SAVANNAH, GA – July 26, 2022 – The Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute (GT-SCL) residing in and supported by the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), in coordination with Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE), is expanding its Logistics Education And Pathways (LEAP) program with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Reentry Program to implement services for eligible participants in Chatham, Bibb, and Muscogee Education Transition Centers (ETC).

The goal of the ETCs is to reduce recidivisms and enable participants with the tools, training, and opportunities to move forward as a productive member of society with sustainable employment and a rewarding career. LEAP is a fast-paced certification program that prepares secondary education students to compete for successful high-growth jobs in the supply chain and logistics field, an outcome that is a natural component to the mission of the ETCs.

“I want to thank Georgia Tech for being a great corporate partner in rehabilitating our justice-involved youth,” said Tyrone Oliver, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. “The LEAP program will help our youth gain valuable skills to aid them towards a brighter future.”

Initially, this partnership began with a pilot program in July of 2019, and culminated when the DJJ’s Chatham ETC hosted their Award Certification Ceremony on the Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus. Expanding this program in 2022 will equip students not only in Chatham County, but now in Bibb and Muscogee Counties with the knowledge, skills, and credentials for careers in the fast-growing Supply Chain and Logistics industry. All the funding for the LEAP program comes from industry partners like the GA Power Foundation, Schneider Foundation and JP Morgan Chase & Co. In addition, DJJ also contributed funding for this successful partnership with the ETCs.

The LEAP program initially covers understanding with the Supply Chain Management Principles course and then the various domains within the supply chain through three other optional courses (i.e., Customer Service, Warehousing Operations, and Transportation Operations). It also explores with students how the supply chain supports organizations’ strategic and financial goals, and current events through subject matter lectures and simulation exercises.

After completing the program, students receive an official GTPE Certificate of Completion for each completed pass/fail LEAP course (Supply Chain Management Principles, Customer Service Operations, Transportation Operations and Warehouse Operations), that are all sanctioned by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Typically, at their end-of-program, there is an Award ceremony where they receive their professional education certificate from Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE).

“While earning GT Professional Education credentials, attending fieldtrips to Gulfstream, GA Ports Authority, Amazon, or Dynacraft and improving their potential to secure employment in the exploding Savannah Supply Chain Industry, may have served as the initial motivation to attempt the program, the impact was immeasurable. Our students grew in areas that enhanced their self-confidence, work ethic, and intrinsic motivation. As a result, our students view themselves as productive citizens with credentials for quality jobs or careers in their future,” said ArtLisa Alston-Cone, Lead Teacher, DJJ Chatham ETC.

Students have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of Supply Chain and Logistics and will be immediately prepared for internships and job opportunities. Two students completed more than one course, indicating their interest and aptitude in this field. One student who was already working in a distribution operation actually completed four courses, earning a Logistics Fundamentals Program Certificate. After the program in December of 2019 with the DJJ’s Chatham ETC, seven of the eleven graduates received job offers, and another two were scheduled for interviews, making the program a great success. The students in the ETC’s have completed all requirements from the juvenile system. They are in transition to becoming productive members of society. At this point, many students are completing their High School Diploma requirements for graduation or getting their GED. They are typically living with family, a guardian or in a transition home

“We’ve all had times in our lives when someone has discounted us, intentionally or unintentionally. There will always be that student in the corner who you think couldn’t care less, but given the proper attention and care, they can become a star. It’s easy to predetermine what someone is capable of doing; but when these students take this program, the lightbulb goes off, and they become interested and develop a passion and confidence because of this course,” said Charles Easley Jr., GT-SCL Project Director and Instructor.

The program is delivered in a cohort format so that the students always feel supported not only by the instructors but by their classmates as well. Students receive educational content but also learn how to integrate their training in the real world, so they are prepared to perform in the workplace. Students are taken on field trips with the support of community partners to learn how to apply their knowledge and see first-hand how the supply chain operates. In previous years, students were taken to Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus to explore The Ferst Center for the Arts, The Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, and The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) so they could see what options are open to them for their future working careers. During these visits they were able to participate in student information sessions, see the innovative technology in the ISyE Physical Internet Lab and interact with faculty like Benoit Montreuil, Tim Brown, GT-SCL, and role models like Gen. Ron Johnson, Professor of the Practice, and ISyE Student Ambassadors. Students were also taken to Gulfstream in Savannah and The Georgia Fair where they participated in a hands-on project to map out the supply chain process for food.


