- Putting People Behind People Who Need People -  



August, 2013 Volume 1 Issue 1 
Betty Choir
 By Maria Pinkelton

"I have always been amazed at Betty as a person....can't is not a part of her life." 


These are the words of Roger Sundy, Convener of Betty's Gathering Mission Group* and long time member of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Georgia. At this small church just outside of Atlanta, 66 year-old Betty Thompson has blazed a path for others -  a path on which only the thought of what is possible is all that is considered.   

Betty was born in Carrollton, Georgia in May of 1947 to Raymond and Vesta Thompson. Less than one year after her birth, she contracted a case of encephalitis and an accompanying high fever. The fever eventually broke, but the damage to sections of her brain that controlled muscle movement resulted in a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. Betty's parents resolved to take advantage of every opportunity that existed.  Her parents and siblings ingrained self-confidence and determination in her at a young age. In the family, Betty was seen as a daughter and a sister, not as a person with a disability.


Years later, her tenacious spirit was seen when she brought together members of her mission group, family, and friends to assist in the creation of her PATH this past February.  A PATH is a process that enables people to choose their pathways to success and leads them to becoming valued members of their community. Longtime friend Patty Hutton states that it is hard for many people to ask for help in achieving their goals, but such is not the case for Betty. "She has a life she wants to live and she needs some help with it," Patty explained. In the gathering, Betty's circle covered a long list of hopes, goals and possibilities. Because the attendees had known Betty for so long and because she naturally excelled in the leadership role, organizing priorities was simple. Professional, creative, housing, and travel goals were detailed, scheduled, and staffed by members of the group. Going through the process helped Betty to realistically visualize her future and aided in her being able to examine the feasibility of things she wanted to achieve in her life.  


The individuals who make up Betty Thomson's circle of community support have known her for decades. Many knew her father and her mother; they know the role that family, friends and church play in her daily life. When speaking to them, you learn that her life choices are highly self-directed.  Instead of being called to gather and assist by a third party, it is more accurate to say that Betty herself has assigned work duties.


An example can be seen by her direction of support for her growing greeting card business. "Betty pretty much assigned me to help her with her cards," says Hutton, with a smile. This venture, which she has worked on for several years, has been supported by creative support from many local artists contributing designs. While she is happy with the creative and entrepreneurial satisfaction she gains from this work, she sought to put other facets of her life into motion though the PATH process.  


Betty's PATH

Also included in the goals discussed in her PATH was reaching out to and teaching youth. An avid participant in Oakhurst Baptist Church's youth community, Betty is a powerful influence to this part of the congregation. Two of her biggest fans, Justina Mason and Annabette Vellines, both age 12, say that Betty has taught them many lessons including how to speak for themselves, to focus on the good in others, and ways to be better leaders. In the same breath they wax on admiringly about her great taste in music and abundant sense of humor.  She is both a teacher and a friend.


Betty's passion to educate others outside of the church was put into motion this June at the Respect Institute Conference Commencement in Decatur, Georgia. There she spoke on acceptance and inclusion and stated, "I am not to be pitied. You should not pity others like me." Betty looks forward to sharing her experiences and knowledge with others through more public speaking and teaching at universities this year. She has always been a self-advocate and enjoys educating others on accessibility and inclusion. This July she was invited to serve on the board of directors of Citizen Advocacy of Atlanta and DeKalb. A natural community builder, this role will take Betty's voice and influence to an even broader audience.


Her relationships with others have helped build communities, as well as ramps into those communities, so that all truly are welcome. In speaking to members of her group you learn that Betty is a community welcome wagon, a match-maker, a best friend and, as young Justina puts it, "The glue of the church. Queen B."


This past spring she visited Washington DC and is currently planning a trip to the great redwoods of California, a sight she has wanted to see her entire life. With the help of her friends, this dream will become a reality. Hers is a case in which the one at the center of the circle has the power to direct this large group of people in the direction they feel they should be headed.  Like the dial on a compass, Betty sets the direction for her community. 


*The name of her circle of community support  

Brian Packing Kits BRIAN BOHRER 

Brian Bohrer participated in a recent church-sponsored retreat and hopes to become more involved in missionary groups such as UMCOR, The United Methodist Committee on Relief.

With the help and support of Microboard members, Brian and church volunteers assembled and delivered school supply kits, cleaning, health, and layette kits to a UMCOR warehouse in Louisiana where they will be shipped to children in need around the world. His board has now set up a google calendar to help coordinate his many activities.

A writer with a passion for the arts, Brian's employment aspirations include an opportunity to work for a small community theater company that encourages and supports young, aspiring playwrights. Writing since childhood about fictional characters and interesting plots, Brian's first play was entitled - The Panda and The Alien -  

Harold Hughes HARLD HUGHES


On June 20, Harold Hughes enjoyed celebrating his birthday with family and friends, as his regular Microboard meeting happened to fall on his birthday. There were decorations, gifts and a cake!

His board's main focus this year has been engaging him in the community including regular church activities, gardening, cooking lessons and shopping. He also enjoys getting out and taking his dog Lucky for walks.



Congratulations to Lois Curtis who celebrated her 47th birthday in mid July -- the third since she moved into her own home and began the process of hiring her own staff and self-directing her services.


