Category Archives: News & Events

Council Honors Bob Chandler as Toast of Town Honoree

Bob Chandler, 2019 Toast of the Town Honoree
Bob Chandler, 2019 Toast of the Town Honoree

Each year The Family Support Council honors servant leaders who are making a difference in the community at the annual “Toast of the Town.”

This year marks the group’s 30th year highlighting worthy individuals, and the council announces Bob Chandler as this year’s honoree. The event is Thursday, June 13, at The Farm to toast Chandler and work to eradicate the tragic consequences of child abuse and neglect.

Chandler, a Dalton native and passionate community leader, has worked diligently on impacting Dalton through his hard work. Chandler attended Dalton Public Schools and the McCallie School where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout and developed his football skills, thus carrying him to the University of Georgia where he was a punter under coach Vince Dooley. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in business administration. Today he is still a passionate Georgia Bulldog fan.

Chandler is no stranger to the carpet industry as his father I.V. Chandler started a bedspread manufacturing business known as Patcraft Mills. He worked there right out of college and continued with the company through many changes and acquisitions. In 1998, Shaw Industries merged with Queen Carpet, which had acquired Patcraft in 1990, and Chandler continued as head of the Patcraft Commercial Division. Today, Chandler is the executive vice president of the Shaw Commercial Division. He understands what it means to give back to a community that has blessed him and his family, event organizers said.

Chandler has long been active in his community and is passionate about his work as chairman of the board of Hamilton Medical Center and vice chairman of Hamilton Healthcare System. He cares about the quality of health care in the community and devotes countless hours attending to that mission. Chandler was the recipient of the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation Humanitarian Award in 2014. He is an elder of ChristChurch Presbyterian, chairman of BB&T bank’s local advisory board and a member of the Dalton Rotary Club.

Previously, Chandler served on the United Way of Northwest Georgia’s Board of Directors and was chair of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society for two years. He has also served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Family Promise, Junior Achievement, the Carpet and Rug Institute and the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.

Bob and his wife, Susan, have been married 45 years. They are active members of ChristChurch Presbyterian and they have two children: Matthew, who passed away in 2013, and Beth, who also works at Shaw. Beth is married to Joe Lopez and they have given Bob and Susan three grandchildren. Bobby is 6, and twins Alex and Annie are 3. The Chandlers remain close to his sister and brother-in-law, Pat and Fred Burns, and their children’s families: Patti and Doug Renz and their children Chandler and Mary Turner; Meredith and Christopher Parks and their children, William and Andrew; and Andy Burns. Chandler’s favorite hobbies are golfing, Georgia football, reading, the lake and spending time with his grandchildren.

Reservations for Toast of the Town can be made by calling (706) 272-7919.

Bill Bowen is the Toast of the Town

Dalton | March 29, 2017

Bill Bowen will be honored as the Toast of the Town by the Family Support Council. The annual tradition continues for the 28th year and will be at The Farm on June 1.

Bill Bowen was born and raised in Dalton, as his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were instrumental in Dalton and Whitfield County’s early development. He attended Dalton Public Schools through eighth grade, then attended and graduated from The McCallie School in Chattanooga. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned a degree in business.

Bowen returned to Dalton in 1971 to join his father in the family business, Bowen Brothers, a construction supply business. After his father’s death in 1972, Bill guided the company through the phenomenal growth that Dalton experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. He then joined Hardwick Bank in 1991 where he worked until the bank was sold in 2001. He then realized his dream of opening a small, railroad-themed coffee shop in downtown Dalton called Pentz Street Station. He said, “This was my way of giving back in a small way to the redevelopment of downtown Dalton.” The coffee shop quickly became a gathering place for many locals for several years until he sold the business in 2012.

Since 2012, Bowen has taken on the role of “volunteer extraordinaire.” He was always involved in the Boy Scouts of America, but really dove in in 2012 and was honored by them in 2016 for his tireless work. He also volunteers at the Salvation Army and RossWoods Adult Daycare Services and is a Rotary Club of Dalton member where he serves as a trustee of the Georgia Rotary Student Program. He is also very active with the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society with an emphasis on restoration of the Huff House.

