If you do wish to order these books, please contact or visit The Little Shop of Stories in Decatur. This charming local business specializes in youth and teen books, and their Booksellers would be happy to order any book from this list.
Six Reasons Why the Performing Arts in Atlanta are worth Supporting:
1) Adult and Child-focused Classes offered by places like the Spruill Center for the Arts introduce ways for anyone in Atlanta to become involved in the Arts! Why not learn a new artistic skill or bring the family to a workshop or event? Here are some ways to support the Spruill Center.
2) Atlanta has one of the most distinct and well-known hip-hop communities in the world! They also love giving back to the communities where they grew up. Rappers like Lil Baby and Gunna have made a major difference in Atlanta with their various charitable efforts. Atlanta native Lil Baby has helped refurbish a basketball court in Oakland City Park and gifted over 200 bikes to children in the neighborhood. He also hosted a back-to-school drive where he gave out much-needed laptops, clothes, and school supplies. Gunna opened up a needed items closet at his old high school, Ronald McNair High, containing food, clothes, toiletries, and more.
3) The Woodruff Center Hosts three of Atlanta’s most exciting performing arts productions: The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Alliance Theatre. The Alliance Theatre has put on musicals, children’s theatre, hosted Ballet Companies, and many traditional plays! Just this year, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is performing the music of John Williams, the Polar Express, and is also hosting famed conductor Nathalie Stutzmann! Supporting your local performing arts organizations is vital to the continued success of the Atlanta Arts Scene. Here is a link to the various volunteer opportunities available at the Woodruff Center.
6) The Atlanta Film Community is supportive of each other and are Atlanta’s biggest cheerleaders. The Atlanta Film Festival is an excellent place to meet talented local filmmakers and crew members working to bring Atlanta’s unique neighborhoods to big and small screens. Prominent local film studios like Tyler Perry Studios and indie studios alike encourage young actors and filmmakers to visit Atlanta, which in turn brings revenue to local businesses. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a street or building they walk past every day featured in the next big Marvel movie?
This month’s cause area, Arts and Culture, can be applied to so many different artistic styles, movements, and nonprofit organizations. That is why Pebble Tossers has put together this list of resources covering as much of Atlanta’s broad arts and culture scene as we could. We hope you enjoy looking through these articles, infographics, and videos; and that you can learn something new about the importance of the arts!
1. Understand the Unique Makeup of the Atlanta Art Scene
Artbase’s Dan Ketchum discusses why Atlanta is critical to the American Arts Scene in a recent article and showcases the importance of the Atlanta art scene. He provides some great recommendations for places to visit in the city as well as ways to support local artists and museums.
2. Familiarize yourself with Local Artists
This article from Atlanta Magazine shines a light on three prominent artists in the metro Atlanta area. It also shows some examples of their work and where to see some of their displayed art. Jezebel Magazine provides another piece showcasing the work of seven additional Atlanta-based artists.
3. Maximize your Museum Trips
Going to a large Museum for the first time can be overwhelming or intimidating. This article contains some great tips on getting the most out of your Museum trip and provides an insider tip from Nick Gray, founder of Museum Hack, to “Walk the space, understand where things are, what you might be interested to come back and see, and then, go to the cafe.”Try out some of these suggestions at Atlanta’s excellent Art Museums!
4. Find out how Public Art Benefits your City
Can the arts help your mental health? Yes! Magazine provides an interesting discussion on the importance of Public Art for community well being. As we mentioned in an earlier blog, Atlanta has a wide variety of murals and public art to check out. Read up on the positive benefits that impressive artwork provides to help you feel inspired and envigorated. You can also watch this short video on the career of Atlanta-born muralist Alex Brewer.
5. Educate yourself on the Arts throughout History
Familiarizing yourself with Art History may seem complicated and time-consuming, but understanding the story behind what you’re looking at can vastly improve the experience of a Museum visit. This infographic from Lori McNee tracks the different art movements throughout history starting with Prehistoric art from 40,000 B.C. and hopefully will give you a better idea of what to look for on your next visit.