GT-SCL created LEAP in 2015 through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to further the financial services firm’s “New Skills at Work” initiative that promotes workforce development to bridge the gap between the talent employers need and the qualifications of the local talent pipeline. The curriculum and content were developed by The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) at Georgia Tech. In August 2018, JPMorgan Chase & Co. continued once again committed to supporting LEAP with an additional grant. The Georgia Tech LEAP program has been delivered throughout Georgia to Schools, Cohorts, and Individual Students in 18 School Districts or Systems, at 46 different schools public and private, in 13 colleges and universities, and across several well-known organizations and employers. This includes schools like Maynard Jackson HS, Grady HS, North Atlanta HS, Effingham College Career and Career Academy, Fulton Schools College and Career Academy, Newton College and Career Academy, Social Circle HS, Griffin Region College & Career Academy, New Manchester HS; non-profit organizations like Goodwill, United Way(Career Rise), Scouts BSA(Crew 2421), The Latin American Association; and businesses like Sysco, and Mohawk Industries. The program has been continuously supported by generous donations from schools, civic organizations including Effingham College and Career Academy, Fulton Schools College and Career Academy, foundations including Home Depot Foundation, Fulton Education Foundation, Schneider Foundation, Georgia Power Foundation, Regions Foundation, and employers including companies like HMTX Industries, Inc.

For more information on the LEAP program, please visit

For more information on Georgia Tech Professional Education, please visit

For information on the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, please visit

A link to a video of the Inaugural DJJ/GT LEAP Award Ceremony is included below:


I think of myself as a “can-do” person, and a woman who likes to get things done. Early in my career in late 1980s and early 1990s London, I modestly thought of myself as a young woman pushing the career envelope by taking on jobs and responsibilities which some thought were too senior for me, or even “too male”. I worked in healthcare public relations, an industry in which most of the workforce were women but top management was dominated by men.

However, my own tiny contribution to the progress of women in Western society is dwarfed by many others, and right at the top of that list is the great American aviator Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Sunday is her 125th birthday.

Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchinson, Kansas. Her father was a railroad lawyer and her mother came from a well-to-do family. As a child in Kansas, Amelia was very independent and adventurous. Her mother encouraged this behavior, and Amelia (known well into adulthood as “Meeley”) was dutifully followed around by her younger sister Grace (known as “Pidge”). They shot rats with rifles, climbed trees and jumped off rooftops, collected insects and reptiles, and generally had a boisterous childhood full of rowdiness and “tomboy” activities.

Her father had drifted into alcoholism and had trouble finding and holding a job. After moving around, the girls eventually finished high school in Chicago. Amelia graduated in 1916, always dreaming about finding independence through a career. According to the family’s website 100 years later, she kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields, including film production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.

At the height of World War I, Earhart trained as a nurse’s aide with the Red Cross. After attending a few air shows in 1920, she paid for a short passenger flight from Emory Roger Field on Wiltshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The fare was $10 for a 10-minute flight with Frank Hawks, a pilot who became a renowned airplane racer. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly”. Over the next few years, she saved every penny she made as a truck driver, secretary and photographer to fund flying lessons, and on May 16, 1923, Earhart became the 16th woman in the United States to be issued a pilot’s license. Aviation history was changed forever.

Earhart continued to fly on weekends but flying still did not provide a steady source of income. In 1928 she was living in Boston where, among other jobs, she was a salesperson for the Kinner Aircraft Company. She got a call from Amy Guest, a wealthy American lady living in England. Charles Lindbergh had just completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic, and Guest wanted to fund a woman to do something similar. Was Earhart interested?

