Pebble Tossers interview on Veteran Support and Doc’s Healing Hives with Tim Doherty

Pebble Tossers recently interviewed Tim Doherty, founder of Doc’s Healing Hives. Tim’s organization teaches and equips veterans with the materials needed to keep bees and harvest their honey. Many of these veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries received as a result of their service. The primary goal of Doc’s Healing Hives is to help heal and reintegrate former service members into their community through the vocation of Beekeeping. The conversation focused on the progress made to create more opportunities for Doc’s Healing Hives to serve the Metro Atlantas veteran community and the importance of volunteers within the organization itself. Tim shared incredible advice on how we can all do better to make lasting friendships with the veterans in our lives. 

 

Pebble Tossers: I’ve seen that you are in the process of building a new Veteran Learning Center. What new opportunities do you hope this space will provide for members of your organization?

Tim
:
That space should be finished by the end of April (2023?). And it will allow me to run anywhere from two to four courses a year teaching veterans how to keep bees, and then will also be a retreat for them. And then I can also serve them individually. I actually had a veteran call me today and say, “Hey I’d like to learn how to keep bees, can you come to my farm?” And I said, “Well, how about you come to my farm, and I’ll teach you how to do hive inspections where there actually are bees.” Getting it built has been a three-year process so we’re very excited.

Pebble Tossers: Is the Veteran Learning Center going to be a place where veterans can stay overnight?

Tim: That’s the next phase, one that I really would like help with, is building a lodge. We have one tiny home that could house two veterans and I’d like to build two more container homes that would host another 12 veterans. So close to 15.

Pebble Tossers: Your Facebook page shows that Doc’s Healing Hives makes tequila honey that you sell at the local Farmer’s Market, and other flavors as well. What’s the process of infusing that unique flavor into the honey harvest?

Tim: It’s fun. I started with my regular honey, which is the best honey in the state of Georgia as judged by the Georgia Beekeepers Association at the Fall Conference this past year. And then I took that honey and another wildflower honey, blended those two together with bourbon and created my Bourbon Honey, which is amazing. Everybody loves it. And a lot of people wanted that and people suggested tequila. So I tried tequila and everybody loves it. The alcohol makes the honey sweeter. And then at the end, you get a slight finish of tequila. So it’s just a pleasant experience, everybody is very excited about it.

Pebble Tossers: What role do volunteers play in the daily operation and events you put on at Doc’s Healing Hives?

Tim: Well, there’s a variety of roles and it’s gonna expand because it used to be that it was just the instructors because I didn’t have a host facility. So now that I have my own facility, more volunteers are needed. From hosts, people to help serve food, to greeters, to people that help in the registration process, to people who just help to make the veterans feel comfortable. Because for a lot of them, the PTSD element, is huge. Most people don’t know this but Winnie the Pooh is based on PTSD. The author of Winnie the Pooh had PTSD. If you look at Piglet, he is always anxious. Rabbit can never sit still. Owl is always thoughtful. Eeyore is depressed. Those are all elements of PTSD that a veteran can experience at any different time. So when you do something like this, not only do you have to be the subject matter expert, you also have to be able to meet the needs of individuals that are experiencing these challenges. So that’s something that hosts or volunteers can help with, which will be new for me because I  never operated the host facility, I was just the program facility coordinator.

Veteran Learning Center

Pebble Tossers: What are some of your favorite parts of the work you do with your organization? What’s rewarding to you?

Tim: It’s a combination, I love just being with the bees, getting into the beehive. Because whatever is bothering you completely goes away and all you’re thinking is “this is amazing”. I’ve got anywhere from 20 to a hundred thousand bees looking at me and you get an entire life cycle in every frame of bees you pull out. From pupa to larva to bee, it’s just incredible. And I don’t know how else to explain that. Then getting to share that experience, it’s amazing.

Pebble Tossers: It seems like a great conduit to have fun and also make important connections with veterans and anyone wanting to get involved.

Tim: It helps the veterans reconnect to their own families and to their own communities. And that’s the whole point, that when you go into combat, you get connected to that lifestyle, that purpose. Then when you come home you don’t have that anymore. So it reconnects them to a new purpose, which then helps them integrate back into their own community.

Pebble Tossers: What are some of the ways Doc’s Healing Hive has been able to interact and become a resource to the surrounding Atlanta community?

