There’s always something happening in the Hostess City. Stay in the know about upcoming events and the latest information with our periodic News & Notes.

Upcoming Events

Ship Watch Book Launch with Johnathon Scott Barrett

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Image courtesy of Abshire Public Relations

Who: Jonathon Scott Barrett
When: Thursday, Jan. 11 at 5 p.m.
Where: The Learning Center at Senior Citizens, Inc., 3025 Bull Street

What: Attend the much anticipated book launch of Ship Watch, a Savannah novel by Johnathon Scott Barrett. The launch will include remarks from the author, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

Local Updates

City of Savannah Awarded $30 million ‘Justice40’ Grant

FEMA award will address Springfield Canal drainage

The City of Savannah has been awarded a $30 million Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant in a phased release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address drainage issues around the Springfield Canal in the Historic Carver Village and Cloverdale neighborhoods.

The City has received $2.7 million for phase one, which will cover surveying and engineering costs. After review of phase one deliverables, FEMA will release another $27.3 million towards construction work associated with future projects located within the Springfield Canal basin.

The scheduled timeline of the phased improvements will occur over the next five years. The total improvements for the Springfield Canal will cost $42 million, with 75% of the funding coming from the Federal BRIC grant. A 25% match from the City will fund the remaining $12 million.

“This is an historic moment for the City of Savannah as we continue to tackle issues of flooding in the Carver Village and Cloverdale neighborhoods,” Mayor Van R. Johnson, II said. “We have done a lot over the years to address historic flooding around the Springfield Canal but with this federal assistance we will be able to initiate mitigation of flooding issues that will benefit these neighborhoods and the entire Westside of Savannah for generations to come.”

The Justice40 Initiative was introduced last year by the Biden Administration. The initiative aims to provide Federal investments to secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

The City will work with partners at FEMA and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), along with community organizations on the execution of the planned proposal.

“We are grateful to our partners in the Federal and State governments for seeing the importance of addressing flooding issues along the Springfield Canal,” City Manager Jay Melder said. “This grant will help us improve the lives of so many residents in these historic neighborhoods and is part of a continued effort to get back to the basics of good government. It is imperative we work toward common sense solutions and partnerships that serve the entire City and especially those neighborhoods that have long been underserved.”

Proposed improvements will convey stormwater runoff from existing ground to the Springfield Canal to minimize flooding potential in the communities around the canal. The City of Savannah and partners are planning an event in February to announce more details regarding the grant award and future stormwater management improvements.

CURE Childhood Cancer receives $5,000 from Christmas Festival at Trustees’ Garden

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Courtesy of Cecilia Russo Marketing

The fourth annual Christmas Festival at Trustees’ Garden raised $5,000 for CURE Childhood Cancer, the only organization providing financial and emotional support to local children and families while raising funds to further critical research specifically for pediatric oncology.

The Christmas Festival featured a wide range of activities for all ages, and the forecast called for a 100% chance of snow — 60 tons of it! Guests were able to ride a sled in the snow, jump in a bounce house, take a train ride and climb a rock wall. There were food trucks, hot cocoa, and a Christmas market to find unique artisan gifts from local vendors. A 25-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated the room, and Santa and Mrs. Claus were there to greet children and hear what everyone wanted for Christmas this year.

"We're thrilled to be presenting $5,000 to CURE Childhood Cancer after our magical Christmas Festival," said Charles H. Morris, Sr., owner of Trustees’ Garden. "Knowing that this donation will directly support local children battling cancer adds another layer of joy to the season."

“We’ve been fans of the Trustees’ Garden Christmas Festival since it began; it’s such a wonderful community event that brings the whole city together at a special time of year. We at CURE are absolutely thrilled to be the beneficiary,” said CURE Vice President, South Georgia Mandy Garola. “Fundraising events like this go a long way toward supporting our mission to find a cure for childhood cancer,” she added.

Savannah Tree Foundation awarded $1 million, four-year grant to address equitable tree planting in Chatham County

Local nonprofit organization Savannah Tree Foundation (STF) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $1 million, four-year grant to fund its Canopy Corps program, which addresses tree inequity and provides green job training opportunities in Chatham County. The grant was awarded by the Georgia Forestry Commission as part of its federally-funded Trees Across Georgia program, created by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

The program will feature a year-long arboriculture apprenticeship for individuals facing barriers to employment, especially those who are not traditionally represented in the arboriculture field. Participants in the program will attain the skills necessary to work in the tree industry or a related field. As a significant part of this program, apprentices will plant trees in historically underserved neighborhoods to increase tree canopy and address tree inequity in Chatham County.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to expand Savannah Tree Foundation’s impact while building on our 41-year history of protecting and growing Chatham County’s urban forest,” says Savannah Tree Foundation Executive Director, Zoe Rinker, “In addition to greatly increasing our rate of tree planting, Canopy Corps is an amazing opportunity for us to extend the health and infrastructure benefits of trees to all parts of our community.”

