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Dinner show to raise money for Rockdale Emergency Relief

Rockdale Emergency Relief director Ashley Roesler is well aware that homelessness exists in Rockdale County. According to reports she receives from the Rockdale County school system, about 90 families are currently without a permanent home. The parents and children are sometimes doubled up living with other families or residing in substandard housing.

For these families, RER can be a vital component in their recovery, said Roesler.

"I think that one of the things that is really, really important about what we do is provide the opportunity for individuals and families to stabilize themselves and to stay right here in Rockdale County," said Roesler.

"Their children have the opportunity to stay in school, and when things are stable at home and their caregivers have more of an opportunity to provide support for their kids because they are able to go to work, they are able to pay their bills, and they are able to worry a little less. They can help their kids out with their homework, get them to bed on time and up on time for school, and most importantly, be there for their kids just to talk to and to play with.

RER is asking the public to help in its efforts to provide assistance to families in crisis as it presents the annual RER fundraiser dinner show. This year, dubbed "Dancing with the Stars," the fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Always Banquet and Conference Center in Conyers. Tickets are $75 each. In addition to dinner and a silent auction, participants will enjoy a dancing exhibition and have the opportunity to learn a few dance steps taught by professional dancers from Gwinnett-based Dancing For Fun.

Dancing For Fun owner and performer Sean-Christopher De Guzman said five dancers, including himself, will perform a waltz and swing exhibition. Then he'll teach a quick salsa class for those adventurous enough to try it. He will then DJ the rest of the evening, playing a mixture of swing and Latin music.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," said De Guzman. "We'll make sure everyone's having a good time."

Roesler said the annual fundraiser provides between $35,000 and $45,000 towards RER's $415,000 budget. While the annual fundraiser is helpful financially, it also serves to enlighten people on the role that RER plays in the community.

"It raises awareness of the need in our community and that there are things we can do to help take care of each other, especially as we're facing an economic downturn," said Roesler.

A non-profit, RER provides short-term financial assistance to people in Rockdale County who are threatened with losing their homes due to unforeseen circumstances and works with them to build a financial plan that meets their budget. RER also maintains a food bank to help families make ends meet.

"Rockdale Emergency Relief was established by the community for the community. This is a program that belongs to all of us, and we want to continue to reflect not just the needs of our community but also all of the wonderful characteristics of benevolence, generosity, and concern for each other that make the Conyers-Rockdale County community the unique community that it is," said Roesler.

In 2007, RER provided services to 7,049 people, translating to 2,354 households, 65 percent of which were households with children. Roesler said lately a large majority of RER clients are struggling financially due to job loss or medical calamities.

"We are seeing so much of that right now. Unfortunately, it's following a trend and it's an unforgiving one," said Roesler.

For more information, call RER at 770-922-9210.

Contact Karen Rohr at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: If You Go

What: "Dancing Under the Stars," Rockdale Emergency Relief's annual dinner show fundraiser

When: Thursday, March 27 at 6 p.m.

Where: Always Banquet and Conference Center, 1613 Milstead Road in Conyers

Cost: Tickets are $75 and can be obtained by calling RER at 770-922-9210.