Tim: One of my favorite stories is the Shepherd Center, we’re a nationally approved Shepherd Center activity. To be part of the Shepherd Center Share Program you have to have a traumatic brain injury and PTSD for a traumatic brain injury. So what that means is when a veteran checks into the Shepherd Center, they do an inventory for something that they might be interested in. If they choose Doc’s Healing Hives or beekeeping as something that they’re interested in learning about then I will meet with their recreational therapist and the veteran at a Park in Buckhead that we created with Livable Buckhead and Buckhead Rotary for this exact purpose. To be a training center for veterans that were in the Share Program. So we’ve created this educational bee garden in Buckhead, and then that’s been extended to becoming a Share Activity for the veterans going through the Shepherd Center Share Program. And then any time I’m at a farmer’s market, I’m always raising awareness. Do you know how many veterans kill themselves every day?

Pebble Tossers: No, I do not.

Tim: It’s 22. There was one this past Saturday that I know personally that killed himself. That was another veteran farmer. People just don’t realize that there’s such a disconnect between a deployment lifestyle and then turning back to your civilian lifestyle, that it’s hard for the veterans to adjust. So creating that awareness that veterans need help. A little bit of empathy, a little bit of community.

And then the other side of that is we always do pollinator education, which people don’t understand the importance of bees. There are only around 2 million bee colonies in America, and almost all of those are required to pollinate just the almonds in California. So almost every beehive in America goes to California every almond season to pollinate the almonds. Or the fact that 40% of your food is created by the pollination of bees. So if you didn’t have the honey bees pollinating the vegetables and the fruit, then your diet would look completely different.

Pebble Tossers: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get more educated and more supportive of the troops and former service members in their community

Tim: It’s not really that complicated. All of us know a veteran, and it’s as simple as talking to the individual and spending time with that person. One of my best experiences this past year, I haven’t been to a major sporting event since I deployed in 2015-2016. And I had not been to anything larger than a high school football game. I had been invited to baseball games, basketball games, football games, and I always declined because the environment was just too much. This past College Bowl season, my friend Mike told me “Michigan State is going to the Peach Bowl here in Atlanta”, and said we should go. And I said, “well that’s going to be a lot for me buddy, but I’ll give it a try”. So he and I went, it was the first big sporting event that I had been to in five years, which meant that I could now do it again. But before, the anxiety of being around that large of a crowd prevented me from attempting it. But having the invitation, “do you want to come over and grill a hamburger”, and just having those casual conversations shows you actually care. It really isn’t that complicated. Wanting to be invested and asking specific questions, as opposed to “how are you doing”. Because if you ask us how we’re doing we’re just going to tell you “fine” because that’s what we’ve been trained to tell you. But we’re not. So when you dig a little bit deeper and you show a little bit more investment. I don’t know, going to that football game was a big deal for me.

Pebble Tossers: I think everyone wants to be a better friend, however they can.

Tim: I think you just summed it up, be a better friend, right? I think that’s what’s so hard for us. That communities were very different and people lived in the same community and you came home to your community and there was a different kind of welcoming, or a different kind of connection and that doesn’t necessarily exist anymore.

 

Pebble Tossers:  Anyone can read that and feel like they can do that.

Tim: He broke a barrier for me. When my daughter said, “Hey it’s Daddy Daughter Day at UGA, we’re going to a basketball game do you want to come”. Before I would’ve said, “I don’t know”. But because Mike said “I think we can do this, nobody’s gonna be there”, I could. It was the encouragement and the support and basically just being a good neighbor.

Pebble Tossers: Is there anything that you want readers to know about Doc’s Healing Hives, the work that goes on there, or anything at all?

Tim: I think it’s important for people to be kind. It’s hard being deployed, your brain becomes rewired. We can’t help the way we are.

Pebble Tossers: That’s a great advice. Thank you so much for that, I think that’s a great way to end the interview. That’s an important note to end on that really ties it all together, what we’ve mentioned about being a community resource and how we can be more supportive. Be kind, be a better friend, be supportive, be a neighbor.

Tim: And make sure every time you spell “bee”, you use two E’s. Bee kind, bee a better friend, bee supportive, bee a neighbor!

 

Here is a link to the Doc’s Healing Hives Facebook page, where most of the organization progress and updates are recorded. Doc’s Healing Hives also has a Gofundme page fordonations for the Veteran Learning Center.. 

 

Pebble Tossers’ Guide to Summer Fun in Metro Atlanta

Summer is quickly approaching, and keeping your kids active during the summer months can sometimes be a challenge. Not only is summer a good time for vacations and relaxation, but all of that free time also presents an excellent opportunity to volunteer and help out your community.

Getting a head start on service hours for schools and clubs is a great way to spend your summer. Why not make a positive impact in your community or learn something new while you have spare free time? Here are some suggestions from Pebble Tossers on ways to be productive and have the most enriching summer possible!

