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‘Anything But Garden Variety’ | Legacy business owner in East Point reflects on community, loss, and motherhood

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‘Arden’s Garden’ CEO Leslie Zinn shares her thoughts about the importance of legacy and the recent loss of her mother

EAST POINT, Ga. — “You reap what you sow.”

The origin of this phrase stretches back to Biblical days and if you were on the receiving end of that statement, nine times out of ten, that was not a good thing.  

Vox Pop ATL is honored to share this story with you, the residents of Tri-Cities, of the rare example of a family that will be reaping their just-deserved benefits for many years to come. 

Home-grown right here in metro Atlanta, the family-owned & operated Arden’s Garden has been a pillar in the field of nutrition, health, and wellness for nearly three decades now and has also become a familiar mainstay on Main Street in East Point for roughly two of those decades.

With seventeen retail shops currently and more to come, it doesn’t seem that they have any intentions of going anywhere any time soon.

“That’s how it began — no money, just my Mom making juice, and distributing it to her neighbors,” reminisces Leslie Zinn, CEO of Arden’s Garden.

“People really know that if you put good things inside of your body, you’re boosting your own immune system and you’re fighting your own fight.”

In 2021, terms like ‘organic, green, and vegan’ are as mundane and ubiquitous as the types of products that toss these expressions around like so much confetti.

Having said that, if we were to rewind the clocks back twenty-six years ago, the company that would become synonymous with health and wellness in metropolitan Atlanta, all began with a single mother of two, a newly-purchased juice press — and a dream.

Today, we know that single mother as Arden Zinn, founder, and namesake of the eponymous, Arden’s Garden, the city’s foremost fresh juice manufacturer.

Her dream? To share the benefits of wellness with her family, friends, and community. 

“So, it’s a been 26-yr overnight success. Lots of hard work. Lots of joy” muses Zinn.

“Starting a business, and raising children on your own. It’s an enormous amount of work. But, I look back on it now and I think one of the reasons my Mom was successful, is she didn’t care about the money — she only cared about wellness.”

Long before terms like ‘health and wellness’ comprised the core tenets of Arden’s business model, they were the very backbone of her own personal mantra on living. 

Decades before those familiar, colorful, all-natural juice bottles began lining the shelves of popular local supermarkets such as Whole Foods, Publix and Kroger, Arden would use her daughter, Leslie, and son, Edward, back when they were adolescents, to test out flavor formulas — much to their chagrin.

Some of those concoctions would eventually go onto become to the irresistible flavors that we now know and love. Zinn, a lifelong health enthusiast, was diligently committed to ensuring that her children didn’t develop bad eating habits, even during the times when the family was struggling financially.

As matriarch, Arden Zinn, nutrition and wellness were not just convenient catchphrases used to convince her children to eat their vegetables. Furthermore, when it came down to how nutrition played its part in the business, Zinn saw it as, her daughter, Leslie put it ’her mission in life.’

“The Tri-Cities area is hungry for healthy places to eat,” stresses Leslie. “My mother was a people person, and now her legacy continues in her absence. I can’t be more grateful, that it’s right here in East Point.” 

Sadly, Arden Zinn passed away last November due to complications with Parkinson’s disease. She is survived by her children, Leslie and Edward, her five grandchildren, and the legacy born out of her passion for health, wellness, and community.

To learn more about Arden’s Garden, you can visit their headquarters located at 3113 Main Street, East Point, GA 30344 or visit their website for information about their other metro Atlanta locations.

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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Community

‘Something To Remember Him By’ | The community of East Point honors the tragically short life of Ty’Rell Simms

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City officials, non-profits, and local charter school help to celebrate the memory of student with ‘Buddy Bench’, balloon memorial, and new mural. 

EAST POINT, Ga. — On the evening of Friday, November 6th, 2020, 11-year-old Ty’Rell Simms was headed home from his grandmother’s house with a friend. Tragically, he never made it — but his story and his legacy do not end there.

Victim of a drive-by shooting that had absolutely nothing to do with him, Simms left behind a grieving family struggling to cope with their senseless loss and a community left without their classmate, teammate, and friend.

Known for his natural athleticism, generous spirit, warm smile, and overall good nature, Simms touched the lives of many in the Tri-Cities in his brief eleven years. 

During the unpleasant undertaking of finding ways to commemorate Simm’s life, his fellow scholars at KIPP South Fulton Academy (KSFA) envisioned ways to commemorate his life. 

The Beta Club at KIPP Academy, where Simms had just begun his fifth-grade school year under pandemic distance learning approached the faculty and staff about a Buddy Bench.

The ‘Buddy Bench project’ is a relatively new initiative where plastic bottle caps and recyclable plastic items are repurposed into a functional memorial or ‘buddy bench’ in someone’s memory. 

“Our Beta Club scholars came to us wanting to find an outlet for celebration, for grief or just having a way to feel afterward,” recalls KSFA Literacy Coach, Kathryn McClinton.

“They came up with the ‘buddy bench’ idea so we could collect caps in his honor and create a bench where people could actually come and sit, and remember him while also forming bonds with other people.”