Bowen always makes sure to allow time for his family, especially travels with his wife Ann, and spending time with his children, Macie and Will, and their four grandchildren, Ginny, Mary Beth, William and Ollie. Bill and Ann are active members of Dalton First United Methodist Church and volunteer there as well.

For information or reservations, contact the Family Support Council at (706) 272-7919.

‘An amazing teacher’

The following article was published on June 3rd, 2016 in The Daily Citizen.

Charles Oliver • The Daily Citizen ( • Published June 3, 2016

Carole Johnson talks with Tut McFarland at The Farm Thursday during the Toast of the Town event.
Carole Johnson talks with Tut McFarland at The Farm Thursday during the Toast of the Town event.

Today, Grace Kling lives in New York City where she perfroms [sic] improvisational theater and stand up comedy.

But some of her earliest acting work was on the stage of Dalton Little Theater, and one of her earliest mentors was Gertrude “Tut” McFarland, a Dalton legend who has been involved with the Dalton Little Theater for more than 60 years.

“When I met her, I didn’t know anybody who did what I wanted to do, so she was really inspiring to me,” said Kling, a Dalton native. “She took me under her wing. She was another theater girl and she wanted to help me become a better actor.”

Kling was one of several speakers Thursday night to celebrate McFarland at the Farm during the Family Support Council’s Toast of the Town fundraiser.

Karen Townsend, fundraising chair for the Family Support Council, said Toast of the Town is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“We look for someone to honor who is well known and very loved in the community,” she said. “And that’s exactly what Tut is. People love her. We are glad they came here to support us, but they also came here to show how much she means to them.”

Born July 19, 1926, at Hamilton Memorial Hospital in Dalton, McFarland graduated from Dalton High School in 1943 and then earned a bachelor of arts degree in speech and drama from LaGrange College.

She taught speech in Dalton Public Schools from 1947 to 1969. She then taught third grade until her retirement in 1991.

In addition to her work with the Dalton Little Theater, McFarland spent many summers studying acting and working in summer stock theater in different parts of the country.

She has also been active in Dalton First United Methodist Church and many local civic organizations.

McFarland said Thursday she was surprised to be selected the Toast of the Town.

“I’m really flattered. It’s an honor. It really is,” she said.

Jean Lowrey, the master of ceremonies for the event, said she has known McFarland all her life.

“We went to the same church. She and my aunt were very good friends,” she said. “I never took her class in school, but she probably taught half the people in this room. And those who didn’t have her as a teacher have worked with her in any one of a number of organizations that she has been so active it.”

Dalton attorney Steve Farrow was one of McFarland’s students when she taught elementary school.

“She was an amazing teacher. She made learning fun. She was creative, always doing new and interesting things,” he said. “My kids had her for Sunday school, so we’ve had a multi-generational connection her, as I’m sure many Dalton families have had. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this honor more.”

Kathryn Sellers said she and McFarland bonded through their mutual love of history.

“I’ve learned so much from her. She just has a passion for history, and her energy is amazing, especially for her age,” she said.

Lowrey said what made the night particularly special is people had a chance to honor McFarland while also supporting an organization that does so much good in the community.

The Family Support Council’s mission is to prevent and stop child abuse and neglect. Among other services, it provides residential services and life skills coaching to teen mothers, advocacy services for abused and neglected children, support groups and other activities for grandparents raising grandchildren and parenting classes.

Agencies focusing on combating commercial exploitation of children

The following article was published on April 29th, 2016 in The Daily Citizen.

Photo by Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen. The Dalton City Hall lawn is covered with 1,608 pinwheels Thursday, representing the number of reported cases of child abuse or neglect. That is up from last year’s number of reported cases of 1367.

Meagan Standridge • The Daily Citizen ( • Published Apr 29, 2016

“Today we are going to talk about a very tough topic,” Mary Smith told approximately 120 people gathered at Dalton City Hall on Thursday.