  • Participate in a River Cleanup with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

    River cleanups are done by kayak or on land, to help preserve the natural beauty in your community.

  • Have a fun day at Stone Mountain Park

    Minigolf, Geyser Towers, a Dinotorium, even a Railroad! Stone Mountain has everything you will need for a fun day trip.

  • Take part in one of the numerous volunteer events organized by Pebble Tossers.

    Check our service calendar to see which volunteer opportunities work best with your schedule.

  • Visit the Farmers Market

    Metro Atlanta is home to quite a few Farmer’s Markets if you know where to look. Here are a few options for your next visit:
    • Grant Park Farmers Market
    • Peachtree Road Farmers Market

  • Visit the Food Truck Park

    What could be better than up to fifteen trucks all serving different tasty foods? Nothing! Visit nearby Underwood Hills Park for some time on the playground.

  • Join the Junior Ranger Program at any State Park in Georgia

    The Junior Ranger Program is a unique and fun opportunity to learn more about the wildlife and the people who take care of it at your local State Park.

  • See a Waterfall!

    There are more waterfalls near Atlanta than you think. Here is an article on three close enough for a day trip.

  • Hike the trails at the Dunwoody Nature Center

    Voted “Best Place for Kids to Have Fun” by the Dunwoody Crier in 2021. Pets are very welcome!

  • Support a locally-owned Bookstore

    Supporting your local Bookstore is a good habit yearlong, but during the Summer, many of these bookstores host children-focused author events and readings. Here is a list of some of our favorite spots:
    Little Shop of Stories
     in Decatur
    • Medu Bookstore
     in Greenbriar Mall
    • A Capella Books
     in Inman Park

  • Write Cards of Encouragement for a Local Senior Living Facility

    Pebble Tossers partners with several facilities that serve seniors or our community members in need. While many are not open for visitation due to COVID they do accept cards and letters of encouragement. Here is a list of current Pebble Tossers’ projects or simply reach out to a Senior Living Facility in your area:
    InCommunity
    Atlanta Mission

  • Visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

    This is a great place to spend the day. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, educational programming for kids, playgrounds, and more!

  • Visit The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

    Located at the Carter Center, the Library also houses a museum dedicated to President Carter’s time in office. The museum contains a full-sized replica of The Oval Office and a cabin recreation of Camp David.

  • Check out a Rooftop Arcade

    Skyline Park at Ponce City Market has food, new and vintage amusement games, and mini-golf. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day there?

  • Go Camping

    Camping is the perfect way to connect with the outdoors, rest, and unwind. Here is a list of Campgrounds within an hour of Atlanta.

  • Visit The King Center

    The King Center is an excellent place to spend the day learning about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The continued work and education this center provides is vital to the Atlanta community.

Download our Summer Bingo Card and see how many you can check off! When you have completed the card, be sure to take a picture and tag us and use #PTSummerBingo.

Click Here To Download PT Bingo

Pebble Tossers Announces Two Open Staff Positions

Pebble Tossers has two available staff positions for immediate start

(Atlanta, GA, May 20, 2022)…Pebble Tossers, Atlanta’s leading youth development nonprofit organization, is growing and has announced two available staff positions with immediate start dates. The Pebble Tossers’ mission is to empower and equip youth to lead through service. Our staff is dedicated to this mission and to grow our membership in order to increase the impact our members have on our community.

The two open positions are a Volunteer + Data Coordinator and a Program Coordinator. These two staff positions will work together and with the Executive Director and Membership + Marketing Manager to fulfill Pebble Tossers’ mission and goals.

The Volunteer + Data Coordinator will focus on identifying organizational needs for volunteers, recruits them, and places them in key roles that will provide the most impact for both the volunteer and the organization. The Program Coordinator will handle the implementation of Pebble Tossers’ youth and family service programs and coordinate community outreach to partner nonprofit organizations.

Pebble Tossers embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a profound way. We are committed to building a team and community that represent a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, skills, and abilities. The more inclusive we are, the better our work will be. For details, requirements, and how to apply, please visit www.https://www.pebbletossers.org/join-our-team/

About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is an inclusive local youth service organization focused on providing youth and families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by offering resources and age-appropriate service opportunities. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community.

Eight Ways to Support US Troops and Veterans in Metro Atlanta

1. Contribute to Doc’s Healing Hives Veteran Learning Center

Doc’s Healing Hives equips every veteran in the program with beekeeping equipment and training, a colony of honey bees, a beehive, and mentorship. This Learning Center’s completion is the next step in expanding the positive impacts of this organization. This is an excellent way to directly contribute to a unique and meaningful project that benefits veterans in the Metro Atlanta area. 

