I seem to remember Moments. I can’t tell you the name of the movie I saw last week, but my friends look to me to remind them of scenes from our childhood and high school years. I also remember the day I came up with the idea for this Moments column that we’ve been publishing since last January.
It was on September 7, 2011 – just a few weeks after Maria Saporta asked me to join in the fun and contribute a weekly column to this increasingly popular journey in journalism that we call SaportaReport – that the idea first struck me. I was sitting quietly at a table at On the Border restaurant in Buckhead as my Friday Morning Men’s Fellowship group. My weekly table-mates were discussing the Bible passage in which Saul was struck by lightning – and blinded – while on the road to Damascus.
By Chris Schroder
Retired CEO and Chairman of financial firm Montag & Caldwell, Solon Patterson’s Moment led him and his wife to dedicate the rest of their lives to trying to reunite two Christian religions that split nearly 1,000 years ago.
Solon and his wife, Marianna, married in 1960 – he was Greek Orthodox and she was Roman Catholic. That difference would present challenges to their new life together, although on their wedding day, they didn’t realize how many challenges there would be.
As Solon told us, the vision of the two churches coming together will probably not happen in his lifetime. But his Moment when he and Marianna met the Catholic Pope and the Orthodox Patriarch in Constantinople, he knew it was something that would ultimately happen and that he had to commit his life to doing whatever he could to ensure others saw this reality as well.
Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus. He’s called by many names but his mission is always the same – deliver toys to children around the world.
We had the chance to catch up with the rosy-cheeked and eye-twinkling legacy while he was visiting Rhodes Hall, taking notes of children’s Christmas wish lists. As he told us in the accompanying Moments video, his Moment happened following one foggy Christmas Eve when some children nearly received their presents late.
By Chris Schroder
John Dewberry generated a lifetime of headline-generating sports and business Moments that he was proud to share with his father, but one very personal Moment they shared – undergoing cancer surgery on the exact same day – was one John chose to keep a secret until his dad was in recovery.
“I had not told him about my cancer because I didn’t want him worrying about me,” John told us when we videotaped his Moments video. “I didn’t want him to be expending energy worrying about his son because I knew that was exactly what he would do.”
By Chris Schroder
Having now published a dozen installments of Moments, it seemed an appropriate time to visit with Joel Babbit, the ever-inventive viceroy of Atlanta’s creative scene.
If a boss in Philadelphia hadn’t called Chris White into his office one moment 35 years ago, hundreds and perhaps thousands of men in Atlanta would be a lot more spiritually adrift today. Count me as one of them.
Within a few years, a hundred men were walking into an Atlanta restaurant at 7am each Friday to hear Chris lead them through a a few passages of the Bible. Chris can look back on a brilliant case study of word of-mouth marketing, counseling men to be leaders in the office and servants to their wives and children at home.
Please watch our one-minute video preview of “Moments,” our new weekly glimpse into the men and women whose own personal moments have changed metro Atlanta: http://goo.gl/uc5h0
Two former mayors, Sam Massell and Shirley Franklin, former Georgia Tech graduate student Ryan Gravel who envisioned the Beltline, radio personality Clark Howard – and many others who aren’t so famous – will share their insights into a time when everything changed in their lives. The videos will last only a minute, but we’ll place them into context with an adjoining column.
For nearly three years, SaportaReport has brought you closer to the issues and the diverse personalities that comprise our metro area. Beginning in January, we’ll bring you a little closer with “Moments,” a new column featuring an interview with and a one-minute video of famous and not-so-famous metro Atlantans.
We’ll ask each to share a moment in their lives when, suddenly, everything changed. As we catalog these moments, we hope they’ll add even more value to the mosaic of metro Atlanta stories our team of journalists is weaving on this website called SaportaReport.
While Jay Smith, retired president of Cox Newspapers, Inc., was in his early twenties working as a reporter for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, he drove 50 miles south to his hometown of Cincinnati one weekend to visit his family. His trip home took a turn for the worse when he heard the devastating news that his father had been diagnosed with terminal malignant lung cancer.
Had Jennifer Johnson not spotted an advertisement seeking restaurant franchisees while sitting in a café with her weekly book club in the early 2000s, Atlanta may be missing out on two delicious dining establishments: West Egg Café and The General Muir. A six-year associate at King & Spalding law firm at the time, Jennifer had always dreamed of working in the hospitality industry. Seeing the flyer in the window reignited that flame of passion and ultimately propelled her to make a dramatic career transition.
“I started to think back to the dreams I had and the things that really fueled me creatively when I was younger,” Jennifer recalled in our accompanying HD Moments video.
When David Geller went through a divorce from his first wife in 2004, he found himself in the middle of a difficult life transition, worried about what his clients and colleagues would think of him. So he did what he always does when he feels stuck—he began to read.
After cracking open a book about the Positive Psychology Movement, he stumbled across an interesting fact about people who hit the threshold of $75,000 of income: As they get richer beyond that point they don’t necessarily get happier. Confused by the lack of correlation between wealth and happiness, David made it his mission to bridge the gap.
“I remember feeling like I was punched in the stomach,” David recalled of when he read that fact about happiness and wealth, as seen in our accompanying HD Moments video. “That Moment was really the beginning of a process that really transformed my firm.”