Amelia Earhart’s first Atlantic crossing was as part of a three-person crew, but it launched her celebrity status. Then on May 20, 1932, the 34-year-old Earhart set off from Newfoundland. She intended to fly solo to Paris in her single engine Lockheed Vega to emulate Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight five years earlier, but after a grueling flight of almost 15 hours with icy conditions, strong winds and mechanical problems, she instead landed in a field near Londonderry, Northern Ireland. When a local farmer saw the landing and asked, “Have you flown far?”, she reportedly shocked him with her answer: “From America”.

Between 1930 and 1935, Earhart set seven women’s speed and distance aviation records in a variety of aircraft, and her fame grew. She advocated women’s rights, raced in airshows, was a spokesperson for the aviation industry, and was constantly in the newspapers, especially her meetings with Presidents. In 1931, she married publisher George Putnam, but pointedly refused to take his last name. When referred to as “Mrs. Putnam”, she laughed and called her husband “Mr. Earhart”.

In March 1937, Earhart attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. The initial attempt ended in a crash landing due to mechanical problems, and on June 1st that year, she and navigator Fred Noonan set off from Miami to try again. After completing 22,000 of the 29,000-mile trip, they took off from Papua New Guinea on July 2, 1937, and their last radio transmissions indicated they were running low on fuel but could not find their intended destination of Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. The most expensive and exhaustive naval search up to that point in history produced nothing but a string of theories about their disappearance, some of which are still hotly debated today, 85 years later. See for more.

I say goodbye this week with a simple quote from the great lady herself: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it”. I could not agree more!

God Bless America!

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

Mary Thompson

Mary Thompson lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and four boys. Her father was in the military while she was growing up, so she has had the opportunity to experience living in several areas of the country. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in American Studies and a minor in Communications. She then went on to earn her master’s degree from Utah State University in American Studies, with an emphasis on public sector work. During that time, she published papers on subjects in Utah women’s history. Upon completion of her degree, she was a museum director. Mary has been a freelance writer for many years with experience in grant writing, content writing, and editing.  She loves to travel, read, woodwork, and spend time with her boys.


SAVANNAH, GA – JULY 20, 2022 – Savannah Police Department Corporal Janessa Stalter recently received the prestigious 2022 Public Service Award presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 660.

Stalter graciously accepted the award, which included a generous check. Rather than keep the money, though, Stalter felt it within her heart to donate the funds to the 200 Club, which cares for the family members of fallen first responders. As a first responder herself, the cause is near and dear to Stalter.

Club President & CEO Mark Dana accepted the donation from Stalter, praising her generosity and willingness to help so many in the community which, he pointed out, certainly must have been a critical factor in her selection as the VFW’s most recent Service Award winner. 

“The many family members served by the 200 Club and the organization’s leadership are always amazed by these types of selfless acts that keep the club focused on raising the funds necessary to carry out our core mission,” Dana said. “We thank Corporal Stalter for her compassion and kindness, as do the families of her fallen brothers and sister.”

Stalter has enjoyed a long, successful law-enforcement career. Before that, she was an educator in the Savanah-Chatham County area public and private school systems. She graduated in 1994 from the P.O.S.T. Academy and, in 2000, earned her P.O.S.T. Instructor credentials. In 1994, she began her career with the City of Savannah Police Department and, within three years, she became a corporal. Over the course of her 28-year career, Stalter has spent time as a detective with the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Tactical Response and Prevention (“TRAP”) Unit, and the Crime Suppression Unit. 

In 2014, along with Officer Meg Whitfield, she started the Tourism Oriented Policing Unit, where she currently works. The unit is assigned to the Northwest Precinct in the downtown historic area. The role of this unit is to maintain safety and address quality-of-life issues for residents, tourists, and businesses. It’s common to find Stalter walking, riding a bicycle or a Segway through the downtown streets, where she shares her knowledge and joy of the City of Savannah while speaking to and assisting those she meets.

In May 2021, Stalter was named the Savannah Police Department’s “Officer of The Month.” When nominated for the honor, it was noted that Stalter is a compassionate advocate for the homeless population. Most homeless individuals know her as “Matilda” and specifically ask for her because they know she will treat them with dignity and respect, as she sincerely listens to them, links them up to helpful resources, or pulls blankets or clothing out of her patrol car for them. Stalter has trained countless officers throughout her career and is always liked by those she instructs, as they appreciate her ethical values, patience, principles, and willingness to lead by example. 

