It’s almost that time again, for the 6th annual Firecracker Road Race for the Fourth of July! The proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics Henry County and Parks & Recreation.

The Henry County Special Olympics organization offers sports and athletic competition for students and adults with intellectual disabilities, not only in the summertime, but all year round.

According to the organization’s website, “The experience gives each athlete opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes, and the community.”

Participants of the Special Olympics can get involved in softball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, bowling, bocce, aquatics, floor hockey, equestrian, alpine skiing and kayaking, and compete in different competitions throughout the year.

Both the 5k and the 10k will begin at 8 a.m. on July 4, at historic Nash Farms Battlefield on Babbs Mill Road. Runners will continue on Carl Parker Road. Participants of the 5k will then turn back around going back toward Nash Farms, while the 10k participants will continue onto Conkle Road and then finally back to Babbs Mill Road.

And just think, you’ll be able to eat all of the hot dogs and hamburgers you want after running a 5k or 10k, right?

Get Set Grow provides complete racing event services and is a great local Henry County organization that get families active together. According to the Get Set Grow Facebook page, they provide services that include “online registration, promotional items, t-shirts, awards, chip-timing system, marketing materials, direct mail and email marketing campaigns and databases, social media marketing, and supplies, which include inflatable Start/Finish line arches, tents and tables.”

For your next racing event, reach out to Get Set Grow at www.getsetgrow.com.

These days, it seems like there’s never enough time for work AND play. Are you feeling overwhelmed lately and struggling to get everything done in a day, while still carving out important time for family, friends, and a little “you” time? Not only does Hood Street Art Center offer top-notch art classes, yoga and theater, but they’ll be holding a class teaching the “art” of time management!

This Saturday, June 24, from 1 p.m.–3:30 p.m., Hood Street Art Center will be holding “Successful Time Management for Time-Crunched Lives.” According to the Hood Street Art Center Facebook event page, students will learn how to “create workable, flexible, time management systems that energetically flow within your life. Say goodbye to harried time-frames and unrealistic agendas!”

Phyllis Walker of Hummingbird Studios will be teaching participants of this two-and-a-half-hour class how to create systems that will help your life flow more smoothly through guidelines and group exercises. At the end of this class, you’ll have created your own plan for daily flexibility and freedom.

“Bonus gifts” will include a special report, accountability charts, a complimentary 20-minute coaching session, and two weeks of free admission to the “Time Management Coaching Group.”

Though it’s geared toward freelancers, creatives, artists, business folks and entrepreneurs, anyone and everyone will learn something from this class.

Hummingbird Studios is based out of Lovejoy, Georgia, and Phyllis Walker is a gifted photographer who owns a fine art photography studio and also teaches classes—in both photography and time management, among other topics. She is also the founder of her non-profit organization, “Esperanza! A Woman’s Hope,” which offers scholarships to domestic violence survivors who are returning to school for a career upgrade.

Hood Street says “It’s time to own your freedom.” Sign up for this class today on the Hood Street Art Center website.  The program fee is $49.

With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, we decided to do a special Father’s Day edition of Meet Your Neighbors. Henry County is full of awesome dads, and this is just a sampling of all the wonderful men and fathers who call Henry County home. There are dads who provide spiritual leadership for their families, dads who not only are the protector of their wives and children, but of Henry County as a whole, dads who always tell their children to follow their dreams, and a dad who takes on the role of being a stepdad while leading his partner toward lightness and a more positive future.

Check out their stories*, and don’t forget to celebrate on Sunday with your loved ones!

Donny Woodall
On behalf of his wife, Rosealyn Woodall
Foreman at MARTA

I would like to nominate Donny Woodall, the man who has shown me what true love is as a husband, friend, and father. Let me start from the beginning… I met this wonderful man two-and-a-half years ago, and have been smitten ever since. I was in a very dark place in my life as a single mother not knowing who my own father was, with two children ages 10 and 6. Coming from two failed relationships, I was not looking to jump back into the dating scene, because I knew my worth was low. One day, my friend set me up on a dating site, which I didn’t find out until my phone kept buzzing with email after email.

