Saturday, December 29, 2007

Video is New Tool in Teaching Children With Autism

HH Note: Normally we don't put advertising for products in Helping Hands. This product was one that we felt some of our readers might have missed, and that it might be helpful (plus it has a Georgia connection). We do not know anything about the product, but one of our staff plans to check it out. If she does, we'll let you know what she thinks about it. If anyone out there in blogland has a personal story about it and would like to share, please leave a comment!

ATLANTA, Dec. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Local Georgia mom, Susan Ellis, struggling to help her frustrated five-year-old son with Autism learn to write the alphabet, finally created her own solution. After two years of occupational therapy, she realized she must teach her son, Ryan, through the tool he responds to best: television. Together with her son's occupational therapist, Marnie Danielson, they made a three-minute video and Ryan began to write a letter in minutes!

"I videotaped Marnie reciting a rhythmic letter chant she had used in therapy before, but it was the accompanying visual demonstration that finally made the 'connection'," says Ms. Ellis. "We added props and skits to make it fun, and that's what made it a winner!"

Ms. Danielson and Ms. Ellis became business partners and created The TV Teacher, LLC(TM). They produced a professional DVD writing program that is now being used by parents, school systems and therapy clinics from Florida to California. "We receive the most incredible testimonials!" says Ms. Danielson. "Children with Autism, Down syndrome, ADD, etc -- all struggling for years, now enjoy writing because of what we created."

"When we began our company," says Danielson, "giving back to the community was always a priority for us. We are proud to donate 5% of our last year's proceeds to great companies like Autism Society of America (ASA)." Cindy Pike, Executive Director of ASA-Greater Georgia Chapter, stated, "We are honored to be the first recipient of The TV Teacher's charity donation program. Susan and Marnie have developed an innovative product that is adorable and effective -- it's sure to benefit many children."

"ASA's Greater Georgia Chapter has been a terrific supporter of our Alphabet Beats videos," says Ms. Ellis. "This year, ASA-GGA began a new conference called 'Autism 101' for parents receiving the initial diagnosis of Autism for their children. It's a great resource opportunity that I wish was available when my son was first diagnosed. We hope this money will help support this project and others the chapter is organizing. As The TV Teacher grows, we look forward to helping more charities in the future."

To see a demonstration of their Alphabet Beats video, and appearances on NBC,, Advance Magazine, and more, visit

America Supports You: Partnership Gives Spouses Gift of Education

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2007 - Military spouses now have a larger scholarship pool to draw from, thanks to a new partnership between the National Military Family Association and the Fisher House Foundation.

The collaboration will enable the NMFA to expand its Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program to many more deserving spouses, association officials said.

"With 55 years of combined experience serving military families, both NMFA and Fisher House Foundation are acutely aware of the challenges and hardships facing today's military families," Tanna Schmidli, chairman of the NMFA's board of governors, said. "We are thrilled to be working together on this very important project supporting military spouses."

Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarships are awarded to military spouses to obtain professional certification or to attend post-secondary or graduate school. They normally range from $500 to $1,000 and may be used for tuition, fees, and school room and board. Spouses of uniformed servicemembers, including active duty, National Guardsmen, reservists, retirees and survivors of any branch or rank are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted online at Jan. 1 through Feb. 29.

"Through our partnership with the Defense Commissary Agency, in seven years, we have been able to provide more than $5.5 million in scholarship grants to more than 3,500 military children," said David A. Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation. "We are partnering with the NMFA to be able to expand our grants to military spouses."

The National Military Family Association and the Fisher House Foundation are supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

(From a National Military Family Association news release.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Georgia Nonprofit Groups Received More Than $600,000 in 2007 From the Verizon Foundation to Support Education, Domestic Violence and Internet Safety

Verizon Employees Volunteered 4,150 Hours to State's Nonprofits

ATLANTA, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Verizon's commitment to the Georgia communities it serves proved strong in 2007 through grants for a broad range of programs to improve educational opportunities, promote Internet safety and aid victims of domestic violence.

In 2007, the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, provided $609,782 in grants to 205 nonprofit groups in Georgia through competitive grants and through the Verizon Volunteers program, which rewards employees with matching gifts and grants to nonprofits that employees donate to and support. In 2007, Verizon employees volunteered 4,150 hours to nonprofit groups across the state.

