A Georgia Family Connection Collaborative

Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

Helping People, Help Others

Your Local Georgia Family Connection Collaborative Organization

Volunteers pack for Backpack Food for Kids

On Thursday mornings during the school year volunteers gather to pack bags of food for students in the Backpack Food for Kids program.

Friday was the first day this school year that the food was sent home with the kids.

“We had 199 to start this year,” said volunteer Kathy Rhodes, up from 130 last year.

“It was a good opening,” Rhodes said, expecting it to get up to 250 soon.

The volunteers come from across the county, from Sun City to East Griffin, from churches and local sororities.

The food is provided and packed at Five Loaves and Two Fish Food Pantry. The bags are delivered on Thursdays to each of the schools, to give teachers time to get the bags to the students to take home on Friday.

The food is sent home for children in need who eat breakfast and lunch at school, so they have food to eat on the weekends. The participants are recommended for the program by teachers and counselors at their schools.


BBFFK: 6701 Meals for FY18

The Backpack Food for Kids Program provided 6,701 weekend meals to about 250 children facing hunger  during the 2017-2018 school year, Sixteen faithful volunteers packed 53,608 nutritious easy-open foods items into backpacks.These students left school on Friday afternoon knowing they would have food for the weekend.  They returned to school on Monday morning ready to read and learn!
The program serves six elementary schools in the Griffin-Spalding County School System.  Students are recommended by their teachers, counselors and administrators and are enrolled in the program after obtaining parental consent. The enrollment begins over each year when the children return to school in August.
We want to meet these basic needs again! The Backpack Food for Kids Program is supported by monetary donations from individuals, churches, businesses and civic organizations, small grants and The Doc Holliday Festival held in September. We would greatly appreciate your support of Griffin-Spalding County’s most vulnerable children.You can also help by contacting me for more information and I would love to share this with interested groups. Please direct questions to Kathy Rhodes at 404- 316-2704 or krrhodes27@gmail.com Thank you for your support!

Donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to P.O. Box 701, Griffin, Georgia 30224 or on-line with at www.spaldingcollaborative.com. Please specify Backpack Food for Kids
By Spalding Collaborative

Little Free Library Initiative growing in Spalding County

A Griffin-Spalding Little Free Library was placed at Brighter Tomorrows Counseling on June 27 at 1815 North Expressway.

The newspaper box was donated by Griffin Daily News and decorated by students of AZ Kelsey Academy.

The stewards for the LFL will be Shannon Eller and the staff of Brighter Tomorrows.

Board Chairman Trudy Gill, of the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, welcomed everyone and thanked them for their participation in the initiative before asking Andrea Dunson, librarian for the LFL, to open the ceremony with a prayer.

Brett Bell — who spearheads the Little Free Library campaign for the Spalding Collaborative — shared some of the history of the Little Free Library Campaign.

“The Little Free Libraries began in a small town in Wisconsin,” said Bell. “There

see library/page A2

are now more than 60,000 registered Little Free Libraries in every U.S. state and across the world.”

The initiative of the Spalding Collaborative started when Bell went to the Spalding County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board with a request to put a LFL outside the Fairmont Community Center.

Just over a year later, the Brighter Tomorrows LFL is the 23rd to be dedicated in Spalding County.

“I want to thank Shannon Eller and her staff for sponsoring this Little Free Library,” said Bell. “Literacy opens doors for young people and is key to their success.”

Books can be donated at dropboxes outside First National Bank’s main office and the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital, or can be put in one of the boxes.

“It is take a book, leave a book,” Bell said.

As part of a 2017 Griffin Spalding county leadership project initiative, the First National Bank Marketing Director Andrea Dunson became the librarian for the local Little Free Libraries.

“Over the past year we have had an outpouring of book donations for this project,” said Dunson. “With the help of my leadership team, we created the project to gather and sustain books for the LFL, but someone still has to manage it daily.”

“Our leadership group approached First National Bank of Griffin and asked if they would they play a role in the sustainment of program,” said Dunson.

First National Bank President Chuck Copeland agreed to have a book dropbox and also agreed for all of the books to be stored in a room at FNB.

“We have run out of space with the current shelves, and are having to make more room for the amount of books we are receiving,” said Dunson.

She had extra help this summer with an intern, Kylie Griffin, who will be a senior at Spalding High School in August.

“The idea of the Little Free Library is just amazing, and something I knew I wanted to help with when I heard about it,” said Griffin. “The opportunity to give people a chance to further their imagination with access to free books is so inspiring to me.”

Griffin organized and categorized all of the library books with the help of John Copeland, who is working to earn his Reading badge for Boy scouts.

