Michele Gutting, Brian Judson, Angel Barefoot (photobomb- Sean Murphy)

BUNNY IN THE CITY: February South of Derenne Avenue Association meeting

Updated February 7, 2023 at 7:57 p.m.

Complete with a scrumptious Barnes Restaurant buffet, unscripted networking and the most expressive lunch social in town, South of Derenne Avenue (SODA) hosted their monthly luncheon on Wed., February 1.

click to enlarge BUNNY IN THE CITY:  February South of Derenne Avenue Association meeting
Guinevere Cutlip, Ron Wilson

Leading the charge of this merry group for the past seven years is Tourism Leadership Council’s Government and Community Relations Manager, Stephen Plunk. Evidence of his Savannah Arts Academy theater roots shining through, Stephen is the perfect host for this “open to everyone” lunch. Giggling when he tells me that he has no clue who founded SODA back in the nineties, he shares, “My former co-worker, Colonel Robert Hunter inherited the role and I took over his role after his retirement.”  

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Katie Fender, Stephen Plunk

Greeting me are my Barnes favorites, General Manager Reginald Stepherson and long time server Elaine Richardson. Proud to learn that Reginald has been with Hugh Barnes for 30 years, I am just as proud to say that I have known Elaine for the 17 years she has been with Barnes!

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Sharon Delsol, Sean Murphy, Donna Williams

Refusing my signature sweet tea because it amps me up, I ask for a hug and pic instead before heading over to meet my last-minute guest, Sharon Del Sol of the Small Business Assistance Corporation. Asking Sharon to meet me less than an hour ago, I arrive to find her setting up the table for today’s speaker, business coach Donna Williams.

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George Freeman, Terry McStott

Arriving next is my second guest, Coastal Heritage Society’s Nora Fleming Lee. A fan of the devoted history lover since day one, almost 15 years ago, I am super stoked to introduce her to some of the most social influencers in town like Conni Reynolds, Marianne Ganem Poppell and Tara Reese.

click to enlarge BUNNY IN THE CITY:  February South of Derenne Avenue Association meeting
Reginald Stepherson, Elaine Richardson

Nora talks with the ladies about the six museums housed under the CHS umbrella. “We operate the Georgia State Museum, Savannah Children’s Museum, Old Fort Jackson, Savannah History Museum, Pin Point Heritage Museum and the Harper Fowlkes House, and would love for you to come visit us,” shares my tall friend.

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Rich Kaponer, Ahmed Awal, Michael Bilkis

Glancing over I see entrepreneur Jana Biggins making a bee-line over to Nora. Squeals and hugs ensue as the longtime friends catch up. After they chat, I pull Jana over to talk about “I Follow Up Always,” her business consulting firm that helps position businesses for funding, social reputation management, and sales training, and then realize that I have known this dynamic lady for over a decade!

click to enlarge BUNNY IN THE CITY:  February South of Derenne Avenue Association meeting
Tara Reese, Conni Reynolds, Nicole Johnston, Jane Trzaska

Arriving next are three guys that I watched succeed and I am so proud of, J Dawg’s Tim Wells, computer guru Sean Murphy and “jack of all trades” Brian Judson. Too busy taking pics that I can’t slow down, I leave my third guest, WSAV’s newest anchor/reporter Kaley Fedko with Sean with directions to introduce her to City of Pooler Councilwoman Karen Williams.

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Kaley Fedko, Karen Williams

But I have to slow down for my next arrival. My petite and fierce friend Angela Watson is out on the town! Battling breast cancer for the past 3.5 years, Angela is proud to say that she is in remission. “Bunny, if you know of anyone that has been recently diagnosed, please give them my number. Walking into the world of cancer is beyond frightening and having someone explain what is going to happen would have been a blessing for me–I would love to help them,” shares the David Pence Allstate Insurance office manager.

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Tonya Perry, Angela Watson

Next up, George Freeman and Terry McStott shake hands and smile, and the always-chipper Rich Kaponer waves Ahmed Awal and Michael Bilkins over for a group pic. Then, Savannah Irish Festival’s President Tara Reese waves me over to talk about this year's festival.

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Nora Fleming Lee, Jana Biggins

“On Saturday, February 11, we will kick off the SIF at Savannah Station. We are excited to bring back The Savannah Irish Festival after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year will be a one-day event featuring Irish music from The Byrne Brothers, Seldom Sober, Fran Doyle and Carroll Brown. and we will have local vendors with Irish goods and services. This event will be the official kick-off to Green Season in Savannah,” shares Tara.

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Richard Sanders, Tim Wells, Momodou Senghore

It’s snack time! As the group of over 60 networkers make their way past my favorite chicken fingers on earth, I watch curiously as City of Savannah Councilman Nick Palumbo heads behind the buffet line. Congratulating the alderman on his appointment to the National League of Cities 2023 Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Federal Advocacy Committee, I add that there could not be anyone better suited to serving on a committee that is dedicated to making cities stronger and more efficient.

click to enlarge BUNNY IN THE CITY:  February South of Derenne Avenue Association meeting
Nick Palumbo

It’s showtime! With loud cheers and boisterous clapping for any first-time visitors, I watch everyone stand and introduce themselves, then run to the front and take a big group selfie of the most fun business networking group in town! 

Join SODA on the first Wednesday of every month at 11:30 a.m. at Barnes Restaurant on Waters Ave. Reginald and Elaine will have your sweet tea waiting for you! 

Published February 7, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

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