Category: Family

Road to Recovery

By Madison Van Horn

Kelli Webber leads The Launch Pad’s weekly Sunday meeting as Denise Dailey listens. Sunday, March 27, 2022 (Photo by Madison Van Horn)

From gardening in prison with Martha Stewart to inspiring women in recovery, Kelli Webber has lived many lives throughout her battle with addiction and substance abuse. Webber has taken her painful past as a former alcoholic and drug user and channeled it into a powerful tool to help others. 

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Sparrow Song

Written By Rachel Jordan

Sydney and Brayden Guerrette practice in their home. For these siblings, the music was more than just a hobby; it was about mental health. Thursday, February 17, 2022. (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

Like many others, Brayden Guerrette and his older sister Sydney have had their fair share of their mental health struggles since they were young. Back in their hometown of Portland, Maine, during a very intimate exchange on their kitchen floor, Brayden Guerrette finally opened up to his parents and older sister about his dealings with depression. 

“We were just sitting there and he was just in tears, and as someone who is watching a family member and someone that they love go through something like that, it’s always very difficult because you don’t know what to do most of the time,” Sydney says. “All you can really do is be there for them continually.”

After this exchange, the Guerrette family took a leap of faith for the sake of their family’s mental health and sold their house, bought an RV and started their journey across the country in hopes of a healthy, fresh start. 

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The Unseen Battle for Lincoln Park

By Virginia Campbell

Tiffany Rankin walks past the old bathhouse on the edge of Lincoln Park’s baseball field. The bathhouse used to be the only facilities that African American baseball players could use, even when they were allowed to play at Engel Stadium. (Taken on February 19, 2022. Photo by Maggie Weaver.)

Lincoln Park used to be a safe space for the African American community to enjoy themselves. In fact, before integration in the 60s, it was the only park in Chattanooga they were allowed in. The property is currently owned by Erlanger, who have built parking lots over most of the park, reducing it down to just five acres. Compared to the original twenty acre plot, it’s now a mere skeleton.

Tiffany Rankin grew up in the area and remains a resident in the neighborhood adjacent to the park. She has always been a community leader, but she started to get heavily involved and raise awareness for the park when she heard the City of Chattanooga was planning to extend Central Avenue. The road would cut into a boundary of the park, sizing it down further. The plan was to “urbanize” the area, which, to Tiffany and many others in the community, meant displacement and gentrification.

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Battle Buddies

By Madison Van Horn

Eric standing tall next to Phantom. Eric explained the trials that Warrior Freedom had to go through in order to be here today. Saturday, February 12, 2022. (Photo by McKenna Pegrim)

The heroes that serve in the United States Military face unimaginable challenges every day in service, but for many veterans that is only the beginning of a lifelong mental warfare. 

Eric Dudash is a veteran who served in the special operations command for over 30 years and suffers from PTSD. However, he has discovered an unconventional form of medicine: his service dog, Phantom.

Audio by Eli Rushing
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Faithful Aid

By Seth Carpenter

The Union Gospel Mission through its GRACE Discipleship Program works to help men dealing with life-controlling issues. Program graduate and current volunteer, Dan Johnson, goes into the importance of the program itself, the people who come to Union Gospel Mission for help, how faith intersects with the work done, and why he stays there.


Seth Carpenter is a photojournalist as well as the current Photo Editor of UT Chattanooga’s student-run newspaper, the University Echo. Recently, he told the story of how a nurse and her family have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He hopes the stories he tells will make a difference in the lives of people around him. You can contact him at Sethcarpenter101@gmail.com

Pandemic Pains

By Seth Carpenter

Marianna Cooper gets her youngest daughter, Katie James, an afterschool snack. Friday, November 19, 2021 (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

For nearly two years, Marianna Cooper has worried about bringing her work home with her. 

As a nurse in the float pool, Cooper has been working around patients with COVID-19 since the pandemic originally began in the U.S. Already, that would be more than enough to gnaw at anyone, but like countless others in her position, she has had more than just herself to worry about. 

From the beginning, Cooper’s three children turned her 12-hour night shifts at Parkridge into 24-hour ones as she was faced with the possibility of bringing home the deadly disease every time she walked through her door.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” she said. “You worry about doing simple things like giving your child a kiss on the cheek because… what if you’d had an exposure and you didn’t realize it, and now I’ve exposed my child.”

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Journey to Freedom

By Serretta Malaikham

Manichanh Sonexayarath feeds her husband Khampoon Sonexayarath. Manichanh became her husband’s sole caretaker after he suffered a stroke years prior. (Photo by Serretta Malaikham)

During the Cold War, my parents Manichanh and Khampoon Sonexayarath had chosen to flee their home in Laos, a country that was being treated as collateral damage. The country was neutral until it became a battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union. Today, Laos remains the most heavily bombed nation in history, with more bombs dropped there during the Cold War than all of World War II combined. 

