SAVANNAH, GA. – MAY 24, 2022 – The Savannah African Art Museum’s remote learning option, through video conferencing, is gaining tremendous popularity, allowing visitors from around the nation to experience what this museum, on the arts and cultures of the African continent, has to offer.

Tours of the museum’s collection, utilizing video conferencing technology, were first introduced when the COVID-19 pandemic began. It turned out to be an engaging way for guests to learn about the museum’s art collection. This is a service that continues to be offered by the Savannah African Art Museum as a way of reaching a larger global audience. Alisa Evans-Newsome, the museum’s Chief Administrator of Operations, and Dr. Edwin Johnson, the museum’s Registrar and Volunteer Coordinator, have been providing engaging, educational experiences through the virtual gallery tours. These insightful, informative, and even entertaining, sessions have included sizable groups of students, of many different age groups, from different regions in the United States.

Previously, the Savannah African Art Museum used web-based social media such as Facebook to broadcast videos on objects and themes represented in the museum’s collection. This was followed by university professors registering at the museum to have their students remotely attend guided tours of the galleries. This enabled these students to remotely experience what the museum has to offer when classes were being held online.

Evans-Newsome has been at the forefront of the museum’s pursuit of educational accessibility as elementary school teachers begin to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the museum through distance learning. Earlier this month, she conducted a tour, via Zoom, for 380 seventh-grade students at the West Chatham Middle School in Georgia. On the same day, Evans-Newsome provided an enriching educational experience for a group of third-grade students from the Elysian Charter School in Hoboken, New Jersey. By her accounts, these students were engaged and demonstrated a genuine interest in the cultures of the African continent. This was evident due to how these young students frequently commented on what they saw and how often they asked many questions about what was covered during the conferencing session. In addition to fueling the curiosity of these young students, Evans-Newsome found the experience to be remarkably rewarding.

Younger participants are increasingly utilizing virtual tour options provided by the museum. It is heralding a new chapter in this museum’s efforts to reach out to larger, farther flung, and more diverse audiences. The Savannah African Art Museum will continue to provide remote learning opportunities for educational institutions that range from elementary schools to universities, close to home and further afield. Additionally, remote learning opportunities are also available to individuals who want to learn more about the arts and cultures of the vast and diverse continent of Africa. The museum recently expanded the capacity of their conferencing service, which now allows up to 100 devices to log onto one session at the same time.

Anyone who is interested in booking an online for themselves or an educational group can find more information at  or by emailing

Savannah African Art Museum is a nonprofit institution that introduces all audiences to African art and culture. Their mission is to provide engaging experiences that educate and start conversations about the power, diversity, and spirituality of African art. Learn more by visiting or experiencing the collection in person at the museum’s location at 201 East 37th Street for a free tour on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

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


SAVANNAH, GA. – May 23, 2022 – The Savannah Alliance of Pastors, along with Asbury Memorial Church, Red Letter Christians, Moms Demand Action, and Full Circle Hospice Savannah, have partnered with activist and faith leader, Shane Claiborne to recognize National Gun Violence Awareness Month with a ‘Beating Guns’ event. This community-wide event, supporting gun violence prevention awareness, will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 4 at First African Baptist Church, 23 Montgomery Street (Franklin Square).

Savannah City Council, County Commissioner and District Attorney will be in attendance. The event will begin at the First African Baptist Church with a keynote address from Rev. Sharon Risher, whose family was killed in the 2015 Emanuel AME Church mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Attendees will then move to Franklin Square where the event will continue with local survivor testimonies accounting the tribulations of gun violence, spoken word performances from the youth of the Deep Center’s Block by Block program, musical performances by Huxsie Scott, and dance performances by the Royal Ambassadors. Gun violence survivors will be invited to transform a gun into a functioning garden tool with the help of a blacksmith.  

“The mission of this event is to address the proliferation of guns on our streets, to say that we can build better tools to live together harmoniously, to honor the victims, and to offer surviving family circles a therapeutic way to manifest their anger and grief over the loss of loved ones,” said Rev. Claire Marich, local ‘Beating Guns’ event coordinator and Asbury Memorial Church Associate Minister.

Attendees will be invited to interact with community partners during a meet-and-greet at the conclusion of the program. Grief counselors will be in attendance to assist those in need for the duration of this event. Those planning to attend the ‘Beating Guns’ event are encouraged to wear orange in support of National Gun Violence Awareness Month.