Smith, child abuse prevention educator for the Family Support Council, focused on the commercial sexual exploitation of children and said it is a topic she had avoided for many years because she didn’t think it was an issue in the Dalton, Whitfield and Murray County communities.

“I now know that’s not the case,” she said at the annual Pinwheels for Prevention Ceremony. A similar ceremony was held Tuesday in Murray County.

“Now I’m trying to catch everything I can that’s related to commercial exploitation of children, because it’s here, it’s in our community,” she said.

The annual event is hosted by the Family Support Council in conjunction with the Department of Family and Children Services to raise awareness of the importance of preventing child abuse. The pinwheel is the national symbol for preventing child abuse in America and is the ceremonies are held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“The pinwheel represents the playfulness and happiness of a child,” said Smith. “And that’s what we’re wanting to promote is that all children deserve a safe and happy childhood.”

There were 1,608 pinwheels at the Whitfield event, representing the number of reported cases of child abuse or neglect. That is up from last year’s number of reported cases of 1,367.

There were 660 pinwheels at this year’s Murray County event. That number is up from 610 last year.

The event’s focus each year has historically been on child abuse, but during the last few years the focus has been on child sexual abuse. In lieu of a guest speaker, an educational training video was shown called “Darkness to Light.”

“Darkness to Light is a national movement to prevent child sexual abuse,” said Smith.

The film addresses what is child sexual abuse and the commercial exploitation of children. It chronicles the experiences of two victims who were sexually abused as children and who were later commercially exploited.

According to “Darkness to Light,” it is the “normalization” of sexual harm to children that “feeds the demand.”

Smith said this normalization is happening in local middle schools as young as sixth grade.

“One thing we are hearing is that in middle schools kids are sharing pictures, a lot more seductive pictures. Sexual exploitation is becoming normalized,” she said. “They are highly sexualized and what we’re seeing now is that boys are not respecting girls and the girls are feeling like ‘this is the way I get attention.’ They think, ‘They’re not going to like me if I don’t do this.’”

According to Smith, 1 in 10 children are sexually abused, and in 90 percent of those cases it is a family friend or relative that is the abuser.

“It’s not the ‘stranger danger’ that you hear about that’s the problem,” said Smith. “It’s the family friend. It’s people they know and trust.”

And it is the children who have been sexually abused that make up 90 percent of the children who are commercially exploited for sex.

“If you think that 90 percent of those who are involved in commercial exploitation were sexually abused as children, then we have the opportunity to prevent it,” said Smith. “And if we are vigilant about preventing our children from child sexual abuse we’re also, in essence, preventing child commercial exploitation as well.”

The Family Support Council is working with local schools to teach children about recognizing and reporting abuse. Each year it holds a Heroes Campaign to help raise awareness and the schools take part in the fundraising effort. Two schools were recognized for having raised the most money. Coker Elementary School took second place and Eton Elementary School was first.

Sandee Hooper, board president of the Family Support Council, presented the awards. Hooper said many children in the community will be able to go to Camp Aim this year with the money raised. Camp Aim is a camp for children who are victims of sexual abuse.

“It is a two-week therapeutic day camp designed to provide children who are victims of sexual abuse a non-threatening and fun environment in which to deal with their issues of abuse,” according to the Family Support Council’s website (

If you know of a child who would benefit from attending Camp Aim, you make a referral to the Family Support Council at (706) 272-7919.

It will take a community effort to stop child abuse and exploitation, Smith and Heather Donahue, director of DOC-UP, said.

“Trafficking is something that exists right here,” Donahue said. “I don’t think we can pretend like it doesn’t happen here anymore.”

Eleven men, many from the Atlanta area, were arrested in a sex trafficking sting in Whitfield County in February as part of Operation Watchful Guardians, a multi-agency undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. All of the men came to Whitfield County expecting to meet a child to have sex, officials said. Whitfield County was chosen as the site of the sting because of its proximity to Tennessee.

Donahue said that’s why the training “is so important, not just for people who work with children, but for the community to start recognizing adults who are trafficked.”

