, I am appreciative of helping mentor younger leaders to become more involved and to give back to their communities.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: An airline stewardess

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I have worked as a Realtor at Blanchard & Calhoun Real Estate Company for four years, and I love conducting open houses and meeting people.

Favorite TV Show: I’m a Food Network and HGTV junkie.

Favorite Movie:Sleepless in Seattle

Favorite Sports Team: Atlanta Falcons – whether they win or lose

Favorite Comfort Food: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Favorite App: Intuit Quickbooks Mobile for my iPhone

Last Book Read:The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Dream Vacation: I would love to go on a California wine tour. It’s just an experience I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m adding it to my bucket list.

Something That Has Changed My Life: My faith, children and best friend.

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Have faith in people and in yourself. There are strengths and positives in each person, and you need to know them first to help guide and mentor them where they can be successful. In other words, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Persistent

Favorite Hobbies: Traveling

Secret Aspiration: To become a food writer or critic in my spare time

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “Wheel of Fortune” 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I knew nothing about planning a wine festival, and before I started doing that, I only knew there were two types of wine – red or white.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night

Community Groups in Action

LighttheNightAugustaWalk252A cancer diagnosis for an individual or a loved one can be one of a person’s darkest hours. With Light the Night, however, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society brings hope to those who are battling blood cancers.

This year, the area Light the Night will be held Saturday, October 21 at Evans Towne Center Park. Registration begins at 5 p.m., and the walk begins at 7:30 p.m. The event will conclude with a fireworks display about 8:30 p.m.

“It will be more of an event now than an actual walk,” says Marci Miller, Light the Night campaign manager for the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society chapter. “We will have a variety of family friendly activities. During part of the ceremony, we will have a survivors’ circle where survivors come to a certain spot and a light will shine through the middle of the group to make it more of an experience.”

Lanterns of different colors will be distributed to participants as well. Survivors will receive white lanterns; supporters will carry red lanterns; those who have lost someone to cancer will have gold lanterns. 

“The different colors of lanterns lit up really provide a dramatic perspective on just how widespread cancer is as well as how it can be overcome as a result of the great research that organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society make possible,” says Phil Alexander, CallingPost founder.

LighttheNightAugustaWalk235Currently, 75 teams have registered for the event, and the fundraising goal is $280,000. Proceeds from the event go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“We are a national organization with a local presence,” Miller says. “Our chapter provides co-pay assistance for local residents and education for people when they initially are diagnosed.”

The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Because there are no means of prevention or early screening for most blood cancers, the LLS research agenda focuses on finding cures.

For more information, visit lightthenight.org.

Care More Animal Hospital

Resource Guide

Care More Animal Hospital is a full-service, AAHA accredited veterinary medical facility, located in Martinez, GA. The professional and courteous staff at Care More Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical, surgical and dental care for their highly-valued patients. We are committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, preventative health care and health-related educational opportunities for our clients.

Care More Animal Hospital strives to offer excellence in veterinary care to Augusta, GA and the surrounding areas.

Please take a moment to contact us today, to learn more about our veterinary practice and to find out more information about how Care More Animal Hospital can serve the needs of you and your cherished pet.

4016 Old Blackstone Camp Rd
Martinez, GA 30907
Phone: (706) 650-1839

Or visit our website at caremoreanimalhospital.vetstreet.com


Orthopedic Associates of Augusta, P.A.

Resource Guide

Since 1969, our practice has provided quality, comprehensive orthopaedic care in the CSRA. Our physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and are available to provide general orthopaedic care as well as specialty care, including hand and upper extremity surgery, sports medicine rehabilitation, arthroscopic surgery, foot and ankle surgery, and treatment of spinal disorders. Our total joint replacement program is second to none, and includes the newest minimally invasive procedure for hip replacement. For the convenience of our patients, we have locations both in Augusta and in Evans, as well as an orthopaedic surgery center that provides a comfortable and caring atmosphere for most out-patient surgical procedures. Please dial (706) 823-3812 to schedule an appointment at either location.

University Professional Center
811 13th Street, Suite 20 | Augusta, GA 30901
(706) 722-3401

Evans Town Park
2511 Associates Way | Evans, GA 30809
(706) 854-2140

VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT www.oaapa.com