"Verizon has a long-standing tradition of working to improve the communities where we operate by supporting organizations that strive to make a difference in the lives of community members," said Michelle Robinson, Verizon senior vice president -- Southern region. "Through grants and the generous contributions of time and talent from our employees, we are having a positive impact in communities throughout the state." Among the grants awarded by Verizon in 2007 are:

-- Georgia Center for Children, Atlanta -- $20,000 to provide therapy and
treatment to children who are victims of sexual abuse.

-- Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, Atlanta -- $25,000 to
fund the Georgia CyberSafety Initiative, an awareness and action
campaign, including an Internet safety forum for parents.

-- Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Atlanta -- $24,500 to fund the
creation of an online version of the Georgia Report Card for Parents,
a free online database of information on performance, demographics and
financial information for all Georgia public schools.

-- Gwinnett Country Public Schools Foundation Fund, Suwannee -- $10,000
for an innovative program for students, focusing on engineering,
bioscience and emerging technologies.

-- Medical College of Georgia Research Institute Inc., Augusta -- $50,000
to fund a project that will test the use of wireless hand-held devices
to transmit electrocardiograms and meet the challenge of providing
acute cardiac care to Americans, regardless of where they are when a
cardiac incident occurs.

-- Women Are Dreamers Too, Norcross -- $10,000 to develop an in-house
math and science library for children and an online survival guide for
victims of domestic violence.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education through its signature program; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit

Kaiser Permanente Provides $1.4 Million in Holiday Gifts to 40 Metro Atlanta Nonprofits

ATLANTA, Dec. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente is providing 40 Atlanta-area nonprofit organizations with a surprise holiday gift in the mail this year: over $1.4 million in grant funds to support local health initiatives. The end-of-year grants range from $5,000 to $250,000 and focus on increasing access to health care for low-income, uninsured or underinsured individuals; funding for nursing and pharmacy scholarships; and other community health programs.

"These grants demonstrate our commitment to improving access to care and the health of metro area residents. Each organization receiving a grant helps fulfill our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve," said Evonne Yancey, Kaiser Permanente's director of Government and Community Relations.

Metro Atlanta area organizations receiving grant funds from Kaiser Permanente include:

Safety Net Providers
A total of 29 safety net providers (examples: free clinics, community clinics, hospitals) who participated in a Kaiser Permanente commissioned safety net study will share in a total of $620,000 to support their programs for the uninsured.

The Atlanta Women's Foundation
The Atlanta Women's Foundation will receive $250,000 to establish an initiative to create opportunities for women and girls to understand the components of good health and improve their well-being.

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Kaiser Permanente is providing $150,000 to support a multi-year community health improvement initiative aimed at improving the health status of residents living in South DeKalb's Belvedere neighborhood.

$50,000 Grants
Several organizations will receive $50,000 grants focused on reducing health disparities, improving care and coverage for the low income and homeless, and creating wellness programs. These organizations include:
The American Cancer Society,
The DeKalb County School System,
Morehouse School of Medicine,
St. Joseph's Mercy Care Services and
the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.

(Following is a listing of all community organizations receiving Kaiser Permanente grant funds.)

Grant Recipients

Below are all community organizations that received end-of-year grant funds from Kaiser

Permanente. AID Atlanta Hands of Hope Clinic, Inc.
American Cancer Society Hebron Community Health Center
Center for Black Women's Wellness, Inc. Kennesaw State University Foundation
Center for Community Based Partnership McIntosh Trail Community Service Board
Clayton College and State University Medical Network for Education and Research
Clayton County Board of Health Mercer University School of Pharmacy
Cobb/Douglas Board of Health Ministries United for Service and Training
DeKalb Community Service Board Morehouse School of Medicine
DeKalb County Board of Education Oakhurst Medical Centers, Inc.
DeKalb County Board of Health Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services, Inc.
Fulton County Department of Health Southside Medical Center, and Wellness Inc.
Fulton Life Enrichment Foundation, Inc. Sweetwater Valley Community
Action Mission Program, Inc.
Georgia Highlands Medical Services, Inc. The Arch Foundation for the University of Georgia
Georgia Mountains Community Services Board The Atlanta Women's Foundation
Georgia Perimeter College The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Georgia State University The Good Samaritan Health Center, Inc.
Good Shepherd Clinic, Inc. The Road to Recovery, Inc.
Grant Park Family Health Center, Inc. West End Medical Centers, Inc.
Gwinnett County Board of Health YMCA of Metro Atlanta
Gwinnett Hospital System, Inc. YWCA of Greater Atlanta

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Divorce, overdraft and learning

A month or so ago I stopped into a local bank to open a couple of new accounts. While I was going through the motions a young man came into the bank. He needed to talk with someone regarding his checking account.