“We are looking forward to this opportunity to raise awareness about the prevalence of gun violence and the need for peace in our community,” stated Rev. Marich. “It’s an honor to work alongside these activists, faith leaders, and community partners to present this important witness of hope in the face of ongoing gun violence.”

Community members will have the opportunity to hear from Claiborne again on Sunday, June 6 during the 11:15 a.m. worship service at Asbury Memorial Church, 1008 E Henry Street.

Claiborne brought this impactful event to cities across the nation, but this will be the first time ‘Beating Guns’ has taken place in Savannah. The ’Beating Guns’ initiative, stemming from a book by the same title written by Claiborne and Michael Martin, allows victims and perpetrators of gun violence to tell their own compelling stories, offering hope for change and helping reimagine the world as one that turns from death to life, where swords become plows and guns are turned into garden tools. 


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


THOMASTON, GA. – May 17, 2022 – Beyond The Bell Upson County has partnered with local first responders to host the “What To Do when You See Blue” town hall event Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Silvertown Baptist Church, located at 300 W. Goodrich Ave. Thomaston, Ga. 30286. These leaders of the Upson County community will inform attendees about what to expect and the processes of getting stopped by a police officer with advice on what to do.

The featured speakers at the event will include Sergeant Derric Pearson with the Thomaston Sheriff’s Department, Officer Kentavious Traylor of the Thomaston Police Department, and a representative from the Thomaston-Upson Fire Department. There will be a Q&A session with all three speakers following the event and lunch will be provided to attendees as well as free information materials.

“It can be intimidating for citizens, especially youth, to interact with law enforcement due to a lack of understanding and trust. The goal of this free town hall event is to encourage honest conversation and positive interactions between law enforcement and the citizens of Upson County,” said Executive Director Sandra Dean. “We are thrilled to be working with the Upson County Sheriff’s Office. Police department, and fire department to inform our community’s youth about what to do when they interact with law enforcement.”

Beyond The Bell, along with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) provides tools and evidence-based strategies to train, educate, and support youth and families in the prevention of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use and abuse.

Beyond The Bell offers programs to the community including the “Botvin Life Skills Training”, which consists of a 7-week groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program which is designed to promote mental health and positive youth development. They also implement 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 and its programs/resources, please visit

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


SAVANNAH, GA – May 16, 2022 – VOICExperience (VE) announces that soprano Sydney Fabregas is the Grand Prize winner of the 16th annual Opera Idol competition Sponsored by The Tom Lysaught Scholarship Fund. Opera Idol is a competition where young singers from around the country are invited to compete for a full scholarship to attend and study at the Milnes VOICE Studio. This summer the Milnes VOICE Studio will be held at Iowa State University.

Fabregas is an emerging American soprano pursuing a career in classical performance. Her recent performance highlights include operatic and music-theater roles such as Serpetta in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, La Princesse in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, La Fée in Viardot’s Cendrillon and Louise in Sondheim’s Gypsy. This year, she plans to perform more, continue operating her teaching studio, and complete her Carnegie Mellon University Master’s degree. 

“The judges had a very hard decision this year selecting just one winner,” said Milnes VOICE Programs’ Executive Director Chad Sonka.  “In the end, what set Sydney [Fabregas] apart was her opulent voice and we believe that the Milnes VOICE Studio will strengthen her gift even more and catapult her career above and beyond.”

The esteemed panel of judges for this year’s competition were Presidents and Co-Founders of the Milnes VOICE Programs Sherrill Milnes and Maria Zouves, Artistic Director Jorge Parodi, Andrew Bisantz with the Eugene Opera, Dr. Bernard J. Dobroski with Northwestern University, and Milnes VOICE Programs’ Composer-in-Residence Michael Ching.

VOICExperience will be broadcasting the competition recording at 2 p.m. Sunday May 29 and is free to watch at Opera Idol was conceived by Milnes and Zouves as part of their non-profit vocal training organization, VOICExperience Foundation, when the two served as faculty at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. The contest aims to showcase and encourage budding opera stars in a format that emulates popular television shows featuring talent searches.

Zouves and Milnes, who hosted and conducted the competition in a master class format, concurred that the level of talent they witness at Opera Idol continues an undeniably impressive upward swing.