I was like, “What in the world is going on?” and well, once I figured it out, there he was. This guy who was looking for more than just being with someone. A single father of a 12-year-old daughter, who also had a failed relationship and was nervous to jump back into dating like I was. He was looking for love again, for not only him, but his daughter. We set up a “date,” and let me tell you, as soon as he opened the door it was like God sent him just for me. He and his daughter were standing there with flowers and the biggest smiles on their faces because he told me he had prayed for the Lord to send him someone who was just as broken in life as him to fill the emptiness that we both had.

We dated for about six months and then he surprised me by asking my daughter and son if he could marry their mommy. I about fell to the floor crying because why would he care to ask them and not me right off the bat? Of course, they said yes! He showed love for them when he did not have to since day one, and right then I knew he was the perfect man to be my husband and stepdad to my children.

He has fought and struggled to pull me out of that dark place I was in and showed me what being a father and a true man is supposed to be. He can talk water out of a bucket if you asked him to, and I love his servant’s heart towards others.

Since that fateful day of meeting one another, we have been together for two and half years, and will be celebrating our one year anniversary this July. We have become a blended family, and if it wasn’t for him, I am not sure of where I and my children would be right now.

He works so hard daily at his career to let me stay at home as a full-time student/wife/stay at home mom to pursue my goals so that I may better myself for our family.

The meaning of a “Dad” is more than just someone who brought you into this world, because anyone can step in and be a dad. I like to explain it as “Being a Father” suits that term better. A father is someone who works hard for his family and still comes home to care for us, interact with each other, and play with the kids, all while staying positive—no matter how his day has been.

He has been an amazing father to not only his daughter and my children, but he is about to become a new father again to TWINS (boy & girl) in August this year!!!! He is over the moon about it!

(I can’t wait to see him change poopy diapers again..haha)

In conclusion, I could go on and on about how amazing my husband is as a father, but there are three main things that make him that way….His faith, love, and commitment to his family, knowing that he prayed for so long and the Lord has blessed him with more than he could have ever asked for! That is why I think my husband is a great father to our children and what being a “dad” means to me.

Doug King
On behalf of his daughter, Erin King
Retired teacher
Stockbridge

I’m writing about my father, Doug King. Raising three girls wasn’t easy, I’m sure, but he has always done whatever he needed to make sure that we knew we were loved and safe. Not only is he a good dad, but he has always been a spiritual leader for our family, showing us how to follow Christ every day in how we love God and love others. He has selflessly served his family and recently retired as a teacher, where he selflessly served so many kids. He has never allowed anything to separate himself from his family, even recently traveling to Africa for a couple of months to be with my oldest sister who moved there with her family.

He’s smart, funny, loved by so many, and such an example of a godly man. He has always fought for us and has always been there for us. I cannot express how much I love him and how thankful I am that God gave me him as my father.

Thank you for helping me honor my Dad.

Joshua Harvey
On behalf of his wife, Brandi Harvey
Luxottica Retail
McDonough

I don’t have a father, but I wanted to write about an amazing one. My husband, Joshua Harvey.

All of my life I didn’t like fathers in the movies or my friends’ fathers, simply because I was jealous. I pretended all dads were horrible, mean, and didn’t really care about their kids. After we had our first child, I realized how wrong I had always been. Josh gives his all to his children and even to me. He works hard to make us comfortable. He’s even taken us to Disney World five times 🙂

He pushes the kids to be their greatest. They don’t understand his stance on A’s now, but one day they will. Chores, they’ll see. Manners, they’ll see. What a great man/human/father he is, they’ll see.

I never thought I would be in awe of a father before, but I tell you, I’m in awe of Joshua Harvey. The greatest dad in the world.

Drew McCrite
On behalf of his daughter Tori McCrite
Professional Outdoor Lighting Company Owner
Hampton

My dad is not just my dad, he’s my best friend. He is my rock. He has supported me with every dream I’ve ever had—from considering the Air Force to now currently being a missionary. Daily reminders of his love and support have taken me far in life. He’s the phone call I make when I have a flat tire, knowing he’s on the way no matter where I am.

