A Visit from Shaw Industries


Last Tuesday, a team from Shaw Industries stopped by our agency to donate their time and efforts into cleaning up our greenhouse. They spent the morning clearing it out, placing new mulch around the outside, and replacing weeds with wildflowers. They also planted new vegetables in each of the garden beds in the surrounding yard.

We want to extend a big thank you to Josh Berry and his team – Ann Williams, Audrey Hoff, Curtis Christianson, Dana Curtis, Genia Kirby, Jenni Small, Joe Mastin, and Marty Moss – for taking time out of their day to help keep our greenhouse and garden looking beautiful! We appreciate all of your hard work!

Scroll down for more pictures of the project:

Recap: The 12th Annual SPADD Conference at Callaway Gardens

Happy Friday to you! I hope your week has been a good one.

This past Sunday, I traveled with Mary, our CEO, to Callway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA for the 12th Annual SPADD Conference. It was the perfect time of year to visit such a beautiful, beloved place, and we had a great time. The conference was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, so when we arrived on Sunday we walked around the Mountain Creek Inn and visited with some of the other attendees. It was a wonderful chance for me to get connected with people who have the same kind of passion we do about supporting individuals with disabilities. It seems like Mary knows just about everyone!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

On Monday, we got up bright and early for coffee and breakfast, and then we visited with the vendors, some of whom we’re already working with here at GCRC. Afterwards, Mary and I sat in on the Keynote Session, which was given by Joseph MacBeth. He was passionate about equipping direct support professionals (DSPs) with the tools they need to help individuals with disabilities make their own choices. Which seems like a no-brainer, but, unfortunately, there is still a good deal of ignorance – some of it simply a lack of knowledge and some of it an outright refusal to acknowledge the truth – about what rights these individuals should be given. Or, rather, what rights they inherently have.

“We have to allow people the dignity,” MacBeth said, “to make bad decisions.”

In other words, it’s not up to us, or to DSPs, to make their choices for them. It’s up to us to help individuals understand information, options, and consequences. And, like in any relationship, we have to trust that the people we care for will choose what is wisest.

Mary and I did have a few breaks during the conference where we were able to visit the butterfly garden and the country store. The butterfly garden is absolutely breathtaking! It’s like being in a fairytale.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

On Monday evening, during the General Session with the DD Services Panel, Mary did what Mary does best: she asked the tough questions. She told the panel that while their words and intentions were appreciated, she wasn’t hearing anything new. Their words were just rhetoric. And then she asked what the panel actually planned to do with the words they spoke.

Over the next 24 hours, I lost count of how many people approached her to say thank you for speaking up.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

My role this at SPADD was to get connected and serve on a public relations level. But, as always, there is so much more to it than just taking pictures and notes. In the end, SPADD was an opportunity for me to see what it’s like, on a personal level, to support individuals with disabilities long-term, and to experience, by proxy, how frustrating it can be for these organizations to hope for change when their own support is limited. It made me that much more thankful for Mary and for the incredible team we have at GCRC.

Until next time, I hope you have a great weekend!


Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol!

As you’ve probably seen on our social media, a group of us from GCRC attended the George Council on Developmental Disabilities‘ 17th Annual Disability Awareness Day at our state capitol last Thursday. It was rainy and cold, but we braved the weather and got to visit with some really amazing people.

Here’s a short video of our time at the capitol. Enjoy! And we hope to see you (and the sunshine!) there in 2016.

17th Annual Disability Awareness Day


New Series: Weekly Wrap Up


Happy Friday! It’s basically a frozen tundra here in Calhoun, and most everywhere else in Georgia, so grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable for the first post in our new series: “Weekly Wrap Up”. Periodically, we’re going to be sharing our favorite posts, articles, videos, and stories from around the web. We want to focus on the positive things that people are doing to impact their communities – whether that’s supported employment, equality for those with disabilities, giving, or speaking out for the voiceless in our society – and leave you ready for the weekend with a smile on your face. Now if only we could make spring come early…

The Duchess of Cambridge Has an Empowering Message for Children Facing Mental Health Stigma…And For The Rest of Us

Who doesn’t love Kate? She’s classy and beautiful and, most importantly, she speaks up about issues that matter. Diana would be proud.


Lawmakers Look to Rein in Alternative Diplomas

We’re glad to see that members of Congress are considering the educational needs of students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis and also reviewing the impact alternative testing could have on their futures.


Autistic High School Student Mikey Brannigan Receives Sports Illustrated Coveted High School Athlete of the Month Award

“You can do anything you want. You have it inside you.”


Inspiring TED Talk from Barbara Arrowsmith on Childhood Learning Disabilities and the Neuroplasticity of the Brain

“Our brain shapes us. It makes us uniquely who we are.”


Like our list this week? Share it with your friends using #GCRCWeeklyWrapUp! And be sure to connect with us on Twitter and Instagram @GCRCOfficial.

