Author Archives: Kristy Johnson

Augusta Plastic Surgery

Trendsetters

Creativity flows through the walls of Augusta Plastic Surgery at its new state-of-the-art facility and through the hands of Dr. Christopher Ewart and Dr. Michael Tarakji. They have been voted the best in Augusta and Columbia County year after year based on outstanding results and a patient experience like no other. Since opening their brand new facility on Fury’s Ferry Road, the practice has launched the “Love Yourself” campaign to inspire self-confidence and a Botox Bar to provide a quick and easy way to get injections knowing your time is valuable. In addition, it is a one-stop location for your consults and surgery needs, with a brand new operating suite including three procedure rooms and an onsite medical spa.

Augusta Plastic Surgery creates a memorable and luxurious experience for every patient that walks through the door, from noninvasive CoolSculpting to the complete mommy makeover. They understand that results matter.

 

569 Furys Ferry Rd • Martinez
AUGPLASTIC.COM
(706)  724-5611

Wi-Fi Travel Hacks

Buzz

The Transportation Security Administration is in the midst of its busiest travel year on record, says Mark Howell, TSA spokesman, and the  holidays should be no exception. While that’s good for airlines, it can create cybersecurity problems for passengers.

“More people in airports using public Wi-Fi means that hackers have more targets,” says Michael Nowatkowski, an associate professor with the Augusta University School of Computer and Cyber Sciences who also serves as a senior research fellow for the Army Cyber Institute. “If people don’t take precautions, they could become victims. Business travelers should be even more cautious because they could give away their company’s confidential information.”

He offers several ways for travels to protect themselves:

  • Apply software updates, which may include security updates, to your devices while connected to your home network.
  • Always use origin operating systems on your devices.
  • Download and update anti-virus and anti-malware programs on all devices you will bring on your travels.
  • Make sure the network is legitimate before connecting to public Wi-Fi.
  • Only use public Wi-Fi for activities that do not involve sensitive or personal information such as reading the news or checking the weather.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi for bank transactions, purchases or bill payments.
  • Never update your devices while connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Make sure you turn off your devices’ Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, file sharing and air drop.

Safe – and secure – travels.

 

 

Oh, Deer

Buzz

Motorists, beware. Most deer-related accidents occur between October and January, but through the end of September, 556 deer already had been removed from Columbia County roads this year.

Most of the deer were removed from Blanchard, Hereford Farm and Columbia roads as well as Washington Road from Woodbridge west to Ray Owens Road. “Deer are most active at dusk and dawn,” says Major Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

If motorists come across a deer, they should slow down and watch for more deer that could dart across the road. They also should blow their car horns and apply their brakes. They should not swerve to avoid the animal.

When motorists hit a deer, they should move their vehicle to a safe place, turn on their hazard lights, stay away from the animal and report the incident to law enforcement.

 

Ramblin’ Men

Buzz

As the principal architect of Southern Rock, the Allman Brothers Band was defined by eras, personalities and tragedies, and the Atlanta-based band, Tribute, keeps the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ music alive.

Tribute, an eight-piece group that was founded in 2013, will recreate the Allman sound this month at the Jabez.

The Allman Brothers created Southern rock from elements of blues, jazz, soul, R&B and rock ’n’ roll. From performing the group’s music, Tribute band members have discovered that the Allman Brothers’ music maintains the same power over people that it did 45 years ago.

Comprised of musicians with decades of performance experience, Tribute has earned a reputation as the source for authentic ABB sound throughout the Southeast. With vintage equipment, the band interprets the Allman Brothers catalog in a way that keeps the songs from the ’60s and ‘70s relevant decades later.

If You Go:

What: Tribute, a Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 22

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

How Much: $36.50

More Info: (706) 726-0366 or augustaamusements.com

Natural Fit

Buzz

Central Savannah River Land Trust recently announced the preservation of 72 acres of woodland and pasture on the edge of Grovetown.

The forests and fields were once part of a large family-owned dairy. Now, thanks to the family’s generosity, this slice of pastoral land has been preserved in perpetuity.

The land’s owners have reserved the rights to continue farming the land — growing trees, planting crops and raising livestock — while permanently prohibiting all forms of development, including building, paving, mining and other activities that would damage the land’s natural resources.

