Southern Journal Magazine
Archived Content 2012 -2015
For several years this was the official website for Southern Journal Magazine. Southern Journal celebrated the unique quality of life in Georgia that made us proud to call the state our home.
Content is from the site's 2012-2015 archived pages providing a glimpse of what this magazine offered its readership.
Old issues of Southern Journal Magazine are available in digetal form at https://issuu.com/.
Southern Journal Magazine
McDonough, GA, United States
Southern Journal Magazine tells the stories of our home state of Georgia! As the area’s premier publication, Southern Journal celebrates the unique quality fo life that makes us proud to call Georgia home. Weather you live, work or play in the area, Southern Journal Magazine offers fresh insight and personal perspectives on what’s happening.
Southern Journal Magazine’s affluent, educated and active audience enjoy sophisticated articles, sharp photography and intelligent profiles of those making an impact in their communities.
As the most populous metro area in the state of Georgia, we are constantly redefining ourselves as we continue to grow and prosper. SJM has established itself as an essential source of information and inspiration.
- Southern Journal Magazine is currently distributed in over 350 locations in and around Atlanta, including the Southern Crescent.
- Currently we are publishing 6 issues per year. Subscriptions are $18 per year and delivered right to your door!
- Southern Journal Magazine is available through a comprehensive distribution plan, which includes newsstands, targeted distribution and retail locations.
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER / EDITOR
I was privileged to be recently appointed to one of these task forces – the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. It was created when the General Assembly wanted to create an agency with authority to address the needs of at-risk children and youth to create a more unified approach for addressing their needs. I believe the families and children in Georgia are blessed to have this wonderful woman in a place where she can and will make a difference, and I am dedicated to doing my part, as well.
You’ll also read about other individuals and agencies who have made it their goal to reach out and change lives – like the United Way cabinet and leadership, Castle Painting and Remodeling, and a group of men who aren’t afraid to don pink shirts for a worthy cause. We hope the September/October issue of Southern Journal Magazine will inspire and challenge you. And, of course, we also hope you’ll enjoy some fun fashion, decorating and things-to-do tips in our Lifestyle pages.So – grab yourself a mug of hot cider and a comfy seat and enjoy the read!
In my role as Publisher of Southern Journal Magazine, I am blessed with incredible opportunities to attend amazing and magical events.
Since our last issue I have had unforgettable experiences with wonderful friends; old and new. The events have afforded me the opportunity to observe the benevolence and goodness of people, cheer for a great football team that won by sheer will and share in the spirit of gatherings to benefit charitable causes.
This issue of SJM is dedicated to celebrating one of the most magical experiences: a wedding day. The amazing Tony Conway, CEO and Founder of “A Legendary Event” will share tips that he has learned in over 30 years of becoming a lifestyle leader in the event planning and bridal industry. Tony is one of the most sought after event planners and I am so grateful for his help in making this inaugural bridal issue of SJM spectacular.
You will also read about Kate Atwood, she shared with us her incredible journey to becoming Executive Director for the Arby’s Foundation in the last issue and in this issue we will find out about her personal passion of helping young children heal from the grief of losing a loved one.
Strong Rock Christian School can’t wait to share with you the many great accomplishments of alumni and student leadership. The premier Christian school for the southside of Atlanta, SRCS not only has the fine arts, athletics and academics but they also carry the heart of the families that provide mission groups serving globally. Consolidated Copiers has always served their clients with world class service and with their move back to Henry County they are ready to continue their legacy in providing the very best in product
and business solutions.
We are here to share the greater good of those around you. So, please, find a comfy spot on this cold winter day; grab a soft blanket, a cup of coffee and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Vinoy, the beautiful brides, venues, photography and the wonder of life and living in the South.
Every great leader has vision that reaches beyond today’s concerns and issues, even beyond this current generation.
The very essence of true vision is to foresee a better future for the next generation – and the next. Whether leadership is on a corporate, municipal, county, state or federal level, the impact ripples out to touch and change all of our lives. Mrs. Sandra Deal, First Lady of our great state of Georgia, is just such a visionary leader. This amazing woman is not a figure head standing by the governor’s side but is a dynamic force in her own right.
