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The Teal Pumpkin Project – will you participate?


FARE is thrilled that so many families across the country are planning to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project! The idea is simple –pick up some inexpensive toys, paint a pumpkin teal and place it and a free, downloadable sign from FARE in front of your home to show that you have non-food treats to hand out.

The campaign has been tremendously popular on social media – reaching nearly 5 million people on Facebook – and has been featured by national and local media across the country. Here are just a few of the articles, news clips, and radio spots that have helped promote this fantastic campaign for inclusion:

Teal pumpkins try to change Halloween for kids with food allergies (

How to Make Halloween Less Scary for Food Allergies (

Teal pumpkins make Halloween safer for kids with food allergies (

Teaching My Daughter to Be An Advocate With The Teal Pumpkin Project (Huffington Post Blog)

Teal Pumpkin Movement Has Roots in East TN (WBIR) 

A safe Halloween for kids with food allergies (Fox 5 News New York)

Teal Pumpkin Project for Kids with Food Allergies (Good Day Columbus)

For allergic trick-or-treaters, teal pumpkin to signify special goodies(Philadelphia Inquirer)

Teal Pumpkin Project Seeks To Include Kids With Food Allergies (CBS Los Angeles)

Teal Pumpkin Project: Halloween for Chicago kids with food allergies (Chicago Parent)

Flavor HD: The Teal Pumpkin Project and dishes with bugs! (WGN Radio Chicago)

You can download a flyer on FARE’s website to pass out, or share information via email or social media. Tools are available at

Share pictures of your Teal Pumpkin Project using #TealPumpkinProject!

(Reprinted from

A Fall Devotional for Christians

Revelation 22: 1-4

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 

Reflection by Ugena Whitlock


Hissing Balls of Fury: Losing Diana
The cat hated everybody. Everybody, that is, except me. And Sarah, of course–but she had owned Sarah for seventeen years, so that was to be expected. I only knew her for five months, and I didn’t really expect her to warm up to me. More than that, I never expected to warm up to her. So when we helped her to her final sleep on Monday, the last thing I expected was to feel what I felt and react how I did.

First of all, I am not a cat person. I had a cat once, and I despised it. Yes, my cat-loving friends will be shocked at that. Kitty was part Siamese and was mean. Worse than that, she caused me to lose sleep every night. If she was outside, she wanted in; if she was inside, she wanted out. Day in and day out. Why didn’t I just leave her in or out, you might ask? Well, I believe if you ask that, YOU are not a cat person. She would come to my bedside and claw at the blinds until I was awake. If I shooed her away, she’d wait till I lay back down and begin again. When she was outside, she would come to my bedroom window and claw on the screen, which is not a sound conducive to sleeping, especially as I lay there envisioning a trip to Home Depot to replace yet another screen. When I moved from Louisiana to Georgia, I gave the neighbors a bag of cat food and $20 to take care of the cat. I drove the U-Haul truck away as fast as I could so that Kitty couldn’t somehow attach herself and hang on for the cross-country trek. I was free of cats. Until Diana.

Sarah called her Hissing Ball of Fury because that’s what she turned into whenever anybody tried to touch her. Over the months, as I met Sarah’s friends, they all asked, “And how are you getting on with the Little Cat?” Only they don’t say “Cat.” They had learned the hard way. “Oh, she’ll like ME,” they had said, one by one. “I’m good with animals,” they had said, one by one. And one by one, they had approached Diana talking softly and reaching to pet her, only to have her turn into Miss Fury. Diana had been banned from veterinary practices in two states because she bit. I witnessed this myself when we took her to the vet three months ago. Two young techs had assured us, “Oh, she’ll be fine with us,” only to bolt from the room to fetch the doctor to do this first-year vet school procedure himself. “Diana bites” was written in bold red letters across the top of her chart. And so she did.

So what was my secret? I think it was that I let Diana be Diana. I let her come to me. When she sat with her back to us, which was her usual position until she got ready to be petted, I let her be. I only spoke to her when she looked at me, and never reached out to touch her. Then one day when she came to Sarah for her evening head-butts (Diana was a head-butter), she walked right into my hand. Then one morning I awoke with a cat sleeping on my head. On my head. She only hissed at me once. I had reached down to pet her as I walked by the couch where she was lying, foolishly thinking that we had bonded over the head-sleeping. “Don’t get to comfortable with me, old gal,” she seemed to imply in that hiss. “I come to YOU.” I only picked her up once. It was the day before she died. That is how I knew it was over.

The vet must have felt the same way when he picked her up on Monday morning and said, “This is the first time I’ve really gotten to examine her completely.” He gently felt her frail body and asked Sarah if she was sure of her decision. She was. We had set up what Sarah called “Kitty Hospice” at the bungalow over the weekend, administering IV fluids and concocting what looked like an awful mess but was evidently a cat delicacy Sarah called “duck soup.” Diana would take a little, then lie on a pile of Sarah’s clothes and her old teddy bear, Ted, until we took her outside to lie in the grass warmed by the sun. The fluids never pepped her up as Sarah had expected; she was that far gone. So we fed her duck soup and let her be outside as much as she wanted. She even hissed at a stray cat once. We had one brief second of hope, then watched as she turned away all but a bite of food. I am glad we had that weekend. As we watched Diana, I watched Sarah say goodbye to her friend of seventeen years.

