Short Takes: February/March 2018

The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Augusta!

Five Allstate agency owners and financial specialists from the Augusta area recently came together to secure a $5,000 Allstate Foundation Helping Hands® grant to benefit Westobou.

Matthew Banks, Tony Barr, LJ Brown, Abu Khan and James O’Neal earned $1,000 each for Westobou by cleaning and painting the nonprofit’s local facility. Allstaters also volunteered at their Springboard Festival, worked in concessions and set up games for adults and children. The grant will support Westobou’s mission to build community and inspire cultural change through engaging, creative and thought-provoking artistic experiences.

“As small business owners and community leaders, Allstate agency owners, financial specialists and licensed sales professionals see firsthand the opportunities and challenges facing the communities they serve,” said Bob Holden, Allstate field senior vice president. “Giving back is core to who we are, which is why we’re proud to volunteer and raise funds to improve the lives of people across Augusta.” Westobou is one of thousands of organizations this year to receive Allstate Foundation Helping Hands grants and supports organizations addressing domestic violence, youth empowerment, disaster preparedness, hunger and other causes.

For more information, visit                                      


Insider’s Tip:

New YMCA location

When you become a member at the Riverfront YMCA in Downtown Augusta you have access to all ten branches throughout the CSRA. This new location offers an up-close view of the Savannah River from atop the Riverwalk. Work out with a Les Mills group exercise class, hang out on the Patio Member Lounge or relax in the sauna. This new location offers yoga on the Riverwalk, Barre Fitness, a 3,000-square foot outdoor padded workout area, and the CSRA’s only Hoist Modern Age Multi-Station w/kettlebells, battle ropes, free and selectorized weights. There’s something for everyone at the Riverfront YMCA.



The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) is a non-fiction book by American author Rebecca Skloot. It was the 2011 winner of the National Academies Communications Award for best creative work in helping the public’s understanding of topics in science, engineering or medicine.

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor woman with a middle-school education, made one of the greatest medical contributions ever. Her cells, taken from a cervical-cancer biopsy were the first immortal human cell line -“immortal” meaning cells they can grow indefinitely and be frozen for decades, divided into different batches and shared among scientists- and her cells have been essential in developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.

In February, Augusta University, in collaboration with Paine College and the Columbia County Library, will host Skloot and members of the Lacks Family for several events around the CSRA. The first event takes place at the Columbia County Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7, featuring a moderated conversation and Q & A session, followed by a reception and book signing.

The next day, Paine College will host the Lacks family for a meet and greet at Candler Library at 11 a.m., with lunch being served. The final event will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Lee Auditorium on the AU Health Sciences Campus, featuring a moderated conversation and Q & A session, followed by a reception and book signing.

Critical reception for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been largely favorable with Lisa Margonelli reviewing in The New York Times Book Review, “Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about “the facts.” Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful.”

For more information, visit                   





Why Go?

Sweep your Valentine off his or her feet with a romantic getaway to the Big Apple. Declare your love and venture along on sweet city escapades, nibble chocolates after a couple’s massage, cruise the moonlit Hudson River or star-gaze from the terrace of a penthouse suite. When it comes to love, the sky’s the limit in NYC.

Where to Stay?

Hotel Gansevoort
The Valentine’s Day package at the Hotel Gansevoort is equal parts sweet and sexy featuring roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and the classic game of Twister. You can spend the day lounging at the heated outdoor rooftop pool or enjoy dining at Gansevoort Meatpacking’s premiere American eatery, The Chester or enjoy The Plunge Rooftop Bar and Lounge where you can take in the 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline and views of the Hudson River while enjoying innovative, refreshing cocktails.

Conrad New York
Located in Manhattan’s famous Battery Park City, Conrad New York is in close proximity to some of the city’s most iconic landmark neighborhoods, including TriBeCa and SoHo. Conrad New York features a spectacular atrium and 2,000 pieces of stunning artwork on display throughout the hotel, providing an elegant escape from the bustle of the city.

