SAVANNAH, GA – JANUARY 28, 2022 – The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire is making history as the organization officially announces its first full-time president and CEO, Mark Dana. 

For the past 12 years, Dana has served on a purely voluntary basis as the club’s president, donating his own time and talents to lead the well-known regional nonprofit to record levels of success and recognition. He’s eager to achieve even more as the club’s first full-time employee. To date, the 200 Club has given over $3.5 million to support the families of fallen first responders in a 20-county area of Georgia and South Carolina. 

After a line-of-duty death, the 200 Club provides a one-time financial contribution to the surviving family members and provides a fully paid college education – including tuition, room and board, textbooks and a computer – to a fallen first responder’s children and spouse. Once the club responds to a family, it’s a lifetime commitment. Every year following the loss of a first responder, financial assistance is provided to families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, along with red roses on Mother’s Day.

It’s a cause near and dear to Dana’s heart, as he spent nearly a decade serving in the law-enforcement profession. A career transition brought him into the hospitality industry and prompted a move to Savannah for Dana and his family in 1995. From there, he developed one of the area’s premier hospitality brands, Savannah Lodging LLC, serving as the managing partner. Though work and family kept him busy over the years, Dana always felt strongly about supporting first responders and rallying communities around those willing to give their lives to keep the public safe. The 200 Club’s lead volunteer role was a perfect fit for him.

The club’s board has seen the impact the organization makes in the lives of those it serves, and they know there are still so many others in need of the kind of help they can provide. But to expand the organization and its reach, the board knew a dedicated, full-time president and CEO would be necessary. They had no doubt Dana was the right person to help them reach loftier goals.

200 Club founder Tak Argentinis was delighted by Dana’s acceptance of the job.

“Mark has been a fantastic volunteer president for the 200 Club for 12 years. His commitment, dedication and compassion are exceptional; we couldn’t have asked for a person of better character and integrity to lead this club. He’s always balanced running his company and raising his family with his club responsibilities so well, with unparalleled devotion,” Argentinis said. “We’re proud to offer him the full-time job of running the 200 Club and are confident that he will do so much for so many in his new role. The entire board and I congratulate Mark on his achievements and look forward to continuing our work with him.”

Dana expressed gratitude for the board’s trust in him and is ready to put the club’s plans into action.

“I’m honored to accept the full-time position of president and CEO for the 200 Club and look forward to expanding the organization’s mission to help heal and support as many first responder families as possible,” Dana said. “We’re going to be increasing our regional engagement quite a bit in the next few months and we hope we can rely on added community support as the club moves into this next phase of growth and effectiveness.”

The Two Hundred Club is a 501(c) (3) organization that provides for the surviving spouses and dependents of first responders who have lost their lives or sustained critical injuries in the line of duty. The organization serves a 20-county area within Georgia and South Carolina. To date, the organization has given over $3.5 million to families and have become a respected voice of the community’s appreciation for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For more information, go to www.twohundredclub.org, call 912-721-4418 or email info@twohundredclub.org

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377). 


UPSON COUNTY, GA. – January 27, 2022 – Beyond The Bell has appointed Wanda Johnson as their new Region 6 Project Coordinator in Upson County. 

Johnson received her Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Mercer University and a Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Post-Secondary and Adult Education. She began using her qualifications by training childcare professionals and student teachers at Southern Crescent Technical College in Thomaston, GA. She then transitioned into a role as a Special Education teacher at George E. Washington Elementary School in Woodbury, GA where she developed appropriate learning center and instructional materials to facilitate differentiated activities and individualized performance tasks. Her most recent role has been a Life Skills Instructor for Roosevelt Warm Springs where she provided guidance and instruction in life skills needed for individuals looking to gaining employment. 