As you read this issue of Southern Journal Magazine, you’ll learn about some of her diverse initiatives and programs – notably those which have been formed to encourage and brighten the future of this generation of children; and to make a lasting impact on the ones to come.
Success is such as an elusive concept.
What is it? How do you obtain it? At what point can you say the words, “I have succeeded”?
I believe most business leaders, prominent people of influence and those who are truly making an impact on our society would agree that success is a personal journey. Each person has to decide his or her own definition of success. For some it’s staying home, raising children who will make their own indelible mark on the world – for others it’s setting up business empires or nonprofit organizations whose scope touches scores of lives. For some it’s combining the best of both of these worlds!
The motto “You have to crawl before you walk; walk before you run” most often sets the stage for true success – as does surrounding oneself with the right people. In this issue of Southern Journal Magazine we are proud to feature 14 influential people under 40. These are the often behind-the-scenes folks who allow Tyler Perry to be Tyler Perry – and who keep our first lady on schedule hour-by-hour, day-by-day. Who stays at the helm of Usher’s foundation so that he can continue to grow his own sphere of influence? And which former NFL Pro Bowl fullback is making strides in teaching kids to “go green”? Some of our 14 Under 40 are business leaders in their own right, who have taken personal journeys of sacrifice to be where they are today. As you read these stories, we believe you will be inspired, encouraged and perhaps motivated to take that step, that leap of faith that has long been a vision in your own heart and mind.
Also in this issue, I am pleased to allow you a personal glimpse into someone who has been one of the greatest influences on the road to my own success. So, as always, find yourself a cozy place to sit during this busy holiday season and take a moment to BE INSPIRED! From all of us at Southern Journal Magazine, may you have a blessed and glorious holiday season!
Sacred Journey Hospice
John Alford – Leaving a Legacy
By: Lauren Keefer | Photos: Images by Amie Photography
Aside from the oxygen tank at his feet, you’d never know John Alford was a Sacred Journey Hospice patient. He’s jovial and welcoming, and the love between him and his wife, Jane, crackles like a cozy fire. Unless you’d asked him, you’d never know he was a Vietnam veteran either. In 1961, at age 17 he signed up for the Marine Corps. He was so young he had to have his dad’s signature.
“I wanted to be part of the best,” said Alford. “I had an uncle who was a Marine. I never even considered anything else.” While in the Marine Corp, Alford was a helicopter crew chief. He was responsible for the aircraft and all the people aboard, and he served as a doorway gunner. They took direct fire to bring out troops, supplies, and wounded men and casualties.“I’m glad I did it,” said Alford. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d do it all over again. If I hadn’t been in the situation I was in, I would have stayed and made it a career.”
Like many veterans, Alford later found out he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and then developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as a result of his service in Vietnam. This is a disease that makes it progressively harder for him to breathe. Eventually, he began care at Sacred Journey Hospice. “Hospice has been a life saver. Literally. We would not be having this interview if Reggie and the Nurse Practitioner had not been here when I collapsed,” said Alford.
“It’s been a pleasure having hospice. I appreciate it more than I can describe. I don’t need or want for anything. All I have to do is ask.”
In addition to his medical care, Sacred Journey takes special measures for his care as a veteran. His Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Reginald Dunson, is a veteran as well. Sacred Journey presented him with a certificate and pin as recognition for his service and helped him get a new dress blue uniform.
“The plaque was unexpected and a very nice touch,” said Alford. “It’s a big deal to have a Navy Corpsman as my LPN. There is a bond like brothership between the Marines and Navy Corpsmen. They fight with us side by side and tend to us when we are injured.”
September 30th, the two took their brothership to the air. Alford was part of Honor Flight, which flies veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington, DC. Alford flew free as a veteran, and the Sacred Journey Hospice foundation covered Dunson’s fee so he could be there to support his patient. “It’s a tremendous honor to go. It’s the only way I’d ever get to see the Vietnam Memorial,” said Alford. “I asked Reggie if he’d like to go to DC, and he said he’d love it. He just got on fire about that. I knew he’d appreciate the opportunity as much as me.”