2. Create and send handmade objects to active-duty troops and veterans through Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude specializes in sending care packages to active duty service members and returning veterans. They encourage volunteers to hand-make unique items like hacky sacks, cooling neckerchiefs, fleece hats, and much more. Their website has helpful patterns and tips to create each of these items.  

3. Donate needed household items to the VEO

These much-needed items such as (list a few items) will go directly to the 14 new housing complexes built by the VEO for veteran women experiencing homelessness. The supplies range from garbage bags and bedsheets to fire extinguishers and dining tables. The VEO also offers group tours of their facilities and the services they provide. To schedule a visit, call 404-889-8710. 

4. Follow the NAEH’s Five-Step Plan to End Veteran Homelessness

These steps from the National Alliance to End Homelessness would be more of an undertaking than some of the recommendations on this list. Take your first step by starting just one step – it could start a chain reaction in your community and make a major difference! The NAEH’s site contains a map of every county in the country where veteran homelessness has been effectively ended, including nearby DeKalb County.  

5. Visit the Veteran Voices Exhibit at the Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center has a prominent exhibit featuring veterans throughout history. This exhibit is made up of photographs, audio interviews, artifacts, and more that highlight veterans’ experiences back to World War Two. According to their site, this exhibit aims to “allow future generations to hear directly from those who lived through our nation’s conflicts to better appreciate the realities and the sacrifices of war.” You can also visit the nearby Veterans Park at the Goizueta Gardens. 

6. Help a veteran with household chores or home projects

Offering up a few hours of your time to help a veteran in your life is a great physical reminder that you care. Sometimes, a service-related injury can hinder veterans from finishing chores around the house or completing needed home repairs. Asking a friend or two to help a veteran with a household project is a perfect example of being a supportive neighbor. Do you have a veteran in your neighborhood? 

7. Volunteer Time with one of Pebble Tossers’’ Veteran Focused Events

Pebble Tossers hosts many events throughout the year for veterans in the Atlanta Metro Area. You can also find more ways to honor current and former service members on our US Troops and Veterans May Cause Area Page

8. Support Veteran-Owned Businesses

Because of the difficulties many veterans face reintegrating into the workforce, many choose to start their own businesses. Supporting these companies empowers not only the owners of these businesses but the veterans that are often hired to manage them as well. Georgia has a multitude of veteran-owned businesses, here is a link to a site with a list of veteran-owned businesses in every county.  

Metro Atlanta Teens Ready For Success thanks to  2021-2022 Teen Leadership Program

Pebble Tossers announces new 2022-23 teen leadership program  application now open

 

(Atlanta, GA, May 5, 2022)…Pebble Tossers, Atlanta’s leading youth development nonprofit organization, proudly announces the culmination of its second annual Teen Leadership Program (TLP) and the launching of its third year. This year’s cohort included 28 teens representing more than 20 Metro Atlanta High Schools. These teens completed the program by participating in monthly sessions, engaging in leadership skill-building activities, and creating and executing service projects. The program will conclude this May with a joint service project with the Refugee Women’s Network. 

In line with the Pebble Tossers mission to empower and equip youth to lead through service, the TLP provides an opportunity for service-minded teens to cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and their impact on their community and the world. 

The TLP curriculum covers personal and practical life skills such as self-awareness, self-management, growth mindset, social awareness, healthy relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills. The scheduled activities also cover how these skills apply within the three tenets of the program: Serve, Lead, Succeed. 

The nine-month program includes in-person + virtual meetings, special guest speakers, and a service project that participants create and implement as a group. The TLP provides valuable hands-on learning experiences in the lives of these passionate young people and builds the sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy that our world needs in the leaders of tomorrow. 

Program member, Zeke D. said, “It has changed my idea of a leader by showing me that a leader doesn’t have to control what everyone else does. They have to take charge and change problems in others’ lives that are not able to take that risk or action.” 

The 2022-23 program will begin in August 2022 and continue through May 2023. When asked why rising 9th – 12th graders should apply, current member Gavi D. said, “You should definitely join because hearing from experienced leaders helps really build on your leadership skills.”

The 2022-23 TLP application process is open until July 15, 2022. The program will accept a maximum of 35 rising 9th through 12th graders. Throughout the 2022-23 school year, the selected teens will participate in eight (8) meetings, several special events, and attend presentations. As a group, they will create, develop, plan and execute a service project of their own.

“For the past thirteen years, Pebble Tossers engages youth in service to provide  experiences which develop  their leadership skills that benefit our community,” said Jennifer Guynn, Founder + Executive Director, Pebble Tossers. “Our Teen Leadership Program takes this to the next level as we target fundamental civic, social, emotional and leadership skills teens need to handle the challenges of adulthood.”