Stalter is an original member of the Georgia VIII, Savannah Chapter, of the Blue Knights police motorcycle club, which she helped to establish. She also enjoys serving as an official for volleyball, basketball, and softball games.  

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire is a 501(c) (3) organization who “cares for those who care for us” by providing significant financial assistance for 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 200 Club provides significant financial assistance to the surviving family members and provides a fully paid college education – including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer. To date, the organization has given over $3.8 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, call 912-721-4418 or email

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, Allie Robinson at 912-547-3100 or, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


SAVANNAH, GA. – July 19, 2022 – The Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) is swinging into its tenth anniversary season with five different operas produced by Savannah OPERA this August.  These out of this world productions range from a revue of Broadway’s Brigadoon to Goethe’s Faust, plus Menotti’s The Medium, and a special double bill of Alice Ryley, a Savannah Ghost Story alongside Anna Hunter, the Spirit of Savannah.  Jorge Parodi, Artistic Director of SVF comments; “One of the objectives of Savannah OPERA is to make opera accessible to all, with four of our 2022 productions performed in English and we provide English supertitles for Faust.  We hope people will enjoy the range of operatic productions offered this year.”

For two nights only, on Aug. 12-13, patrons can experience the back-to-back magic of Alice Ryley, a Savannah Ghost Story, and Anna Hunter, the Spirit of Savannah, both directed by Joe Winskye and conducted by Andrew Bisantz. These two Savannah-centric operas were written by Savannah OPERA’s Composer-in-Residence Michael Ching.  This is the first time they will be performed together in the city whose history inspired these ghostly operas.  The double bills start at 6:30 p.m. on both August 12 and 13 at the Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E. Broad St. in Savannah.

Alice Ryley, a Savannah Ghost Story, based on a true story, paints a tragic image of an immigrant’s life as she embarks on new experiences of love and loss in the newly formed Georgia colony in the 18th century. Watch Alice, played by Jessica Ann Best, navigate bearing a child and her prosecution in Savannah’s high-profile murder case.

Anna Hunter, the Spirit of Savannah, is an uplifting comedy depicting Hunter’s life, a newspaper reporter, painter and community leader, who worked to save Savannah’s historic squares and founded the Historic Savannah Foundation in the 1950s. Audiences will be enthralled by the spirit of Anna, played by Savannah VOICE Festival’s President and Co-Founder Maria Zouves, as she returns to haunt a present-day tour guide.

The Medium is a bone-chilling, one-act American opera. Executive Director Chad Sonka and conductor Andrew Bisantz team up to tell the tale of a medium falling victim to her own fraudulent voices. Enjoy this eerie story at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on August 11 at the scenic Telfair Academy, located on 121 Barnard Street in downtown Savannah.

Return to Brigadoon is a special musical revue of a timeless fairytale created by Lerner and Loewe that will bring back old memories and captivate new hearts. Audience members will be transported by the parallel world portrayed. This production will be held at 6:30 p.m. on August 16 and 18 at the charming Charles H. Morris Center.

Charles Gounod’s Faust is a haunting, grand opera, portraying a man’s pact with the devil in exchange for youth and love Goethe’s tale of Marguerite and Faust be brought to life by SVF’s Artistic Director, Jorge Parodi and prolific stage director, Fabrizio Melano at 6:30 p.m. August 19 and 21 at the beautiful Asbury Memorial Church

For a full lineup of all Savannah VOICE Festival operas and other events, to become a VOICE Member, or to purchase tickets for one of these breathtaking operas, please visit, call 855.766.7372, or email

Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events, and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre, and popular song. The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Donations are tax-deductible.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or, Allie Robinson at 912-547-3100 or,  or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or


Savannah, GA – July 18, 2022 While many people commute to work, few can say they literally dive into their jobs. Every week is “Shark Week” for Bill Eberlein, the founder of MegaTeeth Fossils, who dives day-in and day-out in the waters of Coastal Georgia in search of megalodon and mako shark teeth.