Alford and Dunson started the day in full regalia with an escort to the airport by the Patriot Guard and full Rockdale County police department. They spent the day reflecting and being recognized for their service. The veterans were visibly moved at each memorial, and Alford was able to leave challenge coins (a memento of respect and brotherhood) for six of his fallen comrades at the Vietnam Memorial. “I paid respect to my buddies and finally said goodbye in the right way,” said Alford. “I am extremely grateful for the recognition we received. I have been told thank you more times today than in the past 50 years since the war”.
For more information about Sacred Journey Hospice, call 678-583-0717 or visit: www.SacredJourneyHospice.com.
Showcasing Georgia’s Artists
By: Linda Summerlin |
A lifelong resident of Jonesboro, Linda Summerlin effectively tells the story of Arts Clayton from the beginning in 1986 through a State arts-development grant. She was elected to the Board, served as President for 9 years, and since 2003 has worked on the business of art as full-time Executive Director. She was appointed by three Governors to serve on the Georgia Council for the Arts Board of Directors. Her vision is to continue growing Arts Clayton into a regional magnet for art and even more opportunities for showcasing Georgia’s visual artists.
EXHIBITING ART FROM ALL PARTS OF GEORGIA
The Arts Clayton Gallery is open to Georgia artists. Two juried competitions each year bring artists from all parts of the State to vie for “Best in Show.” Many of these artists are resources for “Read to Succeed Through the Arts” children’s education initiative with schools.
When Governor Deal decided to share the State Art Collection with communities across the State, Arts Clayton was one of 9 sites selected for “Inspired Georgia.” This unique exhibit featured renowned Georgia artists including Howard Finster, Lucinda Bunnen, Benny Andrews, and Herbert Creecy.
Arts Clayton partners with galleries and museums to exhibit the great diversity of Georgia artists. “Celebration of the Gullah/Geechee Culture” brought coastal artists from the Penn Center and Red Piano Too Art Gallery, ring shouters, root doctors, and storytellers to share their colorful artistry and rich history. Past exhibit partners have been the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens), Tubman African-American Museum (Macon), and Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville).
“Arts Clayton has a long history of showcasing original art by Georgia artists, and we are working to preserve a beautifully restored 100-year-old facility as a home for the arts for another 100 years!”
WORLD-CLASS TRAVELING EXHIBITS
In support of Clayton County’s economic development and tourism programs, Arts Clayton went through an extensive process for Smithsonian compliance to accommodate prominent exhibits – collections of art that travel nationally and internationally. “Narrative of Light and Shadow” by Taiwanese female photographers toured Australia, Greece and Mexico before its American debut. Recognized as the most significant modern art America has produced, the “Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibit had traveled to New York, Washington, Houston and Atlanta before coming to Jonesboro. In 2016 Arts Clayton is the only metro gallery selected for the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams – How Sports Shape America” which is jointly sponsored by Georgia Humanities and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
ANNUAL MISTLETOE MARKET
The Arts Clayton Gallery’s Mistletoe Market opens November 3, and a special “Buy Design” event on November 14th featuring artists and unique one-of-kind designs. Shoppers can expect a wide range of original art plus artisan foods. Arts Clayton is certified by the Department of Agriculture to market Georgia Made and Georgia Grown products.
Klesko - Former Major League Baseball Player
August 28, 2015
Bringing it back around, life comes full circle for Ryan Klesko
By Pamela A. Keene
Coaching his 6-year-old son Hunter’s baseball team in Macon takes former Major League Baseball Player Ryan Klesko back to his own childhood, when his mom Lorene Klesko literally built a pitching mound in the family’s back yard and worked out with him three days a week. Because his father had been hurt working in the oil fields, Klesko’s mom put on the catcher’s gear and encouraged him. By the time he was in high school, his pitching speed hit 92 miles per hour. “She has always been there for me and I so much appreciate her influence every day.
Klesko’s hard work and his mother’s dedication set him on the road to becoming a professional athlete, but it also taught him life’s values. Today he works with the young people of Middle Georgia to instill in them the spirit of fairness, sportsmanship and always doing their best, the same way his mom and his coaches did for him growing up.