More than twenty friends and neighbors gathered to celebrate with Lois by hosting a cook-out and back yard picnic.  





My name is Jenna Quigley. I'm a senior at Tucker High School. I am 20 years old and I am the Jonas Brothers' biggest fan!


Jenna Quigley

This summer I went to my second Jonas Brothers concert.  On the day of the concert, I got a big surprise. My mom told me she bought "VIP" tickets - this included a ticket to the concert, t-shirt, poster, VIP back stage pass, attendance at the Sound Check Party, and best of all, an opportunity to "meet and greet" the Jonas brothers (up close and personal) and get a picture with them! 


At the concert I screamed, danced and jumped up and down.  I was in the third row from the stage during the Sound Check Party - it was like they were looking right at me.  Then came the best time of my life - photo op! I got hugged by all three (Nick, Joe and Kevin).


I do not have a Microboard yet, but Dottie Adams has helped me with a PATH.  So far, I have had one meeting and it was great.  We talked about how much I love to act, dance and sing (I have been in three Habima Theatre performances).  I want to be a rock star on television one day. Here I am with the Jonas Brothers. Do I look like a rock star?  I think my dream is really coming true! 




 Jonathan Hayes

Jonathan and La'Wanda Hayes were invited to be guest speaker/panelists at the Getting It Right from the Start Conference. Discussions focused on meeting the needs of children with disabilities who may require shelter and special accommodations during a state of emergency disaster. Their presentation was well received by representatives of FEMA and the National Red Cross, as well as state and federal officials.


In addition to his many artistic awards and achievements, 12-year old Jonathan's artwork was featured in the 2012 Georgia Artists With DisAbilities Show. Placing 1st in the Student Division, his paintings were included in a national traveling tour. In addition, Jonathan hand-crafted baskets depicting the migration of various animals of the Serengeti. These unique works of art were featured in a 2013 Easter Resurrection Program, The Lion of Judah


All pieces showcased at these two events will be donated to the Soaring Eagles Center for Autism in Pueblo, Colorado, where they will be featured in the 2013 Annual Art Exhibit and Silent Auction. Proceeds from the event will be used to raise awareness and fund programs for families of children with Autism.  


On a more personal note, Jonathan was home schooled during the 2012 academic school year due to bilateral foot, heel, and ankle surgeries. He successfully completed his second semester of 6th grade, having earned 3 A's, 3 B's and scored above 800 in all core classes for the national CRCT examinations! Despite the challenges he has endured, he returned to school with a beautiful smile and a positive attitude. We've recently learned that he will soon be undergoing extensive hip and leg reconstructive surgeries in the near future.  



By Bob Spano  


For the first time, the Arc of Greater Columbus, with the assistance of the Georgia Microboards Association, sponsored a PATH plan for one of its members. The PATH, Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope, is a creative way of enabling all voices to be heard, recorded, ideas shared, dreams developed, and then identifying positive and possible priorities.

 Stacey Ramirez

A large group turned out to assist in the plan and to learn more about the program. Stacey Ramirez of the Center for Leadership in Disability of Georgia State University was the facilitator for the event and was outstanding in focusing on the wants and need, as well as the resources available for the individual. There was a lot of enthusiasm among those attending and plans for PATHS for others will be done soon.





Todd Copper's summer vacation began with a family reunion on St. Simon's Island where he enjoyed fun in the sun with eleven of his family members, including his brothers from Atlanta and San Antonio, their wives, plus four nieces and nephews. They enjoyed spending time on the beach, driving a golf cart around the island, eating a lot of sea food, and gathering to play board games in the evening.


Todd's next stop was Florida, where he met with Phyllis Smiley, a certified service dog trainer at PetSmart in Boynton Beach to discuss the goal of training Cooper (the family's black Lab) to assist him with some daily functions by becoming a service dog. Phyllis and Todd agreed to an intensive period that encompassed six consecutive days of training.        


Todd took Cooper through the all of routine training steps and commands like: Turn Left, Turn Right. (A service dog is a working dog who cannot be distracted from his job.) After hooking a leash to the front bar of the wheelchair, Cooper demonstrated his ability to pull Todd around the PetSmart store, turning left and right as directed. He then learned to Stop, Stay, Come, Leave It, Pull, and Heel next to the wheelchair, all on command.  On the final day, the store manager and an admiring audience gathered to watch as Todd and Cooper passed their training tests with flying colors.


It was a great experience for the entire family to watch Todd achieve the goal he set to have a service dog in the family. All of Cooper's paperwork has now been sent to the US Service Dog Registry Department and he will be receiving his official service dog vest and credentials very soon.  


Back home, the next step in the training process was teaching Cooper to bring Todd's clothing to him, beginning with his socks. Todd's mom, Becky, soon discovered that if she inserted Cooper's favorite toy (a squeaky ball) into a sock, he would gladly bring it back to Todd. But as Todd's dad observed, "I'm not sure that Todd is going to adjust to wearing socks with a ball inside of them."


Georgia Microboards Association
150 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Suite 430
Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: 678-983-6217Like us on Facebook

Check out our website at:
- Putting People Behind People Who Need People -