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Mama’s Llamas

Written by Madison Van Horn

Maryann Marsh, owner of TMMA Farms located in Trion, Georgia enjoys a moment with her llama, Shaggy. September 14, 2021. (Photo by Maggie Weaver)

What do 75 abandoned chihuahuas and a blind alpaca have in common? They have each been rescued and cared for by Maryann Marsh, owner of TMMA Farms and Sanctuary.

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Legacy of Grief

Written by Mark Drinkard

Video by Mark Drinkard

Boxes of medical equipment fill Mandy McAllister’s small, quaintly decorated home in Brainerd. There was no preparation for her mother’s diagnosis of metastatic cancer or for her eventual stay in hospice care. 

As the machines, slings, and medicine become more necessary the answers become all the more grim. Ushering a loved one through their final days is a task no one is truly ready for, but through family and communication, the McAllister’s stayed together.

“In a matter of two or three days, she went from being pretty healthy—going to garden club, going to church, hanging out with family—to having conversations about going into hospice care,” says Mandy McAllister.


McAllister, an administrative specialist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was the primary caretaker for her mother, Susan Reggin, while in hospice care. She was flooded with guilt, grief, and unfamiliar medical responsibilities all at the same time, so she greatly appreciated the support and validation of her family.

Her son, Jacob Paige, speaks on the family’s close connection that only grew stronger through these hardships. 

“We communicated as frequently and as in-depth as normal,” says Jacob. “Knowing that it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen, and it doesn’t matter if the cancer is going to get better or worse, we’re still the same people. If she’s got eight months to live or two weeks to live, we are still on the same level all the way through, and that just creates a smooth transition.”

Mandy McAllister listens to the audio story about her mother and reflects on the wonderful times they shared. Photo by Mark Drinkard.

Although death is never an easy confrontation, the McAllisters have felt eternally grateful for their limited, but cherished time with Susan. Mandy’s mother and family were forced to face mortality in a slowed and intimate state.

“This could be the last time I really hug her. Is this going to be the last time she remembers who we are? Is this the last birthday? Is this the last ‘X’—whatever it is,” Mandy said. 

Susan Reggin served as a clergywoman for over 30 years. Her philosopher’s brain and her dedication to others was passed down to her family. 

“I adored my mom, so everything about me that’s good, I would attribute to my mom,”  says Mandy, “I think she gave me tools and a model for how to work with other people. We all carry her around in our hearts.”

Mandy reminisced on those quiet moments, sitting at her mother’s bedside reading old poems and laughing through fading memories. 

She smiled thinking about her niece and mother playing with stuffed animals, forgetting about the future. It’s those moments that stay with family till the end. It’s the seconds of quiet, vital peace in the midst of the storm, that they look back on and wish to relive.

Mark Drinkard and Mandy McAllister discuss her mother’s life and final months in hospice care.

Meet The Storyteller

Mark Drinkard has 3 years of experience in student media. From those experiences, he has gained skills as a videographer and video editor. He has used his knowledge of creative tools such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and Audition to make and produce videos and audio projects. He is also adept in his knowledge of lighting, audio recording, and audio editing. Mark Drinkard currently lives in Chattanooga TN as he attends college. Photography is a passion of his and the rural landscapes offer a great backdrop to find and make photos. His goal is to provide a voice to everyone and use his skills to tell the stories of the voiceless. For questions, collaboration or to hire Mark Drinakard, contact him at markdrinkard2@gmail or (865)407-3317

Heroes of Oddstory

Story by Kelley Kindle

Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory Brewing Company, stands in what has become his creation. Boyd and his son, Jay Boyd, created Oddstory as a brewery meant to be a place of comfort. (Photo by Kelley Kindle)

On the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Foster St. is a brewery that feels like a home-away-from-home to many Chattanooga locals. Oddstory Brewing Company opened its door to the city of Chattanooga after a son sparked up an idea to his father while drinking a beer.

Photo by Kelley Kindle.

Jay Boyd, co-owner of Oddstory, graduated from Covenant college and was determined on opening up a brewery.  He then went on to work for four different breweries, and also went to a brewing school up in Vermont.  After three years, his father Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory, felt like they were in a good place to open Oddstory Brewing Company.

“We started with six taps when we opened, and we now have 18 taps,” says Bryan. Oddstory is growing more and more with their variety of beers as the years progress. 

Along with having an array of different brews, Bryan mentions that they intentionally made the brewery an environment for people to feel comfortable in. “We wanted to create an atmosphere where people talk,” says Bryan. “We kind of always felt like beer and talking went together, opposed to beer and isolation.”

In a place that encourages the comfort of having conversations with your friends and family, along with enjoying a beer that is unique, Oddstory has become a place that many have grown fond of. 

“What Oddstory means to me is the ability to create this environment where family—my actual family is real important—but also I think we created an environment where at least our employees, and some of our customers, they feel like family,” says Bryan.

Oddstory not only started with family but grew the family with the Chattanooga community.

An interview with Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory Brewing Company, and Kelley Kindle. (Audio by Kelley Kindle)
Photo by Kelley Kindle