“I got drafted out of California at 18 into the minors with the Atlanta Braves and soon I was playing ball against many of the guys I watched growing up, he says. “It was an incredible time. In those days, the Braves were the Dream Team, and they proved it by finishing at No. 1 in 14 of 15 seasons between 1991 and 2005. The Braves won the 1995 World Series, their first since moving South, and Klesko made Major League Baseball history by hitting home runs in three consecutive World Series games.
“I got drafted out of California at 18 into the minors with the Atlanta Braves and soon I was playing ball against many of the guys I watched growing up, it was an incredible time.
In 1999 Klesko moved back to California where he played for six seasons with the San Diego Padres, where he became a marquee player. In 2007 he signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. During his seasons in MLB, Klesko was actively involved in community organizations, especially those that involved children with medical issues, including Make-A-Wish and his own Klesko’s Korner initiative to provide game tickets to children and families fighting cancer.
After retiring, he and his family returned to Georgia to live on the 1,700-acre tree farm he and Atlanta Braves teammate John Smoltz had purchased in 1998 just outside of Macon. “It was great for me to be back in California to play ball in front of family and friends, but I really consider Georgia home, he says. “I just love the South and people have always been so good to me here; I knew we’d always come back to Georgia. He stays in touch with many of his former teammates.
Almost from the beginning of his career, Klesko has helped other people and given back to the community, a trait he learned from his mother. “Around the time I was drafted, my mom had an accident and wan unable to work, he says. “I saw it as my role to provide for her while she was out of work and baseball allowed me to do that. We always take care of family. And my mom taught me well, because I was raised to give back.
“We always take care of family. And my mom taught me well, because I was raised to give back.
Retirement in 2008 from a successful 15-year career in Major League Baseball hasn’t slowed Ryan Klesko one bit. The former Atlanta Braves first-baseman/left fielder continues his commitment to giving back to the community while managing rental properties. He also invests in start-up companies. A couple of years ago, he bought out Smoltz’s part of the farm and today he’s an environmentalist and tree farmer.
In 2005, he founded the Blue Ryno Foundation to help critically ill children and their families. He has also worked over the years with Make-A-Wish. “In addition to my children’s charity, we support wounded veterans and soldiers, hold five to six charity tournaments each year and provide support to other organizations in Middle Georgia, he says. “We try to give back as much as we can.
When asked about his wife Kelly and his 6-year-old son Hunter, his face lights up. He tells of a recent trip to the San Juan Islands, where they went fishing, saw Orca whales, and visited the whale museum. “We had the best time, and so I’m slowly starting to work less. Now it’s all about my family and watching my son grow up.
Cover Story: Southside Realtors
Teamwork And Mutual Support Keeps Southside Realtors On The Leading Edge
August 27, 2015
By: Pamela A. Keene
In just four years, Brian O’Neal has grown Southside Realtors in Henry County from an on-paper concept to a thriving real estate enterprise. By having a vision, understanding the real estate market, and tapping into his street smarts to use the resources at his fingertips, he built a solid reputation among the real estate community, especially with builders and investors, when housing values were down and the end to the construction crash was far out of sight.
In the middle of the downturn, O’Neal worked on behalf of banks to re-market foreclosures and to purchase rental houses for investors. “They sought someone who understood the market needs in that kind of economy to help them through the tough times,” he says. “It was a win for them and a win for me because of the strong relationships that were forged with bankers and investors.”
A native of Clayton County, O’Neal’s dream had been to become a high school physical education teacher and a wrestling coach; he attended Clayton State College for a bit. He left college to work for the Ford Motor Company plant in South Atlanta, serving 10 years on the line and two as a union steward. “But when I knew they were closing the plant and wanted to move us to Kentucky, I got my real estate license online at night so that I could stay here.”
Having grown up in the area gave him a strong base of connections and after four years of working for another company on the investment and management side of real estate, he went out on his own and founded Southside Realtors.
“They sought someone who understood the market needs in that kind of economy to help them through the tough times.”
Property manager Robin Harrell was his first hire with the business focus still on managing real estate for investors. In the meantime, local builders started coming to him to find them a handful or two of lots in the county’s “stick farms,” bank-owned unfinished subdivisions, so they could ease back into new construction as the market began to recover in 2012.