The goal of the daunting task of gathering 400-lb of plastics through donations, both local and abroad to create Simms’ memorial bench.

The cap collection process was spearheaded by a fellow athlete and community youth leader, CJ Matthews. While Matthews did not know Simms personally, he was so moved by the news of his passing, he felt compelled to contribute somehow.

Matthews is the co-founder and CEO of Blankies 4 My Buddies, an award-winning community non-profit that has been behind such community events as The Giving Bowl, and COVID Care Package.

Through its #Tops4Tyrell initiative, Blankies 4 My Buddies has collected donations from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. 

Family-friend and local pastor, Ray Waters solemnly recounts to Vox Pop All, the morning he received the call with the heart-breaking news of Ty’rell’s passing.

“It’s five minutes before church, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to talk about, and I get a call, and it is from Conrad’s (Ty’Rell’s father), brother. Scooter told me that Ty’Rell had been shot the night before and had died,” laments the Village Church pastor to Vox Pop ATL

“My whole life as a pastor, I’ve been called and told that something tragic that had happened — but nothing like that.”

East Point Parks & Recreation also contributed to Simms’ legacy by partnering with KSFA and the newly-founded community beautification program, Art in the Paint to paint the basketball court at Brookdale Park in East Point.

Other local companies that have contributed to the causes involving Ty’Rell are including the following:

Drip-Thru Coffee

Treat Love

Kupcakerie

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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‘One To Grow On’ | Local non-profits join forces to expand food access options to the community

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Wholesome Wave Georgia and Food Well Alliance partner-up to expand SNAP benefits with ‘Georgia Plant 2 Plate’ program

EAST ATLANTA, Ga. — Although general concerns regarding the pandemic have seemed to greatly diminish, the needs of families still dealing with economic hardships and food insecurity have not.  

In an effort to increase the impact of its Georgia Plant 2 Plate food initiative, Wholesome Wave Georgia teamed up with Food Well Alliance to expand the benefits for SNAP households to include free gardening kits to Georgia families using their EBT cards at select local farmers markets. 

The Georgia Plant 2 Plate program was launched shortly after the pandemic shutdowns in April 2020 to ensure that SNAP recipients had reliable food access by offering 50% off fresh, healthy, and locally grown food.

https://vimeo.com/544003441

For 2021, the Plant 2 Plate program has expanded SNAP benefits to include 50% off local fruit and vegetable plant seedlings or ’starts’ to families paying with their EBT cards. 

Along with the purchase of fruit and vegetable starter plants, a free gardening kit including pots, soil, gloves, trowels, and plant care guides were provided to SNAP recipients.

Working in partnership with the Georgia Fresh For Less program at Wholesome Wave Georgia, Food Well Alliance hosted a Georgia Plant 2 Plate pop-up just in time for Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market located at Stokeswood Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30316.

To date, Georgia Plant 2 Plate has hosted pop-up events at:

For more information about the 2021 Georgia Plant 2 Plate program, you can visit their website, and learn more about other programs involving the Food Well Alliance, click here.

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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‘Breathe a Sigh of Relief’ | Community outreach organization provides face-masks to area schools

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IGNITE Resource Center donates over 4,000 much-needed face-masks to Woodland Middle and College Park Elementary schools

EAST POINT, Ga. — The faculty at Woodland Middle School and College Park Elementary School were greeted with a nice surprise Tuesday, April 20th as both schools received free face masks from the staff of the IGNITE Resource Center.

The College Park-based community outreach organization has partnered with four local schools in the Tri-Cities area to provide the students and faculty with PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). 

This initiative has been taking place since the beginning of the 2021 school year according to Jamelle McKenzie, Executive Director for IGNITE College Park Resource Center.

https://vimeo.com/542381473

“We have adopted for schools in the Tri-Cities area, and one of the things we like to do is to provide these schools with the necessary PPE that they need,” Mckenzie tells Vox Pop ATL.

“So, today we actually visited College Park Elementary School and Woodland Middle School, and delivered approximately 5000 face-masks that can be used for students, their families, and the faculty.”

With the number of in-person teaching increasing this year, the need for PPE has definitely increased for the scholars and their teachers. 

IGNITE Resource Center delivered 2,500 face masks to Woodland Middle School and 1,500 to College Park Elementary School. 

Dr. Brown extols her appreciation for IGNITE Resource Center to Vox Pop ATL out front of Woodland Middle School in East Point. 

“Something as simple as masks you would not think would make such a huge impact, but it definitely has here at Woodland Middle,” shares the Woodland Middle School principal.

When asked how did she feel about the face-mask donations and continued support from IGNITE Resource Center, College Park Elementary School principal, Dr. Maisha Otway had this to add:

“Some people think that everyone has masks and that’s not true. We have them until we don’t,” affirms Dr. Otway. “So, on delivery like this is, it’s phenomenal and these are just so awesome and colorful and cute. We love that, too.”

For more information about the IGNITE College Park Resource Center, visit their website

For all the news that’s fit to click? Visit the Vox Pop ATL website and subscribe for news updates on Facebook.

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