I think things happen for a reason. Like finding an abandoned kitten two weeks ago–one that has pretty much taken over our lives by blessedly taking up our attention during the last week. I’ve heard the old saying that we don’t find pets–rather, pets find us. This one was put in our way at precisely the appropriate place and time. Just like Pastor Kim’s prayer in church on Sunday. As I sat there in the choir loft during the service, the words startled me out actually praying, hoping that it might in some way bring Diana’s human some comfort. Give us the courage and grace to live through the dying season, was the prayer. The grace to understand death, as well as life, even though the dying–the perpetual winter–dims a light in our souls.

As we sat outside with Diana Saturday, Sarah told me that she had chosen her name from Edith Hamilton’s famous book Mythology. It is appropriate–and somewhat ironic now–that her name had come from that book. In it, Hamilton quotes from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon:

Drop, drop-in our sleep, upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God.

Aeschylus describes the process by which we come to the understanding for which the pastor prayed. Drop by drop upon the heart by the awful grace of God. How profoundly simple that it might come from the great blessing of being owned by a pet. But, if you are a cat person–like I am now–that is no surprise.


Prayers of the People 
September 21–the first day of autumn.
As trees molt their leaves, as hostas and other flowering shrubs go to ground, as grass turns brittle and pale, as mosquitos go wherever it is they go (thank goodness!)…we are reminded of the vital role dormancy, rest, and death play in the cycle of life. In autumn, days shorten, vegetation rots, all nature begins its inward turn so that–from death– new life can emerge come spring.
Holy One, we confess that we don’t always enjoy the way things shut down in autumn–or any season of our spiritual lives.  The riot of color that comes with spring, the full-on joy of playing in summer?  Those are great!  Spring and summer are easy to love.  Even winter’s not so bad… everything looks dead then, but we know that Spring is just one season away.  With autumn, though, we have to watch things die…and that’s not easy.
Here’s what we ask today, Holy One, give us the courage to look at our lives and–as honestly as we can–identify what is in the process of dying. Whatever that dying thing is, show us how new life will someday emerge from it.  And give us the grace to be patient in our waiting for that new life. We have other concerns to lift into your care today–concerns for ourselves, for our friends, for those who live in a perpetual winter with seemingly no hope of spring.  In the quiet of this moment, we lift all our concerns into your care.

(Source: Pilgrimage UCC)

Do you have a favorite prayer from your faith? Email Be sure to include “Faith” in the subject line. 

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*It’s Where in the World Wednesday!* Play to WIN an I Heart East Cobb T-shirt!


Where in the world (well, East Cobb) was this photo taken?


Submit your guess as a comment below or on our FACEBOOK PAGE. Be the first person with the correct answer and win an I HEART EAST COBB t-shirt! Good luck!

CLICK to visit the Photo Archives.

Meeting to discuss future growth of Dobbins Air Reserve Base

Cobb County staff will host the second public workshop for the Dobbins Air Reserve Base Joint Land Use Study 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 30, at Marietta High School. Attend this meeting to learn more about the compatibility issues identified and to provide input on priorities. The goal of the study is to protect the viability of current and future missions at Dobbins ARB, while accommodating community growth, sustaining the economic health of the region and protecting public health and safety. The meeting will take place in the seminar room of Marietta High School, 1171 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. For more information, contact Community Development Deputy Director Dana Johnson at 770-528-2018, or visit


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Opportunity to safely dispose of medications at free event

taking prescription pill with milk

Keep Cobb Beautiful staff will offer another Medication Disposal Day for the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25. The event will be held at two locations: Precinct 1/Superstation 8, 2380 Cobb Parkway NW, Kennesaw and Cobb and Douglas Public Health, 1650 County Services Parkway, Marietta.

The largest source of pharmaceutical byproducts in our drinking water comes from the improper disposal of unused medications flushed down the drain. This event is an excellent opportunity for residents to safely dispose of outdated or unused over-the-counter and prescription medications. Staff and law enforcement personnel will be on hand to collect medications and properly dispose of them in compliance with federal law. Items accepted will include: liquid and pill form medications, sharps and needles, diabetes materials, catheters and tubing. No durable medical equipment will be accepted.

Medicines do not have to be removed from their containers or labels removed. Everything collected will immediately be sealed in boxes and destroyed. Nothing will be accepted at these locations or by a Cobb County staff person before of after the scheduled drop off day. For more information, call KCB at 770-528-1135. This event is in partnership with Cobb Department of Public Safety, Cobb Water System and Cobb and Douglas Public Health.


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MarketPlace 120 celebrating Halloween this Thursday


MarketPlace 120 is having a Halloween Party and Costume Contest with prizes, live music and refreshments on Thursday, October 23, 7-10pm. MarketPlace 120 is a 14,000-square foot gallery space offering a diverse collection of art, antiques, gifts and decor from more than 50 local artisans.