 

Greenbrier Veterinary Services

Trendsetters

Dr. Wheatley and her staff at Greenbrier Veterinary Services understand that fur babies are family. With a new, larger, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, they nurture the human-animal bond with comprehensive, compassionate, professional pet care.

Services include:
• Separate dog and cat waiting areas
• Heated exam tables
• Comprehensive exams and bloodwork
• On-site laboratory and pharmacy
• Pet dentistry services
• Laser therapy
• Digital diagnostic procedures
• Prescription and therapeutic diets
• Monthly disease and parasite prevention
• House calls

In-home veterinary care allows pets to be more relaxed during exams, making diagnosis and treatment easier. Many animals hide symptoms of illness when they are nervous or upset, and car rides or veterinary clinics can trigger stress, anxiety or aggression. Eliminating travel to a perceived hostile environment can allow for a more relaxed, more comprehensive visit.

 

1715 General Wood Parkway • Evans
GREENBRIERVETSERVICES.COM
(762) 233-2380

Inland by Téa Obreht

Literary Loop

The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife returns with an epic tale of perseverance.

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. She is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Nora’s and Lurie’s stories intertwine is the surprise and suspense of this lyrical and sweeping novel.

Inland is “a frontier tale that dazzles with camels and wolves and two characters who never quite meet,” says Kirkus Reviews. “It will take your breath away.”

“This is no boilerplate Louis L’Amour yarn,” says Newsday.

Art After Dark

Buzz

Art lovers will have a chance to add to their collections with the annual Art After Dark show.

Held by the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County, the free event is scheduled for 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, November 9 at Hardin Performing Arts Center. The exhibit and art sale will feature watercolors, oils, acrylics, photography, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry and mixed media by local artists.

Additional activities include live jazz music, a silent auction, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Closer Than Together — The Avett Brothers

Listen To This

There’s something special and uncomfortable about a departure release. What is deemed a career hiccup by diehard fans — a departure in style and sound — and captures the ear of the new, can be a risk well taken in the overall span of a career. The Beatles accomplished this departure swing with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, R.E.M. with Out of Time and James Brown with The Jungle Groove. The Avett Brothers’ latest and 10th studio release, Closer Than Together, is a tightly woven rollercoaster of the brothers’ tried and true lyrical genius with a mixed bag of sonic experimentation.

While some may review this album as a swing and a miss, it’s important to let this catalog marinate. With each listen, the instrumentation becomes brighter, the songwriting becomes more robust and the vibe amplifies their greatness.

The Avetts have never shied away from maintaining an unabashed and honest approach to delivering their hearts on a sleeve, and Closer Than Together delivers some of the best. Songs like “We Americans” and “Long Story Short” tackle serious introspective life-jaunts while “High Steppin” and “Tell the Truth” place accountability within the mind to the heart. Closer Than Together is refined brilliance and will be deemed the classic that established the anchor of The Avett Brothers’ longevity generations from now.

– Chris Rucker

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Buzz

If you don’t want to be a turkey on Turkey Day, we’re here to help with tips to get you through the holiday unscathed. It’s what we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Take the Wrap
You may want to pack some wrapping paper and tape or consider lightening your load by mailing gifts in advance, especially if you’re flying. The TSA doesn’t prohibit carrying on gifts, but security officers may have to unwrap or open them. Gifts can always be checked, but the cost could add up to be even more than that of shipping.

Moveable Feast
If you’re planning to carry on your favorite holiday dishes or homemade edible gifts, be aware that they might not pass TSA regulations. Any sauces, jams, honeys, oils, vinegars and dips are subject to the liquid rule. In case you forgot, the TSA offers the 3-1-1 guidelines for carry-ons: 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller in a 1-quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag, and one bag per passenger. When in doubt, check it. Baked goods like Grandma’s homemade apple pie are allowed through the security checkpoint, but they may be subject to “additional screening.”

Critter 911
If you’re tempted to share your feast with fur babies, beware of foods to keep out of pet dishes (besides the obvious chocolate and poultry bones). Garlic, onions and garlic powder can destroy dogs’ and cats’ red blood cells and lead to anemia. Toxins in grapes and raisins can trigger kidney failure.