“In addition to reorganizing the storage area for the books, Kylie and John visited all of the LFL, swapped out books, saw if any of the libraries need repair, and refilled all of the libraries with different books,” said Dunson.

According to Brett Bell and Doris Breland of the Spalding Collaborative, who Bell describes as “my right and left hands” in the initiative, the need for books continues as plans are in the works for more Little Free Libraries in Spalding County.

Landra Larson Griffin News
June 29, 2018

Little Free Library coming to Southside Hope Health Clinic

Southside Hope Health Clinic will be getting a Little Free Library.

The dedication for it will be 3:45 p.m., Wednesday at 409 W. Solomon St., Griffin. The box is a former newspaper box was donated and sponsored by The Griffin Daily News and decorated by A.Z. Kelsey Academy students.

The steward for the box, according to Brett Bell from the Spalding Collaborative, will be Carl Henry and staff at Hope Health Clinic. Another Little Free Library will be dedicated next week.

At 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 27, one will be dedicated at Brighter

Tomorrows Counseling, 1815 North Expressway, Suite B, Griffin. This box — also a former newspaper box donated and sponsored by The Griffin Daily News and decorated by A.Z.. Kelsey Academy students — will have Shannon Eller and staff as stewards.

Another dedication is scheduled for July 27 at the Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park playground, 1301 Cowan Road, Griffin. The dedication is scheduled for 3 p.m. — and this box is sponsored by Georgia Power and was built, decorated and “solar powered” by Sisavath Remodeling. A steward will be determined.

“Thank you for your continued support around the Spalding Collaborative’s Little Free Library initiative,” Bell said, announcing the upcoming dedications.

Bell also thanked First National Bank’s summer interns Kylie Griffin and John Copeland, whose responsibilities include “visiting each Little Free Library ensuring that there exist no maintenance issues, as well as changing out the books to that of different ones.”

He also gave a “major shoutout” to FNB Marketing Director Andrea Dunson and FNB President Chuck Copeland, for additional support.


  • Jun 19, 2018

The Little Free Library program gets a summer intern.

Thanks to the overwhelming support of our community, the Little Free Library program has been a huge success.  We now have 21 little libraries in Griffin & Spalding County with plans for several more later this year.
As part of a 2017 Griffin+Spalding county leadership project initiative, the First National Bank Marketing Director, Andrea Dunson, became the librarian for all of the little free libraries.  Dunson says “Over the past year we have had an outpouring of book donations for this project.  With the help of my leadership team, we created the project to gather and sustain books for the LFL, but someone still has to manage it daily.  Our leadership group approached First National Bank of Griffin, and asked if they would they play a role in the sustainment of program.  Chuck Copeland (President of First National Bank) agreed to have a book drop box and also agreed for all of the books to be stored in a room at FNB.  We have run out of space with the current shelves, and are having to make more room for the amount of books we are receiving.”
Andrea decided she needed help with the project this summer.  Kylie Griffin, who will be a senior at Spalding High School in August, expressed an interest in volunteering her time to help give back to her community and spread her love of reading.  Kylie said “The idea of the Little Free Library is just amazing, and something I knew I wanted to help with the second I heard about it. This opportunity, to give people a chance to further their imagination with access to free books is so inspiring to me, and I hope to continue being a part of this program for many years.”  This philosophy goes right along with the Little Free Library mission.
  This summer, Kylie decided she wanted to help in a bigger way by getting the Main Library for this project organized.  Kylie organized and categorize all of the library books with the help of John Copeland, who is working to earn his Reading badge for Boy scouts.  Besides reorganizing the storage area for the books, Kylie and John visited all of the LFL, swapping out books, seeing if any of the libraries need repair, and refilling all of the libraries with different books.  Doris Breland, of the Spalding Collaborative, is excited to see young people take an interest in this program.  She loves that youth of our community want to take their summer and give back to the town they love.   Doris Breland and Brett Bell were the champions who started the LFL project in Griffin.
Submitted by Andrea Dunson June 15,2018

More than a survivor

Dorsey Jones shared her story of sexual exploitation that began when she was 11 and how she’s now “more than a survivor but a conqueror.”

Jones is now a probation officer with Fulton County Juvenile Court, where she’s able to rescue young girls in trouble. She serves as a mentor and case manger for Youth Spark and as part of Fulton County’s Sex Trafficking Task Force.

“My life was designated for this, for the children I serve, to be their voice,” Jones said. “I don’t mind being the legs of the table, as long as we get the job done, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Youth Spark, she said, was birthed through the Juvenile Court system.

