Generic Scope of Work – Denise Berry Fundraising Solutions, LLC.

Scope of Work – Development of Basic Fundraising Program

Goal of the agreement:

The consultant will work with ________________ Senior Staff, office staff, Board members, volunteers and marketing consultants to produce and implement a 12-month fundraising plan for the Foundation.  The fundraising plan will provide tools to reach the fundraising goal set by the Executive Director and Board of Directors and will include strategies for corporate, individual, online, matching, and end of year gift goals.

Objectives/Deliverables of the Agreement  

The consultant will provide the following:

Tasks: to incrementally grow corporate funding over the next few years: 250,000, 550,000 and 750,000 from 2015 to 2018, respectively.  Prioritize top 1% of donors so that we may aggressively cultivate and delight this special group.  Develop creative, compelling fundraising marketing collateral (print, web, social media) with consultants.  Assist in building portfolio of at least 10 beneficiary stories per contact.  Send individualized letters to top tier donors.  Identify, rate and cultivate potential annual and planned giving donors using WealthEngine and other available research options.

Write copy for and develop marketing for e-mail blasts, website banners, online posters and other tools to attract ______ new donors.

Develop and make readily available to all staff all templates and processes to enable efficient fundraising (i.e., bank/giving templates; donor recognition processes).


The consultant will provide weekly reports for the Executive Director, Chairman of the Board, and the Board of Directors consisting of progress made on established fundraising metrics (numbers of donor calls made, follow up visits/appointments, gift pipeline reports, and and new donor information, as well as progress achieved in the ongoing cultivation and progress of currently outstanding corporate proposals.  During the height of the year-end fundraising season (September-December) the consultant will provide twice weekly reports.  In the initial weeks of the project, the consultant will assess organizational assets, and perform an assessment of the organization’s strengths, needs and risks.

Timeline. The project will commence on _______ with an initial meeting at organizational headquarters.

Tasks and Deliverables:

Resources Needed:  Access to in-office laptop-printer, telephone-minimum 2 days weekly

WealthPoint annual subscription for donor research – 3,500.00

Online access to SharePoint donor database

Access to all budget and Board reports/strategic plan

Salary Requirements:  $40,000

Total Estimated cost of project: $44,000

Fall 2015: Four Legged Fun in Atlanta

Yes it’s true, dear readers…we are almost into FALL 2015! This means….an even greater of plethora of things to do in the city and beyond with your four legged friends.  I promise-there will soon be a snap in the air and the crackle of leaves underfoot-and you’re going to want to get out there with your cat, dog or horse and revel in the glory of it all.  I can’t cover it all here, but below are the must-do highlights!  Get out your smartphone and your calendar and save these dates, or Trigger, Killer or your ever-so-slightly-grumpy cat will never forgive you.

Some of your cat’s most sophisticated brethren will be available for viewing at The International Cat Show’s Southern Sophisticats Show in Jekyll Island, Georgia at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, 75 North Beachview Drive.   Southern Sophisticats invites you to visit for a “Ghostly Good Time”.   It will be held October 10-11 2015.  The website,, has more information for cat fanciers.  That’s two wonderful things together: a beautiful place to stay on Jekyll Island and loads of gorgeous cats and anything a cat fancier could want for her favorite feline.wpid-2015-02-12-22.00.34.jpg.jpeg

On August 22nd from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., the 4th Annual Walk, Wag, N’Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run will be held.  This event is hosted by the Ahimsa House and benefits animal and human victims of domestic violence.  The admission is $30.00 through 8/16, $35 8/17-8/21, and $40 on the day of the event.  The 5K course is a USATF certified Peachtree Road Race qualifier for 2016 and using Chip Timing.  The course has flat to rolling hills on tree lined roads around the park with a downhill finish inside beautiful Lenox Park over the dam.

September 20th (1:30PM til ?)  brings the Bark in the Park, presented by Wag-a-Lot.  You can buy a special ticket for man’s best friend to come to the game with you.  Packages include a Braves themed dog bowl and a specified dog friendly play area at the ballpark.  For more information call 866-800-1275.  Combo tickets are $ crowned by leaves

Think you’ve heard it all?  What about this one-a swim day for doggies.  Did you know there’s a chance to get Barkley in the pool for the last swim of the summer?  Take him to Piedmont Park on October 10th, where he can swim to his heart’s content and make new friends before the pool is officially closed for the winter season.  Visit

Only in its second year running but still an enormous hit because of the three charities it supports, the Marietta Muttropolitan Pet Fashion show turns 2!  The Muttro Pet Model Tryouts will be held September 13, 2015.  Registration is now open!  Give your (well-behaved) four-legged friend a chance to show off his or her best look.  There will be a $5.00 suggested donation per pet, and this fundraiser benefits three excellent charities in 2015: Forgotten Paws, PAWsitive Supporters and W-Underdogs.  As if this wasn’t enough reason to attend, Dr. Lynn Bahr, DVM, of Dezi & Roo, will be a special guest who will have a Q&A session “Ask the Vet” and she welcomes your most vexing pet behavior questions!   Marietta Muttro is a 100% volunteer-organized event.