“I am beyond pleased to start working with Beyond The Bell to start developing materials and programs that will guide the youth of Upson County to avoid the pressures of abusing drugs and alcohol. I believe that my experience has equipped me to be able to provide the tools they need to combat any negative messages that might hinder them from reaching their full potential,” said Johnson. “Beyond The Bell does such amazing work in Upson County and I am ready to dive headfirst into growing and developing the organization

 Beyond The Bell offers programs in the local schools and community, including the Botvin Life Skills Training, which consists of a 7-week groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program designed to promote mental health and positive youth development. Beyond The Bell also implements the “Positive Social Norms” campaign, which focuses on the fact that people’s behavior often is influenced by their perceptions of what is “normal” or “typical.” The problem is that people usually severely misperceive the typical behaviors or attitudes of their peers. For example, if people believe that the majority of their peers drink, then they are more likely to drink. Using social norms marketing to inform people that most of their peers do not drink can potentially lead them to avoid drinking. 

For more information about Beyond The Bell, its programs/resources and success all of the impacted communities, please visit www.beyondthebellkids.org or visit any of the BTB communities Facebook pages. 

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com, Allie Robinson at allie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-547-3100 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


As we get older, the deaths of celebrities we grew up with unfortunately become more frequent. Last week’s sad news about the passing of singer Marvin Lee Aday, known as the iconic Meat Loaf, was another reminder of the passage of time.

I have always been enthralled by most things American, even years before I met my American husband in London. I clearly recall the first time I heard Meat Loaf’s voice on ‘Radio One’, a very popular British BBC radio station targeting teenagers. What a voice! This larger-than-life singer hit the British charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I was an impressionable teenager. There was a small group of us at my very proper English all-girls high school who confessed to adoring the powerful vocals of this motorcycle riding, long-haired, 250-plus pound bad boy American rock star, but I think more of my classmates secretly agreed!

Born in Dallas to a gospel singing mother and a police officer father in 1947, this future star lost his mom when he was still a teenager. His mother had divorced his alcoholic father some years before and raised her son alone. He acquired the nickname Meat Loaf at a young age, some say because of his hefty size, and others say because of his love for this recipe cooked by his mother. Whatever the reason, the name stuck. He moved to California at the age of twenty to pursue his musical career and was soon fronting the band Meat Loaf Soul. He alternated between music and acting, and in 1970 he moved to New York to appear in Broadway musicals. He made his film debut in 1975 with thememorable role of Eddie in the cult film classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

Two years later he kicked off his musical partnership with lyricist Jim Steinman, and “Bat Out of Hell” hit the world by storm. It became one of the top-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies, but it had a slow start and mixed reviews. Meat Loaf was so little known at first that he began his “Bat Out of Hell” tour in Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Trick, then one of the world’s hottest groups. Touring and promoting “Bat Out of Hell” took a toll on Meat Loaf’s voice and left him unable to sing for two years, but after months of rehabilitation, he was able to get back in the studio and record his next album “Dead Ringer”.

Meat Loaf’s popularity waned during the 1980s in the USA, but he continued to have major chart successes in Europe and Australia – which is when I first fell in love with his music back in England. In fact,”Dead Ringer for Love”, a duet with Cher, was a top five single in the UKbut barely made the top 50 in the US. When Meat Loaf and Steinman got back together in 1993, they released the powerful “Bat Out Of Hell II” which went to the top of the charts in the US, UK, and 26 other countries. There is lots more information at www.imdb.com

Meat Loaf had suffered many health issues starting back in the 1970s, and over the years he had been very open about his struggles with alcohol abuse and mental health issues. I was living in London and remember the media frenzy when he collapsed on stage during his British tour in 2003 and needed surgery before he could head home to the USA. There has been much speculation recently about if he was suffering from Covid-19 but, in any event, I think we all agree that his death at the age of 74 is a sad loss for millions of fans.

My family and friends have been debating this week about our favorite Meat Loaf songs. Most Americans, including my husband and some colleagues at the office, clearly prefer “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”. While I can see that it is very amusing, and also a small opera crammed into an 8-minute song, I just didn’t “get it” back when it came out. In England, I had never seen baseball or heard the game commentary on radio. I certainly didn’t know what second base was – either in baseball or when used by young people experimenting with romance. Personally, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” is my favorite, closely followed by “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth”. On the other hand, the radio always gets turned up in our cars when “Bat out of Hell” comes on. It is hard to believe that he has gone.