He’s the advice I seek to resolve conflicts and living a meaningful life. He owns a professional outdoor lighting company that he works full time, and he built a wedding venue as a family business in our backyard. He coaches soccer on the side, and works in the yard when he comes home from work.

His hands are never idle, yet he always makes time for each of our family members. His investments are in people. He always seeks to give back to others, from the homeless man in the Walmart parking lot, to a family friend going through a hard time. He has truly taught me what it means to love, and that is why my dad is my best friend.

Joe Kelley
On behalf of his daughter Amber Marbut
Assistant Chief, Henry County Fire Department
Henry County

I’d like to brag on my dad, Joe Kelley. He’s an assistant chief for the Henry County Fire Department and he’s always gone out of his way to protect us and make us safe. He’s always supported me and allowed me to follow my dreams.I think one of the things that sticks out to me is that he’s always gone out of the way to make us happy. He loves his family. He rarely asks for anything in return.

 

Tyler Kelley
On behalf of his sister Amber Marbut
McDonough Fire Department
McDonough

I’d also like to recognize my brother Tyler Kelley, who works for the McDonough Fire Department. He’s been an awesome dad to my two nieces. He works two jobs to be able to provide for them. He’s always playing with them, even if it means dressing up like a princess. He’s a wonderful dad.

*Responses were edited for clarity.

“Meet Your Neighbors” is a column that features someone noteworthy from the McDonough or Henry County community. If you know someone who you feel should be profiled, please email Abi at abi@ilovemcdonough.com.

We all know that having a library card opens entire new worlds and endless possibilities for us. And libraries aren’t just for books, they offer plenty of entertaining and educational activities all summer long—for kids and adults. Let your library card give you the key to open up the doors for opportunities to learn this summer.

Thanks to the Henry County Library System (HCPLS) you can learn anything and everything from yoga, to science and animals to legos. You can even learn about preventative car maintenance.  This summer’s theme is “Build a Better World.”

So far, the HCPLS has offered an Anime Night, Zombies in the Library, a Craft Night with duct tape, a Novel Building class, a Cookie Creation class, and a Cirque Du Todd event, where Todd juggled and showed “amazing feats of skill.” Like during the school year, there are book clubs, toddler storytimes, music classes and more.

Check out what free learning and fun opportunities your library card will provide to you this summer.

For a full list of programs with the exact dates, times and library locations, visit the HCPLS’ website’s calendar. You can also follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all their programs and events throughout the summer and the rest of the year.

Passport to Henry

Passport to Henry is a self-guided tour that allows families or individuals to visit different locations in Henry County that are listed in your passport. As you visit each location, you’ll have it marked off in your booklet by an employee at the location or by showing the library staff a selfie of you at the location. The goal of this program is to garner participation in the community and expand your knowledge about the Henry County area and all it has to offer.

Author Deron R. Hicks Writing Tips

Teen and YA author Deron R. Hicks is the mastermind behind Shakespeare’s Grave and Tower of the Five Orders. However, he wasn’t always an author. He’ll talk to teens and tweens about how he became an accidental author, what has prepared him to be a writer, and what they can do to find the writing careers of their dreams.

Mind Craft

Nope, that’s not a typo about Minecraft. Participants will learn about the science of simple machines with the Mind Craft mobile interactive science museum. Students will learn via video and live interactions about pulleys, levers, wheels and axles, screws and inclined planes. These simple machines come together to make up the tools we use every day to “Build a Better World.”

Doc Atoms “Explosive Science Show”

Doc Atoms is the wackiest and funniest scientist around, making science fun and exciting for children of all ages (and some adults, too!). Doc Atoms will teach participants why things go “BOOM” in his hands-on, crazy science experiments. For certain library branches, he will also bring along the “Doc Atoms Robot Petting Zoo” for teens.

Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear is back, and thankfully, he’s still talking about preventing forest fires. He’s certainly aged well, since he has been around since 1947. Take a trip down memory lane or let your kids experience Smokey for the first time this summer. And remember, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

Gardening Program

This six-week program includes gardening stories and hands-on activities with dirt, seeds and plants. It’s for elementary-aged children, and is being held all summer. You’ll even be able to take home materials that you use in the class! This program is conducted by the Henry County Master Gardeners.

Chef Carlin’s Hands-On Cooking Program

Chef Carlin offers cooking classes for kids, which includes hands-on learning of how to prepare, cook and serve a dish. And the best part—you get to eat the dish! Chef Carlin is an experienced culinary professional and certified personal chef.

Builder Event – Up, Across & Over

Teams of people ages 5 and up will work together to create catapults (up), ziplines (across), and bridges (over). This fun event will not only teach teamwork and critical thinking, but also some minor physics! This event is for ages 5 and up.

Babatunde

Babatunde is an African “freestyle” storyteller, who uses only a drum and his imagination to weave singing, dancing and music into a high-energy and highly entertaining storytelling session. He will be presenting “Kweku’s Journeys in Connecting Worlds.”

Animal Adventures

Does your kid love animals and everything about them? Bring them to Animal Adventures this summer, where they’ll learn bio facts about animals all around the world—and even get to meet some of those animals. Environmental Educator Robin Pressley-Keough will be teaching students about the food chain, endangerment, habitats and adaptation.

“Stim”ulating Activities Fair

This program is part of the “Neurodiversity” initiative by the HCPLS. These programs are tailored for teens and young adult will developmental and learning differences. There will be a variety of different stations to celebrate the energy and stimulation some brains crave. This all ages event will offer lessons on how to reduce noise, recipes to make slime at home, weighted blankets and toys, fidget toys, “chewlry” and more. There will also be digital resources available for guests to learn about how brains work. There is also an opportunity for participants to bring their favorite items for fidgeting and stimming for show and tell.

Gene Cordova: Ventriloquist

Gene Cordova is not only a comedian, but a ventriloquist who does magic, makes balloons, and has a hilarious program for audiences of all ages. Seating is on a  first-come, first-served basis. He will be attending each HCPL branch this summer. Check out when he’ll be coming to a library near you!

Balloon Storytelling

Storyteller and balloon artist Laurel Alford will be visiting libraries and telling stories about animals through the wonder of balloons.

Fiddlin’ Dan the Mountain Man

Fiddlin’ Dan the Mountain Man is back with his fiddle, providing interactive songs, stories and humor for his audience. No matter your age, you’re guaranteed to be entertained!

Mobile Dairy Classroom

This outdoor event brings the Mobile Dairy Classroom to Henry County, where participants will learn how milk is processed. Guests will include the MDC’s family cow, Sadie, as well as the Chick-fil-a cow. The mobile dairy ambassador Miss Nicole will be answering questions about life on a dairy farm.

Bio-Bus Programs

This summer, the GSU “Bio-Bus” will be traveling to all the different HCPL locations to teach relevant, hands-on, educational science programs. Depending on which branch you’re attending, participants will learn about water in the environment; the heart and circulatory system; acids, bases and indicators in chemistry; biotechnology and forensics; and states of matter in chemistry. For a special twist, there will even be a Star Wars geological module! The Chemistry States of Matter event on Friday, July 7 at 11 a.m. will be tailored for teens and adults with developmental differences.

Manners Class

Chef Connie Baptiste will be serving up a special luncheon of chicken tenders, green beans, rolls, mashed potatoes and dessert to help teach your kids proper table manners. Participants will learn the proper etiquette of fine dining. Space is limited.

Build a Better World – Energy

Central Georgia EMC is coming to Henry County to teach kids about energy and all its different forms. Participants will learn the basics of energy, why we need it, it’s characteristics, and its history.