“I’m a mom and I think it’s an important issue. I am an ordinary person and I want my kids to know that it takes ordinary people saying no to things like this, that it’s not OK,” Donahue said. “If enough ordinary people get together and say this can not go on in my hometown, I don’t want my children exposed to this or potentially victimized by this, I think we can make a difference.”

According to Smith, if 5 percent of community members are trained in recognizing and reporting child sexual abuse, “then you can make cultural change.”

“In Whitfield County, that tipping point is 3,779 people,” Smith said. “Within a little over a year we have already trained, in Whitfield County, over 3,000 people. We hope that we can begin with our goal of 10 percent as well too. We can only do that with your help.”

If you would like to take the Darkness to Light training, call the Family Support Council at (706) 272-7919 or visit for more information. If you know of a child who has been abused you can call (855) 422-4453 to make a report.

Mr. Bartley now D2L Facilitator!

Tom Bartley, at the Family Support Council, is now an approved facilitator to offer Darkness 2 Light’s Stewards of Children Child Abuse Prevention Training to Early Learning Child Care Providers for credit hours. The training is two hours, so 2 CEU’s will be given along with a certificate. Because of a grant that the Family Support Council has to offer the training in Whitfield and Murray Counties, the training is free. If you are interested, contact Tom at the Family Support Council: 706-272-7919 or This training is limited to providers in Whitfield and Murray Counties.

Kroger Community Awards

krogercommunityrewardsPlease help Family Support Council raise funds for our camp for sexually abused children (Camp A.I.M.) by signing up for the Kroger Community Rewards® program.

Kroger Community Rewards® is one of many similar programs in place that will donate a portion of your grocery bill to an organization of your choice. Register online at, and be sure to swipe your card or enter your phone number every time you shop at Kroger!

Darkness 2 Light Training

April 6, 2016

Darkness 2 Light will be hosting Stewards of Children, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training in Spanish, on Thursday, April 21st at the Gaston Community Center Room A from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM.

Authorized Facilitator: Nelly Avendano

Please respond to Nelly Avendano,, by Tuesday, April 19th.

Darkness 2 Light (D2L) is a national nonprofit organization that provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the tools to protect children from sexual abuse. Using an evidence-informed platform, D2L programs teach adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.


6 de Abril, 2016

Darkness 2 Light (D2L) organizará un clase de entrenamiento “Stewards of Children”, sobre maltrato sexual de niños. Estará presentado en español en jueves, el 21 de abril, 2016, en Gaston Community Center Room A, 10:00AM – 12:00PM.

Facilitador autorizada: Nelly Avendano

Responda a Nelly Avendano,, antes del 19 de abril.

Darkness 2 Light es una organización nacional no lucrativa que provee herramientas a individuos, organizaciones, y comunidades para protege niños del maltrato sexual. Usando un programa informada por la evidencia, los programas de D2L enseña a adultos a prevenir, identificar, y reaccionar al maltrato de niños.

Gertrude “Tut” McFarland is Toast of the Town

Gertrude “Tut” McFarland will be honored at this year’s Toast of the Town at The Farm on June 2 at 6 PM. The annual event is presented by the Family Support Council.

A lifelong Dalton resident, McFarland was born to Jim McFarland and Gertrude Manly McFarland on July 19, 1926, at the old Hamilton Memorial hospital, she will celebrate her 90th birthday this summer. She has displayed a lifelong love of theater and dedicated her life to serving others. McFarland has always loved history, even as a little girl.

McFarland has been active with Dalton Little Theatre for almost 60 years and currently serves on its board of trustees. She loves to do story telling, in costume, with local children’s groups and telling historical family tales at Prater’s Mill.

“I enjoy trying to make history come alive for children and young people,” McFarland said.

During the summer of 1947, McFarland studied at the Irving Studio in New York City. She then spent the summer of 1952 working at the Plymouth Drama Festival. Later, she worked at the Barter Theatre of Virginia for three consecutive summers and conducted theater tours in New York City for 10 years.