I will leave you with a quote from the star himself: “Rock n’ Roll came from the slaves singing gospel in the fields. Their lives were hell and they used music to lift out of it, to take them away. That’s what rock n’ roll should do – take you to a better place.”

God Bless America and Rest in Peace, Meat Loaf.

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@francis.com or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com


SAVANNAH, GA – Jan. 25, 2022 – Lesley Francis Public Relations (LFPR) has announced the appointment of their new spring intern, Emily Vonck. At LFPR, the roles of the intern are to support team members through drafting news releases, managing client media coverage, content creation, social media management, and drafting materials for various clients. 

Vonck was born in Kennesaw, Georgia and is in her final semester at Georgia Southern University (GSU). She will graduate with honors in May 2022, earning her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. She is currently the president of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), works part time at a Statesboro pottery studio, Southern Pottery and Art Studio, and volunteers her spare time at the local soup kitchen. Through her courses at GSU, Vonck has worked with several organizations in the Statesboro area and completed an internship with The Otis Redding Foundation to help further develop her understanding of the public relations industry. 

“I am honored to have this opportunity to work with such a reputable and well-known agency like Lesley Francis PR,” Vonck said. “I am looking forward to working with this talented group of women to develop my skills through their diverse range of clients.” 

LFPR is an award-winning public relations agency established in 2011 in Richmond Hill, GA. 

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-5377.



We talk a lot about aftermarket accessories for performance, but we can’t forget about the interior of your vehicle.

Custom seat covers will protect the inside of your car, truck, JEEP, or SUV from damage, stains, and everyday wear and tear. Custom seat covers provide the perfect fit every time, making keeping your vehicle clean a breeze, and offer unparalleled comfort.

At LINE-X of Savannah, we highly recommend custom seat covers and we’ve got the experience to know just which covers are the best. We want to share that insider knowledge with you. These are our top choices for seat covers:



Marathon make some of the best heavy-duty custom seat covers out there. Made from genuine Cordura Nylon fabric, these covers are available in a wide range of colors and prints. This is the toughest fabric out there and it is perfect for high-traffic areas. Marathon seat covers are treated to be 100% waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about rain, snow, or wet conditions. And these covers aren’t only about performance, they look amazing too. You’ll get full coverage without any wrinkling or sagging.


Ruff Tuff

Ruff Tuff seat covers offer a variety of fabrics so you can choose the best for your needs. Available in an array of patterns, you’re sure to find the best option for your lifestyle and preference. Ruff Tuff seat covers are durable and provide a great fit. You can choose from several cover options, including headrest and armrest covers, front and rear pockets, removable pistol pockets, and hard console lid covers. With Ruff Tuff, you’ll also get amazing customer service.



Covercraft also makes seat covers in a wide variety of fabrics and prints. If you’re looking for tough, their work truck covers are just what you need. If luxury seat covers are more your speed, they’ve got those too. Or maybe your canine companion is frequently your co-pilot—Covercraft makes seat covers specifically designed to protect from man’s best friend. Precision fit, waterproof, stain resistant, and resilient, Covercraft seat covers are sure to have exactly what you’re looking for.


Rough Country

Rough Country Neoprene seats are the ultimate in protection. Neoprene is durable and can stand up against anything. Rough Country seat covers are easy to install, fit snuggly, and will protect your vehicle’s interior from the elements. Waterproof, heat resistant, and non-flammable—what more could want?



Sometimes custom seat covers aren’t enough to get the job done and a total seat replacement is necessary. Or maybe you’re just ready for an interior upgrade. When a seat replacement is what you want, we suggest you take a look at Katzkin. Professionally installed and customizable, these seats are pure luxury. You can transform your ride today—upgrading is easy! Katzkin can give you the interior of your dreams.