During late summer four years ago in the depths of the Great Recession, Cynthia Jones Parks was experiencing a significant drop in her business, Jones Worley Communications. She had prayed for months for God’s blessings and direction, but the downward spiral continued. However, that summer evening, she woke up in the middle of the night and sat straight up in bed when God’s voice whispered into her spirit: “I’ve already blessed you, go do something with it,” He said.
“We didn’t have very much business – many of our contracts had been cancelled or were on hold, waiting funding. I didn’t know what we were going to do,” she recalled in the filming of our accompanying HD Moments video.
For most budding professionals trying to make their mark in any given industry, the word “peanuts” represents the measly amount of money they make when they begin working their first entry-level job. For Lee Katz, however, peanuts represent far more than a starting salary. They represent the Moment that ignited his interest in deal making and the Moment he began learning valuable skills that he carries into his current role as the chairman of GGG Partners, one of the leading turnaround firms in the country. Just like all of us, he had to start with peanuts (in his case literally) to get to where he is today.
In 1964, when Lee was 13 years old, he began selling peanuts to sports fans at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field. For every bag he sold for ten cents, he earned a penny in commission. As an added incentive, the seller who sold the most bags during the day received a $20 bonus. Watch our accompanying HD Moments video.
On October 21, 1989, Keegan Federal received a call from Northside Hospital that would change not only his entire family’s life, but would ultimately lead him to add a new specialty to his law practice. His sixteen-year-old daughter, Megan, was in the emergency room, in a coma, with a severe brain injury she had sustained in a car accident. The doctor told him that the prognosis was grim.
After three days in the hospital, the doctors began to think she might survive, but told her father there was a 95% probability she would be in a “persistent vegetative state” for the remainder of her life.
Brandi Helvey was rushing around her house on Christmas Eve 2010, getting her family ready to go on a trip when tragedy struck – permanently altering not only the upcoming holidays, but the lives of her son, her husband Mike and herself.
While other family members were out shopping and preparing for the holiday trip, Brandi was preparing to move a load of laundry from the upstairs washing machine to the dryer while her three-year-old son Jacob was in the living room playing with his toy cars and watching his favorite TV show. The Helvey family lives in a multi-story home built into a hill in the Forsyth County community of Cumming. One of the home’s amenities is a home elevator.
“In a matter of five minutes, as I’m upstairs, he decides to call the elevator cause he wants to come see me.,” Brandi recalls in our HD Moments video. “He’s like ‘Mommy, mommy, I want to come see you.’ And I said, ‘Just a second, I’ll be right down.’ The elevator was on for a second and then there was silence. So, at that point I come running down the stairs. I’m tugging and I’m pulling on the elevator door.”
Alwyn Fredericks had his Moment a few months ago on a night that at first seemed much like any other. Then it got a bit more serious. After drifting off to sleep for a few hours, Alwyn woke up abruptly at 4 a.m. feeling tightness in his chest. His wife and children were all in a deep sleep.
Following the protocol he followed for a decade as a successful personal injury law partner, Alwyn resumed his familiar role of investigating pain and injury – though this time, he was researching on his own behalf. He walked over to the computer and Googled the symptoms he was experiencing.
“It said if you’re on the computer researching chest achiness and tightness, you need to get up and go to the hospital,” he recalled in our accompanying HD Moments video.
George McKerrow, co-founder of Ted’s Montana Grill, had a Y2K self-discovery Moment 19,365 feet above sea level that transformed his life, lifting him to both business success and personal fulfillment.
As a restaurant executive with RARE Hospitality, George was immersed in corporate success, developing beneficial Wall Street connections and helping build the publicly traded company. Near the end of 1999, as the world was bracing for projected computer breakdowns on “Y2K” — January 1, 2000 — George and his wife, Ginair, decided to escape the madness and take a trip to the remote east African country of Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Looking out on the mountains and valleys below, George began to reflect upon his career and his early business challenges and successes with his entrepreneurial neighborhood restaurant. At that Moment, he realized what had been missing during his successful steps up the corporate ladder.
Please watch our HD Moments video.
When Wright Mitchell was on a run with his two dogs one day, he inexplicably turned up Chatham Road in Buckhead, a street not on his normal route. As he neared the top of the hill at West Paces Ferry, he looked to his left and saw a strange stone obelisk sticking out of the trees and bushes on an abandoned lot.
“It seemed completely out of place so I went in to investigate and discovered that one of Buckhead’s most historically significant cemeteries had been right there on the corner and had become completely overgrown and neglected,” Wright told us in our accompanying Moments HD video.
Long before Shawn Wilson began traveling the world as head of the New Look Foundation of renowned Atlanta musician Usher, meeting celebrities and establishing a successful youth leadership program, he was dodging his college application and working at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin YMCA.
Instead of filling out college applications when he was graduating from high school, Shawn began working as the Aquatic Coordinator at the YMCA. At 19 years old, he liked being in charge of the pool and making good money. Yet, despite how hard he tried to justify his decision to put it off applying to college, he eventually decided to – thanks to a Moment forced on him by a YMCA member in one of his water aerobics classes.