6. Visit some of Atlanta’s best Street Art
Atlanta has been developing a reputation for amazing street art. Pebble Tossers’ section of the Atlanta BeltLine has two outstanding examples. Atlanta Magazine provides a great list containing the best street art in Atlanta, organized by neighborhood. It also includes some helpful information about the artists responsible for the artwork. This would be a neat article to go over before planning a trip to any of Atlanta’s neighborhoods. Pebble Tossers has been proud to work directly with local artist Wallace Kelly on public art projects with Livable Buckhead.
7. Reflect on why Art is Important to You
This is an interesting opinion piece from Tunedly on the importance of Art and individuality in our society. While some of these points were brought up in previous Pebble Tossers blogs, the writer also makes some excellent new points that “art helps us emotionally, financially, psychologically, and even helps to shape individual and collective personality”
8. Check out more resources from Pebble Tossers
You can visit the June Cause Area section of our website for more ideas on ways to benefit your community through acts of service. It is updated monthly with new resources relevant to the monthly cause area.
Atlanta is one of the most well-known cultural hubs in the country. Talented artists of many styles and formats call this city home. For the month of June, Pebble Tossers is focusing on the importance and uniqueness of the Arts and Culture in Atlanta. Arts and Culture is a wide-ranging subject with much room for interpretation. This month, we will highlight talented local artists of all disciplines, cultural and artistic initiatives that benefit the community, and why a focus and respect for the arts is so beneficial.
Pebble Tossers has a long history of supporting the arts and culture of Atlanta. We partner with multiple nonprofit organizations that prioritize art education and art-related community engagement. In the past, Pebble Tossers’ has provided volunteer docents for the Woodruff Arts Center and provided holiday and summer camp counselors for the Spruill Center. In 2021, we partnered with the Spruill Center to install a 2021 origami dove exhibit that contained over 2021 handmade doves! We also have a longtime partnership with the Foundation for Hospital Art and have assisted in volunteer opportunities for a variety of their projects. Check our monthly service calendar here to see what volunteer opportunities Pebble Tossers has to offer.
The Arts in Atlanta
Since the early 1900s, metro Atlanta has been one of the most influential cities to continuously encourage artistic expression in the United States. Most notably, Atlanta has seen its fair share of musical movements. From being a prominent country music hub in the 1920s to southern rock in the 1970s, and even punk rock in the 1980s! Starting in the 1990s, Hip Hop and Rap coming from Atlanta-based groups like Outkast began to dominate the charts. Nowadays, Atlanta is known for its uniquely powerful and expressive rap scene, being the home to many artists at the top of their game like Gucci Mane, Cardi B, 2 Chainz, and many more.
Atlanta is also known for its moniker as the “Hollywood of the South”. This is partly due to the lower cost of living, diverse landscape, and experienced local crew members. In 2018, the government of Georgia estimated an economic boost of 9.5 billion dollars thanks to tourism and job opportunities created by the local film industry. Current movies and television filming in Atlanta include Cobra Kai, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Ozark, Stranger Things, and more!
If it’s art museums you’re looking for, Atlanta has plenty to offer. There are galleries that feature local artists and exhibitions, like the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and the ZuCot Gallery. In addition, there are institutions like The High Museum of Art that contain pieces from international masters such as Monet, Pissaro, and Matisse. If those examples are a bit too intimidating for the younger ones, try the Center for Puppetry Arts, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Jim Henson artifacts.
Positive Affects on Arts and Culture on the mind and the Community
The cultural importance of art-based education and other enriching programs hosted by organizations like ArtsGeorgia and Spruill Center for the Arts cannot be understated. The positive effects of art activities on the mind are especially impactful for children. According to an article posted by Michigan State University, young people practice fine motor, math, and language skills when participating in art-related activities. They also have significant cognitive development after engaging in activities like painting and coloring. A focus on creativity and artistic expression as a child creates a more open-minded adult. This leads them to be better equipped to find inventive and original ways to solve problems in their everyday life.