It took a while to get the accounts set up and it was a small bank so I couldn't help but overhear a large portion of his problems. In a nutshell, the kid was in huge trouble.

He didn't have a clue how to balance a check book. He didn't understand money. His parents were divorced and Dad sounded like a tyrant. Mom sounded like someone struggling to keep her head above water.

The guy was practically in tears at times trying to understand how he'd let his account go into overdraft. He was in college. I gather he was sharing a car with his mother. He didn't have enough money to put gas in the car to get home or get back to school.

The bank staff did a fairly good job of trying to help him out. It really wasn't their place to teach him basic 101 check book balancing. He didn't seem to grasp the check card, thinking that they shouldn't let him have money if it was going to make him go into overdraft, even though he had outstanding checks. He was floored after seeing the overdraft charges that had wracked up, compounding the problems he had created.

Why is this in helping hands? Well, after hearing how scared the kid was to go to his Dad for help, and hearing the plight of his Mom's finances, I walked over and gave him a some money. Enough to get some gas so he could go home to face the music.

If I'd been able to clear up his overdraft, I would have. But only if I'd felt he really understood how to stop from getting back into the same predicament.

How did a kid graduate from high school and not know how to balance a check book? I know that's something a parent should teach. I didn't learn how to balance a check book in school. But I sure was able to grasp the concept of writing down deposits and knowing when to stop writing checks. Of course, back when I graduated from high school debit cards didn't exist. If you wanted cash you had to get to the bank during banking hours. I still remember when the grocery stores started giving cash back! Freedom from banking hours!!!

Back to the guy in the bank. He was thrilled to get the little bit of money I handed him. What I really wanted to do was straighten out his parents. I know I'm judging based on very little info, but it sure seemed that Dad was pretty self-centered and really had done a job on the kids self confidence. Mom had her own set of problems and it didn't sound like she could do more than keep her head above water, if that. The pair's son was caught between the two and struggling. He seemed very immature, but maybe that was because I was seeing him in a very stressful situation.

I hope that after I left someone at the bank was able to sit down and show the kid how to balance a check book. They wrote off a couple of overdraft charges for him, which helped a little. He needed more help that anyone at the bank could offer.

I've thought about him many times, wondering what happened to him. Something like that can either turn someone around or send them into a downward spiral at that age. I hope he's one who learns, grows and conquers.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Nine-time ARCA series champion race car driver Frank Kimmel has teamed up with his sister, Coldwell Banker Bullard Henry County Realtor Penny Henderson, to send 10 dozen T-shirts to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each shirt has Kimmel's autograph as well as a picture of his car.

The shirts are being sent as part of a project through Penny's church, Glen Haven Baptist of McDonough, to send Christmas packages to men and women serving in those war-torn countries during the Christmas season.

Penny's son, 1st Lt. Adam Henderson, is on his second tour in Iraq and will be distributing these packages to soldiers under his command.

Penny and the rest of the Glen Haven family wish to thank all of those who made this project a huge success, especially the Food Depot and Allan Vigil Ford who underwrote a portion of the shipping costs.

Governor Perdue Recognizes Hunters for the Hungry Program

Today Governor Sonny Perdue recognized the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry program and the success of the multi-agency initiative by serving the millionth meal to those in need at the Community Concerns Outreach Center in Atlanta.

“The success of the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry program is evidence of what can be accomplished when our state agencies and nonprofit organizations work together,” said Governor Perdue. “Serving the millionth meal this holiday season reminds us all of the importance of giving to those in need by donating to our state food banks. It is our hope that through the continued success of this program, millions more protein-rich meals will be served to Georgians in need.”

Ground venison prepared in the form of chili, lasagna and burgers, donated and processed through the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry program, has become a holiday staple on the menu of Georgia’s food banks for the past 15 years. Representatives from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Georgia State Association of Food Banks, the Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) and the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) were on hand to celebrate this millionth meal milestone.