A little bit about these charities:  Forgotten Paws is a charity that spays and neuters, finds forever homes for pets who were left behind, rescues animals from dangerous situations (i.e. a pet living with a hoarder or living in a car), and even places pets cross-country to make sure they get their perfect forever home!  They also transport the pets as far away as New Hampshire, California and Texas!  These folks definitely go above and beyond, doing whatever it takes to improve the quality of life for our best friends.  PAWSitive Supporters is a charity which supports Cobb County’s homeless pets and shelters.  These fine folks provide low/no cost spay/neuters to Cobb County residents.  Currently they are focusing on this goal.  As of 4/23/15 they have fixed 76 total (22 cats, 54 dogs) through their FIX Em’ Free program.  Finally, W-Underdogs is a Peoplestown Youth program that supports positive exposure and instills compassion and ethics through rescuing local in need.  They do a fantastic job involving children and the local community to educate about pet rescue issues.  Well done, Marietta Muttropolitan and Happy Second Birthday!

Horse lovers want to have Fall fun, too so here are a couple of top events: The Georgia Dressage & Combined Training Association, Inc. hosts its Labor Day Classic I on August 29th and Classic II on August 30th.   This is the official qualifying competition for the 2015 Great American Insurance Group USDF Regional Dressage Championships.  There will be musical freestyle competition and so much more.  Spectators receive free admission and parking.

Don’t miss the 43rd Annual Southeastern Charity Horse Show from September 17 – 20, 2014 at the Georgia International Horse Park. It will feature over 300 American Saddlebred horses as well as Hackney and Harness Ponies, Roadster ponies and Roadster horses and is recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation. Over $30,000 in prize money and awards. Benefits the charities of the Kiwanis Club of Conyers.  It’s located in the Charles Walker Arena and admission is free.  For more detailed information, please visit and on Facebook at Southeastern Charity Horse Show.   Contact: Barbara Goda 770-475-1244 or George Anne Nash 770-475-1867.



No listing of Fall Festivals would be complete without mentioning the Blessing of the Pets, one mile northeast of Atlanta on September 26, 2015 (10:00-11:30 am)  which includes free pet snacks, portraits, bandanas, and parking in Midtown, Atlanta.  Bring your scaly ones, furry ones or feathered ones-just make sure they’re crated or leashed.  This is a block south of the Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta, North Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Hey, our animal friends could use a little help from above, too, no?  Your contact for this is Kay Carlson, 404-875-0431,

OK, now that you have the scoop, get out there and crunch some leaves with your animal friends!  We hope to see each of you at one or all of these great events.   You’ll see some folks from from Deceased Pet Care at some of these great events. Visit our website for more information at or “Like” us on Facebook.


What is heaven like?

I know God will show unconditional love. I know God will show us the many ways He practices an unconditional love. This mighty force powers the Universe. Let us see how we can join the Creator and wield His awesome force. Yes, we will go into the goal-after all, we have forever to learn.

Many questions I have heard about heaven are like the one I heard about meeting people we knew on earth.  For example, how will we recognize the individuals we encounter?   Will they appear just as we remember them on earth or will we see them in a new dimension?  What changes will I notice in my wife Mildred…one of the few people closest to me on earth.  I believe she will radiate love and affection differently from anyone else  I’ve  known.

And what of the new faces that will stand out when we see them?  I believe it will show that unique feature given each of us as we pass from earthly existence to a heavenly one.  We were not designed to have a permanent home on earth but rather an eternal one in the ever expanding universe.  Expansion is accelerating all the time, creating a need for a vast amount  of humans necessary for co-creation.  At the same time, we rejoice with the Creator in the never-ending process.

On earth, I wondered how God could always be with us wherever we were in the universe at the same time we needed Him. Omnipotent-omnipresent. And it came to  me that He is in everything and every place that exists.

The wonderful news is that when we join him we have the same characteristics.  As the universe expands our knowledge records the event.   Now we adjust to a lifestyle based on endless change, so limits or borders to growth, so that no matter how many people are born on earth there
will always be space to accommodate them.

And so we must adjust our parameters of life. Time is meaningless as a parameter. Life has always been and always will be in the future. All matter is eternal. We cannot see, for instance, that man has existed since some date in the past or in the future. It is accurate to say he lives in the present, since the future is endless.

How can we describe forever? Life here on earth is billions of years old and research pushing known existence dates farther back in time and no end to the future is in sight. How can we live, not knowing of beginning or end. We must accept the answer that the universe has always and will always exist and expand. The universe is our existence so that we were always and will be so forever.

(The following should be on the book jacket cover as your introduction) You, the reader, may be wondering as you read – who is this Sidney Berry and why on earth would he have been selected to write this book? What were the reasons for his choice? I have asked myself this question many times. Perhaps because of a lifelong interest in human growth and development and an insatiable thirst for more answers was my guide in selecting jobs, Education, writing and asking questions, all the while working on a goal to know all that there is to know about God and the ever expanding Universe.