“These fossils have laid sedentary for centuries, only moved by the tides of our oceans,” Eberlein said. “These pieces of our world’s history remained untouched by the human hand, and I get the honor of getting to find these unique fossils and share that history with the world.” 

The excitement generated each year by the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” – which takes place July 24-31 this year – prompts masses of people to learn more about the aquatic creatures and explore all things shark-related. Eberlein likes Shark Week because it makes him happy to know that others are interested in the elasmobranch fish he bases his livelihood on. It’s a passion he is eager to share with those who are curious.

Megaladons were enormous sea creatures, members of the now-extinct family of sharks, the megashark. The name megalodon translates in Greek to “big tooth,” which is no exaggeration. These ancient sharks measured up to 60 feet in length, which is the standard length of an entire bowling lane. A single tooth from this shark is generally three to seven inches long and weighs just under a pound. Those teeth may sound rather small, but the force of the teeth add up, given that megalodons had 276 teeth! The bite force of a megalodon adds up to about an impressive 40,000 pounds per square inch, which is greater than the bite force of a T-rex dinosaur. Today, only the fossils remain to carry on the daunting legacy of the megalodon, who roved the deepest parts of the oceans any time between 3 and 20 million years ago.

Eberlein has accumulated more than 25 years of diving experience, honing those skills and combining them with his background in accounting to successfully build MegaTeeth. With most of his time spent on leisure dives at shipwreck sites, Eberlein wasn’t introduced to fossil diving until the late 1990s, when he moved to Savannah. He went out in a charter boat off the coast of Hilton Head Island and truly knew he was hooked on fossil diving. 

“I never imagined how prolific my collection would become and certainly never imagined I would have created a business for myself doing what I love every day,” Eberlein said.

As the fossil collection grew, he decided it was time to part ways with some of his precious pieces and in 2000 he started MegaTeeth fossils.  Eight years later he decided to “take the plunge” to dive and sell his fossils full-time, leaving his day job.  What was once a dream had come to fruition before his very eyes – a business built around passion.

Families from all over the map can enjoy a piece of “Shark Week” in their own home with a Megalodon tooth fossil. Eberlein’s Megalodon teeth and other fossils, exhibited on his on his website at, are available for purchase. Each item is from Eberlein’s personal collection. Unless stated otherwise, each shark tooth purchase will include an acrylic display stand, certificate of authenticity and fossil identification information or an article about Eberlein’s hunt for shark teeth.


Editor’s Note

For information about Shark Week visit

For media inquiries, please call Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377). 


SAVANNAH, GA – JULY 12, 2022 – In recognition of Safe + Sound Week, Georgia Tech-Savannah will host a series of free OSHA training seminars related to business and healthcare.  Safe + Sound Week runs from Aug. 15-21 and is a nationwide event that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.  These free courses are hybrid so they are available to people to attend either virtually or in-person at the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus, 210 Technology Circle Savannah, GA.

These free seminars are especially topical in light of the recent challenges to health and safety due to the pandemic.  Each seminar will be instructed by professionals from Georgia Tech’s OSHA Consultation Program, who are well-experienced in assisting small and new businesses with their safety and health needs and concerns. Ample time will be provided for discussion with instructors, as well as networking with other attendees to on share experiences and challenges.

The week will kick off Monday, Aug. 15 with an “Introduction to OSHA for Small Business” course from 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. This seminar is designed to teach small businesses how to work with OSHA to reduce and prevent injuries and illnesses. The free course will help participants understand the OSHA inspection process, how it operates, and most importantly, how to create a safety and health program for companies.

The next course, “Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control for Healthcare Facilities,” will be offered from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16. This free course, designed for those in all areas of the healthcare industry, will cover the development and implementation of robust Exposure Control Plans (ECP) as required by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. The session is intended to provide a review of potential exposure and control methods for facilities and activities, and how to develop an ECP that manages vaccinations, exposure incidents, training, and record keeping.

