- Putting People Behind People Who Need People - That means all of us!  


By Maria Pinkelton 

March 2014 - Volume 2 



Pictured Above: Jonathan Hayes, Farrah Clark and Mykah Clark 




Without the support of our fellow neighbors, our communities aren't able to reach their full potential as places of security, unity, and friendship. For LaWanda and Jonathan Hayes this idea is very true. In their greatest time of need the support of their family was a constant, but the support of friends LaWanda did not know they had proved to be the most amazing support of all.


Jonathan, a thirteen-year-old artist, has been blessed with a phenomenal mother who expects the best for and from her son. Lawanda gathered support for the creation of his PATH to set future life goals and has built relationships with people in their community to make sure he had every opportunity to showcase his creativity. His natural talent for drawing and painting was recognized at a young age.  He has been featured in multiple publications, has shown at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery, and most recently his illustrations were featured in an e-book. As Jonathan's talents have grown, so have the demands for his paintings and opportunities for him and his mother to tell their story.



In the middle of all of this progress, illness struck and LaWanda had to be hospitalized for an infection following a surgical procedure. After so many years of being there for her son through surgeries, doctors visits and hospital stays who would be there for him now? It turns out that as LaWanda was watching over her son; there were others watching over her. When she least expected it and needed it the most, the greatest support she could have ever imagined came to her.


As LaWanda tells the story, " I was leaning on and trusting completely in God.  Doors were opened and a way was made that blessed Jonathan with a loving, caring environment for those seven days." While she recuperated, he stayed at the home of an elementary school friend named Aryn Clark whom he has known since the 3rd grade. She explains, "Jonathan was surrounded by such loving, caring, precious little angels!  He and this little girl have been extremely close all throughout this time at school in a two year gifted class, as well as actively attending church together.  I had no idea that the mom Farrah had been a mentor of Jonathan's and was always moved by his artwork and just him in general." Farrah's husband Michael and their other two children Mykah and Taryn admire Jonathan as well and became a second family during the Hayes' time of need. 


She also learned that neighbors whom she rarely saw or even spoke to were very concerned about her during this time. When she was well enough to return home one of her neighbors was relieved to learn that all was well. "The time that I was away was during the holidays and the neighbor was so concerned because our Christmas lights were never on. For him, seeing our lights on every evening when he drove past was a happy moment in his daily routine. He missed that bit of happiness and was so concerned about us."


This experience has brought LaWanda and her son closer to their neighbors. It has created new friendships, strengthened old ones and opened her eyes to the strong fabric of her community. She states, "The knowledge of everyone's sincere concern for us both and the availability of additional resources strengthens my faith and beliefs (spiritual) that opportunities come through connections.  You're not alone in what and how you feel. It further supports a famous quote, 'I will show you fear in a handful of dust.  We don't actually fear death; we fear that no one will notice our absence -- that we will disappear without a trace.  T.S. Eliot.' " 


Photo Left: Farrah and Michael Clark

Photo Right: Jonathan Hayes, Aryn Clark, Taryn Clark and Mykah Clark




On January 11, the Georgia Microboards Association gathered a wonderful group of folks at the Lodge at Simpsonwoods for a team-building retreat led by guest speaker, Bruce Anderson of Community Activators. One of our goals was to brainstorm about ways to help people find places in the community where they are valued, and Bruce's high-energy leadership style deepened our passion and commitment.   


During the morning session, the Board of Directors gathered privately to discuss and identify natural gifts and talents of the head, hand and heart; things they care about deeply and passionately. 


Bruce opened the discussions with, "Ask the person next to you to tell you a story about a time they used their gift, and something really good happened for someone else." "Do you recall a time in your own life when you  needed someone and they were there for you?" By noon, the walls of the conference room were covered with sheets of paper that were filled with things they would joyfully offer in their role as a member of the board.   


In the afternoon, board members had the unique opportunity meet and listen as individuals and their Microboard members from all over Georgia traded stories about everyday people accomplishing extraordinary things and giving to others in such amazing ways. By the close of the day, the Board of Directors  felt strengthened in their connection to each other and shared ideas about creative ways to address common issues and increase their support of individual Microboards.      


Photo: Bruce Anderson, Community Activators, Inc. 



On behalf of the Georgia Microboards Association, Debra McElhaney, President and Chairman, presented Nancy Vara with a plaque in appreciation of her years of outstanding leadership and dedication.




On November 1, the Georgia Microboards Association and the Institute on Human Development and Disability, University of Georgia, hosted a reading at the Statesboro Regional Library. The presentation was given by Tom Kohler, Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy with Introductions by Dr. Robert Batchelor, Georgia Southern University

"Waddie Welcome & The Beloved Community" tells the story of friendships that transcended divisions of disability, race, and income and created powerful new possibilities in a whole community.


Born on the 4th of July, 1914 in Savannah, GA with a disability and placed in a nursing home far from his community, Waddie Welcome was an unlikely public figure. His deep desire for freedom drew many friends into his life in ways that not only liberated him from institutionalization but realized Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of the Beloved Community. 