Teen Leadership Program Information

Website + Application

www.pebbletossers.org/teen

 

About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is an inclusive local youth service organization focused on providing youth and families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by offering resources and age-appropriate service opportunities. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community. 

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May Cause Area: Honoring + Serving Veterans in Metro Atlanta

little girl holding veterans day cardBeing a community resource by supporting our active and returning service members is of the highest importance for Pebble Tossers. Successfully reintegrating into society is sometimes a challenge for veterans who have completed their military service. The best way we can support them is to educate ourselves on the difficulties these veterans face and learn strategies to support the veterans in our communities. 

One in ten people experiencing homelessness is a veteran, and about 29 percent of veterans return with a service-related disability. The challenges returning service members face are varied and complex. That is why Pebble Tossers’ Cause Area focus for the month is US Troops and Veterans. May is National Military Appreciation Month, and we at Pebble Tossers are proud to shine a light on service members in the Metro Atlanta area.

In the past, Pebble Tossers has honored our service members by helping to stock the Veterans Empowerment Organization pantry with needed supplies, and by making “Welcome Home” Kits for HOPE Atlanta to be given to veterans coming out of homelessness. In addition, we have organized birthday card workshops and gift bag assemblies for local veterans. We then send these thoughtfully made items to Trinka Davis Veterans Village, a clinic offering primary care and specialty health services in Carrollton.  We have also partnered with Operation Gratitude to send current troops handmade items like paracord bracelets, bandanas, masks, scarves, and cards. 

Veterans in America

Veterans currently comprise about seven percent of the US population, roughly 19.5 million Americans. Veterans of the Gulf War Era make up nearly half of that population, followed by around six million Vietnam War veterans. A little over one million people are veterans of the Korean War veterans, and around 326 thousand are World War Two veterans. Two million of those veterans are women, and Georgia has the ninth largest percentage of Veterans living in the United States. The US veteran population has declined significantly in recent years. Population decline coupled with the introduction of veteran support-focused legislature means we have a unique opportunity to focus more on personal care and hands-on treatment of veterans returning in need. A study by the VA predicts that by 2030, Georgia will be home to the fifth-largest percentage of veterans in the nation!

Challenges Veterans Face

Homelessness is one of the most prominent issues returning service members face. There are around 40 thousand veterans living without a home in America, 89 percent of which received an honorable discharge. The main reasons behind this sizable amount of homeless veterans is poverty brought on by home foreclosure, unemployment, substance abuse, and mental illness. 

But progress is being made to find every veteran in the United States a home. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “More than 82 communities and the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia have effectively ended homelessness among Veterans”. This has been made possible by various government support programs such as the Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program and Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. 

The mental changes that occur upon returning home are also often a major obstacle. A write-up by the VA on veteran re-adjustment to civilian life puts the seemingly simple act of existing in civilian life into perspective: “The military provides structure and has a clear chain of command. This does not naturally exist outside the military. A Veteran will have to create his or her own structure or adjust to living in an environment with more ambiguity”. 

Resources Available for Veterans

Many veterans often look for structure in their daily life through a steady home life or a good working relationship with coworkers. That, as well as the obvious financial pressure, is why reintegrating into the workforce is vital for returning service members to fall into a familiar and comfortable routine.

The VA and other government entities provide a variety of programs intended to prepare veterans to rejoin the workforce. Job training, resume building, and even navigating office lingo are new concepts to a veteran whose only career has been with the military. Programs like Boots to Business are excellent resources to increase returning service members’ experience and confidence in joining the workforce. 

The many obstacles facing returning veterans make learning about the positive resources and programs available all the more critical. In addition to the Nonprofit Partners Pebble Tossers’ support, there are also multiple government-supported Veteran Service Organizations. These organizations include the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and more, located at the Atlanta Regional VA Office

There are many ways to show your support and honor the veterans in your family and community. Here are some simple tips on how you can support service members through words and actions listed in an article by Jamie Howard, Ph.D. at the Child Mind Institute

    • Acknowledge people who have been deployed, be it your neighbor, distant relative, friend, or colleague. 
    • Be available to talk and listen about things in general, including the important aspects of returning to everyday life—job, hobbies, activities, etc. 
    • Offer a job if you or someone you know is hiring.
    • Engage in community activities. Some military members return to a huge network of friends and family; others do not. Arrange outings to baseball games, museums, or the movies.
    • Offer help in specific ways. Rather than saying “Let me know if I can help…” say, “I’d like to babysit for you this weekend—you deserve a night out.”

