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Ringing in the New Year!

By Sadie Fowler

New Year’s is around the corner and it seems, no matter which way you look, many people have a few thoughts in common for the coming new year. Love, peace and balance, along with a desire to “disconnect” and live in the moment are common themes throughout the nation, state and several folks right here in Knoxville.

A sample of local faces were interviewed about their resolutions, aspirations of the New Year’s holiday. Their answers are included below and are sure to inspire you for a great start to 2018. 

Special thanks to Belinda Gambuzza, Jeff Goodfriend, Whitfield Bailey, Allison Lederer, Mary Ellen Brewington and Preston Flaherty for their participation in this feature. 

Belinda Gambuzza

Belinda Gambuzza is co-owner of Visage Group: Salon Visage, Frank’s Barbershop, and VAHA Academy. She and her husband Frank are parents to five children: Jarrod, Brittany, Blake, Sydney and Gavin; one daughter-in-law, Alison; and son-in-law, Josh. She is a graduate of University of Tennessee and is involved with several philanthropic organizations including the L5 Foundation, World Vision, American Heart Association, YWCA, and Horse Haven of Tennessee. 

Belinda and Frank have been business partners for almost 30 years; they have five locations, 175 employees and thousands of clients. 

VIP: How will you spend the New Year’s holiday?

Gambuzza: Since I travel a lot during the year, staying home for the holidays is a real treat. I enjoy family time and friends time We usually go see a holiday movie and I’m not too proud to say I watch the ball drop in Times Square from my warm home on my TV.

VIP: What will you be munching on from your warm home? Do you partake in black-eyed peas and turnip greens?

Gambuzza: At our home, we tend to honor two traditions to cover all of our bases. We honor the “Feast of Seven Fishes,” which is Italian Little Christmas. We also honor the Southern tradition, having black-eyed peas and greens on the side to bring prosperity into the new year. 

VIP: Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t usually make resolutions because I feel like I make them all year long for self-improvement. Mine is usually a prayer for not only my family, but I reflect on the entire world. I pray for all of us to have more love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance for each other no matter what the circumstances.

VIP: What’s one goal of yours for 2018 and how will you achieve this?

Gambuzza: My goal is to always love more. I feel that if I pay attention to this one goal then everything else in my life will be taken care of beyond my own dreams and desires. To help reach this goal I meditate daily to get to know myself better. If I realize love, compassion and forgiveness for myself, then I have more love, compassion and forgiveness for all. 

What’s a favorite memory from a New Year’s of the past? 

Gambuzza: One year when the kids were little, we spent New Year’s out west during a ski vacation. I remember all of us sitting around a campfire with the beautiful snow covered mountains glowing all around us. I remember thinking how beautiful the world is and how huge God really is. I thought to myself, ‘what a beautiful way to ring in the new year!’ I felt such gratitude for what is and what was to come … a fresh new year!

Jeff Goodfriend

Jeff Goodfriend is the owner of collegiate retailer Alumni Hall, which came to life in 2005 and has grown year after year since that time. He contributes to many organizations locally and state-wide, including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the Boys & Girls Club.
First and foremost, though, is the role Goodfriend plays as father to his two daughters. 

VIP: How do you plan to spend the New Year’s holiday?

Goodfriend: We plan to spend New Year’s in Florida, which is a tradition we started five or six years ago. It’s a place that now has a lot of memories for us a family, and it’s a place we enjoy going to relax after the end of the busy holiday season.
VIP: Do you have anything special you eat to celebrate the New Year or as a superstition, such as black-eyed peas and turnip greens? 

Goodfriend: There isn’t anything specific we eat to celebrate the New Year. Since we are on vacation, we normally just enjoy a nice dinner with our friends and family that go with us.
VIP: Do you typically make New Year’s resolutions? 

Goodfriend: I used to make New Year’s resolutions, but like most people I failed to keep them. So now we just really focus on setting goals for the year for our family and the company as well.
VIP: What is something you are hoping to achieve in 2018? Do you have a strategy in terms of reaching this goal? 

Personally, I am hoping to be more patient. Professionally, as a company, we are looking forward to building on the growth of the Alumni Hall brand, and continuing to be a positive contributor to the local economy as well.  
VIP: Do you have a favorite memory from a New Year’s of the past?  

Goodfriend: Probably my favorite memory, like most Vol fans, is being in Tempe before and for the Tennessee National Championship.

Whitfield Bailey

Whitfield Bailey, a salesperson with Volunteer Lumber Sales, sells timber and specialty lumber for custom homes as well as crating lumber for industrial plants. He passionately serves on the board of several organizations, including the Defender’s of Wildlife, Knoxville Opera, Community School of the Arts, Knox Youth Sports and Young Williams Animal Center. 
Whitfield is married to his wife Brittany and they have a three-year-old daughter Kennerly and are expecting their son Tripp to arrive mid-January. They have three dogs; Copper, Chewy and Mackie.

How do you plan to spend the New Year’s holiday? 

Bailey: We have no plans as we are waiting on baby Tripp to arrive. This will change next year, I imagine.

VIP: Do you have anything special you eat to celebrate the New Year or as a superstition, such as black-eyed peas and turnip greens? 

Bailey: We typically try to eat some black-eyed peas every New Year's Day.

VIP: Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not? 

Bailey: I really don't make resolutions, because they are too easily broken. If I am going to do something, I will do it regardless of whether or not it's the New Year.

VIP: What is something you are hoping to achieve in 2018? Do you have a strategy in terms of reaching this goal or others?