You can explore Manhattan from the Financial District and visit the Statue of Liberty, the National 9/11 Memorial Museum, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, all easily accessible from the hotel. If you prefer to relax at the hotel, enjoy the private green roof and seasonal rooftop bar with stunning views of the New York Harbor or let your hair down and dance the night away in the 6,200-square-foot Gallery Ballroom.

Paper Factory Hotel
Paper Factory Hotel has defined the ultimate New York City boutique hotel experience. A radio manufacturing factory in 1920s, a paper factory in 1970s and a 123-room hotel in 2010s, the hotel’s design draws on the building’s past, combining raw elegance in opulent and fashion- forward suites. Loft-like guestrooms feature industrial-chic design and the property also hosts a top-tier restaurant and bar, artisanal coffee and pastry bar and an outdoor terrace and gazebo. Its the New York of modern yore, a mecca for the world’s trendsetters in fashion, food and art.

Where to Eat?

Your eating choices in New York City are limitless. Want a 15-course tasting menu at the latest trendsetting restaurant? A porterhouse for two at an old-timey steakhouse? A plateful of Chinese dumplings? No worries, the city that never sleeps has thousands of places to dine featuring cuisines from all around the world.

IL Mulino New York
Benvenutti! Uptown? Downtown? Long Island? Wherever you are in the city, IL Mulino New York is there too. This is the alpha of spots where minimalist elegance comes to life in the epitome of an Old New York Italian hangout. For over thirty years, this flagship restaurant remains top rated in New York’s elite dining scene. With an emphasis on authentic preparations from Abruzzo, Italy, delivering farm-fresh meat, with exemplary service in sleek surroundings. (If you are sticking to the South this Valentine’s Day, Trattoria Il Mulino in Nashville, Tenn. is a spinoff of NYC’s famous Il Mulino restaurant where Executive Chef, Thomas Cook, draws upon his experience to add a delectable experience. Be sure to try the Jumbo Shrimp Francese, world class wines and to die for deserts. www.

Keen’s Steakhouse
An iconic hotspot delighting hungry New Yorkers since 1885. A clubby chophouse rich in history with ceiling beams that are lined with old tobacco pipes that belonged to a lengthy roster of icons, including Theodore Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody and John Barrymore. The menu keeps in line with the old-school appeal so you can channel a steak dinner from bygone eras with Iceberg Lettuce Wedges, Oysters Rockefeller and the legendary, signature bone-in Mutton Chop or King Cut Prime Rib, with cheesecake, creme brulee or a butterscotch sundae for desert.

What to Do?

Broadway Musicals
Of course Broadway is the bright beating heart of NYC so no visit to this city is complete without experiencing the rousing entertainment available in Midtown Manhattan’s Theatre District. There are dozens of historic venues and some top romantic picks include: Once on this Island—a modern, socially-aware fairytale musical based on both Romeo and Juliet and The Little Mermaid.

You can see Phantom of the Opera Broadway Musical, a 1988 Tony Award Winner set
at the Paris opera house where a beautiful soprano becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius which is sure to delight or catch Chicago Broadway Musical, New York’s most sexy and sultry Broadway show.

Profess your love at Times Square
There’s no better place to say “I love you” than Times Square, the Crossroads of the World. Whether it’s through a surprise proposal, actually saying “I do,”renewing your vows or simply snapping a photo of you and your beloved, the Red Steps is the place to shine. Learn more about the 10th Annual Times Square Valentine Heart at

See Andy Warhol
More than 30 years after his death, artist Andy Warhol continues to pop up everywhere. Warhol predicted the intersection of culture, image and 15 minutes of fame, but the artist won’t have to share a single minute of the spotlight, much less 15 of them, at the Whitney Museum of American Art featuring the Andy Warhol Film Project. The films are among the most significant works in his career and catalogues Warhol’s massive film collection, investigates its history and preserves all of the films in conjunction with a program of scholarly research and publication with the Museum of Modern Art.




Kate Sasnett

Kate Sasnett serves as the Augusta Associate Partner for Soiree Catering & Events based in Atlanta. Before starting Soiree with Chef and Partner Mary Hataway in the Spring of 2004, Kate had over six years of experience as an event planner. Throughout her career, Kate has worked with many VIPs, such as President George W. Bush, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Jane Fonda, Elton John, Usher, Ludacris, The Backstreet Boys and many more.

With discretion and client confidentiality always top on the list, Kate shares some on working with Sean Penn, “Working with his family was one of my first encounters with an entirely Vegan family. This was before gluten- free and vegan were common requests. Now, specialty menus for dietary concerns are more common than ever.”

Kate’s keen passion for exquisite events soon turned to private event design and weddings and in 2004, she received her designation from the Association of Bridal Consultants as a full service bridal consultant. Since starting Soiree, Kate has planned and designed the most stylish events for the Southeast’s finest.

As an Augusta native, Kate quickly came to the conclusion that Augusta seemed like a logical fit when desiring to expand Soiree. “After many years of successful business in Atlanta, I became so busy that I was not able to focus on wedding planning anymore…I was too busy running the day to day aspects of the business with an average of 8 events a day. One of the main reasons that I wanted to bring Soiree to Augusta is so that I could get back to my wedding and event planning roots. We offer event catering, event design and event and wedding planning.

After almost 15 years of living in Atlanta, I was thrilled to come home and bring Soiree with me. We have gotten an incredible response from the Augusta community and we look forward to working in Augusta for years to come. We partner with local vendors and concentrate on what vendors are the best fit for our brides and clients, but I am always happy to promote other local vendors. There is some incredible event talent in the CSRA.”

Kate says one of the main things that sets Soiree apart from other companies in the catering division is, “Mary, my partner, is a classically trained, well respected French chef. At one time, she had one of the most successful female owned restaurants in the Southeast so all of our food is our own custom recipes and restaurant quality food. We also run our catering kitchen much like a restaurant kitchen so that there is an element of consistency to our product. All of our executive chefs on our chef team have been with Mary since the beginning of Soiree and most are hold overs from her restaurant days. We have the best work environment; we are truly one, big family.”

In addition to catering, Soiree offers a full line of other services. Kate explains, “People do ask often.. “Do I have to use you for catering if I use you for planning or event design?” Absolutely not! We offer wedding planning separately, but it is an easy flow when we have our catering division working with us. When it comes to catering, we do not have a minimum or maximum, we can do something as simple as a drop off dinner for 5 or a gala for 1,000. We have the inventory and the ability to service up to 5,000 guests in one day.” For more information, visit

Article appears in the February/March 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

6 + 5 =

RSS Augusta Magazine’s Front Porch

  • Episode 11: Jay Jefferies
    Jay Jefferies stops by to deliver the weather and much more!
  • Episode 10 - Nesia Wright
    We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nesia Wright, owner and CEO of the Georgia Soul Basketball Team. Ashlee and Nesia discuss life as the owner of a basketball team, retirement and more.
  • Episode 9: Venus Morris Griffin
    Venus Morris Griffin, one of the top real estate agents in the Augusta area, stops by our front porch to talk about her success and her upcoming book. This episode is sure to set a fire in you to go for your dreams!
  • Episode 8: Michael Romano
    Michael Romano, self-proclaimed carbohydrate king and executive pastry chef for Edgar's Hospitality Group stopped by our front porch to chat with Ashlee.


Previous Issues

Related Articles

Lift Every Voice

Lift Every Voice

Black residents of Augusta and the surrounding area have been singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for more than 100 years in churches and other places.



Spectacular Lights With millions of Christmas lights in the shapes of American flags, the Armed Forces, castles, characters and more, Lights of the South is the perfect family entertainment for the Christmas season. They also offer marshmallows for roasting, hay...