Atlanta has multiple parks with monuments or memorials honoring veterans.  Planning a trip is a great way to teach the importance of US service members and veterans to younger children in a more physical way. Pebble Tossers is also hosting a few different service opportunities in May to benefit returning veterans. These include writing notes of encouragement virtually, Memorial Day remembrance, and more.  You can always check our Monthly Service Calendar to see what service projects are available. 

You can also contribute your time to one of our Nonprofit Partners. Here is a list of Pebble Tossers’ Nonprofit Partners focusing on assisting US Troops and Veterans. 

Nonprofit Partners 

Doc’s Healing Hives and Honey Foundation: 

  • This organization aims to familiarize and educate veterans of the Atlanta metro area with beekeeping and the art of harvesting honey. They also sell this honey at local farmers’ markets. Doc’s primary goal is “helping veterans heal through the vocation of beekeeping.” Learn more here

Operation Gratitude: 

  • Operation Gratitude operates all over the country with the primary goal of creating and sending care packages to service members and veterans. They organize workshops to fill these care packages, such as letter-writing campaigns, knitting, and even hacky sack making. 

VA Atlanta Healthcare System: 

  • The VA is integral in supporting our returning veterans. Here service members can get the medical treatment they need, be it mental health treatment or something as simple as battery replacement for a hearing aid. Learn more here

Veterans Empowerment Organization: 

  • The VEO is dedicated to helping returning service members reintegrate into society as efficiently and easily as possible. They focus on providing housing, wellness programs, and workforce training and placement services for veterans. Learn more here

Ten Ways to Support Metro Atlanta’s Environment

1. Start a Home Garden

This is an effective and rewarding way to live sustainably. This is also a great project to get the whole family excited about being eco-friendly. 

2. Limit Driving

Anyone who has spent time in Atlanta knows the amount of traffic can be overwhelming at times. Carpooling with a friend on the way to school or work reduces greenhouse gas emissions by a sizable amount. 

3. Take an environment focused virtual education course 

Trees Atlanta provides a variety of online learning opportunities for kids and adults alike. There are programs on climate change effects, local wildlife, and even educational storytimes. 

4. Stop using plastic bottles for drinks 

Plastic bottles make up a significant amount of waste worldwide. Use a refillable water bottle or purchase cans/glass that are more easily recycled. Bonus points for accessorizing with your favorite stickers.

5. Eat Less Meat

Cattle are the number one agricultural source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The reduction of red meat consumption on a mass scale would lead to a substantial decrease of those negative emissions. How about being a weekday vegetarian? Here’s a link to get started: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian. 

6. Donate Used Clothes

Donating used clothes not only gives a second life to your unwanted apparel, but also keeps it out of landfills. Here are a few links to locations in Atlanta in need of donations. Atlanta Mission, SafeHouse Outreach, Foster Care Support Foundation

7. Visit a Park or Nature Preserve

Spending some time in a preserved outdoor space can put into perspective why protecting the environment is so crucial. Atlanta has a number of fun public parks and Georgia is home to eleven national parks. Plan a visit soon.

8. Buy Local Produce

Produce farmed locally doesn’t create nearly as much transportation pollution as its big box store counterparts, which are often transported hundreds of miles across the country. And who doesn’t love supporting local farmers? Here are some links to local farmers markets and suppliers: Martin’s Garden, Atlanta Farmers Market, Full List

9. Participate in a River Cleanup

The Chattahoochee RIverkeeper puts together at least one river cleanup a month. This can be one of the most noticeable ways to keep your community beautiful. 

10. Volunteer your time with Pebble Tossers or one of our Nonprofit Partners

The Pebble Tossers monthly service calendar is filled with opportunities to make a positive impact on your environment and community. You can also check our monthly cause area resource page.

 

April Cause Area: Pebble Tossers’ Guide to Environmental Conservation

Earth Day isn’t the only time to think about the importance of protecting our environment. But it can be intimidating to dive into a field so vast as the environment. After all, doesn’t that pretty much cover every natural cause on earth? 

Pebble Tossers is committed to reducing our environmental impact. We follow consistent environmental sustainability practices on every service project we are a part of. Here are some examples of how Pebble Tossers has prioritized environmental sustainability within our organization: 

    • Creation of efficient ways to reduce negative impact on the environment. 
    • Reduction of pollution and wasted resources like water and energy. 
    • Efficient usage of necessary materials and an emphasis on recyclability when possible. 
    • Proper education on sustainable practices within Pebble Tossers. 
    • Continuing environment-focused service projects in needed communities.