Weigh In
The good news: the average American only gains a pound or two during the holidays. The bad news: many don’t shed it during the next 11 months. To battle the bulge, try eating a fiber-filled meal (salad with chicken, stir fry, burrito bowl) before you party so hunger won’t tempt you into making unhealthy or calorie-laden decisions.

Gridiron Smarts
If you think the gravy bowl is a matchup between two football teams, well, perhaps you should keep that to yourself. However, you can show off your football acumen when the Falcons take on the Saints on Thanksgiving night by casually commenting, “You know the Cowboys and the Dolphins are the only two teams to win a Thanksgiving Day game and the Super Bowl in the same season.” Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, the birds can make it three teams.

Talk Turkey
Have questions about preparing your Thanksgiving turkey? Then ask Alexa. To get the Butterball Alexa skill, simply say, “Alexa, open Butterball. . .” or “Alexa, ask Butterball…” and inquire away. Open every November and December, the Turkey Talk Line has 50-plus experts who answer more than 100,000 questions for thousands of households in the United States and Canada.

Grape Expectations
Turkey pairs well with red or white wines, but the seasonings you use and the way you cook your turkey — roasted, smoked, glazed, bacon-wrapped, fried (you get the picture) — help direct which wines go best with your Thanksgiving meal. The spicier the turkey, the sweeter the wine should be to help cut down the heat. For white wines, think Chardonnay, Chablis, Riesling or Gewürztraminer. If you’re seeing red, opt for Beaujolais Nouveau, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. Or if you’d rather pop some bubbly, that’s always in good taste, too.

Fry Bird
Yes, it’s the South, and we like our turkey deep-fried (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it). But outdoor chefs should take precautions when doing the frying. Place the fryer on a flat surface at least 10 feet away from the house, and wear long sleeves, pants, shoes and goggles for protection. Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before lowering it into the hot oil. Obviously, keep children and pets away… and a fire extinguisher close by – just in case.

Impress Your Guests
Want to impress your guests with a little Thanksgiving trivia? We thought you might, so we’ll share with you what a little bird told us. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade didn’t include any giant balloons. But don’t be deflated. When the parade debuted in 1924, the floats featured puppets, singers, celebrities, Santa Claus and live animals from the Central Park Zoo.

Bleak Friday
For some households, Black Friday could turn into Bleak Friday — it’s the busiest day of the year for plumbers. Thanks to all that food we gobble up on Thanksgiving (along with houseguests stressing out the plumbing system), kitchen drains, garbage disposals and yes, toilets, require more attention the day after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. You just might want to remind your well-meaning kitchen helpers not to stuff food or grease down the drain.

Downton Abbey – Southern Style

People

Photography by Sally Kolar

Local fans of the British TV show celebrated the long-awaited movie premiere with aplomb.

Devoted followers of “Downton Abbey,” a British historical drama that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015, eagerly awaited the September opening of the movie of the same name. These avid fans included a group of about 50 local ladies that saw the premiere together with reserved seating at Riverwatch Cinemas.

Making an event of the premiere, they dressed in period clothing for a pre-movie champagne brunch at Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast in North Augusta before heading to the theater.

Susan Salisbury of Evans organized the party for members of the Augusta Area Newcomers Club movie group and personal friends.

“I wanted everyone to have a happy day, go see a movie that we all like together, and then discuss it afterward,” she said.

Authentic Ambiance
A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Susan has visited Highclere Castle, the English estate where the “Downton Abbey” series and movie were filmed and, in real life, is the home of the Eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

The TV drama depicted the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century, and their servants. The film is set in 1927, slightly more than a year after the series finale takes place, and it features a royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary.

And stepping into Rosemary Inn was like touring the movie set – or Downton Abbey itself.

“This is the perfect house for a festive celebration like this,” said Diana Combs, who owns Rosemary Inn with her husband, Kelly. “A lot of people equate it with ‘Downton Abbey.’ They say it is the Downton Abbey of the South.”

The ladies wandered through the bed and breakfast, where “Downton Abbey” books and CDs, as well as a Life magazine with some of the show’s characters on the cover, were displayed. Period music played in the background on a player piano.