Nothing can change the look and function of your ride more easily than the right seat covers. At LINE-X of Savannah, we can help you choose the perfect seat covers. Whether you’re more interested in looks or performance, we’ve got you covered!



SAVANNAH, GA – January 24, 2022 – The Savannah Challenger, a premiere professional tennis event presented by St. Joseph’s/Candler and hosted by the Landings Club at the Franklin Creek Tennis Center on Skidaway Island, will be returning for its 12th annual year from April 25 – May 1, 2022, after a break due to the pandemic. This United States Tennis Association (USTA) ATP tournament is part of the worldwide Challenger series, a Pro Circuit event which will bring some of the world’s finest tennis players to Savannah. 

The week-long tournament will host a full field of professional singles and doubles that are recognized globally with rankings ranging from 100-300. The Challenger series is a worldwide circuit of approximately 150 tournaments located in more than 40 countries. Up and coming players gain valuable experience while competing for prize money and world ranking. 

“The Landings Club is overjoyed to be hosting this Pro Circuit event again, and we couldn’t be more excited to witness the most talented tennis players compete for the Savannah Challenger title,” said Chris Kader, The Savannah Challenger Tournament Director. “It is an honor to host such a high-level event at the Landings Club.”

Past contestants include Daniel Medvedev, Denis Shapavolov, Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison to name a few. The Savannah Challenger player roster for the 12th season will be published the first week of April 2022. All Challenger matches will be live streamed via the ATP Challenger website which reaches audiences around the world: www.atptour.com. The livestream coverage of all matches can also be viewed on the Savannah Challenger website: www.savannahchallenger.com. 

“We are delighted for the return of the Savannah Challenger and look forward to welcoming a lineup of stellar players back to the Hostess City,” said Savannah Challenger Tournament Chair Rhegan White-Clemm. “This tournament would not be possible without community support. We are so grateful to our sponsors and volunteers.”  

For the first time, the 2022 Savannah Challenger has partnered with the nonprofit organization, Savannah Area Tennis Association (SATA), to give back to local, underserved in children who play tennis in Chatham County. Proceeds from the inaugural 2022 Challenger silent auction will benefit SATA’s educational programs. 

Tickets will be available for purchase on the Savannah Challenger website and through Eventbrite starting on Feb. 25. For tickets or more information about The Savannah Challenger Tournament including schedule details, sponsorship prospects, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.savannahchallenger.com or call 912-598-3501. To learn more about SATA, please visit www.savannahtennis.com. 

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For media inquiries and interviews, please contact Allie Robinson at allie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-547-3100, or Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457. 



Whether you’re driving on a dark road, working on the job at night, or out on an off-roading adventure, you’re going to need the right lights.

At Liberty LINE-X, we can install lights on your truck, JEEP, or service body truck. Our knowledgeable team can give you expert advice on which lights are the best for your needs. These are just some of the light options out there:



Light Bars

A light bar can light up a much larger area than any other light you can attach to your vehicle.  Southern lite LED light bars come in a variety of sizes—up to 50”—so you’re sure to find the perfect option. They are some of the brightest, toughest, and longest lasting LED lights on the market. They specialize in hunting and fishing lights, so come check these out before your next hunting or fishing weekend. With a Southern lite LED light bar, the fun won’t stop when the sun goes down. 




Square & Round Auxiliary Lights

 Square and round lights are installed on the front and rear of your vehicle and offer different lighting advantages than light bars. Instead of a larger lit area, square and round lights focus a stronger, concentrated beam of light on a smaller area. So, if you’re looking for extra light, adding square or round auxiliary lights will do the trick. As for which to choose between square or round? Well that depends on the look you’re going for. Southern lite LED has several options for you to check out. 




Headlight Bulbs

When we’re talking about headlights, the bulb you choose can make all the difference. If you want the best and brightest, come check out our headlight bulbs from Arc Lighting. From LED bulbs and pod lights to fog and strobe lights, Arc has it all. Not sure which bulbs fit your lights? Don’t worry, we can help you find the right bulb every time.  