Historically, the arts have also been a critical method for members of underrepresented communities to express themselves and share their stories. Many use the arts to work through their own thoughts and feelings about the world around them. While others create as an avenue to vent their frustration, tell a story of their community, or paint a hopeful picture of the future. Noted performance artist Luis Alfaro said this about his goal as an artist: “The goal is the create the world that you want to see…That’s always, always, always a challenge”.
A focus on the arts is not only beneficial for the mind, but also for your community. Street art, murals, statues, and even the layout of a public park would not be possible without talented local artists. While it may seem simple, giving a seemingly mundane street corner or a nondescript building some color and character will contribute to the overall identity and uniqueness of your city in a very noticeable way. The Arts also provide significant economic benefits to the surrounding community. Whether it brings out-of-town visitors keen to see the work of local artists or new employment opportunities for locals, the impact of a booming art scene is consistently positive. Joan Compton articulated the economic importance of the arts to Atlanta during a 2017 forum on Arts and Economic Prosperity, saying “ The arts are an employer, a driver of the economy, and a catalyst of growth”.
The Woodruff Arts Center This incredible community resource is home to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the High Museum of Art Atlanta. Whether you want to see a show or enjoy some local or international artwork, this is the place for you! Find more information here
Foundation for Hospital Art A truly unique organization with an awesome goal, the Foundation for Hospital Art aims to encourage patients and volunteers to create art to hang in hospitals. Doing this not only helps the patients to spend their time expressing themselves artistically, hanging the art in their room also creates a more comfortable space. In addition to hosting painting events at hospitals, the Foundation also provides kits for at-home painting. Find more information here
Spruill Center for the Arts According to their site, “The Spruill Center will be a beacon for the community by providing access and opportunities for all to create and enjoy the arts.” The Spruill Center hosts a variety of Adult and Children’s art classes and workshops, as well as special events like educational panels and discussions on exhibits housed within the Center. They also have yearly Summer Camp programs! Find more information here
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.
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..
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!
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:
• Atlanta Mission
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
Being 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.
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.
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 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
Pebble Tossers proudly offers a variety of service projects each month that have made a positive impact on the Metro Atlanta environment. While these projects and our environmental cause area blogs, as well as the information on our website, are filled with learning opportunities, there is so much more information available on a variety of methods to become more eco-friendly in your day-to-day life.
To start, here is a list of some of our favorite books that deal with environmental education and sustainability:
We’ve also compiled some additional resources for the entire family:
Oceanic Plastic Pollution Effects
An informative interview with local artist and Professor Pam Longobardi about a new art display made possible through worldwide beach cleanups. Her organization, The Drifters Project, works to reduce ocean-based pollution.
Chattahoochee River Information
Here is some helpful information from our nonprofit partner Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. This write-up has fun facts as well as challenges and threats facing the area.
Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen Report
Mentioned in an earlier blog, this is the yearly report detailing the twelve most harmful factors affecting Georgia’s water quality. Pay special attention to the section on climate change.
Outdoor Atlanta Trip Guide
This is a comprehensive list of outdoor recreation sites in the Metro Atlanta Area. Full of fun day trip ideas and something for every member of the family.
Endangered Species List
An extensive list of many different species in different stages of endangerment from critical to near threatened. Each species has their own writeup on why they matter within their habitats, as well as efforts being made to prevent their extinction.
The CHaRM recycling facility in Atlanta is a vital community resource that focuses on specialized recycling. Here is a link to their site on where all of that waste ends up. You can also share this kid-friendly guide to recycling with any young environmental activists.
Home Garden Starting Guide
Starting a home garden is one of the best ways to get hands-on education and learn the value of caring for the environment. Here are some resources on a home garden’s importance, a guide to starting one, and some fun gardening ideas for younger children.
Renewable vs Non-Renewable Resource Facts
It is important to educate yourself and others about sustainable usage of the Earth’s resources. Here is a write-up detailing the differences between renewable and non-renewable resources.