Evans resident Thelma Gilchrist, looking divine in a black dress, black shawl, elegant fingerless black gloves and black feathered flapper headpiece, snapped photos of the guestrooms on her cell phone. She says she recognized one of the bedrooms from a reality TV show.

In addition to dressing for the part, the women brought homemade dishes for the luncheon. Some of the recipes came from the cookbook, Downton Abbey Cooks.

Countertops in the dining hall were blanketed with silver trays of cucumber, pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches; steak rollups; potato salad; spinach salads; a strawberry congealed salad and a fruit tray with pineapple, grapes and strawberries.

A sideboard was topped with desserts such as Queen Mary’s favorite birthday cake, tiramisu chocolate strawberry trifle, blueberry scones, lemon tarts, petit fours, brownies and lemon thumbprint cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Prizes were awarded for Most Authentic Dish, Most Beautiful Dish, Best Presentation and Best Costume. The winners received scented soaps.

Lynn Pawlak of Evans won the prize for Most Authentic Dish with her Queen Mary’s cake, a génoise with chocolate frosting, from a recipe that has been in the royal family for generations. Susan LaFrance of Martinez won the Most Beautiful Dish award for the tiramisu, and Martinez resident Betty Sneed won the Best Presentation prize for the pineapple fruit tray.

Dressed to Impress
Martinez resident Fran Weber, one of two winners of the Best Costume contest along with Phyllis Harvey of Martinez, ordered her blush-colored, fringed dress from Amazon. She accented it with a strand of long pearls and a matching headpiece.

“We feel like we’re playing dress up. We feel like we’re part of an era,” said Fran. “I’m going to start binge-watching the show again.”

Phyllis wore a gold-sequined chemise with maroon jewels. “I got the dress a long time ago at a consignment store in Santa Barbara when I was looking for a costume,” she said.

A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Phyllis, who splits her time between Martinez and Santa Barbara, was attending a Newcomers event for the first time.

“I thought the party was amazing. I couldn’t believe how well they put it together. I look forward to more outings with the Newcomers,” she says. “The facility was beautiful. It was so fun to go through the house and look at the antiques. I love that era.”

Evans resident Lottie Gilchrist, who had been binge-watching the show for the past couple of months, found a dress in her closet for the occasion.

“I already had this dress. I look like the dowager, but that’s OK. It’s a good excuse to get dressed up,” she says.

Pat Rickerman of Martinez wore a black dress with fringe and long white gloves.

“The gloves are my daughter’s gloves from Social, and I made the dress for her for AP history class when she was in high school,” said Pat, who bought the dress at Goodwill and added the fringe. “The headband is actually a necklace, and the hose are $5 from Target.”

She also is a big fan of “Downton Abbey.” “I love the show and the everyday drama of the characters and the upstairs, downstairs part of it,” said Pat, referring to lives of the aristocratic characters and their household servants who work at the estate.

Teresa McVeigh of Augusta never had seen the TV show, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the festivities.

“I’m an Anglophile. I lived in England for a year,” she said. “I might have to go back and watch the show now.”

Carole Steffes of Evans didn’t know much about “Downton Abbey” either, but she certainly dressed the part. Her 1920s outfit included antique Black Jet mourning jewelry that had belonged to her great-aunt Kate, who was her grandmother’s sister.

Regardless of their familiarity with the show, the ladies enjoyed stepping back in time for a special occasion.

“This gives us an opportunity to channel our own ancestors,” said Susan. “You can tell it makes people so happy. We need these positive moments in our lives. It came from the heart. It makes me happy, but obviously, I’m not alone.”

By Sarah James

Take the Fall

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

The season of pumpkins and scarecrows, colorful leaves and cooler temperatures, family and food, comes early at a Northwood home.

Never mind the calendar. At the Northwood home of Regina and Peter Weitz, fall arrives in late August or early September. That’s when Regina starts decorating their home for the season.

“Fall is my favorite time of year,” she says.

Colors, Crafts & Cornstalks
The Long Island natives, who have lived in Columbia County for 26 years, moved into their Evans house 7.5 years ago after they became empty nesters. However, from the gorgeous seasonal décor to a score of guests on Thanksgiving, the Weitz household is anything but empty when fall is in the air.