RGB and Wheel Lights

RGB lights combine red, green, and blue lights to produce over 16 million different hues. Nothing makes a statement like RGB lights. Oracle Lighting is known for innovative products and superior lighting. Oracle CoverSHIFT LED lighting puts you in complete control of your vehicle lighting situation.

 If wheel lights are what you’re after, Oracle Lighting has some great options. Wheel rings are a simple way to light up the wheels on your truck or JEEP. Wheel lights come in so many color options, choosing which you want will likely be the hardest part of this aftermarket installation. Your vehicle will definitely stand out with RGB and wheel lights. 




Halo Lights

If you want to attract attention, halo lights are sure to do the trick. Halo lights are front headlights with a distinctive circular pattern. Halo lights look sharp and keep light focused on the road. You simply swap out your current headlight for a headlight featuring halo lights. You’ll be amazed at the look and performance of these headlights.




We can help you with all your lighting needs. From light bars to headlights and everything in between, we’re here to help you illuminate your next adventure!



If you’re a JEEP owner, you know customizing your JEEP is a big part of the fun.

Basically, a JEEP is the ultimate toy for an adult. JEEPers change up their ride and install aftermarket accessories until their JEEP is perfect.

At LINE-X of Savannah, we love helping JEEP owners find the right aftermarket accessories. Our knowledgeable staff can help you navigate the wide world of JEEP accessories. Where should you start? Here’s what we suggest:



LINE-X Interior & Exterior

LINE-X spray is the very best way to protect your JEEP—inside and out—especially when off-roading. Mud, rock chips, and scratches won’t stand a chance. LINE-X will keep your JEEP clean, protect it from rust and abrasions, and is completely customizable. And the best part? You can LINE-X the interior and exterior of your JEEP for ultimate protection!



Lift Kit

A lift kit will definitely improve your off-roading experience. A lift kit will raise the front and rear of your JEEP, allowing for bigger wheels and tires. Plus, a lift kit gives more power and crawl ability. We’ve got lift kits from top brands like BDS, Rough Country, Zone and Fab Tech.




Tires & Wheels

Tires and wheels are two aftermarket accessories that can upgrade your JEEP’s performance and improve the ride. The best type of tires for your JEEP will depend on where you drive your JEEP. We can help you determine the best tires for your lifestyle so you can get the most out of your JEEP. And don’t forget the wheels. Adjust vehicle stance and suspension with wheels. Plus, they look incredible!





Bumper with a Winch

If you’ve ever gone off-roading without a winch, you’ve probably regretted not having one! Don’t get in a tight spot again. A bumper with a winch can solve your problems. With an integrated winch, your options are endless. Most bumper winch combos are easy to install and can get you out of a variety of difficult situations. SmittyBilt and Super Winch have some great options for your front or rear bumper.




Step Bars

Step bars make getting in an out of your JEEP a ton easier—especially if you’ve lifted your ride. They can also protect the sides of your JEEP when off-roading. Step bars come in an assortment of types, sizes, and materials to help you find the perfect fit to raise your JEEP to the next level.





Lights are a fun way to change the look and function of your JEEP. If you’re looking for a splash of color, Oracle color headlights are just what you need. They come in an array of colors and designs. You can also change the look of your JEEP from the back with a rear tire brake light. They look awesome and increase safety. And don’t forget the wheels! Oracle LED wheel rings will completely customize your JEEP and brighten up your nights.




Replacement Top

Are you looking to change the style and function of your JEEP top? Switching from soft to hard, or vice versa? Or maybe replacing your top is a must for safety? Don’t worry. We can get your JEEP fitted with the right top in no time. 