Bailey: To be a good father and husband. I'll defer to my wife on how to reach those goals.

VIP: Do you have a favorite memory from a New Year’s of the past? 

Bailey: My favorite memory for New Year's is when my wife and I traveled to Atlanta on Dec. 30 and saw a concert at Fox Theatre and then drove to Charlotte for a New Year's Eve concert on the 31st with the dogs. Kind of random, but we had a great time!

Allison Lederer

Allison Lederer, vice president/wealth advisor with Regions Private Wealth Management, lives in Knoxville with her husband Reid and their two children who keep them very busy.
She has been with Regions for over five years and works with high net worth individuals and families who need comprehensive wealth management. She loves her job, which includes banking, lending, insurance, planning, tax planning, estate planning, risk and credit management and investment management.

Lederer is board chair of the Knoxville Museum of Art, which takes up much of her time when she’s not at work. She is also on the philanthropic committee for the University of Tennessee Medical Center. 

VIP: How do you plan to spend the New Year’s holiday? 

Lederer: We will be in Snowmass, Colorado this year doing what my family loves the most, skiing!

VIP: Do you have anything special you eat to celebrate the New Year or as a superstition?

Lederer: I don’t always adhere to this, but I do think eating black-eyed peas are good luck. It must be a southern thing!

VIP: Do you typically make New Year’s resolutions? If so, what’s yours this year? 

Lederer: You know, I typically make a cliché New Year’s resolution, like workout more or eat better; however, I think this year I’m going to change it up. I believe we spend too much time on our electronic devices. With my job, I’m on the phone or computer most of the day. After work, I am going to start focusing more on my family and not glued to my devices. 

VIP: What is one goal you have set for 2018 and how will you achieve this goal? 

Lederer: I would like to achieve some sort of balance in 2018. As a full-time working mother (with very active children), and deep in my philanthropic responsibilities, it is very difficult to find balance. I believe having a strong support system can help in that lofty goal, but oftentimes what is most important is pushed aside based on things that appear to be critical when, in fact, they aren’t. 

A friend told me to start saying, “No,” and that every “Yes” you give someone is a “No” to something else. Sadly, the “No” is usually time for yourself or your family. So, we are all making choices … My goal is to start seeing what is most important and make the right choice. I know many women, whether they work in the home or outside of the home, strive to find balance. Ultimately, I want my children to feel peace and comfort in having parents who understand what is most important. 

VIP: Do you have a favorite memory from a New Year’s of the past? 

Lederer: My favorite New Year’s memories are from my childhood. There was something so innocent about spending time with parents and my sister, Cindy, and our friends and watching the ball drop. I cherish those memories. My craziest New Year’s was when I lived in New York and tried to get into Times Square with my roommate, Stacey. We never actually made it into Times Square until after the ball dropped. Fun to try, but I’d never do that again!

Preston Flaherty

Preston Flaherty, manager of Dream Bikes in Knoxville, gives back to his community through several capacities in which he serves, including Kick Stand and the Boys & Girls Club. 
Dream Bikes provides young people with work experience, opens up future job opportunities and makes a difference in the lives of these young people. They refurbish used bicycles and then return them to the community, which makes it stronger as a whole. 

VIP: What are your plans for New Year’s?

Flaherty: I plan to go for a big hike in the Smokies. I always try to start the year off with the thing I love the most, which is getting outside.
VIP: Will you be making a New Year’s resolution?

Flaherty: My New Year’s resolution is to ride my bike to work at least once a week. When I do this it always makes my day so much more productive. Great time to clear the mind.
VIP: Do you have any other goals for the upcoming year and if so how do you plan to reach them?

Flaherty: One thing I want to do this year is start honey bees. I plan to start in the spring. There is a lot to learn about them to be successful, so I am starting my research now! 

Mary Ellen Brewington

Mary Ellen Brewington is with Cherokee Distributing Company and Est8te; she sells beer, baubles and clothes. She and her partner and family member, Nell, purchased Est8te, a luxury women’s boutique, in 2014. Nell runs the day-to-day operations and Brewington helps her as a buyer.

Brewington grew up in the beer business, her father founded Cherokee Distributing Company and her brother George is president. Members of the third generation of the family are now joining the team, including her own son Sam. Her son Steven runs their family farm, Windy Hill, and she enjoys working with him to create a place of retreat for their guests.
“My entire career I have worked with family,” she said. “Some say it isn’t easy but I say it is fantastic!”

Brewington is involved with several organizations, including United Way of Greater Knoxville, Zoo Knoxville, Alliance for Better Non-Profits, The Pat Summitt Fund, and the Committee of 200 Foundation. 

VIP: How do you plan to spend the New Year’s holiday? 

Brewington: Something new! Knox Heritage is hosting the Gilded Age Gala, an extravagant celebration with great atmosphere, entertainment and food. It will be the best party of the year! 

VIP: Do you have anything special you eat to celebrate the New Year or as a superstition, such as black-eyed peas and turnip greens?

Brewington: Black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread. I am an incredibly lucky person so I guess the superstition works. 

VIP: Do you typically make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not? If so, what’s yours for this year? 

Brewington: I make resolutions on my birthday in August. This year I have been practicing living more mindfully and peacefully. It has been transformative. 

VIP: What is something you are hoping to achieve in 2018? Do you have a strategy in terms of reaching this goal?

Brewington: My goal in 2018 is to embrace my new role as a grandmother. 

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