(They also go all out for Christmas – Peter’s favorite time of year.)
A glimpse of the front yard and front porch lets passersby know that fall is in full swing. It starts with a scene on the front lawn built around a section of white picket fence draped with a strand of lighted fall leaves. A seated scarecrow blowup, a cornstalk, another smiling scarecrow, a bale of hay topped by pumpkins and a decorative fall flag add to the playful vignette.

The welcoming atmosphere extends to the front porch, which features white wicker furnishings including chairs, tables and a front porch swing; two ceiling fans; pillows and fabric with black-and-white buffalo checks; pumpkins; and fall flowers in containers and hanging baskets. Cornstalks are tied to white columns with fall ribbon, and bright yellow sunflowers are tucked in the bows.

Regina crafted a pumpkin-themed checkers set that sits atop a table in front of a wicker loveseat. She made orange and white pumpkins out of felt, attaching weights to the bottom of the pieces, and painted a piece of cut board with black and white squares. However, the game not only adds a decorative touch to the front porch.

“We sit out here and play checkers,” says Peter.

In fact, Regina made many of the crafts that decorate their home, including two pillows with the initial “W” on the back deck. “I usually do one or two crafts a year for each season,” she says.

Peter built an addition to the deck to expand the area, and he also built decorative partitions, which hang from hinges, to offer a bit of privacy to the space. “I design. He makes,” says Regina.

Containers of mums add a splash of color to the outdoor space, and a water feature on the wall enhances the ambiance.

A pergola covers one of several seating areas on the deck; four chairs surround a fire pit and a canopy shields the grill. Strands of lights are strung around the backyard, which features more seating areas, flowerbeds and planters.

“I love to work outside in the yard,” says Regina.

The Heart of the Home
She also likes to paint, and some of her artwork, including an acrylic of a pumpkin in the hallway and an oil of a tree in the dining room, hangs on the walls. A wire pumpkin filled with gold balls sits atop a serpentine chest in the dining room.

The centerpiece on the dining room table features fall leaves, gold and burlap ribbon, gold balls, a gold pumpkin, multi-colored candles in hurricane holders, burnt orange pillar candles on tall bronze holders and a table runner.

To accommodate their 20-plus guests for Thanksgiving, the Weitzes add a leaf to the dining room table and set up three more 8-foot tables that spill over into the wide foyer, which features hardwood flooring, a trey ceiling and a pumpkin sign that Regina constructed with wood and rope.

“A lot of us don’t have family here, and anyone who doesn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving is always welcome here,” says Regina, who is president of the Italian American Club of the CSRA and a member of the Augusta Area Newcomers Club.

The festivities begin with lots of appetizers and a huge antipasto salad. “We get the biggest turkey we can find – 24 or 25 pounds, and Peter puts it in a pan on the grill, closes the lid and cooks and bastes it for three hours,” says Regina.

“That frees up the ovens to cook and bake,” Peter says.

They need every bit of space in their three ovens to prepare side dishes such as stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, green beans, Brussel sprouts, squash casserole, succotash and eggplant parmesan.

Desserts include apple and pumpkin pies, cakes, fruit and nuts, Italian cookies, cannolis and other Italian pastries.

“It’s an all-day feast,” says Peter.

As part of their Thanksgiving tradition, they used to go shopping on Black Friday, spreading out three or four newspapers and combing through all of the fliers to look for sales. They lined up outside of stores at 2 a.m., but they have scaled back their shopping extravaganza now that some stores have started opening on Thanksgiving Day.

“Everybody was always in a good mood, telling each other we were crazy for being there,” says Peter. “But there’s nothing worth leaving your family and friends to go shopping on Thanksgiving.”

Especially when everyone is gathered in their cozy kitchen, which the Weitzes call their favorite spot in the house.

“I’m Italian, so the kitchen is always the heart of the home,” says Regina. “Italians like to cook and eat, so we always make an excuse to have people over.”

In addition to their annual Thanksgiving feast, the Weitzes entertain frequently throughout the year, and their gatherings include 30 – 40 people at a time for their wine and appetizer group.

The kitchen features white cabinets, granite countertops, a glass-front cabinet above the desk, subway tile backsplash and a charcoal-colored deep granite sink. Regina painted the pantry door with magnetic and chalk paints, and she lists their monthly schedule on it to keep track of their activities.