“We see children charged with prostitution, but the johns only get a $50 fine,” she said.

The children, mostly girls but also some boys.

“They come to us for rehabilitation, group therapy, a hot meal,” she said. “A lot remind me of me, dirty, with an odor.”

They are provided toiletries and clothes too, along with “evidence-based clinical and community-based service.”

Her exploitation began at age 11 in Bainbridge. “A neighbor gave me $20, fondled me, had sex with me, then passed me to his brother and his father. I took that first $20 to the store and bought stew meat and green beans,” to feed her siblings.

Another neighbor started to abuse her, and before long she’d had sex with more than 200 men in the small town. “I didn’t really want to, but I was taught to, and there was a need in my house.”

They were all living with their abusive grandparents in poverty. Her absentee mother moved them from Virginia after leaving her father, a Vietnam veteran, who “was not doing right by us.”

Her mother, Jones said “brought us to Georgia to her family, and just dropped us off. We were living in a 2-bedroom apartment, with seven people, plus the four children.” She said they “endured more whippings and mistreatment.”

She ran away, seeking her father’s family, but ended up back in Georgia.

“I’d sleep with anybody who’d let me stay, so I didn’t have to sleep outside,” she said.

School became the only respite — the only place where she wasn’t being abused. A guidance counselor found out she was sleeping outside and intervened.

“Finally a family took me in that didn’t want to put me out,” Jones said.

She would hear people talk about her “as a stray, loose. I was just a kid, I don’t feel hatred. They don’t know. I never had a stable home. I was told I’d never be nothing, just like my mama and her house full of kids.”

When she graduated high school, a family recommended she go to Job Corps, so she headed to Atlanta. She heard about Atlanta University Center and ended up on the campus of Morris Brown College.

She enrolled at the school, despite her poor grades, but had no where to stay. She talked with the housing director and told her she needed a place to stay. She was given a key to an apartment, a new two-room apartment.

“I was happy to have it, but was told not to tell anyone,” because she was not supposed to be there.

Because she wasn’t supposed to be there, she wasn’t on the meal plan and only ate when she could, until kitchen staff told her one day, “you’re staying here, you can eat eat here.”

It was on campus where she met her husband of 23 years.

“For a whole year, he asked to take me out, and my answer was always no,” she said.

After he’d graduated, she told him to ask her one more time.

“Men hurt me as a kid, but God sent me a man to love me,” she said.

Jones said her story “is different than many others. Some lose their minds. I endured all that for a reason. My life was designated for this, for the children I serve, to be their voice.”

Jones speaks to civic clubs to share her story, and wrote a book of her experience — “The Angels Were Crying: Stretched Beyond Measure.”

Jones is a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow with the Roswell Rotary Club. She spoke to Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club this past week as part of the local Rotary effort to bring awareness to sex trafficking.

“7,200 men a month buy kids,” she said. “The most important thing now is supply-and-demand.”

She asked them “what are you going to do make this work beyond Rotary? I’m glad backpage.com is gone but it is beyond this.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Rotary Club of Griffin and Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club have hosted presentations — including Jones’ visit this month. There has also been a series of stories in this newspaper on the topic to bring awareness to human trafficking. The clubs have also worked to get emergency contact information placed in bathrooms of local government buildings and businesses.

Jones is a part of Fulton County’s Sex Trafficking Task Force, which had it first meeting April 17. She was interviewed by Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts for his show, “The Chairman’s Circle.”

After that meeting, Pitts said, “this crime is happening in plain sight in our community. Our plan is to build broad awareness of commercial sex trafficking across demographics, in schools, and the public and private sectors and put tactical measures in place so that we can reach potential victims, current victims, and buyers of children.”

The interview will air April 22-28 on FGTV at http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/fgtv-on-youtube.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles on sex trafficking The Griffin Daily News will run this month.)

Sex trafficking is happening everywhere

“When I grew up, I knew where the monsters were,” said Bob Rodgers, president and CEO of Street Grace.

Rodgers, who spoke to the Spalding Collaborative last Wednesday, said, “now I don’t know. They shop with us, go to church with us. Realize this — it is happening under our noses.”

Street Grace is an Atlanta-based, faith-driven organization collaborating with faith, business and community leaders providing a comprehensive path to end domestic minor sex trafficking in Metro Atlanta and throughout the United States.

“The numbers are overwhelming, and the kids sold for sex are in our schools.” Rodgers said. “This is a runaway, a foster, homeless problem, but is also our problem. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 1 out of every 4 girls experiences some form of sexual exploitation, and 1 out of every 6 boys.”