By creating a system of accountability and tracking our impact on the environment, Pebble Tossers prioritizes this cause within our organization. These eco-friendly practices should be evident in our attitude during service projects and encourage partnered organizations to act likewise. Feel free to visit our monthly cause area resource page to see a list of the various environmental service projects Pebble Tossers is a part of this month. You can also find some fun tips and activities to minimize your daily ecological impact.

Environmental Conservation encompasses many different focus areas, including habitat, soil, marine, energy and more. Pebble Tossers wants to take this April to highlight many of the various causes associated with Environmental Conservation. We also want to highlight some partnered sustainability-focused organizations that positively impact the Atlanta community. Through learning about the history of environmental conservation and seeing the progress made by these efforts, we can become better stewards of our environment in the Atlanta area and worldwide! 

History of Environmental Conservation

Efforts to decrease our negative impact on the environment have been ongoing for hundreds of years. Modern Environmental Conservatism gained momentum during the Industrial Revolution, spurred on by unprecedented amounts of pollution. Scientists of the era realized that important resources like wood and coal would not last forever and expressed concern over the ever-increasing reliance on them. 

Later in the 1900s, severe over-hunting threatened the populations of many diverse species in different parts of the country. During this time, the populations of the Carolina Parakeet, Eastern Cougar, Labrador Duck, and many more were permanently extinguished by overzealous hunters and habitat destruction. 

While the disappearance of one or two species may not seem like a big deal, it can have a massive effect on the surrounding wildlife. Taking even one critical species out of an ecosystem can have major unforeseen consequences. Luckily, some mass extinctions were prevented by the founding of the National Park Service. Many of the new natural parks provided a place animals such as the grizzly bear could live without the risk of being over-hunted. Today, visiting a local or national park can be a great way to see wildlife unique to your area. Georgia is home to many species not found in other parts of the country, like the woodchuck and flying squirrel. 

Climate Change

One of the most well-known causes associated with Environmental Conservation is the fight to reduce climate change. This is an ongoing problem that affects every part of the planet. It has brought about the gradual destruction of countless wildlife habitats through rising temperatures, increasingly destructive storm patterns and much more.1 

The effects of climate change can very much be felt in Atlanta.  A yearly report released by the Georgia Water Coalition expressed concern over the harmful effects climate change will bring to Georgia. This report predicts future heatwaves and severe droughts in the Atlanta area and Georgia.2 Studies like this stress the importance of making simple changes to ensure a sustainable and bright future for generations to come. 

While the many different causes associated with Environmental Conservation may seem daunting to get involved in, there have been quite a few success stories made possible by the movement. Several important species have been brought back from the brink of extinction. The bald eagle, humpback whale, grey wolf, and many more species are around today thanks to the efforts of environmental conservationists worldwide.3 

Impacts of Georgia Based Environmental Conservation

Conservation efforts have also been successful in Georgia, including multiple projects in Atlanta organized by Pebble Tossers. Service projects such as forest and trail maintenance at Big Trees Forest Preserve, the Beltline Beautification Project, and recycling event volunteering opportunities are offered monthly. Check our monthly service calendar here for a list of projects organized by Pebble Tossers and partnered organizations. There are also successful ongoing efforts like cleaning up the Chattahoochee River and the hundreds of thousands of trees being planted statewide by Trees Atlanta and other organizations. 

Many of the environmental issues that face the world are also a concern in the Atlanta area. Making a positive impact on the environment isn’t an easy thing to do, but finding ways to work these changes into our daily routine is hugely important. Sometimes the most meaningful effects you can have on the environment around you can be done with the simplest of actions. Educating yourself about recycling, getting involved with an environmental nonprofit, even switching to a reusable water bottle are all easy steps to become an advocate for the environment. 

Pebble Tossers is proud to partner with many organizations that focus on environmental conservation. These local organizations focus on various environmental issues, such as wildlife conservation, youth and adult education, and the preservation of many of Atlanta’s uniquely beautiful outdoor spaces. Here are some of those organizations and what they do in the Atlanta area. 