“After about a year, new construction started taking off again and we had relationships with new-home builders who started asking us to market their communities,” O’Neal says. “And as growth and development came back to Henry County, we were poised to transition the company even further into residential real estate sales.”
O’Neal recalls when Henry and Clayton counties were thought of as rural. “I remember when there was nothing here and I watched as every exit along I-75 was developed,” he says. “Then businesses came, and more and more companies saw the potential on the South side and brought new jobs. Around that time, Henry County became the third fastest-growing county in the United States, until 2008 and the recession hit.”
These days, robust growth in the housing market has returned to the county and other communities along I-75 southward. “New-home construction is everywhere again and the demand for Realtors has returned,” he said. “We’ve got very good relationships with builders and bankers, and our reputation in the community is very positive.”
Southside Realtors has reaped the benefits of the turnaround in the real estate market. The company is moving into brand-new 2,100-square-foot offices and keeps expanding its relationships with new-home builders and new communities. Agents are also involved in resales as Southside’s positive reputation for great customer service and building long-term relationships with clients continues.
O’Neal is quick to focus the credit for Southside’s growth and success to the agents and brokers who work there. “This is not about me as a Realtor or a business owner,” he says. “l give our Realtors and brokers here at Southside Realtors all the credit. It’s because of them, their open attitude, their willingness to take care of our clients and their commitment that we are successful and growing.”
Building a Business through Teamwork
Steady growth in the marketplace has produced a strong series of hires at Southside Realtors, building a sales and brokerage team that just keeps getting better. “We’ve been able to increase our staff by at least 20 percent every year and last year we added 6 or 7 more team members,” he says. “Once they join us, they stay here.”
Sales have increased as well, from more than 150 transactions valued at more than $11 million in 2012 to being on pace in 2015 to have more than 250 transactions and more than $40 million in sales.
O’Neal’s business model of teamwork and easy access to brokers and resources is only part of the story. The people who work with him come from diverse backgrounds; some have decades of real estate industry experience and others are new to the business. But they all have one thing in common – they embrace the principal of helping each other out and making sure that everyone there succeeds. Additionally, treating each client with respect and cultivating long-term relationships with them is the hallmark of Southside Realtors.
“I credit our success to our team because each and every one of them brings their values, ideals and commitment to our clients with them,” he says. The company has 26 sales agents, five of which have brokers’ licenses. “We’ve made a point of bringing in agents with a wide range of experience, background and attributes, but the key has always been that they believe in our philosophy of relationship-based client service and supporting each team member.”
Seasoned real estate professional Steve Buchholz was in new-home construction for about 30 years in the Midwest before moving to Atlanta in 2001. He connected with several builders to draw house plans for them, then got his real estate license in 2009. “Brian was the agent on the other side of the table in my second real estate transaction,” Buchholz says. “Right away he was very professional, had a great personality and a good sense of humor. The transaction was incredibly enjoyable. As time went on, it seemed like Brian’s group represented most of the builders I was drawing plans for, so when it came time for him to add another agent because he was getting a new builder to represent, I was hired.”
Kristi Sons didn’t hesitate to reach out to Brian when she returned to residential real estate sales several years ago. “I’ve known Brian since we were in our early teens and he’s always been a person of integrity and perseverance,” she says. “He’s a good guy and a picture of hard work, and it’s been a refreshing change to be here at Southside Realtors.”
Just last year, her husband Stuart made the transition into residential real estate from general sales of everything from life insurance to hospice services. “Having been in sales all my life I’ve known that it’s more than a transaction; it’s a relationship and being here at Southside gives me the chance to really cultivate and build those relationships,” he says. “Everyone is always so willing to help each other. It’s not every man for himself the way it tends to be in most sales environments. Teamwork here is not just a concept or a slogan on a piece of paper. It’s the truth that we experience every day.”