For more information on Opera Idol or VOICExperience, please call 855-76-OPERA or visit


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


EDITOR’S NOTE: The VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization whose mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with its sister organization, the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. For more information, please visit


SAVANNAH, GA – MAY 11, 2022 – Historic Savannah Foundation will host Mae Bowley, Executive Director of Re:Purpose Savannah, as the next presenter in the “People, Places and Stories that Define Savannah” lecture series. The presentation, titled “Deconstruction & Preservation: Reclaiming History One Board at a Time,” is set for Thursday, May 19, 2022. Bowley will talk about how the inherent value in a historic structure goes beyond the object itself. There is great value in the history of a structure, in the stories of the lives that passed through its walls, and in the heritage materials from which it was built. She will also share with attendees how the Re:Purpose Savannah team provides conscientious treatments for historic buildings at the end of their life cycle.

Bowley earned two Bachelor of Art degrees in graphic design and classical archaeology from Florida State University. She earned a Master of Art in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently working on a certificate in historic preservation from Savannah Technical College. Her professional background includes creative director for a manufacturing firm, market manager for an urban farm, and principal in her own marketing consultancy for creative startups, Bowley Creative.

“Mae’s work positively impacts our local and global environments by reducing the harmful effects of demolition on the health of our neighborhoods. She and her team divert large quantities of waste from landfills and transform it into community resources,” HSF Education and Research Associate Kimberly Newbold said. “It’ll be fascinating to hear about how Re:Purpose Savannah pays special attention to historic materials, particularly ‘old-growth’ lumber that can be found in historic structures like the ones we often work to save.”

Bowley’s lecture, held at the Murray C. Perlman and Wayne Spear Preservation Center at 323 E. Broughton St., is free for HSF members and $10 for non-members. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. with a pre-lecture gathering at 5:30 p.m. to socialize and enjoy a glass of wine. Members may RSVP for the May 19th lecture by emailing Kimberly Newbold at The $10 nonmember registration fee can be paid by visiting HSF’s website,

For more information on the “People, Places and Stories that Define Savannah” lecture series, contact Newbold at 912-483-7294. For information about other HSF events, please visit or call 912-233-7787, and follow HSF on their social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Historic Savannah Foundation, a leading nonprofit preservation and cultural institution, saves buildings, places, and stories that define Savannah’s past, present, and future. Following its formation in 1955, the organization started a Revolving Fund to save endangered historic properties, now totaling nearly 410 buildings throughout several of Savannah’s historic districts. HSF continues to build capacity within its operations, secure new financial resources, improve its image and visibility, and increase public policy efforts to protect Savannah’s historic districts. For more information about the work of the Historic Savannah Foundation, visit


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


SAVANNAH, GA. – MAY 11, 2022 – Savannah African Art Museum is looking for eager docents and volunteers with good communication skills to assist with daily operations at the museum in the historic Thomas Square Streetcar District. This is a wonderful opportunity for those interested in learning and teaching the history and art of West and Central Africa. As the summer nears and students prepare for a break, donating time and energy in an educational capacity is a wonderful way to give back to the community while broadening their own knowledge.

Docents will have the opportunity to teach the history of West and Central Africa to a variety of different groups  and ages – from Savannah locals to tourists from all over the world and from grade school and up! No prior experience as a docent or knowledge of African Art and history is required as all docent volunteers will go through training and will learn the provided talking points before giving tours of the museum’s art collection. General volunteers are also needed to help with additional tasks, clerical duties, organizing, assisting at workshops, our 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022, and other duties.  Those who volunteer their time and talents will gain invaluable knowledge, volunteer or community service hours, recommendation letters, and experience with public speaking and customer service.

Thanks to the museums’ varying hours, volunteer shifts offer flexible time commitments that are sure to meet the availability of those with even the busiest schedules. Shifts are available during the museum’s regular operating hours on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tours are provided to visitors on either a walk-in basis or by appointment.

During docent training, volunteers will learn about the Savannah African Art Museum and its collection through instruction from the volunteer coordinator and current docents. New volunteers will also shadow current docents on tours to gain a better understanding of the process and how each docent brings something different to each tour. Docent talking points will be explained and reviewed, and volunteers will be provided with literature to complement the tour talking points. Upon training completion, docents will be expected to give tours to guests visiting the museum. Over time and with constructive feedback, volunteers will become effective teachers and public speakers as they amass impressive knowledge on African art and cultures.

To apply or for more information, please email an updated resume to, call the Savannah African Art Museum at 912-721-7724, or visit in person at 201 E. 37th St., Savannah, GA 31401.