Sid has the honor to serve as Adjunct  Professor at Georgia State University and design and operate an off campus undergraduate class at The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.  Sid managed the Center’s Employee Development Program.  He served as the Lay Associate Minister at Belvedere United Methodist Church, and later founded and developed two personal businesses: Sid Berry & Associates Management Consulting Corporation and American Institutes for Management.  Sid worked with a luxury home development company with his brother John Berry in Watkinsville, GA.

He also served as an Economic  Developer for 20 NE Georgia  counties for the NE Georgia Planning & Development Agency.  Sid’s last position held was Coordinator  of the Faith, Hope & Charity Recycle Thrift Store in Ellijay, GA.

On a more personal level, Sid has interviewed and mentored hundreds of persons towards success.  In the course of caring for his wife Mildred for over ten years he has met and talked with a large number of medical health personnel, other patients and their family members.  These experiences have given him a broad base of knowledge on matters related  to health and healing.

Fortunately he has intimately known a former resident of Heaven-his wife of 64 years, Mildred.  He was with Mildred as she experienced an out of body sensation when she was in her early twenties and going through a dangerous childbirth.

Mildred was being interviewed by a representative from Heaven.  When I asked Mildred  “what is going on?” she replied “A decision is being made right now whether or not I enter heaven now or later.”  At that very moment she was dying from internal bleeding because of an incorrect diagnosis by the attending physician.   I ran to the nursing station and told the staff to get to her room fast, as she was hemorrhaging and severely at risk.  They then rushed into the room and began the treatment that would save her life.

I was privileged to meet and spend time with a man who had died and gone to heaven for a while until he was asked by some senior heaven leaders if he would mind returning  to earth for a little while to work on some problems needing his experience.  “I would rather not go back to earth,  he said, but the chance to do something back on earth appealed to me and so here am I.  How long eill I stay and what eas my specific  job were questions I asked at the beginning of each day   At times the question  was easy to answer and at others I never knew if my response was justified.  That’s  the way heaven is working for me.  I get this great feeling of service when I see positive results.  I also pray each day for God to let me return to heaven as soon as possible.   This method of communication  between  heavens’ residents seems so appropriate to me.  No formal interviews  or job descriptions or specific  objectives.  It will be up to the volunteer to observe what is happening,decide on an approach, and then solve the problem.   I have not seen ir heard from this pwrson in over ten years,but I feel for certain he was returned to heaven.

I am constantly awed and  thrilled with my assignment to write this book. What I do not know is whether it will be finished before I go to heaven.   I am 88 years old and a twice close to the time life on earth will end  and I will know exactly what heaven  is like.   The answer will come from the Creator.

What I am writing did not begin with a divine revelation but is emerging  from a life long intent in human growth and development.  This interest  can in turn be characterized by putting a giant puzzle together piece by piece.  How exciting  ut is that a heavenly way can be observed  by every person as a part of everything  material in the Universe.

His ability to be omnipotent omnipresent is easily understood if we remember he always has been and always will be and a piece of spirit is in every cell of everything existing now and the universe and for the future. Early and my Christian development I kept asking how is it that God can be everywhere in the universe at one time. The fact that he is and will always be because he designed it that way.  His ability to be omnipresent  and omnipotent is easy to understand if we remember He always has been and always will be and a piece of Spirit is in every cell of everything existing now in the Universe and destined for the future. Early in my Christian development I kept asking, how is it that God is everywhere in the universe at one time. The fact that He will always be because He designed it that way. I hope to describe this more fully as a book unfolds . For now, think about his unconditional love for us human beings. We hear that nothing can separate us from him. Think about it-separating yourself from God is like separating oneself from something that cannot be separated.

However I can face every confrontation secure in the knowledge that nothing ir no one has ever, or will be able to separate me or any other human being from Him.  That is what heaven is like.

Each day begins and ends without fear because we can be secure that God is invincible and we exist by His grace.

There is no night and sleep is no longer needed, nor is food and drink    There is not any waste disposal are purification system so that heaven is without any contaminants.   where are no calenders, telephones, computers, televisions, schedules or transportation systems, power lines, roads, sidewalks or mailboxes.  No worries with power and water supplies, no bathroom, no kitchen!

There are only beautiful blue skies, oceans and your very own staying place with accommodations for meetings and gatherings.

Then there is the light: a soothing, all-encompassing element that causes you to always feel accepted, wanted and needed.  The light is of great significance.  In earth, those people involved in life-ending experiences are temporarily exposed to this same powerful light and are beckoned by its pull to glory.

My sweet wife Mildred actually experienced this light in two in stances of near death as I stood next to her, and many others write of similar experiences!

Dunwoody Community Garden-Paradise Rediscovered

If you live in or near the City of Atlanta and/or in one of its diverse, numerous communities, you have every reason to be proud of the great social work done in our town daily.   The Dunwoody Community Garden is one really big reason why. Tucked away in Brook Run Park in Dunwoody is a small paradise with a huge mission.