Tonneaus and Camper Tops for Gladiators

A cross between a JEEP and a truck, the Gladiator is the perfect combination of off-roading fun and hauling capacity. And that means you get to choose between the awesome aftermarket accessories for JEEPs and trucks! We highly recommend a top or tonneau for your Gladiator. The LEER top is a great choice. It features frameless twist out windows with screens, a curved rear door with gas props, insulated roof, rotary latching system, and paint finish matching options. 





Whether you’re an Apple user or you prefer an Android, you can enjoy compatibility between your phone and your radio. While some newer JEEP models come with Carplay, many older models don’t include this upgrade. But, lucky for you, that’s not a problem. If you want your phone to interface with your radio, we can help you find a compatible radio so you’ll have all the tech you need. 





Keep your JEEP looking great even in the messiest conditions. Muddy shoes, snow, and dirt won’t be a problem. WeatherTech’s custom floor liners offer the perfect fit and extreme interior protection. 

  • All Weather Floor Mats

These floor mats are designed to offer the best possible protection for your JEEP’s floor. All Weather Floor Mats have deeply sculpted channels made to trap water, road salt, mud, sand, and anything else you track into your car. Plus, these mats are made to withstand the coldest temperatures while remaining flexible. 

  • Custom Fit Cargo Liners

When protecting your interior, you can’t forget about the back of your JEEP. Cargo liners are laser cut for a perfect fit. A raised lip keeps spills in the mat and your cargo space clean. WeatherTech cargo liners are tough, durable, and look great.





Let’s have some fun customizing your JEEP with aftermarket accessories until it’s perfect!


SAVANNAH, GA – January 20, 2022 – Two of Savannah’s exceptional first responders will be honored Thursday, Feb. 10, by the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire. While one is a firefighter and the other a police officer, they both heroically risked their lives with no reluctance to keep others safe

During the annual Tak Argentinis Valor Awards ceremony at the Charles H. Morris Center in downtown Savannah, the club and its supporters will recognize Fire Engineer Jeremy Kemp of the Savannah Fire Department and Officer Peter Suppa of the Savannah Police Department.

Kemp was nominated by Fire Chief Derik Minard for his actions during a house fire that was set by a man in the midst of a psychotic episode who then refused to exit the burning structure. While crews worked to extinguish the blaze, Kemp made his way through thick smoke and found a despondent man sitting on a bed, rambling and seemingly confused. 

Despite the unpredictability of the situation, Kemp stayed and eventually convinced the man to leave the room with him. As they crawled through flames and stifling black smoke, though, the man collapsed and Kemp carried him the rest of the way. Once outside, Kemp tended to the medical needs of the  man, who survived.

Suppa was nominated by Police Chief Roy W. Minter for his actions during a March 2021 domestic violence incident in which a child and his grandmother were in danger. A 12-year-old child had called police and reported that he and his grandmother had barricaded themselves in a room because his grandfather was shooting at them and threatening to kill them. Suppa arrives on the scene first and took immediate action, fearing it would be too late if he waited for specialized units to arrive.

He entered the home to find the child and his grandmother peeking out from behind a door riddled with bullet holes. He instructed them to stay in the room as he continued on in search of the suspect. Suppa and another officer who had arrived by then found the man lying in another bedroom and took him into custody. He had a gun under his pillow and a live round in his pocket. Police later learned the man is a convicted felon who previously was incarcerated for shooting his wife. The child and his grandmother were unharmed.

The honorees were selected for the awards by a committee of law enforcement and fire command officers, according to Club President Mark Dana. Nominations were received from the 20 counties that comprise the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’s support area. The award recipients each will receive a plaque and a medal of valor.

“The 200 Club’s main mission is to support first responders and their families in case of death or critical injuries in the line of duty. Everything we do as an organization is to serve these local heroes who make sacrifices to keep our community safe,” Dana said. “That is why we must recognize first responders who display great acts of valor in the face of danger and put others’ safety before themselves. We hope this award is a symbol of our sincere appreciation for these brave individuals’ service.” 

Tickets to the Valor Awards are $25 and include entry to the awards ceremony and heavy appetizers. To reserve your seat, please visit https://twohundredclub.org/club-events/#.