Nature Preserves: 

The John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve: A 30 acre Tree, Plant and Wildlife sanctuary and Urban Forest Education Center located in Sandy Springs. In 2021, the Forest Preserve was designated part of the Old-Growth Forest Network, a national network of mature forests that are protected, native, and publicly accessible.  Find more information here

Blue Heron Nature Preserve: Here you can enjoy the three mile Blueway Trail on unique wetland trails home to a variety of wildlife! Blue Heron also hosts multiple art, education and conservation programs. Find more information here

Chattahoochee Nature Center: A 127 acre natural space located on the Chattahoochee river. Lots to do here, like guided river canoe trips, summer camps, and multiple private event spaces. Find more information here

Dunwoody Nature Center: Dunwoody Park is a great place to spend the day enjoying nature. Also home to the Dunwoody Beekeeping Club, which hosts monthly meetings and classes for current and future beekeepers of all ages. Find more information here

Lost Corner Nature Preserve: A great space to enjoy some quiet time in nature. Here you can help out in the community garden, walk the trails, or even attend the native plant sale in the Spring and Fall. Find more information here

Community Engagement: 

Park Pride: An organization that provides programs, funding, and leadership with the goal to improve every park possible in the Atlanta and Dekalb area. A great organization to get involved with if you want to learn more about how parks can benefit the community and the challenges of establishing a new park. Find more information here

Trees Atlanta: A nonprofit organization that focuses on forest restoration and tree care and planting. Trees Atlanta has planted over 140,000 trees in the Atlanta area and has no plans on stopping! Find more information here

Atlanta Beltline: An urban development program focusing on “connecting 45 intown neighborhoods via a 22 mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta”. Find more information here

ChaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials): An important drop off facility that specializes in hazardous waste and other materials that may be difficult to recycle. Not only an important community resource, but also a site for youth and adult education programs such as Sustainable Material Management, Sustainability/Environmental Education, and Recycling 101. Find more information here

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s mission is to educate, advocate, and secure the protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River. Programs are dedicated to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee river basin. Find more information here

 

1https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
2https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/19/
3https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/conservation-stories-on-world-wildlife-day/

Pebble Tossers Board of Directors welcomes Kris Manning and Dara Redler

Pebble Tossers Board of Directors welcomes Kris Manning and Dara Redler
The 2022 board is focused on expanding offerings, diversifying its community base and helping youth develop leadership skills.

(Atlanta, GA, February 3, 2022)…Pebble Tossers, Atlanta’s leading youth development nonprofit organization, is pleased to welcome two new board members, Kris Manning, Retired Teacher and Orton Gillingham Tutor, and Dara Redler, Chief Legal Officer, H&R Block.

“Our board is committed to expanding Pebble Tossers’ reach and influence throughout the community,” said Kelly Weber, Pebble Tossers Board President. “The experience and knowledge Kris and Dara bring to the board and our team will help us meet our goals.”

Along with the existing members, the new board members will work to guide Pebble Tossers as it engages in new projects, developments, and partnerships that serve the mission of empowering and equipping youth to lead through service.

Kris Manning, Retired Teacher, Orton Gillingham Tutor

After teaching 13 years in public school, Kris became a certified Orton Gillingham tutor. She currently works with students who struggle with reading, writing and comprehension. Kris and her wife, Melinda, have been married for 28 years and have a 12-year-old son.“I am humbled and excited to join the Board of Pebble Tossers, said Kris. “After experiencing the events of the past couple of years, I am yearning to find deeper connections and to push myself in new ways. I hope to gain more compassion and understanding by making an impact in the lives of others.”Kris’s most memorable service memories are from organizing two different school fundraisers. They provided her with immense satisfaction as they were both were wildly successful, fun, and positively rallied the local community. 

 

Dara Redler, Chief Legal Officer, H&R Block

Recently named Chief Legal Officer for H&R Block, Dara holds a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law and two bachelor’s degrees from The University of Pennsylvania, one in Marketing from the Wharton School, and one in global studies from the College of Arts & Sciences. Dara and her husband, Dan, have three sons.“I am excited to join Pebble Tossers’ Board of Directors and help continue building on the ripples of doing good for the community,” said Dara.Dara’s most memorable service opportunity comes from annually serving with her family to lead a clean-up of the Chattahoochee River during the International Coastal Cleanup through the Ocean Conservancy. She loved working together as a family to pull out tons of trash and was inspired by how much of an impact could be had in just one day.

 

2022 Board of Directors, Pebble Tossers

Kelly Weber, Board President OneDigital
Brandy Brock, Board Vice President Google Cloud Business Solutions
Brian Sengson, Board Treasurer Bennett Thrasher
Neal Chatigny, Board Secretary WebMD
Matt Carr Amazon Web Services
Aaron Dixon Alston & Bird
Heather Housley Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
Kris Manning Retired Teacher/Orton Gillingham Tutor
Elizabeth Rasberry ABB
Dana Redler H&R Block
Asher Royal Davita Kidney Care
Rebecca Sandberg, Past President Management Consultant


About Pebble Tossers
Pebble Tossers is the premier local youth service organization focused on providing families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by providing them with resources and age-appropriate service opportunities. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community.

Click Here For Download Press Release

 

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