Savannah African Art Museum is a nonprofit institution that introduces all audiences to African art and culture. Our mission is to provide engaging experiences that educate and start conversations about the power, diversity, and spirituality of African art. Learn more by visiting or dropping by their location at 201 E. 37th St. for a free tour.

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



RICHMOND HILL, GA – May 2, 2022 – Lesley Francis Public Relations (LFPR) has announced the promotion of Shelby McKee to Digital Design Director.

McKee has worked with LFPR since 2021 as the marketing agency’s Website Designer and has been instrumental in the company’s recent growth. As Digital Design Director, she will manage the design of responsive, user-friendly websites, as well as branding and digital and print materials, while tracking and analyzing website performance metrics and user engagement to make effective and data-driven design decisions.

“Shelby has proven herself as an enthusiastic and extremely effective member of our team,” said Lesley Francis, CEO and Founder of LFPR. “I am really delighted that she will be joining us in this more senior, full-time role. As website design, management, and hosting becomes a bigger and more important part of our offering to clients, I’m glad to have Shelby lead our online services.”  
LFPR is a growing marketing firm established by Lesley Francis in 2011. The award-winning firm is based in Richmond Hill, GA, and currently serves more than 25 clients spanning from South Carolina to Florida. LFPR offers many services to fulfill all your marketing and PR needs including media relations, crisis management, social media and website management, and much more! For more information, please visit


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





SAVANNAH, GA – May 2, 2022 – The Savannah African Art Museum has announced it is hosting two upcoming workshops for participants of all ages to commemorate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day on May 7 and June 11, respectively, at the Upbeat Village Terracotta Gallery, 201 East 37th St., Savannah. The nonprofit will also host a Juneteenth celebration, a day reserved for the commemoration of the abolishment of chattel slavery in the United States.

  • May 7 – “Making an ‘All About Mom’ Collage”: Africans are known as storytellers; that is how their history is passed on to future generations. This workshop is an opportunity to create a piece of art that lets participants – children and adults alike – demonstrate how interested they are in their moms’ and mother figures’ stories. Attendees will create collages about their mothers or mother figures, highlighting things like her birthplace, things that bring her joy, her taste in music, books and art, and places she’s visited or would like to travel to. Participants may choose to create a timeline with images and dates. The museum will supply attendees with a canvas, paint, crayons, markers, fabric, glue, and magazines. Participants are encouraged to bring personal photos, other visuals or mementos, keepsakes, written words, etc., to create collages that tell their moms, “Yes Mom, I see you, happy Mother’s Day!” The event will be held from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

  • June 11 – “Making an ‘All About Dad’ Collage”: Africans are known as storytellers; that is how their history is passed on to future generations. This workshop is an opportunity to create a piece of art that lets participants – children and adults alike – demonstrate how interested they are in their dads’ and father figures’ stories. Attendees will create collages about their fathers or father figures, highlighting things like his birthplace, things that bring him joy, his taste in music, books and art, and places he’s visited or would like to travel to. Participants may choose to create a timeline with images and dates. The museum will supply attendees with a canvas, paint, crayons, markers, fabric, glue, and magazines. Participants are encouraged to bring personal photos, other visuals or mementos, keepsakes, written words, etc., to create collages that tell their fathers, “Yes Dad, I see you, happy Father’s Day!” The event will be held from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

All workshops will be held on the second floor of the museum’s Upbeat Village Terracotta Gallery. Please note that it is stair access only, no elevator or wheelchair access available. However, the main museum building does offer elevator and full wheelchair access for tours.

The Museum’s second annual Juneteenth Celebration will be hosted at the museum on Saturday, June 18 from 12-4 p.m. honoring the past and embracing the future with tours of their Central & West African collection, music, crafts, storytelling, African food samples, resource/information tables, and more. Ghana native and Savannah-based fine artist, William Kwamena-Poh, will return with paintings for sale (original, limited edition, and prints). Savannah’s Diaspora Marketplace will join the celebration with authentic African merchandise for sale including clothing, jewelry, fabric, masks, statues, wall hangings, books, and so much more. The community is invited to this free event.