 This garden provides space for 92 numbered garden plots for folks to garden to their heart’s content; provides excellent nutrition to the homeless through a partnership with Malachi’s Storehouse at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and works with Boy Scouts, faith-based organizations, and community/business organizations to promote a focus on health/wellness, stress reduction, eco-literacy and social justice.

 Approximately 20% of this garden’s produce is donated to a food pantry in association with the Atlanta Food Bank. The garden partners with the City of Dunwoody Parks Department and is a member of the American Community Gardening Association.

Literally, I stumbled upon the garden as I was driving to visit my mother one day. I was astounded that it had been here since 2009 and I was just now discovering it; how beautifully kept it was, how assiduously people were gardening on the weekend, and how friendly everyone was. I spoke with Teresa Hennessee, Vice-Chairman for the Garden.  She graciously showed me around and introduced me to a few of the members: including Art Simon, the Garden’s Chairman.  Though they had been gardening all morning, they were all happy to stop to talk to me and share their experiences here.  Teresa commented that she loves looking at the level of innovation and artistry in each plot: how individual gardeners arrange trellises, or combine different plans/vegetables.

Everywhere I looked I saw the fruit of much hard work by many: neat rows of cauliflower, lavender, rosemary, salvia, fruit trees, and a stunning show of roses.  Theresa told me that at 9:00 am each Wednesday, 7 or 8 volunteers come to harvest vegetables and bring them over to St. Patrick’s Malachi’s Warehouse.  Every other week, folks are allowed to come over (without having to apply through a State agency for food) and take the nutritious food.  Teresa introduced me to another gardener,  Chrissy, who hails from Erie, Michigan, and learned the art from her parents, who learned it from their parents, who were farmers.  The level of expertise here is amazing!  Below, take a look at some of the beauty I found here:



Sign up for your very own plot and get your hands dirty to your heart’s content and meet other wonderful people who are doing the same thing.  Visit for more information if you are interested.  This entire enterprise is well-kept by individual volunteers, members, and a volunteer Board of DIrectors.  The Dunwoody Community Gardens organization also organizes educational and social events.

Who knew such a gem existed!  I am so excited that I found out about it,  as I never properly learned gardening from my green-thumb Grandfather Jim.  Perhaps, even for people like me, there is salvation and redemption to be found in the hush of this beautiful place.  Don’t take my word for it; go check it out for yourself-and be very, very proud.


For more information on Malachi’s Storehouse, please visit the below link:

The Cats and Dogs of Summer

Summertime and the living-is easy-so an old song went.  As much as you, your cat or dog may enjoy summer, don’t forget it’s a bit more challenging for them. wpid-20150122_073016.jpgDuring the summer our pets join us as we walk, bike, run, barbecue, go to the beach and have 4th of July parties. With all these joys, however, come some attendant risks: heat exhaustion, sunburn, tick/fleas, roundworms and heartworms, skin and ear infections, and other injuries.  Here’s help to combat some of the most common problems.

Dogs having their sun-day:  Occasionally the sun is not our friend, so to shave or not to shave is the $1M question. Canines also sustain painful burns and potential skin cancer. Our dog’s fur naturally regulates their body’s temperature in the heat of summer.  Therefore, shaving your dog interferes with this system. This is why vets recommend that you leave an inch of fur regardless. Some dogs are more susceptible: white dogs tend to have fair skin underneath all their hair and thus greater sunburn potential.  Pups with naturally thin hair and especially hairless breeds are considered at-risk for sunburn and skin cancer.  All dogs can sunburn on the belly, the nose, and the ears. Sunscreen?  Yes, but there is only one FDA-approved one; Epi-Pet Sun Protector.  A homemade concoction with essential oils and other natural ingredients can help (see the below link, DIYers and check out the list of foods to help sun-proof him ‘from the inside out’):

Provide shade for your dog and allow for plenty of shade breaks.  He’ll instinctively seek it out. Avoid walking him from 1-4:00 pm when the heat is highest.  Remember, if the asphalt is hot enough to burn your feet, it can burn his paw pads!   Apply sunscreen liberally to the sensitive areas and be on the lookout for sunburn signs with your pooch.  His nose ears and tummy will show overexposure first: dry, cracked skin and curling at the edges of his ears, constant scratching in tender places accompanied by a whimper, and pulling away if you try to pet him are signs-even fever from too much sun.  First aid of an oatmeal bath using lukewarm water and rolled oats ground into a powder can soothe the burned skin, or a few drops of neem oil added to his bathwater.   A dog’s signs of heat stress are heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting/diarrhea.  Normal dog temperature is between 100 and 103 degrees.  Over 104 is the danger zone ; 106 or higher-fatal.

Felines in the Sun.  How about shaving our feline friends?  According to Mark J. Stickney, DVM, clinical associate professor and director of general surgery services at Texas A&M University’s veterinary medical teaching hospital, cats have a pretty good built-in bodily temperature regulating system, and truly do not benefit from being shaved.   Kitty is NOT cooler temperature or fashion-wise just because you shave her to look like a lion.
imageIt’s far more important to keep her safe by allowing her to be beautiful just the way she is.  If she will be outside, sunscreen around her eyes, belly and on her nose will also help.


