BUNNY IN THE CITY: Sips at the Station benefiting Fight the War Within


Maureen McDermott, Saray Tenen-Martinez, Haley Powers-Bunner, Amy Headrick, Anya Hart

Every third Tuesday I get to wheel around the corner of Victory and Drayton to hangout with Ardsley Station’s cool cats for Sips at the Station. For their July 19 fundraiser, Tyler Kopkas and his chill crew welcomed the ladies from Fight the War Within, a mental health advocacy group for veterans and first responders.

Making this monthly event happen is the Simply Savannah Marketing team, Dru Usry and Marianne Ganem Poppell. Tying with Neilie Dunn as the sweetest ladies in marketing, the good friends are setting up tables and displaying raffle items while chatting about Marianne’s super-long summer trip with her family. “Why did I think going to Washington, DC and New York City with three boys, one husband in my mom’s mid-size SUV in the middle of summer was a good idea?!”

“Just kidding! It was epic!  We ate street food, went to a Yankees game, toured Grand Central Station, did a ferry tour, walked the Brooklyn Bridge and shopped at the Lego Store at Rockefeller Square. My middle son Brady loved the Free Hugs Guy in Times Square so much that he now walks around with a Free Hugs sign,” shares the third generation Savannahian.

After an invitation to attend the Java Burrito Ribbon Cutting on August 30 and a group pic of Marianne with Savannah State University’s LeAndrea Mikell, Courtney Ganem and her Ganem Realty team member, Victoria Williams, I head over to talk with one of FTWW co-founders Amy Headrick.

“Two years ago, a group of women formed a non-profit that provides resources, emergency grants and peer supported events. From counseling and therapy for people battling internal wars, paying for counseling and events like our monthly ‘Coffee and Camaraderie’ at Tosa Coffee Company, we want everyone to know that we will do everything we can to keep them alive,” shares the International Paper emergency response technician.

After posing Amy with fellow board members Maureen McDermott and Haley Powers-Bunner along with volunteers Anya Hart and Saray Tenen-Martinez, Amy asks if I will attend their second-annual Warrior Ball at Savannah Station on July 29. Of course I will be there!

It’s misting a little rain but that hasn’t stopped a line from forming at the check-in desk. Waiting together are Savannah Chamber of Commerce’s Conni Reynolds, Town of Thunderbolt’s Bob Milie and the fine folks from Royce Learning Center. My long time friend Guieneverre Cutlip introduces me to RLC’s new executive aministrative assistant Jamie Montgomery. Happy to participate in a mini video with the ladies for my WSAV-TV segment “Where’s Bunny Ware” is their Executive Director Ron Wilson.

If you don’t know about Royce Learning Center, they provide educational services for children and adults with learning disabilities. Gearing up for back to school on August 3, the trio are sipping on some classic Creature Comfort brews while being introduced to Connect Savannah’s Chantel Britton.

Crunching on a massive taco is Agenda Latina’s Lisette Riccelli. After years of posing this Latin beauty, I giggle when she jumps up and yells, “Pictures, pictures! Come here Joe!” Grabbing Veterans Council Chairman Joe Higgins for a photo with her and Conni Reynolds, we wave WSAV’s The Bridge host Patti Turner over for a perfect introduction via photo opportunity!

Another WSAV face coming through the crowd is their uber nice General Manager David Hart. New to the Savannah market, David has entrenched himself in all things local and tells me, “I love the people of Savannah, their friendliness and how it feels like we are living in a postcard.” We are proud to have you David Hart!

It’s cool off time, so I head inside to take a seat next to LTC (Ret) Harry Gardner, USMC. After hearing that he volunteers at the USO, Marine Corps League and Team Rubicon, I sit back to hear one fascinating tale. “For the past six years I have kayaked the Mississippi from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. About 50 of us make the 2200 mile trek while averaging 28-32 miles a day,” shares Harry.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I ask who in the world puts this together. “Warrior Expeditions makes it happen. We camp along the riverbanks and sandbars, and every third or fourth day they work with local VFD chapters to arrange a trip into town. It’s called Source to Sea and one of the coolest things about the trip is seeing the wildlife—from deer, raccoons and beaver to seeing over 350 bald eagles, this is the kayak experience of a lifetime!” shares the native Virginian.

With Tyler insisting, I try their new fried green tomato and spicy sweet bacon sandwich, I take a seat with Monica and Sam Krause. The Ardsley Station management couple followed Tyler here from Seattle last year because “he is family.” And that is also the reason I love this event so much. It’s personal, it’s fun and it’s a way to help the people that help others—like one big happy family! See y’all next month!

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