Heidi Baxter has lived in Henry County for 20 years and has her degree in housing from the University of Georgia’s Department of Housing and Consumer Science. “In the back of my mind, I’d always wanted to be in real estate,” Baxter says. “As the market started turning around, I got my real estate license last fall and did extensive online research of brokerages around the county and Southside Realtors was at the top of the list. It turns out we had a number of mutual friends who spoke very highly of Brian and his reputation, so I interviewed with him and joined the company. There is such a wealth of knowledge here and everyone is so willing to help each other. Whenever I have a question I have multiple people in my back pocket so willing to help, no matter what time of day, plus we all have similar values about our relationship approach to real estate. From the very beginning it has felt like family here.”
“We all have similar values about our relationship approach to real estate. From the very beginning it has felt like family here..”
A long-time friend of O’Neal’s, Tina Ballou grew up in Clayton County and met Brian through mutual friends back in Junior High School. When selling one home and purchasing another, she reconnected with him to handle the transactions. “He had helped us in both selling and buying a new home and just the way he handled himself on a professional level, we knew right away where we stood,” she said. “Later it was Brian who truly inspired me to go into real estate and I admire the way he’s made it through tough times and how supportive he is of everyone here. He’s family-oriented, in touch with the community, enthusiastic and has such a positive personality. His attitude and outlook set the tone for our success.”
For Kallai Casey, earning her real estate license five years ago didn’t immediately propel her into the world of residential sales. She kept passing Southside’s office and finally decided to check it out. “I was interested in working with a firm where I could have good access to a broker and feel a personal connection,” Casey says. “Three years ago, I knew from the moment I walked in the door that Southside was what I was looking for. Our brokers have so much experience and they’re available to answer questions and help me, no matter what day or time I call them. And because of their perspective, they’ve helped me avoid mistakes so that I can better help my clients. There’s such a sense of camaraderie here and we all get along so well, we’re truly like a family. In this competitive industry, it is so nice to work with trustworthy, ethical and genuine people.”
As a Top Five residential real estate agency on the south side, Southside Realtors is poised for another successful year. Although the company has been approached by national firms, O’Neal maintains his commitment to being a local business with strong ties to the community. “You know, it takes the professionalism and dedication of each member of our team to grow to where we are today,” he says. “We’ve done this without becoming a national brand, and we’ve done it because of every single member of the team here. We’re not just your Realtor; we’re also your neighbors.”
Travel: The Adolphus
April 27, 2015
The Adolphus Hotel
In 1912 beer baron, Adolphus Busch created what many compare to a luxury palace, The Adolphus Hotel. Once the tallest building in Texas, the original building was built of granite, brick, and limestone and was topped with a distinctive copper roof and carefully crafted moldings. This historic property is filled with 23 stories of charm and European-styled grandeur is located in downtown, Dallas, Texas conveniently located near eclectic restaurants, exciting nightlife and cultural attractions.
The Adolphus is adorned with elegant and authentic items such as the famous gilded Busch chandelier that hangs above the escalators ascending to the Lobby Living Room. The property is home to an 1893 grand Steinway that charms guests at afternoon tea and cocktail hour. There is also a Louis XV style grandfather clock that still keeps time.
The same elegance that is seen throughout the hotel common areas can be seen in the 410 guest rooms, including the 7 luxury suites and 123 junior suites. Select suites give guests access to private garden terraces. Equipped with luxury linens, exquisite baths and other modern conveniences, guests experience world class accommodations.
Guests also enjoy the finest dining with restaurants such as The Bistro, Walt Garrison Rodeo Bar & Grill, Afternoon Tea in the Lobby Living Room and The French Room, named the number one hotel restaurant in America by Zagat. Each restaurant provides a different cuisine and atmosphere. From cosmopolitan cuisine served in an impeccable atmosphere to Tex-Mex classics served in a location that spells Lonestar state, there is something for everyone. For guests who want to stay in the comfort of their room, guestroom dining service is also provided.
The Adolphus Hotel’s sophistication and service has been recognized among the industries foremost authority. The hotel has received the Hotel Award from AAA Four Diamond; named as Best Business Hotels by Travel and Leisure; named on Frommer’s, list of “The 20 Best Luxury Hotels” among many others. It is also the hotel of choice for many well-known illuminaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, The Vanderbilts, Donald Trump and many others.
For a combination of elegance, style and the finest amenities in Dallas Texas, look no further than the Adolphus Hotel.