Chopped Challenge

What’s better than participating in Chopped (other than being featured on the television series)? Competing in Henry County’s own Chopped challenge AND getting the secret ingredient beforehand! Your goal is to build a better peanut butter sandwich and refreshing drink. Think you can handle that? Hopefully, you won’t be hearing the judges quote Chopped host Ted Allen’s famous line, “You’ve been chopped!”

Star Wars Night

This is a can’t-miss event for Henry County’s Star Wars enthusiasts. There will be a costume contest, and will be asked to try your hand at making Star Wars Origami, as featured in books by Tom Angleberger. Will you be joining the Rebellion or the Empire? Either way, May the Force be with you.

Hampton Adult Book Club

The Fortson Library branch is offering an adult book club that will meet every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. They’re currently reading Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline, but will read various books throughout the summer and discuss them.

Under Construction: Duct Tape Zippy Pouch

If you ever have to fix something on the fly and quickly, Duct Tape is almost always the answer. It’s versatile and quite useful, and teens will be taught how to construct books, pens, clipboards, notebooks, safes and more with Duct Tape.

Build a Better World – Ukulele

Central Georgia EMC is providing free ukulele lessons for ages six and up. This is a great opportunity to see if this is something you’d like to invest your time and money in without having to purchase the instrument. HCPLS will have 10 ukuleles for participants to borrow, thanks to the Georgia EMC. If you have your own, please feel free to stop by without registering.

Building Car Confidence

This class is perfect  for teen drivers (and for those of us who may need a refresher course). This class with Castrol Lube Express will teach participants how to change a tire, check your oil and how to have preventative maintenance practices with your vehicle. After this class you won’t even need AAA or Roadside Assistance!

Snap Circuits

Build sound-activated switches, sirens doorbells, and more by using Snap Circuits. Through this interactive learning class, participants will learn the basic concept of electronics.

Free Lunch at the Library

HCPLS is offering free lunch to anyone 18 and younger at ALL Henry County Library locations. See flyer for locations and times!

Baby Lapsit Storytime

This particular storytime is designed for children 0 – 24 months old. For a special treat, on June 13 at 10:30 a.m., Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us will be hanging out and wants to meet the kids!

Mumferd – Neighborhood Safety Show

Straight from Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre, Mumferd will bring a show about safety for young children.

Extraordinary Movie Talk

This program is part of the “Neurodiversity” initiative by the HCPLS. These programs are tailored for teens and young adult will developmental and learning differences. Following snacks and a movie, participants will discuss the movie, the movie’s main character, and other movies and books that are similar and/or fall under the same category. Attendees will vote between several movie choices.

Crafternoons

This summer, put your crafting skills to use by learning how to make book charm necklaces, cardboard forts, maps, word clouds, chalk poetry and artistic bottlecap masterpieces at Crafternoons, where all the supplies will be provided.

Digital Photography

There’s more to digital photography than Instagram and using your Smartphone to snap a photo. In this class, you’ll learn about a digital camera’s capabilities, what the technical terms mean, and how to give your photos more of an artistic vibe to them through angles, arrangements and posing.

Pizza and Building Your First Portfolio

When applying for jobs, it’s mind boggling just how much goes into creating a portfolio. You need a resume, cover letter, and for certain professions, even samples and clips of your writing, photography or design. This class is for people trying to branch out of their current careers or is just beginning to join the professional world. Participants will learn how to write resumes, ask for reference letters, write cover letters, and how to format all of the above. Enjoy free pizza while you’re learning.

Drawing Tips and Practice

This class for teens will teach tips and resources on drawing topics, including “clear things,” “light” and more. Whether you’re a serious artist or just like to create as a way to relax, this class is for all types of drawers.

Rock Decorating Contest

For children ages 2 through 12, there will be a rock-decorating contest that is judged based on creativity used to decorate the rock with the theme “Build a better world.” There will be three age categories: 2–5, 6–8, and 9–12, and participants can submit their designs during the month of June. Judging will take place in July. Prizes TBD.