MarketPlace 120, 562 Wylie Road in Marietta. More info:


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Tickets available for Chicago

The 1920s come roaring back with a vengeance when the six‐time Tony Award-winning musical “Chicago” makes its Atlanta Lyric Theatre debut Oct. 24-Nov. 9 at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, 548 S. Marietta Pkwy., Marietta.

Tickets are available by calling (404) 377‐9948 or visiting


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AAA Promotes “National Teen Driver Safety Week”

Driving on Highway

Experience behind the wheel may matter more than age when it comes to the safety of young-adult drivers, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These results suggest that states could reduce road crashes, fatalities and injuries by extending graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws to novice drivers beyond age 17. AAA is promoting this research as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place from Oct. 19-25.

Graduated driver licensing laws are designed to help new drivers gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by initially restricting their exposure to risky situations, such as driving at night or with young passengers. The law then gradually phases in more privileges as new drivers gain more experience.

“Turning 18 does not instantly make someone a safer driver,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research clearly demonstrates how important experience is to safe driving and suggests that graduated driver licensing laws may be beneficial for people that begin driving at an older age.  

The findings are based on two studies that examined crash rates of new drivers. The first study looked at crash rates in both California and North Carolina, which are two states that allow driving at age 16 and have no GDL requirements for new drivers ages 18 or older. While new drivers licensed at older ages tended to be less likely to crash during their first months and years of driving than younger beginners, the research revealed an important exception: new drivers licensed at age 18 were more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age.

The second study examined crash rates in New Jersey, which has a minimum age of 17 for unsupervised driving and is the only state in the country to have a comprehensive GDL program for all new drivers up to age 21. In New Jersey, while crash rates of new drivers licensed at different ages largely converged after six months of solo driving experience, older beginners had lower crash rates overall and lower rates of injury crashes than younger beginners.

“Many teens delay getting their driver’s license and are driving less,” said John Pecchio, AAA spokesman. “This results in fewer structured hours behind the wheel during the critical learner’s permit stage.”

Although the data did not allow researchers to directly investigate whether these differences were caused by GDL provisions, collectively, the results of the two studies suggest that applying GDL to all new drivers, or at least to some new drivers older than 17, might have a protective effect and improve safety.

Graduated driver licensing programs have reduced 16- and 17-year-old driver crashes, but generally do not apply to new drivers ages 18 and older. Prior AAA Foundation research found that an estimated 36 percent of new drivers miss out on the protections of GDL by delaying licensure until age 18 or older.  AAA is not calling for states to extend GDL provisions just yet, but does believe the research results are very promising in terms of pinpointing a way to keep these drivers safe. The AAA Foundation is planning to dive deeper into this area of research in the coming year.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, and drivers ages 18-20 were involved in more than 800,000 crashes in the United States in 2012. Parents and teens can learn more about teen driver issues and GDL requirements in their state by visiting AAA’s Keys2Drive website.

About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit for more information on this and other research.

About The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at


East Cobb Resident joins SK Commercial Realty as EVP

Dena Rodrigues headshot

Dena Rodrigues

Dena Rodrigues, CPM has joined SK Commercial Realty as Executive Vice President of Business Development & Property Management. Rodrigues brings more than 15 years of experience working in the metro Atlanta market.

“We are proud to add and welcome a talented resource like Dena to our growing team,” said Hugh Scott, III, CEO SK Commercial Realty. “The addition of Dena is part of our strategy to add skilled, energetic and entrepreneurial brokers to the company.”

Prior to joining SK Commercial Realty, Rodrigues served as Vice President for Property Management for Cassidy Truly and was responsible for client relations, accounting oversight and operational performance for a seven million-square-foot portfolio. She brings experience as former Vice President for Carter’s Property and Facility Management business unit in addition to a three million square foot of commercial office space she managed while at Jones Lang Lasalle. Rodrigues also led operations for a 25-building, three million square foot office portfolio for CarrAmerica Realty Corporation. While there, she leased and renewed more than one million square feet of space each year and was instrumental in new business development.

During her career, Rodrigues served as Georgia Real Estate Commissioner from 2002 until 2006, as appointed by former Governor Roy Barnes and reappointed by Governor Sonny Perdue. Key clients included Interventure Capital Group, Kennesaw State University Foundation, Kimberly-Clark, Alecta Investment Management, Grove Street Partners, Abbott Laboratories, Osmotica Pharmaceutical Corporation, Tampa Electric Company JP Morgan and AIG.

Rodrigues now brings all these experiences and skill sets to SK Commercial Realty.

Rodrigues, earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee. She is a Certified Property Manager through the Institute of Real Estate Management, for whom she served as vice president of the Atlanta Chapter. She is a licensed real estate salesperson and a member of the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Active in her community, Rodrigues is a Vice Chair of Leadership Cobb (2015) and a member of the University of Tennessee Alumni Board of Directors 2014-2015.

Rodrigues resides in East Cobb.


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Photo of the Day


Judy McNeil, principal, Walton High School, at their homecoming pep rally