“The Georgia Forestry Commission’s mission of protecting and enhancing community forests would not be achievable without amazing partnerships such as the one we have with Savannah Tree Foundation. The Canopy Corps program will not only get trees planted in places they are needed most in the County, but will also open an avenue for more people to get engaged with their community forests and the arboricultural industry in general,” said Seth Hawkins with the Georgia Forestry Commission

Each annual apprenticeship cohort will have three paid participants who will work full-time. STF will partner with local economic development nonprofit Step Up Savannah to identify candidates and provide soft skills training. In total, STF anticipates more than 1,600 new trees will be planted in underserved areas of Chatham County by the end of this program.

The program’s first cohort kicks off in June 2024, with additional yearly cohorts through 2027.

Savannah Tree Foundation (STF) has planted over 5,300 trees since its founding and is committed to protecting and growing the tree canopy in Savannah and Chatham County through planting, protecting, and engaging the community. To learn more about STF, their work, and how to get involved, please visit

Tharros Place events for National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Tharros Place, a nonprofit that provides residential services for survivors of human trafficking, recently announced a number of events upcoming in January for National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a presidentially designated observance designed to educate the public about human trafficking and the role they can play in preventing and responding to human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ theme for Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2024 is Activate Connections to Prevent Human Trafficking.

“This is an opportunity to highlight the importance of collaborating across multiple sectors to build human trafficking prevention initiatives that work. Human trafficking cannot be prevented by any one individual, community, organization, or government,” says Julie Wade, Executive Director of Tharros Place. “To improve the lives of those we serve, we must activate connections throughout the systems that impact individual, family, community, and societal health and well-being. When we partner to prevent, we can enhance our efforts to keep everyone safe from human trafficking.”

Events include:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 16: Pooler City Hall Proclamation, 4 p.m., 100 US-80, Pooler, GA 31322

  • Wednesday, Jan. 17: Cheers for Charity Fundraiser at Sobremesa, 2312 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31401 (10% of sales go to Tharros Place)

  • Friday, Jan. 26: Cocktails for Courage, 5:30 p.m. at Cohen’s Retreat, 5715 Skidaway Rd., Savannah, GA 31406

  • Saturday, Jan. 27: Ninth Annual Traffick Jam, a conference bringing together experts in their respective fields to inform and educate professionals in law enforcement, mental health, social work, and education – as well as the general public – about the scourge of human trafficking. 9 a.m. at Savannah State University, 3219 College Street, Savannah, GA 31404

  • Wednesday, Jan. 31: Fundraiser at Chipotle on Victory from 4 - 8 p.m., 1801 E. Victory Drive, Savannah, GA 31404 (make sure to mention you are with Tharros Place)

  • The entire month of January: Savannah Bike Tours will donate a portion of proceeds to Tharros Place

Creative Coast opens application for 2024 Startup Stage Pitch Competition

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Courtesy of The Creative Coast

The Creative Coast is now accepting applications for its 2024 Startup Stage business pitch competition. Up to 10 startups will be selected to pitch for a chance to win from a $10,000 prize pool. Startup Stage, presented in partnership with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), will take place during the Creative Coast’s annual GRIT Conference happening from February 29th to March 1st at the Savannah Civic Center in Savannah, Georgia.

During the event, startups will pitch to a panel of judges, including angel investors and venture capitalists. After all presentations, judges will take a vote to decide on the Startup Stage winners who will receive cash and prizes from the $10K pool.

Startup Stage is for companies located in North America, preferably from the southeastern United States and currently in the coastal region of Georgia, South Carolina, or northern Florida. The competition is open to innovative startups focusing on digital media, the gaming industry, climate tech, fintech, agri fintech, health tech, or logistics tech. Participating startups can be in the following stages: idea, prototype, users, or paying users. Founders are encouraged to apply whether their startup is incorporated or not and regardless of funding or revenue status.