Each year on October 1 a small Santa takes up residence on the stove, and he counts down the last 84 days until Christmas. “He has been in the family for years,” says Peter.

A collection of roosters, including decorative roosters on the cabinet tops and pictures of roosters, are scattered about the kitchen. An iron doormat featuring a rooster is suspended from the cabinets above the cooktop, and a cutting board with the word “gather” on it hangs by the stove.

Also in the kitchen area, Regina displays her most cherished fall decoration – an acrylic of a black lantern that her sister, Christina Nazzaro, painted at Lynndale Inc., a day program facility for adults with special needs where Peter has served as a longtime board of trustees member and as acting president for three years.

“I hold this one near and dear to my heart,” Regina says of the painting, which is surrounded by fall leaves and a gold pumpkin.

A bay window, which features decorative valances, in the breakfast area overlooks the back yard. The table centerpiece includes a lantern with a burnt orange candle, a pair of pumpkins, leaves and berries. Green candles on black candleholders, placemats with leaf and pumpkin images and a table runner with a pumpkin on each end complete the tablescape.

In the living room, a banner that spells out the word “fall” hangs from the mantel of the raised-hearth, stone fireplace. An arrangement of fall leaves, pumpkins and scarecrows lines the mantel as well.

Family Tree
Upstairs, a family tree is painted on the hallway wall, and candid shots of various family members, who include the Weitzes’ daughter and son, their spouses and their three granddaughters, serve as the leaves.

Peter’s sports room, featuring a large-screen TV, football décor and lots of New York Yankees and Giants memorabilia, also occupies the second story. Framed photos of legendary Yankees’ sluggers Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, along with their stats, hang on a wall. “These are my heroes,” says Peter.

And of course, game days are another good reason to entertain friends and family and spread out a buffet. They make sure important people are there in spirit as well.

“Our son moved to Madison, Wisconsin five years ago, so we have to Facetime him during games,” Peter says.

For empty nesters, the Weitzes always seem to have a full house.

By Leigh Howard

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Cranberry, Apricot and Pistachio

Entrees
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachio kernels, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 (6-7 pound) turkey breast, butterflied

Melt butter and oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Stir in onion, cranberries, apricots, pistachio and garlic and cook until onion has softened; set aside about 5 minutes to cool. Place mixture in a bowl and stir in breadcrumbs, whisked eggs and salt and pepper.

Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and place 5-6 pieces of string across it to tie breast together later; set aside. Open butterflied breast and wrap in plastic wrap. Pound out (or roll with a rolling pin) to flatten to about 1/2-inch thick. Trim sides if needed. Place on strings and foil and season with salt and pepper. Press stuffing along the middle of the joint. Lift up the sides at one end, tucking in the short end and then tie the string firmly to keep the stuffing in place. Repeat with remaining strings and then wrap tightly in the foil. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 10 minutes at the end, until juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the middle. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Place turkey breast on a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 6-8 servings.

 

 

Rick’s Paint & Body

Go Local

Company Name:  Rick’s Paint & Body
Year Established: 1976
Owner: Rusty Campbell
Address: 251 Bobby Jones  Expressway
                 Martinez
Phone: 706.868.9904
Website: www.rickspaintandbody.com
Specialties: Collision repair, paint-less dent removal and dent repair, auto body painting, auto glass replacement and 24-hour towing service. Free estimates.

On a Mission

P.Y.S.K.

After founding a nonprofit organization to help vulnerable populations, a local veteran changed his own life by changing the lives of others.

Rock bottom is a holy place. And U.S. Army veteran Don Cummings, who retired in 2012, has been there.

During his 23-year military career, he served in Special Operations for 11 years. He was deployed to Afghanistan six times and to Iraq three times, and he traveled the world with General David Petraeus as his community Noncommissioned Officer for 15 months.

Two events in 2003, however, had a lasting, profound effect on the Hephzibah resident.

As part of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, Cummings was one of about 120 soldiers who took Haditha Dam that spring and defended it from Iraqi forces for 72 hours. For the first two days, the battalion endured nonstop mortar and artillery fire. At one point, a tank leveled its turret and aimed directly at Cummings.

