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November 11, 2013

Charlotte Nash, Chairman Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

Giving back at the Holidays

Growing up on a farm, late fall was always a time of mixed emotions for me. Shorter days and colder weather kept us all indoors more but at least we could look ahead to the holidays with great anticipation.

At the Snellville Carmike Theater: Far left Cameron Arnett, Middle Left Cast Member. Middle Right Drew Mathew, Far Right Kelsi Chandler. Stand Your Ground will be In theaters January 17, 2014. Photo by John Hani

Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground 
The True Story of a Cry for justice
By John Hani

Stand your ground is a movie based on a novel written by Jackie Carpenter and is centered on real life events.  When her son is accused of murder, her normal life as a mother of two grown men gets turned upside down and all she has left to hold on to is her deep faith in God.

Carol Wood

Who’s in charge at your house?

As a parent, are you sometimes afraid you will make your children angry with you if you discipline them and/or require responsible, respectful behaviors?  Are you worried you may cause them emotional harm if you hold them to your expectations and require certain behaviors?  Do any of your children refuse to do homework, study for tests, attend after school tutorial sessions, and/or earn grades lower than his or her abilities? Have your children taken charge of your home?

Healthy, Happy Friends – November 2013

Healthy, Happy Friends – November 2013
By Joan Sewell

What with the government shutdown and the continuing debate on raising the debt limit, I have decided that we need a few laughs in this month’s column.  So I solicited some funny stories fromH2U members and at their requests I will refrain from revealing names in the stories they insist are true.  So here goes and I hope you get a laugh or two!

Emily Ashman, Journalist, Couch Middle School

Bridging the Gap – Cyber-bullying: parents beware!

Too often, a child has the unbearable thought of committing suicide because of bullying.  In previous years bullying typically occurred face to face, but now kids have the capability to bully others from the comfort of their computers and smart phones. Over the years, bullying on social media has grown dramatically. 

Jan King, Cannon UMC Cancer Ministry’s “Momma Bear” works on sewing a Prayer Bearer. Photo by Emmett Clower

Prayer bears

Not unlike Corduroy in the beloved children’s book of the same name, the Cannon UMC Prayer Bearers are ministers in miniature. These handmade, multi-colored, adorable and cuddly bears are sent out into the world to bring comfort to those who need it at the most vulnerable of times. For cancer patients, hope is found in many forms, but having something to hug can bring a different type of hope, something simple and innocent.. a teddy bear.

Founded in 2002 by Carole Shepherd, a cancer survivor herself, the Prayer Bearers are a product of the loving hands and blessings of the cancer ministry at Cannon United Methodist Church in Snellville. The first year, Carole had plans to make 100-200 bears to be given to area children’s hospitals as a means to show her gratitude for having survived cancer. As often comes of a plan to minister, God had bigger plans for the Prayer Bearers. By the end of the first year, over 1000 bears had been made and delivered.


The group refers to their leader as “Momma Bear” and more than one person has fulfilled this role. Currently, Jan King serves as the “Momma Bear” and facilitates donations, workshops and the annual fundraiser that is lovingly referred to as “Adoption”. “We arrange the bears in the sanctuary and they are prayed over and blessed,” says Jan. “People can obtain a certificate and either take their bear with them to give to someone who needs it or they can allow us to take the bear to the hospital.” Either way, a nominal $20-$25 donation is used for materials to keep the bears in production. “The polyfil is the most expensive item,” says Jan. “We get material on sale and several people watch for those opportunities.” The different materials really make each bear unique. There are colleges represented, holidays and all sorts of interesting patterns. This year’s “Adoption” will take place on Sunday, November 23rd at Cannon UMC.

The bears themselves are the “bearers” of prayers for the returned health of those who have become ill and come with a prayer that was written by one of the wonderful women who bring these creatures to “life”. Diane Cline describes the process by which the Prayer Bearer Prayer was “scribed”. “I was taking a walk one day and the words just worked themselves into my thoughts,” says Cline. “It really just wrote itself.” The prayer may be found at, but includes the words:

Lord, may this bear be an instrument of Your peace. May this bear be a blessing to the person who receives it. May this bear bring hope to someone who has given up on hope… May this bear bring the love of the people who had a part in making it…

It is very evident that lots of love goes into making each bear. The basement room that serves the ministry looked a bit like Santa’s workshop with many elves sipping coffee, chatting and having a taste of homemade coffee cake while their fingers stitched away closing up the stuffed bears, adding smiling faces and cutting patterns for future projects. “We are approaching 10,000 bears,” says Jan.

“Unfortunately, there will never not be a need; so we will continue to make them.” The bears are given to local children’s hospitals, Hospice, Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes and local hospitals. About once a month, one of the women from the “Bear Den” takes “Bear Skins” to a local assisted living facility where the residents place the stuffing and love into the bears. It takes many hands and a great deal of donated material to create the Prayer Bearers. “Any amount is important,” says Kathleen Torrance. “All of the people involved keep an eye out for a good bargain and they just grab it.”

“We have never had anyone refuse a bear,” says Jan. “From little children to grown men, the bears provide ‘something to hold onto’.” According to Kathleen, the bears have been carefully planned for “huggability.” “This size has been fully tested and found to be the perfect holdable size.”

Rows and rows of “holdable” bears line the “Bear Den” ready to be placed in a good home. Just like Corduroy, they have a mission in life and will wait patiently until their time to be held comes up. In the meantime… it seems like a few of them had a glint in their eyes…like maybe, just maybe, they climb down from those shelves at night and poke around the workshop to visit with one another and say a little prayer for each bearer’s very special mission.

To offer donations or learn more about the Cannon UMC Cancer Ministry:  

Gwinnett Dermatology Staff: Top Row (L-R) Jonathan S. Weiss, M.D., Joel S. Shavin, M.D., Keith D. Wright, M.D., Kirk D. Saddler, M.D. Bottom Row - L to R: Courtney Renner, PA-C, Alia S. Brown M.D., Jennifer Sissom, PA-C

Who should be providing your cosmetic treatment FAQs

Who should be providing your cosmetic treatment FAQs
By Alia S. Brown, MD, Gwinnett Dermatology

Patient safety is dermatologists’ No. 1 priority. Dermatologists have the education, expertise, and experience to safely and effectively reduce the signs of aging. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that before undergoing any cosmetic procedures, consumers should ask the following questions: