Talk of the Town October 2021

Augusta Training Shop

Handcrafted snowflakes, colorful paper mâché ornaments, cross paintings, CaneLine jewelry and other unique gifts are not the only things that set the Augusta Training Shop (ATS) apart from other shops in Augusta. Their story is the main reason that they are unique.

The program, originally started by the Augusta Area Cerebral Palsy Society in 1947, emphasized a deep interest in the welfare of children with cerebral palsy (CP). After the society split in the late 1960s, the Augusta Training Shop started to move towards productivity and personal enrichment for individuals with CP.

Today, at the core of ATS are employees who are thoughtful, dedicated, loyal and hardworking. The focus is on quality craftsmanship, but more importantly, it’s their customer relationships that count. “We are more about fostering friendships and relationships with our customers and people who order with us,” said Executive Director Audrey Murell.

ATS provides a broad spectrum of opportunities for individuals with all types of disabilities.  Jobs include everything from seat weaving and metal polishing, to tagging and shipping, “We meet them where they are as far as their skills. We match their skills with the jobs we need,” said Murell. “Our employees are so talented and driven and dedicated and loyal.”

A common identifier of all the shop items is that an ATS employee has helped in the production, every sales tag showcasing a worker’s name and photo. The work done by ATS employees reflects their dedication and talent, which, in turn, gains them respect from their community and friends. Although ATS is a non-profit organization, employees contribute to the greater community by holding these jobs. With the help of ATS, they receive a lot more than just a paycheck. “We want them to enjoy being a contributing member of our workplace,” says Murell.

When asked about particular skillsets, Murell stated, “we try to accept them no matter what ability they possess. We meet them there and encourage them. Just because they look different doesn’t mean they are different on the inside, they have a ton to offer.”

While their products can be purchased online, the storefront is a great way for employees to interact with their customer base and grow relationships with people visiting the shop. The interactions inside the shop yield an incomparable joy for both the worker and customer, and it creates returning jobs for the employees. “We are actively seeking for people to put jobs in the hands of employees,” mentioned Murell.

Along with product sales and furniture restoration, ATS has two annual fundraising events, Derby Day and Bounty + Bottles.

“We rely heavily on the community for their support, we are here to ask for a hand up not a handout,” Murrell said.

At the end of the day, the goal of ATS is to provide a wonderful workplace for those with disabilities. Without the shop, a lot of families would be forced to rely on a caretaker or even cut out the possibility of a second income, which is hard to live without these days. “Our motto is ‘Different is Not Disposable’,” said Murell.

By providing work opportunities for those with disabilities, ATS is giving back to the employees while the employees share their beautiful services and talents with the greater River Region community.

(Photos by Hailea Boykin

Augusta Jewish Museum

“In Jewish history, there are no coincidences,” said Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and author of the 1965 autobiographical book “Night”. Perhaps this sentiment lay heavy on the hearts of the Augusta Jewish community in 2015 when the buzz on the streets was to demolish the original Congregation Children of Israel Synagogue and historic Court of Ordinary. Opened in 1869, the Synagogue of the Congregation of B’nai Israel is the oldest standing synagogue in Georgia, a fact that 146 years later caused Augusta’s Jewish community, led by then President Jack Steinberg, to rally their efforts to save these two historic sites.

The dedication by a coalition of determined citizens to attend every city meeting and protest the destruction of the buildings also proved things do not happen by chance or coincidence. Through hard work, persistence and commitment a renovation plan and project timeline were developed to lay a clear path toward the opening of the Augusta Jewish Museum. Steinberg devoted his time and attention to raising the funds needed for renovations, which are comprised of two main parts, the AJM Campus Education Center and the AJM Campus Cultural Center. Unfortunately, Steinberg passed in July 2019 before he witnessed the first renovations to the AJM Campus Education Center to discover that his efforts were not in vain.

On July 22, Historic Augusta and the Augusta Jewish Museum (AJM) held a mayoral proclamation and preview for their first complete phase of renovations to the long-standing Court of Ordinary building. Rabbi Jeshayahu “Shair” Beloosesky, D. Min. and Robert Klensin ordained the traditional mezuzah placement and blessing. Rabbi Emeritus from the Congregation Children of Israel also joined them.

Restoration on the Court of Ordinary building began June 23, 2020, and preexisting tile flooring was discovered upon portions of the renovation. Now, the AJM Campus Education Center stands with a new portico, accessibility ramp and new windows and doors.

Though the AJM Campus Education Center is complete, the AJM Campus Cultural Center in the Synagogue will continue to go through the funding and reconstruction process. The Board of Directors and members of the Jewish community plan to use the space for cultural event rental, offices, classrooms, a collection management center and additional museum exhibits.

With a goal of preservation and education, the museum will feature four pillars of history and culture that will appeal to all visitors. Jewish Community Contributions to the River Region, Jewish Practice and Traditions, Remembering the Holocaust, along with Israel the Land and Its People, will continue to remind us of the rich Jewish history here in Augusta.

Exhibits and special programs within the Campus Education Center are open to the public on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Tours may also be scheduled by appointment.

(Photos by Hailea Boykin)


Miracle Mile Walk

For Breast Cancer Awareness month, take part in University Health’s Miracle Mile Walk. With your help and support, all donations will go towards University Hospital’s Randy W. Cooper M.D., Center for Breast Health Services and the Women’s Wellness on Wheels mobile unit that provides free screenings to all women regardless of their financial situation.

Starting off at the Augusta Common on October 16, walk three miles with empowering women, their families and their support systems for the fight against breast cancer. To register or make a donation, visit

Freshwater Design Co.

New to Broad Street with a cozy feel, Freshwater Design Co. is serving up chic, handcrafted keychains, passport holders, leather wrapped candles, pet tags and more! As a studio and shop, the sister duo, Brianne and Danielle (along with their small team of women) handcraft genuine leather and acrylic keychains along with accessories, jewelry and decor. This is their first brick-and-mortar storefront where they create, burn (yes, burn) and sell all of their unique designs.

Even with a small team, all of their leather and acrylic goods are made to order. Some have a full custom option if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for. There are also custom keychains, tags or wall art. Each design is made in-house and then burned onto leather using their industrial laser. Variations due to burn darkness make each piece unique, including a colored or patterned velvet backing. There are some store exclusives, like Turkish pillows and hand wrapped horseshoes, that you won’t find in their online shop.

With a lot in store, their beautiful, witty, nerdy and fun designs are sure to find a perfect home with someone who loves local, unique treasures.


Laughing With Laurel and Hardy

Harlem native Oliver Hardy began his film journey in his late teens while operating the Palace Theater in Milledgeville, Ga., alongside his mother. His early experience with comedy films inspired him to delve into the world of laughter even more, and in 1913 he began working for Lubin Motion Pictures in Jacksonville, Fla. Eventually, he started making appearances in silent shorts as a supporting actor or comic villain.

Though Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had a plethora of experience in the film industry they never worked together until appearing in “The Lucky Dog” in 1921. The comedic duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy officially became a team in 1927 and until the 1940s Laurel and Hardy was internationally known for their slapstick comedy.

Slapstick comedy is essentially over-exaggerated physical activity with use of props that turn into comedic mishap or unfortunate events. Laurel and Hardy often featured physical arguments that involved their cartoonish styled, slapstick violence, much of it not following a defined narrative and instead beoming a basis for multiple ongoing jokes.

Even if you don’t know much about slapstick comedy you may have heard or seen a wee bit about the renowned duo, whether you knew it or not. They’re most famous for the taglines, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into,” and Hardy’s, “D’oh!” The latter eventually become a trademark saying for the character of Homer Simpson in “The Simpsons.”

The Laurel and Hardy Museum of Georgia is the perfect place to dive into the lives of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. At any given time, the museum only has about 25% of their collection on display for the public, it’s rotated out quarterly for a new selection of items. On October 2, the annual Oliver Hardy festival will take place in downtown Harlem with a parade, craft vendors, food, entertainment and local shopping. Be sure to stop by for a hysterically good time!


Appears in the October 2021 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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

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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.


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