Cats don’t tolerate heat any better than dogs.  They can only get rid of excess heat by panting or sweating through their foot pads.  As their body temperature rises, the cat will suffer heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke.  Serious organ damage or death is the result of persistent high body temperature.  Signs are: restless behavior (trying to find a cool spot); panting, sweaty feet, drooling, or excessive grooming.  Escalation of heat exhaustion brings rapid pulse/breathing: redness of tongue and mouth, vomiting, lethargy, and a stumbling, staggering gait.  If high enough, your cat’s temperature will cause her to collapse and have seizures or slip into a coma.  Temperature >105=vet’s immediate attention.  Certain cat breeds have low heat tolerance, like short-faced (e.g., Persians) or obese cats.   Keep your cat inside on very hot days.

Fleas and ticks are especially bothersome for cats and dogs alike in summer.  Flea collars or good but topical prescription drugs are superior-ensure they have both.  Flea-proof your house if necessary.  Ask your vet about the appropriate products to use for your cat or your dog.  Some prescription products, such as Revolution (selamectin), not only kill adult fleas but can be used to treat ear mites and ticks, and helps to control roundworms and hookworms in cats.

Roundworms and heartworms enter your pet’s system through the pads on his or her feet (or in small animals he/she eats).  Dogs are natural heartworm hosts but cats are not, and once a cat is infected, there is no known cure-prevention is everything.  Foxes and coyotes, wild species which live in proximity to many urban areas, are natural heartworm carriers.  Protect your cat/dog by annual testing and give your pet heartworm preventive medicine 12 months a year.  Many heartworm preventives also control roundworms.  Ask your vet which treatment is appropriate.

Special Concerns:  Cats and dogs should always have cool water on hand and a cool, shady place to unwind.  It’s a sad reminder, but please please please do not EVER leave your dog or your cat in the car.  Take them inside with you or leave them at home in cool safety!  At the BBQ: don’t share these scraps with your dog or cat and avoid using charcoal briquettes, which can cause serious health problems for either from ingestion, and perhaps a case of perionitis.  Finally keep BOTH cats and dogs far away from firecrackers and remember to clean up the trash left behind to prevent accidental ingestion and possible death.

Summer can be challenging for our cats and dogs, but it doesn’t have to.  Be heat, tick/flea and roundworm/heartworm-aware, and Summer 2015 will be one of your best!

FailCon: Atlanta’s chance to learn from entrepreneurs


What if you wanted to start your own business, but wanted to avoid some of the most common pitfalls involved in doing so? You would attend FailCon! May 21st 2015, I was fortunate enough to do just that: hear from experienced entrepeneurs on what works, what doesn’t, and why. Friends of Failure sponsors General Assembly, Swarm Agency, Bartdorf & Bronson, Verse Brand Strategy,
Saunders Law Group, Nyra Group and Eventbrite hosted FailCon Atlanta 2015. FailCon is a refreshing premise: lessons learned + community accountability in sharing them. Amber Saunders, one of FailCon’s co-producers stated that “…we want to change the conversation on failure”.

Ironically, our Failcon began with a power fail at The General Assembly complex on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta, an emerging, beautiful and spacious multi-use business space that will soon boast a plethora of foodie restaurants However, the alert producers and General Assembly building staff quickly moved our gathering to another classroom and all was fine shortly thereafter.

Dana Severson, CEO of Startups Anonymous, and Kathleen Kurell of Fusion Advisors were our morning speakers. Using distinctly different styles, Dana and Kathleen alternatively challenged us, entertained with wit and candor while delivering important lessons and moved us to tears. While Dana gave us 5 rules of success and followed them up with 5 hard truths, Kathleen gave us a highly personal account of how her very different and impressive talents led her to, then away from the corporate world. She shared with us how business ownership “…helps us meet ourselves”.

The first half of the day was capped by a panel discussion on the definition of failure and proactive measures to minimize its fallout and maximize its advantages and an audience Q&A. Our panel was led by Jeffri Epps, Consultant Brand Planner with Latham & Company, and Brownell Landrum of DrawSuccess and Tia Buckham-White of Notre Internationale participated in a lively discussion. Brownell shared insights from one of her three books (“Five Reasons Why Bad Things Happen”) and how a restaurant business which didn’t go exactly as planned lled her to greater accomplishments and how to lead others to success. Tia discussed the essential entrepreneurial element of self-awareness and how her business helps those in leadership positions confront and rectify unealthy emotional patterns and other distractions that are prevent them from achieving success.

Swarm’s CEO Tim Ellis opened the afternoon session and outlined the stages of a business life cycle and the various iterations a new company goes through with them. This set the context for his discussions on his approach of having his team work with the client’s team to deliver an exceptional product.

Tim was followed by Kevin Sandlin, Founder of Atlanta Tech Blogs and General.Assembly Instructor. Kevin’s wryly self-deprecating expose of 7 past ‘start-up fails’ (strange business names, failure to let go of nonworking partnerships and a moving story of a personal failure),  made us laugh (a lot!) but also made us examine our own past personal and business actions simultaneously.