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, a free course on “Infectious Disease Training for Funeral Home Workers” will be offered from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Participants will learn to manage, guide and lead workforces through pandemics and infectious disease hazards. Other topics will include application OSHA standards relating to infectious disease (COVID-19), the COVID-19 National Emphasis Program Emergency Temporary Standard, managing grief, stress, and bereavement, and where to find additional resources. 

Georgia Tech-Savannah will continue its week-long celebration of Safe + Sound Week on Thursday, Aug. 18 with a free course addressing “Public Warehousing and Storage” from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Potential hazards in this rapidly growing and fast-paced industry are numerous and unfortunately, injuries to warehouse employees are on the rise. This free course will address public warehousing and storage operations, including encounters with powered industrial trucks, material handling, lifting and ergonomic challenges, chemical hazards, slips, trips and falls, and life safety requirements including fire protection and evacuation.

The week will conclude on Friday, Aug. 19 with an “Infectious Disease Training for Long Term Care Healthcare Workers” course, slated for 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. This course for long term healthcare workers will provide the opportunity for participants to learn to manage, guide and lead their workforces through pandemics and infectious disease hazards.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) may be obtained for a fee of $25. For questions regarding this or any of the seminars fill out the form

You can register for one or more of these seminars at This link can also be found on all of Georgia Tech Savannah’s social media sites.

To learn more about Georgia Tech-Savannah’s OSHA training solutions, please visit



Georgia Tech-Savannah provides educational experiences for learners of all ages. Our multitude of learning platforms are tailored to meet the needs of a diverse population, from working professionals pursuing career development and those seeking specific certifications to children eager to explore and discover. Georgia Tech-Savannah’s professional education, training and military programs encourages participants to challenge themselves and meet goals by sharpening existing skills and picking up valuable new ones. We’re proud to bring cutting-edge technology, applied research capabilities and innovation to the Coastal Empire, where our campus also serves as a home for various Georgia Tech affiliates, institutes, and centers. To learn more, visit us at




SAVANNAH, GA – JULY 7, 2022 – In April, the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire and car dealership owner Bill Grainger and the Grainger Companies announced a car raffle to raise money for the club. Two months later, ticket sales are going strong, and the date of the raffle is drawing closer.

Tickets cost $100 each and may be purchased at Only 1,000 tickets are being sold total, and many have already been claimed. The raffle will be held on Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 3, during a cookout for the community hosted at the Grainger Honda/Nissan dealerships on Chatham Parkway. The winner, who does not need to be present to win, will get to choose between a 2022 Nissan Rogue or a 2022 Honda CR-V donated by Bill Grainger and the Grainger Companies. Grainger will also fully pay the sales taxes on the vehicle. All the proceeds will benefit the 200 Club, which  provides significant financial support for the surviving spouses and dependents of first responders who have lost their lives or sustain critical injuries in the line of duty. 

The nonprofit organization serves 20 counties within Georgia and South Carolina. Families of fallen first responders suffer tremendous devastation and pay the price for the community’s safety; they may even be left without a reliable source of income. To ease the grieving process and ensure surviving spouses and children have a bit less stress in their lives, the 200 Club recognizes the families’ sacrifices through immediate benefits and financial assistance, often starting only days after a loss occurs. 

The Sept. 3 cookout is free and open to the whole community. Food will be provided by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, and attendees will enjoy musical entertainment and other activities.

200 Club President/CEO Mark Dana expressed his gratitude for both Bill Grainger and Sheriff John Wilcher for their support with this endeavor.

“Please buy a ticket today to support the families we serve – they won’t last long! Bill Grainger deserves a huge thank you for his willingness to support the club through the incredibly generous donation of a new car. Also, paying the sales taxes on it so the winner doesn’t have to is almost unheard of in charitable giveaways like this. This is a true act of kindness and compassion for the 200 Club’s families,” Dana said. “The sheriff’s office has supported us with their resources, helping us spread the word about the raffle, donating food for the cookout, assisting with facilitating everything. We couldn’t do this without our partners.”

To purchase a raffle ticket, please visit Only 1,000 tickets are being sold, greatly increasing each ticketholder’s opportunity to win. The winner need not be present at the drawing. 100% of proceeds benefits the many family members we honorably serve with significant financial assistance, as well as a fully paid college education.

