Veteran Spotlight -- Randy McElwee

This month for our spotlight, we would like to recognize Randy McElwee.  Not only did he serve his country via his military service, he is still giving back to his community by offering training in various ways. 

"I joined the Army in Nov 1983 and served in the United States Army for 23 years. I spent the majority of my military experience in service with 3rd Ranger Batallion and with 5TH Special Forces Group.

As a young man from a small West Virginia town I joined the Army because I wanted to challenge myself and see the world. It turned out to be a life changing experience and a decision I've never regretted. 

I retired in 2005 after serving my last assignment at the University of Georgia Military Science Dept. Since retiring I am the owner / director of American Black Belt Academy in Athens and serve as the Director of the Special Operations Combative Arts Association."

Randy has almost twenty years Special Operations experience. Awarded the Legion of Merit for service that included action as the senior NCO responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of a Joint Chief of Staff directed special category classified project. He has been training and teaching Martial Arts for 17 years. His unique instructional experience includes; appearing as a featured author in Black Belt Magazine and featured Instructor in the Special Operations Combatives Instructional Video / DVD Series.

Randy is also the creator of SAFE, a women's self defense class that teaches women to Resist, Escape and Defend.  He first thought of designing a course for women's self defense when he was teaching self-defense based martial arts at the University of Georgia. One of his female students told him that a technique she learned in class saved her from assault, and he was inspired to pass on his vast knowledge of self defense to more women.

Randy McElwee


American Black Belt Academy

(706) 549-1671


Partner Spotlight -- Revival Yarns

This month we are focusing a very important part of our supporter base:  Partners!

We have forged a very meaningful partnership with a local business, Revival Yarns.

Revival Yarns is a welcoming place in Athens, Georgia where knitters and crocheters can gather, be creative, hone their crafts, and buy their favorite yarns. Revival Yarns was founded in 2014 by co-owners Lindsay and Cara. Lindsay and Cara met in their neighborhood knitting group. It was during these knit nights that the need for an in-town Athens yarn shop became clear, and the idea for Revival Yarns was born.

"Here at Revival Yarns we offer quality products and services at reasonable prices, but customer service is what’s most important to us. We strive to make Revival Yarns a comfortable, welcoming space for fiber artists of all genders, ages, and skill levels.

The whole reason we are here is because we love this stuff, and we want you to too!

Revival Yarns is honored to partner with the Moina Michael Poppy Project (MMPP)! The MMPP is run by women with huge hearts, who not only want to preserve the memory of a local hero, but to continue her legacy. Helping disabled veterans via the Independence Fund is just one of the ways the MMPP hopes to help veterans. We can’t wait to see how this group grows as the love and generosity they spread becomes contagious. We are honored to support them in any way we can… plus we love those knit and crochet poppies! ;)"

If you are out and about and get a chance, stop by and see them!  The shop is so cozy and the Lindsay and Cara will take good care of you! 

A very warm THANK YOU goes out to Revival Yarns for their support!

Info:  297 Prince Avenue, Suite 17 | Athens, GA 30601 | phone: 706.850.1354 | email:

If you are interested in becoming a partner with us, click here to find out more info. 

You can also find out more about our past spotlights here.

Veteran Spotlight -- Rebecca Scott

This month, in honor of Veteran's Day, we are turning the spotlight on a very important aspect of our supporter base -- Veterans.

Allow me to introduce you to Rebecca Scott.  Becca is an all-around amazing person and is always there to lend a smile or a helping hand.  Please take a moment to read a few of her words below:

"I joined the military at age 25, later than most. I am the fifth generation of my family to join and I still recall the pride on my father's face at my graduation. I have been asked before why I signed up. Was it a sense of duty? Was it for benefits? Was it patriotism? I think the answer is all of the above and more. My grandfather served in WWII. He taught me to fold a flag, to respect it, and not just the one for our own country because it wasn't the only one we should respect. I did not join the military to hurt anyone. I joined to protect people, to protect ideals worth fighting for when the cause is right. If the cause isn't right, then I was there to protect the boys and girls sent out to fight anyway. I served my country for 10 years total. Afterward, I found joy and purpose in helping civilians instead and I spend my time these days volunteering around my neighborhood, being involved in community building, and doing small acts of kindness for perfect strangers. I think we all could use a reminder sometimes that there is as much light in the world as there is dark; it's just that we all need to take turns holding up the candle."



Donor Spotlight -- Ellie Lanier

This month our spotlight is shining brightly on another element of our support group that is very important to us:  Donors.

We are very thankful to our donors for all of their very important financial support!  This month's honoree is Miss Ellie Lanier.  Ellie is a part of the UGA Law family and is the managing attorney of Georgia Law's Mediation Practicum.

Not only do we appreciate her assistance but also her enthusiasm.  Please take a moment to read a few of her words below:

"I am delighted to support the work of my colleagues who founded and are working to grow the Moina Michael Poppy Project. I am awed by the fact that they were inspired by Moina Michael's efforts and decided to continue her work on behalf of veterans and their families. Turning inspiration into concrete action is not only laudable, but sorely needed in and by this world. 

These strong, determined and creative women personify Margaret Mead's famous quote: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.'

I am honored to play a role in furthering their cause by giving financially and proudly wearing my Moina Michael Poppy pin."

Thanks Ellie, from all of us at the Moina Michael Poppy Project!

All the best,

Emily, Marie & Tina