Meet GCRC: Melissa Bagnoche, Quality Compliance Director

MB 2

It’s Friday again and you know what that means…another installment of our “Meet GCRC” series! Today, we’re proud to introduce you to a woman of many talents, our lovely Quality Compliance Director, Melissa Bagnoche. Melissa is involved in a number of projects and teams both here at GCRC and in a variety of community service organizations. She gives so much of herself and we are grateful for her hard work!

Hello! My name is Melissa Bagnoche and I have worked at George Chambers Resource Center since January 25th, 2011. My background is actually healthcare and I worked as a Radiologic Technologist for 10 years prior to starting my career with George Chambers Resource Center. I left Radiology because of the long commute I was making to Atlanta each work day. I decided to apply for a part-time position as a Receptionist at George Chambers Resource Center while my daughter was in school. I then became full-time as the Administrative Assistant. I am now the Quality Compliance Director. I am the Chair-Person for the Quality Improvement General Committee and also the UM/Peer Review Sub-Committee. I am the Vice-Chair for the Training Sub-Committee and the Policy & Procedures Sub-Committee. I also serve on our Board of Directors. I am a member of the Kiwanis Club of Calhoun and serve with Wendi, our Social Media & Public Relations Specialist, as a representative from George Chambers Resource Center at the Kiwanis Meetings. I honestly feel I have not only found a career that certainly has changed my life, but also a second family in the staff and the wonderful individuals we have the pleasure of serving each day. The individuals we serve literally teach me something new about life each day and inspire me to be a better person.


Outside of work, I live in Adairsville with my husband of 25 years, Shawn. We have one beautiful 10-year old daughter named Madilyne and she is the light of both of our lives. My husband transferred with his company thirteen years ago from Terre Haute, Indiana to Cartersville, Georgia. We bought our home in Adairsville three months after the move.   have an amazing family in Indiana and Arizona that I miss dearly, but we have no plans on moving anywhere else. We are home!

If you want to connect with Melissa, you can send her an email here or follow her on Twitter.

Meet GCRC: Brandy McConnell, Program Services Director

Brandy Happy Friday! It’s time for another installment  in our “Meet GCRC” series and, today, we are  proud to introduce you to our fabulous  Program Services Director: Brandy McConnell.  Brandy is stylish and sweet and we can always  count on her to provide some comic relief  when work gets too stressful (because, let’s  face it, even the best jobs have hard days,  too!). Most importantly, Brandy keeps our  services in line with the goals we have set for  this organization and she ensures they will  truly benefit the individuals we support.

Hi, I’m Brandy McConnell, Program Services Director for The George Chambers Resource Center. I have been a part of the GCRC family since August 2002. I began my career as an instructional aide, next as a CNA, and further on down the road I began working with Supportive Employment before splitting duties as a Program Coordinator. Now I have the fun task of overseeing several programs under the Medicaid Waiver and State Funded Programs. I am currently working towards receiving my Bachelor’s degree from Shorter University so that one day I can push my boss out of the way and have a new title as CEO (by the way, I know Mary would find this very funny).

I really enjoy the work I do for GCRC; it is not only is fulfilling, but it also has helped me to be able to work with my son, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. I am proud to say that I am the mother of three teenagers who are my pride and joy. My daughter Shasta is a junior, my son Ashton is an eighth grader, and my son Dorian is a freshman. I would love to bore you with interesting things, such as my hobbies, but I really don’t have any to give you; however, I will say I am a true southerner who loves to sip her sweet tea and watching countless hours of one of football, one of my favorite past times.

If you’d like to get connected with Brandy, you can send her an email here. Thanks for reading! We hope you all have a great weekend!


Meet GCRC: Joan Miles, Financial Officer

IMG_6974Happy Friday! And thanks for reading along with us on this series as we showcase the people at GCRC who keep our organization running smoothly. Today, we are proud to introduce you to Joan Miles, our Financial Officer. Joan is funny, smart, and kind, and her engaging personality makes her a joy to work with each day. She is primarily responsible for keeping GCRC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, fiscally compliant, transparent, and efficient. She is vital to this organization and we are so grateful for her!

Read more about Joan below:

Hi I am Joan Miles.  I have been with George Chambers for almost 12 years.  I started as the Transportation Coordinator and, a year later, I accepted the position of Business Manager. I now hold the position of Financial Officer. I love my job!  I get so much joy from sharing time with the people in our services. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my children: Tayler, (yes, “Tayler” with an “e”), Kathryn, Zach, and Jackson.  Jackson, my youngest, will graduate from Sonoraville High School this year, leaving only my other babies – Corbin and Dewey, my two father and son Yorkies, as well as Hershel, a Havana Brown cat I rescued from the Gordon County Animal Shelter – to keep me company. In my free time, I also enjoy working out, swimming in the summer, and sitting by the fire on cold nights.
all of us 22
The other babies
If you want to connect with Joan, you can send her an email here.