Brian Rudolph, Verizon’s Digital Marketing Leader was our final individual presenter. Because Brian has worked with many of the world’s largest brands (United Airlines, CVS) he has truly witnessed some epic online media fails. Some of the examples he shared will live forever in our collective memories for their bad taste, poor timing, or general cluelessness. His unforgettable anecdotal evidence perfectly illustrated his social media advice such as “right-time” vs. “Real-time” marketing.

Bronwyn Morgan and Bem Joiner from Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation led the concluding panel discussion that opened a frank discussion about income inequality in our city and entrepreneurship’s obligation to help alleviate it, and the political and economic realities that hinder progress.  Far from ending the conference on a negative note, this discussion opened up the energy and idea flow necessary to begin some of the really hard work ahead. Our discussion reconfirmed the necessity of individual citizens/business owners of participating as active and helping community members; if we all don’t legislate for change, progess can’t happen.

The Failcon presenters delivered many elements of some common themes: possibility and one’s faithfulness to it, the essential entreprenurial toolkit of passion, drive, self-deprecating humor, emotional and physical stamina, a tight “inner court”, and self knowledge. As I build my own business, I marvel at the toughness of those who have failed and then recovered, for “if you aren’t failing, you’re not succeeding”.   I hope to see this event grow in 2016 to proportionately reflect the large and diverse Atlanta entreprenurial community. If you’re one of them don’t miss the chance!


The Covington Depot 1934

As told to Denise Berry by Sidney L. Berry

Come back with me, to a little town named Covington, Georgia, on the back side of the railroad track that ran (and still runs)through it.  At that time, our family was father Jim, mother Ada, and three children:  Catherine, James and your author Sidney.

Life in Covington and many other locations in America at this time is tough.  There are no regular jobs, only temporary ones: one-of-a-kind, low-paying gigs.  Mother Ada and Dad Jim and constantly striving to make ends meet: meals of biscuits and lard are so common that we are all very surprised when there is anything else.  It is different with the children: they play on their swing made with a rope and an old tire.  One year was different: we all received new toys.  Sid’s was a bright shiny red wagon.  Brother James was more aggressive in play and told Sid, “I’ll make your wagon run faster down this steep hill.”  He did and after he sailed to the bottom of the hill, James crashed and ruined the new toy.

We moved a lot in those days, often when the rent was overdue.  Several different times we all showed up on Grandmother Berry’s or Grandmother Holley’s porch.  I can remember most of them and the experience was primarily pleasant.  We children never could decipher the pain behind the adults’ smiles: only years later did I learn that mother Ada suffered from pellagra.

Somewhere in the midst of the frequent middle-of-the-night packings and refugee escapes, and the treks back to the parental homes, something wonderful happened.  Jim entered a legal contract with the Atlanta bread company’s Colonial Bakery.  The furnished Jim with a new truck and a bread route.  Each morning at 3:00 AM Jim drove to the Covington Depot and loaded up his truck with bread, rolls, cakes and pies.  My father charmed the housewives on his route, in his true element as he hawked the baked goods to all who would listen.  His friends joked “Jim could sell a pair of pants to a corpse”.   Each day his route would cover 100 miles or so and he would deliver his products to a very pleasant and small country store.  My greatest thrill was riding with him to serve his route.  His rapport with owners was excellent and they bought any amount of his products without prior approval.

Not content with being an outstanding salesman, Jim teased his customers.  In one instance he bet a shop owner “I can tell you how many seeds are in this watermelon without cutting it”.  The owner agreed to the bet and Jim proceeded to drop the melon on the ground only to see it burst open.  Everyone laughed.  It was all in good fun, because Jim just wanted to see the smiles on their faces.

For once in her life, mother Ada was having the time of her life.  She loved the old rented house we lived in, with its outdoor porch.  She sang a lot in those days.  Her garden, chickens and ducks provided good nutrition for the family.  She was also our first teacher about Jesus Christ, Bible reading, and the old hymns.  Hearing the words to some of these is still a wonderful memory for me at 88.  All of the family was happy and enjoyed our life in Oxford, Georgia: a small town full of tidy homes, old growth magnolia trees, picket fences and among other things, a Junior College (now known as Emory University).

At this time I had a fun-filled life, including being a radio announcer in a Christmas Play at PalmerStone Grammar School.  I played hookey many days each month because the gorgeous warm days, blue skies and sense of adventure beckoned where the small cloistered schoolrooms did not.  I wanted all of my little friends to come visit me and I would do all sorts of things to impress one of them, including dipping my hair in road tar so that he would laugh.

Our school burned down one day-we never found out how or why.  Emory University allowed us to use their classrooms until the school was rebuilt.  I chuckle today at being a student at Emory at Oxford at 7 years old.  Not every day went well.  Once I could not stand to remain in the classroom, so I sneaked out on all fours and left the room.  A smooth exit, I thought.  When I was sneaked back into the classroom later, a teacher whacked me on the behind.