The Two Hundred Club is a 501(c) (3) organization who “cares for those who care for us” by providing for the surviving spouses and dependents of first responders who have lost their lives or sustained critical injuries in the line of duty. The organization serves a 20-county area within Georgia and South Carolina. All proceeds from this event will directly support the families of fallen heroes. The Two Hundred Club provides a significant one-time financial contribution to the surviving family members and provides a fully paid college education – including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer – to a fallen first responder’s children and spouse. To date, the organization has given over $3.5 million to families and have become a respected voice of the community’s appreciation for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For more information, go to www.twohundredclub.org, call 912-721-4418 or email info@twohundredclub.org 

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377). 


SAVANNAH, GA – January 19, 2022 – The Savannah African Art Museum (SAAM) has announced its new 2022 exhibit, “Culture, Currency and Continuity: The Significance of Cowrie Shells in African Art,” which will be replacing their 2021 hair exhibit, “ROOTS: Hair-Culture-History, Exploring the Hair & Cultures of West & Central Africa.” The new exhibit will officially open to the public on February 2 at the nonprofit museum, 201 East 37th Street, Savannah.

SAAM continually dedicates a room in the museum to rotating exhibits that are in place for a year to display different aspects of African civilization. Before the current 2021 hair exhibit, the room was devoted to African instruments and music. For 2022, SAAM wanted to demonstrate the relevance of cowrie shells as they have been intertwined with African art and culture for centuries. 

Although cowrie shells’ origin is the Indian and Pacific Ocean via the trade industry and not indigenous to Africa, they are mostly associated with African culture, and for good reason. The small, glossy shells were more than just fashionable, they had monetary value in Ancient African societies. For centuries, the beige shells were a symbol of wealth and were used as a form of currency due to their sturdy and light-weight character. They are thought to be the first pan-regional currency in West Africa. Apart from their economic value, the shells were also revered for their power to bring prosperity, fertility, healing, and spiritual connection to ancestors. Today, cowrie shells are often used in clothing, jewelry, crafts, and African braided hairstyles and headpieces. 

“Every year, we aim to host a new exhibit on something deeply rooted in African culture to broaden the awareness and appreciation for its impact and relevancy to African History. Cowrie shells have come to represent the African continent globally. They have taken root in pop culture, coming a long way since the startled looks and comments received by Venus and Serena Williams when they adorned their braided hair with them as a connection to their African roots during tennis competitions in the early days of their careers,” said SAAM Education Coordinator Lisa Jackson. “We want to share the history behind cowrie shells and why they are important to African societies. They were more than fashion; they were completely intertwined with the culture spiritually, emotionally, and financially. They were an important part of African life. We want to our visitors to walk away with more knowledge about these popular shells than what they walked in with and share it with others.”

The new exhibit coincides with SAAM’s participation in the 2022 Savannah Black Heritage Festival, which runs from February 1-20, 2022. As part of the festivities, SAAM is hosting a workshop that ties into the new exhibit, “Creating Wearable Art” on Feb. 12 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on the second floor of the museum’s Upbeat Village Terracotta Gallery. Participants will have the opportunity to create wearable art out of cowrie shells and other materials. Please note that the gallery is stair access only, no elevator or wheelchair access available. Also on Feb. 12, museum patrons can have their photographs taken for posting and downloading on the SAAM website. Each photo will have a border placed around it displaying the SAAM and SBHF logos and the date, making them great keepsakes of the SBHF and SAAM Experience.

Savannah news outlet WSAV also plans to air a segment on the launch of SAAM’s new Cowrie Shell exhibit. To learn more about the Savannah Black Heritage Festival and check out the WSAV viewing schedule, please visit https://savannahblackheritagefestival.org/. For more information about the new exhibit, please visit www.savannahafricanartmuseum.org/exhibits. For more information about the workshop, please visit www.savannahafricanart.org/workshops.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-5377.