He said, the biggest surprise, those statistics are people — 50,000 babies born this year will experience some form of sexual exploitation by age 18.”

The customers are “buyers of sex.” Rodgers said “the vast majority of the problem is men — 92 percent of people victimized are female. It is a gender issue, violence touches women.”

According to the statistics, they “look like the college professor who trafficks his students, the children’s pastor to takes advantage of children, the neighbor who trafficks a 13-year-old girl for two years. It’s 17 or 18-year-old girls who talk their friends into coming down here.”

The friends, with their older boyfriend, will come get them, Rodgers said.

“They are happy to do it, but need help paying for expenses,” he said. “Within 12 hours, the girls have been raped repeatedly, and within the next day, they are across the state, being raped in another hotel room.”

The victims are “a 9-year-old girl raped by her cousin, then at 11 raped by her father, and on her 13th birthday, dad sells admission to a hotel to nine of his friends to rape her. After, he slips a birthday card under her door with a note — ‘welcome to womanhood.’”

There is some good news, Rodgers said.

“Some good things are happening,” he said. “Churches, businesses, schools are hearing the presentations — public, private, business and faith groups all rallying around this. It’s not about race, Democrat or Republican, rich or poor. This hits all communities.”

People, he said, are getting involved — volunteering, giving lots of money.

“And when faith groups get involved things change,” he said.

One of the changes is the recent legislation signed this past week by President Donald Trump. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 was signed into law. The final legislation incorporates the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which was co-sponsored by U.S Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia).

In a press release on April 11, Isakson said, “the legislation signed into law by the president today is an important step toward holding perpetrators of the vile crime of online sex trafficking accountable and allowing victims to seek recourse. This legislation updates and strengthens our laws while keeping the internet open and I’m glad that it is now law.”

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, he said, “ensures that operators of websites who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable, and that victims can pursue legal recourse in their struggle for justice.”

It was introduced in the Senate after a two-year inquiry that culminated in a report entitled, “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking.” This report found that Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes to increase its own profits.

Within hours of the legislation being passed by the Senate and before it was signed by the president, many of these pages have been shut down, Rodgers said. One of those, Backpage.com, he said, “was the largest online brothel. This suppresses the supply. Buyers are having hard time finding it — for now.”

Backpage.com, he said was the owner of many of the other sites as well, and a new one has come out — bedpage.com.

Rodgers said “the underground sex industry is a $13 billion a year industry. In comparision, the NFL is $14 billion. It Atlanta, the underground sex industry makes $290 million a year.”

He said the single largest porn site had 98 billion visits in 2017.

“The statistics are overwhelming,” Rodgers said. “If you’re watching porn, you’re watching sex trafficking” which he defined as when people who cannot voluntarily leave, and someone who is promised something — money, clothes, and gifts — for sex.

Street Grace, he said “is child-focused and demand-centric. They offer a residential program for those who get out. We work on prevention, protection and pursuit.”

The prevention and protection, he said, includes work with students, since of the 73,000 found in sex trafficking last year, 53,000 were under age 18.

Pursuit, he said, includes work with legislators and law enforcement to crack down on the purveyors of underground sex. But he noted, “we’re not an organization that stands up and cheers every time someone is arrested. Yes, they need to go to jail, but that does not solve the problem. It’s not because we’re soft on it. We work with men’s groups in jail. Sending them to jail is not the cure; they need counseling.”

Street Grace has done something it calls “transaction intercept,” where it places adds, mans a call center, and sends texts back with treatment information. They work with law enforcement, letting them know what they are doing. Of those sent texts with information, he said, 15 percent sought help, and there was a “noticeable reduction in repeat calls.”

He’s met with tech companies to find a way to this without having to manually staff a call center. BBDO, one of the largest marketing firms worked with them “to develop a chat bot, with five or six personalities. In the next few months, we look to disrupt the transactions, and can set it collect data for city, state and federal law enforcement.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Rotary Club of Griffin and Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club have events planned for this month, including Rodgers presentation before the Collaborative, and series of stories in this newspaper on the topic, to bring awareness to human trafficking.

On Wednesday, April 18, Dorsey Jones, a survivor of sex trafficking, will speak to Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club at its 7:30 a.m., meeting at J Henry’s. Jones was a victim of sex trafficking at the ages 12 and 13 in Bainbridge.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles on sex trafficking The Griffin Daily News will run this month.)


2018 Senior Issues Spring Conference focused on emergency preparedness

The Senior Issues Committee of the Spalding County Collaborative hosted the 2018 Senior Issues Spring Conference on Wednesday at the Spalding County Senior Center.