McFarland graduated from Dalton high school in 1943 and attended LaGrange College. While there, she earned her bachelor of arts in speech and drama. Then, she went off to New York City for the summer.

She taught speech lessons in Dalton Public Schools from 1947 to 1969. She then taught third grade until 1991, when she retired. She loved teaching children.

McFarland’s summers after retirement included traveling to all seven continents and enjoying her “history lessons” throughout the Dalton community. She is involved with Lesche Women’s Club, Georgia’s oldest literary club, where she served as president for four years and serves as historian.  She has been an active member of Pilot Club of Dalton for 56 years, having served as president, vice president, secretary, District Anchor Club chairman and club chaplain.  The Pilot Club is a business and professional service club for women.

McFarland has been an active member of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society since 1976. She has also served as a board member for Friends of the library, member of Dalton/Murray retired educators and the Dalton Garden Club.  She has volunteered at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce for 20 years.

McFarland is a lifelong member of the Dalton First United Methodist Church. She joined in 1936, when she was 10 years old. She taught Sunday school for 60 years. She is active in Wesleyan Services Guild and United Methodist Women, serving as devotional presenter.

She has directed many church drama productions, including “White Christmas.” She currently serves as church historian. Her articles on church history can be found in The Daily Citizen.

McFarland is a writer and a painter. Her wisdom, contributions and talents are far-reaching in our community. She has influenced so many through her love of history and learning. She currently lives at Royal Oaks in Dalton, where she remains busy making history.

The Family Support Council is all about the prevention of child abuse by providing educational support programs to children and families in the community. The council is a United Way agency and a charter council of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia. Those interested in attending toast of the town can call the family support council office at 706-272-7919 for reservations.

Darkness 2 Light to host Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training


Darkness 2 Light will be hosting Stewards of Children, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, on Thursday, March 24th at the Gaston Community Center Room B from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM.

Authorized Facilitator: Tom Bartley, Ed.S.

Please respond to Tom Bartley,, by Tuesday, March 22.

Darkness 2 Light (D2L) is a national nonprofit organization that provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the tools to protect children from sexual abuse. Using an evidence-informed platform, D2L programs teach adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Former Foster Child Sworn In As Youngest Volunteer

Sheree Bain, a former foster child, was recently sworn in as the youngest CASA volunteer for Murray/Whitfield CASA, located in Dalton, GA!

Chelsea Moser (Murray/Whitfield CASA), The Honorable Connie Blaylock, Sheree Bain & Lamar Wadsworth (Polk Co. DFCS) at Sheree’s swearing-in as a CASA volunteer. (Image credit

Sheree entered foster care in Georgia when she was very young and was adopted as a small child. Once she became a teenager, her adoptive parents surrendered their parental rights and she returned to foster care. Sheree recruited her own adoptive family and was adopted again as a teenager. She remains very connected today to her adoptive family.

Sheree called her former DFCS (Department of Family & Children Services) case manager, Lamar Wadsworth, a few months back and told him that she wanted to find some way to give back and help children in foster care. He suggested that she look into becoming a CASA volunteer – and as they say, the rest is history!

Chelsea Moser of Murray/Whitfield CASA commented that the program is “delighted to be the beneficiaries of the eagerness with which [Sheree] has approached giving

Chelsea Moser (Murray/Whitfield CASA), The Honorable Connie Blaylock, Sheree Bain & Lamar Wadsworth (Polk Co. DFCS) at Sheree’s swearing-in as a CASA volunteer
back to foster children. Sheree brings a unique perspective to our program and a deep empathy to the children we serve. Her inspiring success as well as her tremendous energy and heart for serving foster children have already been a source of motivation for the rest of us. We are grateful and excited to have her on board, and to learn more from her!”

In addition to being committed to helping foster children, Sheree is a devoted wife to Kory, a deputy sheriff in Whitfield County, and their two young boys.

Sheree is a very inspiring example of someone who has overcome a difficult childhood and is now giving back to help others in her community!