Unfortunately the time at Oxford which seemed as though it would last forever, was slated to disappear.  The storm clouds of life began to gather.  America was still in the Great Depression and many other countries were unstable and threatened with a bleak future.  My family was told to move to Atlanta because Colonial Bakery’s management decided the outlying areas like Covington were unprofitable.  Dad had a choice to be moved to Atlanta or look for another job.  His answer was simple because no other work was available.  He rented a house on DeKalb Avenue in Atlanta and moved us there, with the exception of Catherine, who chose to live with Grandmother Holley in Alabama.  The rest of us children adjusted well and welcomed the new adventure.

For Ada, our new adventure was a nightmare.  dad’s salary wasn’t enough to pay expenses.  Food was barely adequate.  There was little money for clothes, school and rent.  Mom tried to cope with the deficit by sub-leasing two rooms to a couple.  The couple soon found they were incompatible and were the source of many bad feelings.

Dad also struggled.  He was an excellent salesman in the Colonial Program but wasn’t skilled with paperwork and headquarters discipline.  He was actually learning to write properly as he had not attended school for many years.  When he was provoked he had a horrific temper.  A supervisor confronted him with a deficiency on Friday.  Dad’s temper flared, he cursed the supervisor, and he was fired.  Now it was Christmas Eve, and the family had no money for anything, especially Christmas gifts, and there was very little food in the pantry.  Our family’s morale was very low; we were just plain sad and very frustrated.

The Inman Park Methodist Church was located less than a quarter mile from our house and previously the staff and church members learned about our family’s needs.  They responded to our needs by sending a very large contingent down the street that very evening, singing as they went, carrying Christmas gifts for all, food, and money.  They sang joyfully as they walked.  They even brought us a Christmas tree!  As quickly as it had settled upon us all, the gloom, even if just for a few minutes, lifted from our family’s faces.   My 8-year-old thoughts were: “I like these people.  They are having fun.  They have money.  I want to be one of them.”

This family boost led to Dad’s next job offer with Lee Baking Company in the West End of Atlanta and moving us to yet another rental house on Flora Avenue, Old Fourth Ward.  At this time Sister Catherine was still staying in Alabama, brother James was in his Junior High School year, and so am I.  Sisters Dorothy and Joan are in grammar school, and brothers Jack and John are not yet old enough for school.  Our family numbers seven.  Our humble Flora Avenue home, with its large oak trees and wooded back yard, served our family well for about a year.  A year later we moved across the street to a less expensive rental house.  By now brother James and I are earning spending and clothing money from our weekend jobs at A&P Supermarket in Little Five Points.  Now Sister Catherine has moved in, along with her young son Ronny and Cousin Ruby Cornelius.  Dorothy and Joan have moved on to Junior High School, and Brother Jack and Johnny are now in Grammar School.  As our family moves through its phases, the world is at War with Germany and Japan.

Good News: Antiageist Movement, Real Social Change

Its been a little while since I’ve written something that contains so much good news about real social change-about hope.  I am happy to break that long dry spell today.  I’ve  done a lot of networking in the last few months.   Socializing and connecting is so critical to success whatever stage your career may be at now. Besides you need to just to keep up with the hundreds of opportunities (career, social, philanthropic…)  going on daily in Atlanta!

Recently I went to the  EDGE Connection’s Champion Breakfast at Kennesaw State University and so encouraged by their community outreach and training to lift people out of poverty. Thankfully there is a burgeoning discussion now in the media about the new face of poverty and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Georgia  has a photography exhibit, Profiles of Poverty.   If you are curious, look up the revealing slideshow by Joeff David/Thomas Wheatley.  The faces of poverty look like mine- yours- your neighbors’.  I am impressed with their multi-faceted approach-teaching us to be entrepreneurs by providing the tools to do so.

I also can’t  encourage unemployed people enough to attend seminars such as Saint Anne’s Church Career Outreach or Roswell United Methodist Church. There are others in the area. Simple acknowledgement of your struggles as a human being and discovering your possibilities is very powerful.

I was also so encouraged to hear of a new radical anti-ageist movement courtesy of Jane Gross’ column:

Click to access cr-guide-final-iii-w-graphics-af-edits.pdf

If we want to change the paradigm of >50=exclusion, this is one of the great ideas to shift the status quo. However we need much more of it-yesterday. I urge you to repost this blog if you want to be this change that our children will thank us for when they too age.

I hope your Friday brings you hope and  possibilities dreams, and the realization that every second is a divine appointment…an opportunity to make something or someone’s life better than it is right now.  Peace and blessings to you all.

Whose story shall I tell?

I know I am here to tell and write stories. I have known this since I was 8 years old and kept a very detailed journal. No one ever really told me what a journal was, but instinctively I knew that I had to record how I felt about things and situations and people.

As I try to perfect my faith walk, I struggle with whose story to tell. The current job and writing market forces one to choose a field. I have never felt more torn. First of all, I am dealing with two aging parents, and there are millions like them and like me who face the same struggles daily. I can’t help but think that if people could only identify with others and access their solutions, that these challenges would not seem insurmountable.