The conference opened with the recognition of James Johnston’s daughters Beth Horne and Mary Johnston. Mr. Johnston had been the Senior Issues Committee Chairman for 10 years. The conference was dedicated to his memory.

The theme of the event was Emergency Preparedness. Over 50 seniors attended listening to the guest speakers, taking notes, and asking questions though out the presentations.

Ted Manolis was the first speaker. He demonstrated Personal Defense Techniques. Manolis is a certified Krav Maga instructor.

Emergency Department Chief Administrator Glenn Polk of the Spalding County Fire Department spoke on Natural Disaster Readiness and Fire Plans.

“It has become a passion of mine, especially since the tornados of 2011,” said Polk. “We saw them going through my neighborhood.”

Polk encouraged the crowd to “Be prepared. Have plans in place in case of an emergency or disaster. The more you practice your plans, the better off you will be.”

He was followed by speakers from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Tommy Thomason and Lt. Frank Clark spoke on Community Policing and Crime Prevention.

Clark spoke to the attendees about “hardening” their home to make it safer. “Hardening your home will make it a hard target. Criminals look for easy targets,” said Clark.

He encouraged seniors to use landscaping to make windows inaccessible, lamps on timers when they are not home, and to consider a security system.

“Don’t open the door for anyone you don’t know,” said Clark. “If they won’t go away, dial 911 and let us deal with them.”

  Clark also reminded them to lock their cars. “Nine times out of 10, when there is a theft, the owner left the car unlocked.”

Sheriff Darrell Dix followed Clark and told the group, “We always enjoy coming to the Senior Center. You are very engaged and ask good questions. I have learned some things today too.”

He encouraged the seniors “when in doubt, call. You are not bothering us or inconveniencing us. It is our job.”

Dix told the attendees about Nixle Alerts available from the Sheriff’s Department. Nixle Alerts sends out up-to-date relevant information from local public safety departments. Go to www.nixle.com to register to receive alerts by email or by phone.

The Spalding County Sheriff’s Department, Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging, and WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital had display tables at the conference with brochures and free items.

The Senior Issues Committee of the Spalding County Collaborative members are Lauren Brown, Senior Center Supervisor; Janie Clark, Brightmoor Hospice; Mitzi May, Suncrest Home Health; Kim Stephens, WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital; and Toni Williams, Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging.

For more information on upcoming events at the Spalding County Senior Center, call 770/467-4385.

Landra Larson, Griffin Daily News 03/30/2018

Little Free Library placed at DFACS

The first Little Free Library of this year was dedicated Tuesday at the Spalding County Department of Family and Children’s Services.

Brett Bell, who has spearheaded this campaign for the Spalding Collaborative, said “this box is the first for 2018, but we’re still at the original count of 20.”

The box, he said, is the one that had been at Raymond Head Park but was vandalized and then repaired by the sponsor, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and redecorated by Crystal Sisavath.

“The Sisavaths have had a hand in about half of the boxes,” Bell said, building, decorating and/or sponsoring them.

This is the second attempt at putting a box at DFACS, Bell explained, after another box, decorated by students at A.Z. Kelsey, in hot pink glitter, “was problematic, and not conducive for this location. Glitter got all over the place.”

DFACS Executive Director Phyllis Easton Barkley cut the ribbon on the box in the lobby of the DFACS offices at 411 East Solomon St., Griffin.

Bell said there are at least six boxes awaiting locations and one will be going in at Anne Street Elementary School to replace the one from Raymond Head Park, so the area can be served. He thanked Anne Street Principal Pearla Hodo for her efforts and explained there will be contest at the school, with the winning class getting to decorate the box for the school.

A couple of boxes will be going in at Wyomia Tyus Park by the playgrounds, Bell said, and a solar-powered, lighted box will eventually go in at Healthy Life Community Garden, once work is finished out there.

The Little Free Library campaign, Bell said, “has brought together folk who would not otherwise work together, it’s not just a Collaborative effort.”

The Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, its Leadership classes, and Chamber members, as well as city and county officials, local schools, businesses, churches, civic clubs and scouts have worked to support the effort by providing locations, sponsors, building or decorating boxes and donating books.

“It’s an example of the many different layers or spokes being a part of this,” Bell said.

“The whole theme is take a book, leave a book,” Bell said, “but if don’t have a book to leave, or you really love the book and want to keep it, that’s OK.”

First National Bank and WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital have drop boxes to accept new and gently-used books. First National Bank also houses and sorts the books to be distributed to the Little Free Libraries when stewards see the books are running low.

Ray Lightner, Griffin Daily News March 28