Pictured above are Dr. Batchelor, Tom Kohler, Jackie Grizzell, Tanya Simpkins, Pastor Lisa Deloach, KK Simpkins, Jessie Simpkins, Gillian Grable, Shay Meredith and Cody Case. 




In December, the Georgia Microboards Association hosted a two-day workshop entitled, "An Introduction to Person-Centered Planning Facilitation" in the Fellowship Hall at Oakurst Baptist Church in Decatur.


Stacey Ramirez, Director of Individual and Family Supports for the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University facilitated the interactive session. Included in the program was an explanation of Microboards by Gillian Grable and a personal visit by Betty Thompson so that the group could see a living example of a PATH becoming real.


One attendee commented, "There was a very special connection in the room by the morning of the second day. Stacey Ramirez and Ryan Johnson were engaging, the information was timely, and the training taught me some valuable new skills."


A reunion was unanimously requested and is tentatively set for June.  


St. James United Methodist Church, Atlanta, GA

"Jenny did not stop talking about her PATH meeting yesterday afternoon, last night and today. I think it was an extraordinary experience for her. She seemed to feel so validated and loved. Ryan is amazing! I think we are very fortunate to have him involved in this process. Two of the participants emailed me today to say how impressed they were by his facilitation, which met Jenny exactly where she is in expressing herself and in her thinking process. He is a good soul, indeed!"

Marilyn Humphreys


(Pictured above are Ryan Johnson, Gillian Grable, Jenny Humphreys and Silvette Bullard)   





"The Horsedriver" is a newly released video produced and directed by IHDD. It is a film about the power of community, and what can be achieved when a small group of committed individuals work together to support one person with a disability to live the life they choose. 


The film tells the story of Heather Rose Brooks, a young woman from Stone Mountain, Georgia, who never let her disability stand in the way of her dreams. She and her mother Janice always figured out whatever adaptations they needed to accomplish many things together, but when they discovered the concept of Microboards, they realized that they had found a way to cement Heather's life in the community for good.  Even they, however, could not have known what a profound impact Heather's Microboard was going to have on her life.






Harold Hughes and Joe Kaler accepted the invitation of the Korean Coalition, and made a friendly visit at St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church in Duluth.  Joe is a retiree who initially volunteered to drive Harold to physical therapy and now serves on the Board of Directors of Harold's Microboard.  


Aarti Sahgal said, "It was a pleasure to meet them and to hear about their journey and their friendship. Parents had a lot of questions for them, but what was clearly evident to all was that more than anything, they are friends who value each other. It was a great meeting, and their humor kept us chuckling and smiling." 







Todd and his family presented at the Conference 


More than twenty families gathered in a conference room at Dunwoody United Methodist Church to hear presentations on Microboards and Independent Living. Gillian Grable answered questions and used a white board to take one family through the five-step process to developing a Microboard.


Several individuals stayed afterwards to express their gratitude to Todd and the Copper family for being there.  They said they were unsure what Microboards were all about when they arrived, but after the presentation, discussions, and viewing "The Horsedriver" video about how Microboard members played a significant role in one young woman's life; they were enthusiastic about getting started with the creation of their own Microboard.


(Pictured below are Chris Stroud and Todd Copper)




PATH With Poet Larry Hood, Family and Friends


My goals in life are:


1. A new wheelchair

2. Getting my books published here and in other countries

3. To be well known for my work


My dream trips are to go to:


1. Jamaica

2. Canada

3. Puerto Rico


My PATH was inspiring, and I hope my family was inspired. And I want people to know me for my ability, not my disability. 




The beauty of a woman isn't in the clothes she wears,

The figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair

The beauty of woman must be seen from her eyes

Because that's the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides

But true beauty in a woman is reflected by her soul

It's the caring she cares to give - the passion that she shows

And the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows  


- Larry Hood 


 Larry Hood, back row, center



The importance of building community supports around people and their families 


"This year's event was a lifelong rewarding experience and opportunity for both Jonathan and I. Having the opportunity to humbly open up and share our life's journey, and have it be so well received by so many was spiritual nourishment for my mind, body and soul. It was insightful, encouraging, and I walked away feeling refreshed.  I've shared with many how welcomed, cared about and the genuine outpour of love by all. Truly a blessing to be an active participant of this year's conference."  Lawanda Hayes


Pictured below are: (Back Row) Maria Pinkleton, Shaquoya Bennett, Pat Petrone, Madelyn Petrone, Jonathan Hayes, Katie Chandler, Chris Hunnicutt, Gillian Grable, and Dottie Adams. (Front Row) Betty Thompson, Lawanda Hayes and Carmine Vara.   







. "We all have a story...What's yours?"



 (Extreme left is board member, Maria Pinkleton, Carmine Vara, and behind Carmine, Gillian Grable)


Georgia Microboards Association
150 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Suite 430
Decatur, GA 30030
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- Putting People Behind People Who Need People - That means all of us!