Also, there are millions of veterans in this country, several of whom I know personally. Their stories are our history lessons and our moral.compass. If their lot is ever going to change, we must allow them to expose the reality of their war experience. No one can comprehend their inner dialogue unless they have lived in the reality of war. It is very easy for people to romanticize and glamorize those who participate, because that is the way they deal with the harsh realities. Nothing could be further from the truth. The soldiers I know are uncomfortable with the title “hero”. They carry an enormous burden of guilt, shame, pain and trauma.

Finally and most importantly there is the daily question of growing in one’s faith. I do not state the faith itself as the question, for myself it is a fait accompli. However, everyday I ask myself questions. I ask how shall I follow You, I ask, to whom do You wish me to speak. I ask, what would You have me do? There is also a question of intercessory prayer for others. All of these subjects need to be addressed so that the maximum number of people can benefit from them.

As if this were not all enough, the market is flooded with would-be writers, people who want to tell stories, and even specific groups around the subjects I already mentioned. The obvious answer is to research everyone currently writing on these things and contact them. This is something I will do on a local and national level.

Another dream of mine is to have a consortium of such writers who are a positive writing force for the astounding amount of good that is being done in the world daily. The current news paradigm is, if it bleeds it leads. I want to reverse this paradigm. I know that is something that can never be done in my lifetime, I know all I can do is an attempt, but we must try. Nothing will ever change unless we try.

I am putting some wonderful links below so that you can sample some of the good that is already out there. If this blog has changed one person’s mind, then I have begun to do what I set out to achieve. If you are a writer, journalist, public speaker or any other individual who wishes to join me in this paradigm shift, please comment below.. I am looking forward to hearing from all of you, because I know you are out there. I cannot possibly be the only one voice. Together we will be heard.

Jane Gross,The New York Times

Mark Crumpler, Atlanta, Georgia

Ann Voskamp

Samuel Freedman, The New York Times

The Call

What does it take to be a true friend? How do you know when you have one and how do you know if you are being one?

Today I needed my friend. Sunday-the day of the week on which it is absolutely the hardest to be alone; the day when (during the time before my parents’ health declined) all of my family gathered for dinner at the parental home in Ellijay.  Fast-forward five years of both parents living in a different facility.


It had been three days since I’d last seen them, and all I could think of was what my mother must have been thinking as she lay in bed hour after hour after hour….when the door opened, what was she thinking: “… have they come to change me- is it time for dinner?”   Or: “maybe it’s one of my daughters…”  How did she eat today? Did she use her hands or a spoon? Was she blue, staring out at the pelting rain outside her window, where the cats wandered? Her mother used to call our monsoons “the dismal drearies”.  Her hospice nurse had said two weeks before “She’s trapped in her own body now.  She hasn’t begun the decline yet-but when she does, it’s going to be steep-there’s no need to continue the speech therapy.”

It’s rained here in the South for over a week now.


There was no stopping that train-my thoughts turned to what my Dad was thinking.  Is he wondering why I haven’t called him back about getting his cell phone turned back on? Did he go eat dinner tonight with the guys as usual? I wondered if he was fixing a drink alone, trying to decide whether he would use his oxygen tank or not, and if when he got short of breath, he was wondering if it was going to be his last. Most of all, I knew he was thinking about his upcoming 88th birthday and visiting a Japanese restaurant.   I didn’t make any reservations yet, because I hadn’t had a chance to see him face to face; often several simultaneous details in a telephone conversation confuse him). The clouds hung heavy in the sky like my mood: grave and shifting with every thought. More than anything I wanted to go see Mom and Dad. I knew I couldn’t, I don’t have a car.  The pattern became unbearable…I needed some relief.

I called my friend down on the coastline.  After about a half hour I realized the time was ticking away and I said, “I’m so sorry I’ve done nothing but cry on your shoulder for about an hour.”  There was a sharp intake of breath on the other line, and then I heard, “What!  I can’t believe you even said that!  Did you hear what you just said to me?”  She asked me, “ you even know what a good friend you are? Do you even know how many times I have whined and cried on your shoulder? She said, “you have no idea of what a good friend you are.  Now, go write something light and cheerful about what a friend is, and while you are doing it, remember all of the things you do to be a good friend”.  After we hung up, corpulent robins and a huge orange and black Oriole bounced through the wet grass nearby.  I noticed a sheaf of papery, large bright purple blooms twining themselves around a neighbor’s mailbox as I walked through the neighborhood.  A sharp breeze blew in and temporarily, the clouds passed.  As they flew, the sun blazed out, knifed through my gloom, a glimpse as brief as it was glorious.  My shoulders relaxed…the mood turned, cares temporarily banished.

That’s what a friend is. That’s what a friend does. She understood all of what was said, and more importantly all of what was unsaid.  Listening-encouraging-giving a person themselves back, no asking, no regrets, and always there-whether the call is at 3am or 3pm.