Applications must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. Finalists will be notified within the week following. Learn more and apply by visiting

Canady’s delivered truckloads of new coats to the United Way of the Coastal Empire as part of the fourth annual Canady’s Coats for Kids Campaign

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Courtesy of RobMark

Canady’s Heating · Air · Plumbing wrapped up a successful Canady’s Coats for Kids drive on Thursday, Jan. 4 by delivering more than 1,000 coats to the United Way of the Coastal Empire. This is the fourth year that Canady’s Coats for Kids has partnered with the United Way of the Coastal Empire to collect donations of new, unused coats for children aging from infant to 17 years old in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty Counties.

Brynn Grant, President and CEO of the United Way of the Coastal Empire said, “It is so wonderful that Canady’s continues to partner with the United Way to provide coats to children in need within our service area. We’ve had some crazy weather the past few weeks and there is still more cold weather headed our way. If anyone in our service area needs a coat or other services, we ask that they call ‘211’ so that we can help them get what they need.”

Fred Canady, founder of Canady’s Heating · Air · Plumbing, said, “No child should ever go without a coat, and it was so special that people went out and bought new coats to help children in need. Since we began this effort four years ago, we have been able to help thousands of children in our area thanks to the generosity of people in our community.”

The Canady’s Coats for Kids campaign began on Nov. 27, 2023 and finished earlier this week. Plans are underway for the Fifth Annual Canady’s Coats for Kids Campaign later this year. For more information, please go to

Family Promise of the Coastal Empire launches ‘RoadMap to Resilience’ campaign supported by $20,000 grant from ‘Georgia State of Hope’

Family Promise of the Coastal Empire has received a $20,000 grant from the Georgia State of Hope which supports the launch of the nonprofit organization’s “RoadMap to Resilience” program.

“We are very thankful for the State of Hope grant which will assist Family Promise to help children and families in the Coastal Empire overcome adversity and move forward,” said Katrina Bostick, Executive Director of Family Promise of the Coastal Empire.

Family Promise’s “RoadMap to Resilience” program provides transitional housing and opportunities for peer support to families with unique challenges to improve protective factors and long-term housing stability. The two-year program will be focused on families with young mothers aged 18-21 who are homeless and/or exiting or connected to the foster care system.

The program will allow families to build housing stability, set a self-sufficiency plan, and grow alongside a network of peers. Young mothers with children face unique challenges, and through trauma-informed case management and support, our goal is to guide these families towards stability and independence, nurturing their journey towards Family Promise of the Coastal Empire serves Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties.

The organization’s mission is to offer help, hope, and hospitality to homeless families with children in our communities. For more information about the organization, please visit

First Tee – Savannah Names John Parker CEO, Parker has plans to expand program accessibility in the New Year

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Courtesy of RobMark

First Tee – Savannah has named John Parker as its new CEO. Parker previously served as the organization’s Program Director.

“Our board of directors recognizes the hard work and dedication that John has committed to our organization, and we know that as our new CEO, he will help First Tee - Savannah continue to grow and serve our community,” according to Alex Messinger, President of First Tee – Savannah’s board of directors. “John has been with our organization for many years, first as a volunteer, where he mentored thousands of area youth while he also worked full time as a school teacher. In June of 2023, he left his teaching job to become our full-time Program Director.”

For two years prior to June of 2023, Parker was the organization’s part-time Program Director while he still taught school full-time. In his early years as a volunteer coach, Parker mentored Ariel Brown, who went on to become a First Tee – Savannah volunteer and was recently named First Tee’s National Teacher of the Year. Parker nominated Ariel and presented her the award at a special event in Savannah, where he noted that she was the only recipient of this honor out of First Tee’s 150 chapters in the U.S. and several overseas locations.

Looking forward, Parker said, “I’m honored to serve as this amazing organization’s CEO. We are looking forward to the new year, and we have several big goals for 2024. One of them is to increase our scholarships for economically disadvantaged students. Right now, 50% of First Tee – Savannah’s participants receive scholarships.” To make a donation to help First Tee -Savannah, please go to

Parker added that First Tee – Savannah has some events coming up in 2024 that are open to the public to help the organization raise additional funds to achieve its goals.

These events include a family-fun night at the Ghost Pirates hockey game on Friday, Feb. 9, where a portion of the ticket sales will go to support First Tee’s youth development programs.

In March, First Tee – Savannah will have its Tee Off Party on Sunday, March 3 and Golf Marathon on Monday, March 4 at The Landings Golf and Athletic Club. Foursomes can sign up now to play a total of 100 holes of golf and support First Tee – Savannah. If interested, please contact [email protected].

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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