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire is a 501(c) (3) organization who “cares for those who care for us” by providing significant financial assistance for 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 200 Club provides significant financial assistance to the surviving family members and provides a fully paid college education – including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer. To date, the organization has given over $3.8 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, call 912-721-4418 or email

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, Allie Robinson at 912-547-3100 or, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


I hope you had a fabulous July 4th weekend. Like many Americans, we spent the holiday with family, eating a variety of foods which could be cooked outside. My husband loves to stand by our blazing charcoal grill, drink in hand, cooking the meat for our meal – although he does a pretty good sockeye salmon on cedar wood planks as well. It must be something primeval about meat and fire that appeals to the male of our species. Although he usually claims full credit for cooking the meal, it falls to me to prepare the sides, salads and table setting.

This all got me thinking about the passion Americans have for grilling out. Obviously, it all started in a rudimentary form around 500,000 years ago after mankind figured out how to create fire to cook food during the Stone Age. Many centuries passed before the human race got their first taste of ‘barbecue.’ It probably derived from the Arawak people of the Caribbean, who centuries ago used a wooden structure called ‘barbako’ where meat got smoked and cooked.

I need to confess to great confusion when I first arrived in America as in the UK the term “barbecue” means grilling out – that is cooking meat, fish or vegetables outdoors over open flames. Of course, in this part of the USA, true barbecuing is cooking and smoking meat slowly over indirect heat, inside a barbecuing pit. This type of barbecue began in 18th-century colonial America, specifically in the settlements along the Southeastern seaboard where pigs were abundant. Whole hogs spent up to 14 hours over coals resulting in delicious pulled pork.

Turning back to the backyard rituals enjoyed over the Independence Day weekend; did you know that until the mid- 20th century grilling food outside mainly happened at campsites and picnics? Outdoor cooking anywhere else was often seen as a sign of poverty. However, after the Second World War when people began to flock to the suburbs, backyard grilling became extremely popular.

Around this time in Chicago, George Stephens, who owned a metal working factory, had grown frustrated with the flat, open brazier-style grills common at the time. He began experimenting and invented a round grill that held in heat. Stephen made this new grill by severing a metal buoy in half and fashioning a dome-shaped base with a rounded cover, which he began selling in 1955. He called it “George’s Barbeque Kettle” and had a big winner on his hands. Later, he bought out his manufacturing partners the Weber Brothers, and renamed the company the Weber-Stephens Products Company, and re-named his creation the Weber Grill. The business was family-owned for 117 years until 2010, and became a public company just last year, worth $2 billion today.

America’s most famous 4th of July food tradition is grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has declared July as National Hot Dog Month. We know that hot dogs evolved from the German frankfurter sausage which was brought to America by immigrants. However, the reason for hot dogs rise in popularity in the 20th century is less clear. Some say it became associated with American culture and baseball parks in 1893 thanks to St. Louis bar owner and German immigrant, Chris Von der Ahe, who owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team. Others say that in 1901 when the New York Polo grounds ran out of wax paper for sausages, they started using spare French rolls. Others place the beginning of hot dogs to the Coney Island Amusement Park in the late 1800s, and some trace hot dogs back to the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. No matter their history, I have to confess that despite my American citizenship, I just don’t love hot dogs!

Now hamburgers are a different story – I love them and was delighted to find out that the earliest mention of the hamburger is in a 1763 English cookbook by Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. In 1802 the Oxford English Dictionary includes a ‘Hamburg steak’ – a slab of salted, minced beef that is slightly smoked and mixed with onions and breadcrumbs. Salted and smoked food were ideal for long sea voyages and in the 18th century the ‘Hamburg steak’ made its way across the Atlantic. Ships of the Hamburg-America line brought thousands of immigrants to the New World and soon Hamburg-style beef patties were being served from street stands. They were also at the 1904 World’s Fair, and in 1916 Walter Anderson, a fry cook from Kansas, invented a bun specially for hamburgers. Five years later he co-founded White Castle and the world’s first burger chain was born. For more information see

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. “Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping – they called it opportunity.”

God Bless America!

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