The Georgia Hunters for the Hungry (GHFTH) program begins each September at the opening of deer season, offering hunters across the state an opportunity to donate low-fat, low-cholesterol venison to benefit those in need. Participating processors collect and prepare the highly nutritious venison for statewide distribution through the Georgia State Association of Food Banks.

DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD), along with the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Wildlife Federation and the Georgia State Association of Food Banks sponsor the GFHTH program, providing hunters of all ages a unique opportunity to utilize their hunting skills to benefit others.

This season’s collection opportunities are ongoing and hunters can continue to make donations through Jan. 1, 2008. The following eight locations will accept donations through the first of the year:

· Hoboken – Big Creek Sausage Co., Inc., Rt. 1, Box 146-A, (912) 458-2120
· Jefferson – Sealey’s Deer Cooler, 5675 South Apple Valley Road, (706) 335-9304
· Sparta – Garner’s Grinder, Rt. 3, Box 464-2, (706) 444-9228
· Columbus – Daffin’s Meat Processing, 4100 ½ River Bend Road, (706) 322-8848
· Irwinton – Starley’s Deer Processing, 190 George Hatcher Road, (478) 946-8976
· Vidalia – Stewart’s Quality Meats, 204 Washington Street, (912) 537-9888
· Tifton – Safety-Rite Foods, 147 Ridge Avenue S, (229) 382-1242
· Douglasville – Douglasville Retail Meat & Smokehouse, 3749 Kings Hwy., (770) 947-6624

All hunters who donate a deer during this collection period will be entered into a drawing for a deer rifle, sponsored by the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

Over the past 15 years, participation has steadily increased, and since 1993 hunters have donated more than 7,000 deer, totaling more than 200,000 pounds of ground venison.

For more information on the GHFTH program, visit , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (770) 761-3045. For more information on donating food to those in need, call the Atlanta Community Food Bank at (404) 892-FEED.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Silver for Santa Makes Holidays Brighter for J.C. Booth Families

Students at J.C. Booth Middle have captured the true spirit of the holiday season.

About 10 years ago the school started a fundraiser to help their own families who were struggling financially have a more memorable holiday. It has operated under several different names throughout the years but is now called Silver for Santa, with the word “silver” representing the spirit of giving.

Students are asked to consider donating whatever amount they feel is appropriate. The money collected is used to pay for practical items like rent, eyeglasses or doctor visits for students.
“And sometimes we just buy a bicycle because it’s what needs to be done,” says school guidance counselor Lynda Manwaring.

Manwaring did not disclose the goal for the fundraiser, saying that a goal was set only to have a ceiling, but the project raised more money than ever topping out at over $6,600.

“This has been the most successful endeavor we have ever undertaken but the definitive monetary amount is really irrelevant. It is the loving, generous spirit of our students and families that makes this project special,” says Manwaring.

While students throughout the school have stepped up to help their own, one class in particular has been leading the way. Dave Edinger’s eighth grade homeroom collected over $1,000, the most of any classroom at the school. Although Manwaring admits that Edinger has been a motivating force, she says it is the students who answered the call and stepped outside of themselves to help others.

“Our students are so very generous with what they have been given and they often put others first. Our youth are truly wonderful, young adults,” she says.

Silver for Santa came about because the school saw a need for families who were struggling to pay bills and send their children to school, leaving little money left for anything else.

“Our desire is, and continues to be, to celebrate the spirit of the season by making memories better for others,” Manwaring says.

The fundraiser takes place over a 10-day period.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Operation Homefront Seeks Help for Deployed Service Member

Operation Homefront is asking residents and business in the Hinesville, Georgia area for their assistance to help a service member in need.

On December 5, 2007, a 28 year old Army Specialist came home from Iraq on R&R (rest and recuperation) to find his wife had taken everything and left him with an empty house. This soldier has nothing left: no car, no money, no household furnishings, no clothing for himself or his four children, and no Christmas. The children, ranging in ages from 2 to 7, were left with a next door neighbor. To make matters worse for this soldier, two of his children have birthdays coming up this week.

Please consider making a monetary donation to assist this family in need. We are also accepting donations of new or gently used household furnishings, and gift cards from places like, Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys "R" Us".

Please visit our website at to donate online or get more information on how you can help. Please mark all donations with case number: GA0700131, so we can ensure funds are directed to this family.

Please help this service member put his life back together for himself and his children and help us get him back in his home in time for Christmas. If you have any questions or need further information, please call Operation Homefront of Georgia at 800-390-2115.