“That started making me rethink life in general,” he says. “When you’re in combat, it’s not so much about the big picture. It’s about just living the next five minutes.”

Then, when he was deployed to Thailand in the fall, one of his men suffered serious injuries. Cummings had to call the soldier’s mother to tell her that her son might not survive. “She said it was all my fault. I was supposed to protect him,” Cummings says.

The soldier lived and received a medical discharge. Nevertheless, between those two incidents, Cummings says, “It put me in a really bad place. Everything in my life fell apart.”

Serving The Disadvantaged
Cummings went through PTSD, a divorce and a battle with alcohol, which left him feeling suicidal and depressed.

He started to turn his life around in October 2010 when someone invited him to church. He enrolled in Bible seminary and got involved in mission work, which led him to found Sons of Consolation Ministries.

The all-volunteer ministry, which earned 501(c)3 status two years ago, supports the area’s most vulnerable populations including the elderly, inmates, the disabled and children in poverty.

The name of the organization comes from the New Testament figure, Barnabas, a selfless man whose name means “the son of consolation.”

“I have traveled all over the world and seen poverty,” says Cummings, senior pastor and chairman of Sons of Consolation. “I know what it’s like to hurt. I know what it’s like to think nobody cares or understands.”

The ministry relies on the help of about 12 volunteers, including veterans George Wardy, who serves as associate pastor and vice chairman, and Cummings’ wife, Maria.

Martinez resident Craig Stone serves as president and CEO. He manages day-to-day operations and coordinates efforts with corporate sponsors, third-party sponsors and volunteers.

Cummings and Stone met through their work with Kairos Prison Ministry International. “Don told me his vision,” says Stone. “I believed in what he was telling me, and I still do.”

The volunteers visit residents and holds weekly church services at two local assisted living facilities, Amara Health Care & Rehab and Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center. The nonprofit also gives birthday and Christmas presents to the residents and visits them when they’re hospitalized.

In addition, Sons of Consolation has continued its work with Kairos. Volunteers visit inmates at Richmond County Detention Center and Augusta State Medical Prison, where twice a year they also hold four-day Kairos programs to introduce inmates to Christianity or encourage their spiritual growth.

“The whole idea of Kairos is to build a Christian community inside the prison,” says Stone. “Some of the men have gone through a complete transformation. For the men that go through the program and stay in the program, the recidivism rate drops by about 50 percent.”

Expanding Its Ministries
Through meeting elderly or incarcerated individuals with disabilities, the volunteers discovered another critical need. Many disabled people in the United States need a power wheelchair that they cannot afford, and the disabled in developing countries lack access to basic care. As a result, Sons of Consolation created a wheelchair repair and reassembly workshop.

“After we take them apart, clean them up and repair them, we ship the ‘newsed’ wheelchairs to South America,” Stone says. “The end product looks and functions like a brand new piece of equipment. We recycle the parts that we don’t use.”

Focusing on children in Bolivia and the elderly in Uruguay, they ship wheelchairs to South America twice a year through a partnership with Fridla, or Friends of the Disabled Latin America. The organization donates some refurbished wheelchairs locally as well.

Reaching out to children in poverty is the ministry’s newest program. This fall Sons of Consolation gave more than 100 backpacks, which were filled with school supplies, to four churches to distribute to children in their congregations.

“We don’t donate to individuals,” says Cummings. “We go through a third-party organization such as a church or a nursing home.”

The ministry, which operates in a facility off of Gordon Highway, would like to build its volunteer base.

“People can volunteer one morning a week, or provide financial support,” says Stone. “We will bring church mission boards and civic boards through the building to show them what we do. We steward our money very well.”

Volunteer opportunities range from visiting assisted living homes and refurbishing wheelchairs to baking cookies and filling backpacks.

“People can participate any way they would like. We would like for them to come see what we’re doing, and then they can tell me how they would like to help,” says Cummings. “Our goal in all of our programs is to reinforce a sense of community.”

Serving those who feel forgotten and alone certainly changed his outlook.

“Your choice in life is to sit and dwell on your own problems, or meet the needs of others,” Cummings says. “The more you’re focused on others, the smaller your own problems seem.”

For more information, visit sonsofconsolationministries.org or email info@sonsofconsolationministries.org.

By Betsy Gilliland