“We are so excited to bring these free, engaging workshops to the community so they can learn more about and engage with African art and culture, especially our new Cowrie Shell Exhibit. We wanted to host Mother’s Day and Father’s Day workshops because family lineage, community and continuity of such are very highly prized in African culture, and it is important that we honor and demonstrate that. We hope the community will join us for these workshops and further their exploration of their family stories,” said Savannah African Art Museum Education Community Outreach Liaison, Lisa Jackson. “We also invite all to the museum for our Juneteenth Celebration where there will be something for everyone to engage and enjoy!”

Workshops are free but reservations are required. To register, please visit Participants must be age 6 or older.

To learn more about the museum, the Juneteenth celebration, and the museum’s newest collections, please visit and follow Savannah African Art Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @SavannahAfricanArtMuseum.

Savannah African Art Museum is a nonprofit institution that introduces all audiences to African art and culture. Its mission is to provide engaging experiences that educate and start conversations about the power, diversity, and spirituality of African art.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651, or Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100.


SAVANNAH, Georgia, May 1, 2022 – Jack Sock has defeated 2018 and 2022 finalist Christian Harrison to claim the title of 2022 Savannah Challenger men’s singles champion.

Sock sailed through the first set with ease, beating Harrison 6-4. Harrison couldn’t get things going in the second set, leaving Sock to clinch the title with a final score of 6-4, 6-1. 

The Savannah Challenger is an ATP Challenger 80 and USTA Pro Circuit event that celebrated its 12th anniversary this year. Professional athletes from around the world competed for prize money, as well as valuable ATP Tour Ranking points.


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For media inquiries and interviews, please contact Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100, or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950.



The USTA Pro Circuit was formed in 1979 to provide players with an opportunity to gain the professional ranking points they need to compete on the major pro tours. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019, it has since grown into the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, consisting of approximately 100 tournaments and offering nearly $3 million in prize money. The USTA Pro Circuit has been a launching pad for many of today’s top pros, including Andy Murray, Naomi Osaka, Maria Sharapova, John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Alexander Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Nick Kyrgios and Milos Raonic. Follow the USTA Pro Circuit online at

RESULTS – MAY 01, 2022
Singles –

[4] J. Sock (USA) d C. Harrison (USA) 64 61



RICHMOND HILL, GA – APRIL 27, 2022 The Vets United 2022 resource festival, organized by Team Savannah for Veterans and sponsored by American Veteran Properties, is set for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill. This family friendly event will feature live music, food trucks, vendors, and a variety of veteran-centric organizations and groups, such as the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) 25-2, SD Gunner Fund, American Legion, Fight the War Within, Provisions for Patriots, and many others. In addition, there will be bounce houses, a dunk tank, and other activities for children to enjoy.

In addition to his support in the form of title sponsorship, American Veteran Properties owner Eric Lukkarinen will be giving away a Remington 700 SPS rifle, worth approximately $960. There is no cost to enter the drawing. Attendees should stop by the AVP table to sign up for this free opportunity to win the rifle, though participants must be age 18 or older to enter. The drawing will take place at 5 p.m., at the conclusion of the festival, and the winner need not be present at the time his or her name is drawn. If necessary, the winner will be notified by phone or email.  

Event coordinators and Team Savannah for Veterans Leaders Chris O’Malley and Thomas Nash look forward to welcoming fellow veterans and their families to the festival, which they think attendees will find helpful.

“We’re proud to put this event on as something that will benefit members of the military community and allow them to explore the resources available to them,” O’Malley said. “Plus, it’s  a great opportunity for families to come enjoy a spring day outdoors, check out the vendors, grab lunch, let the kids play – just have a little fun.”

Lukkarinen, also a veteran, signed on as the event’s title sponsor as a way to show his appreciation for military members as well as the organizations that serve them. He added the free rifle giveaway to encourage attendees to circulate, explore the booths staffed by veteran-based businesses and organizations, and make connections.

“This will be a great event. I’m looking forward to talking with a lot of veterans, their families, and people excited to support veterans. As a former soldier myself, I’ve seen how helpful programs like this one are to both active and former military members,” Lukkarinen said. “Come on by AVP’s booth, chat with us, let us get you signed up for the free rifle giveaway, and learn more about how we help military families in this community.”

American Veteran Properties offers the highest quality advice and support for military members to make the best decision for themselves and their families, in addition to helping military members enjoy homeownership while building and growing personal wealth. For more information, please visit, call 912-385-3000, email or visit them on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

For more information on the Vets Untied 2022 resource festival, to sign up as a vendor, or to become a sponsor, please visit


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