CoderDojo McDonough

Participants will learn about computer science by building mobile apps, designing games, exploring “drag and drop” programming tools, and working with robotics. CoderDojo McDonough is a free program brought to you by developers in your community and the HCPLS. CoderDojo is a worldwide non-profit group founded to teach young people (ages 7-17) to code.

Women’s Self Defense Program

This empowering women’s program will teach women to take an active role in their own self-defense and psychological well-being. The class is offered to women 21 years old and up. As many students have stated “This program is a wise investment of your time.” The goal of this class is to reduce the occurrence of sexual assault crimes.

For a full list of programs with the exact dates, times and library locations, visit the HCPLS’ website’s calendar. You can follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all their programs and events throughout the summer and the rest of the year, and check out their insert in the Henry County Times for exact dates, times and locations..

On June 15–24, the enormously talented Henry Players will be bringing the family show Still Life with Iris to the Hood Street Art Center stage, and it promises to be a whimsical, magical and thoughtful good time.

Seasoned director Matthew Rodgers is taking his ten-year expertise directing for other companies—and being the theater director at Locust Grove High School—to make this play his first “solo journey” with the players.

Rodgers thinks this play is pretty special, and since it is a family show, he feels it’s important to choose a show that focuses on what it is to be a family.

“Still Life with Iris shows a picture of a family that I know, a single, working mother as the head of the house,” Rodgers said. “I love my mother and ‘Mom’ in the show only has to deal with Iris, and it’s hard for her…my mother had to deal with raising four boys—can you imagine?”

Still Life with Iris is “a fantastical adventure,” which focuses on Iris’ search for “home.” Iris is a little girl who lives with her mom in the land of Nocturno, a whimsical, magical place where the “workers” make all of the things we see during the day—leaves, trees, rain, thunder, etc.—overnight. The “rulers” of Nocturno are “The Great Goods,” who have the best of everything—thus, since Iris is such a great little girl, they bring her to their “Great Island” to be their daughter.

In Nocturno, memories are not kept in the mind, but in the people’s coats. So to help ease the hurt of separation, the Great Goods remove Iris’ coat, leaving her with no memory of her home or family.

Only Iris has a single button from her coat, and uses it as a clue to free herself from the Great Goods—and makes a lot of quirky friends along the way, including Annabel Lee and Mozart.

This family play shows her journey home, and it explores how the loss of one’s past can steal your future—because our past defines who we are. With her new friends, Iris is able to discover the rest of her past, in addition to revealing something wonderful that changes her future.

“This is a show isn’t what you’d expect out of your typical theater for youth piece,” Rodgers said. “It’s got something for everyone, and to be honest, I think there are some themes that will be lost on just young audiences…it’s a little darker—though still light and fun—than you might expect, and I think it’s a show that requires the whole family to sit down and consider how they approach these kinds of challenges.”

“[Still Life with Iris] revolves around the idea that hiding our problems or just refusing to talk about them will somehow make them magically go away, and that the truth is, problems just get worse the more we ignore them,” Rodgers said. “I think the message is clear—children are remarkably resilient in the face of heartache, and to deny them that growth only leads to more heartache down the road.”

Rodgers also finds fascinating that the playwright Stephen Dietz turned poetry into dialogue. And the protagonist is young and is respected by her elders.

“This is important to me, because her youth in the play is not her weakness, but rather adds to her strength,” Rodgers said. “She’s smart and holds space for herself…I think that’s something the youth in our community needs to see—and even more so, the adults in our community.

Rodgers hopes that the audience will enjoy a “fully immersive experience” when attending the show, and the set promises to be fun, whimsical and otherworldly.

“Detail has been our buzzword for the set design,” Rodgers said.

The June 15-17 & 22-24 shows will be at 7:30 p.m. and the June 18 & 25 shows will be at 2:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $18, children 12 and under are $15, and seniors 50+ are $15.

The Henry Players are offering a “Family Pack Promo,” where you can purchase 4 tickets for $40 advance online purchase with discount code 4for40, or 4 tickets for $48 at the door (must ask for promo).

You can purchase tickets through The Henry Players’ Facebook page.