BOC gives $40K to charities
Board donates money to RER, Project ReNeWal

CONYERS - A couple of local humanitarian groups won't have to worry about turning away Rockdale County's most needy after the organizations got a hand from the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners amended a total of $40,000 to the general fund budget at Friday's called meeting to benefit Rockdale Emergency Relief and Project ReNeWal. Each will receive $20,000.

Project ReNeWal is a domestic violence intervention program. RER serves as the local food bank and also has a housing retention program

Directors from each of the two nonprofit organizations made presentations that described economically-strained operations that are nearly at the breaking point without some sort of outside support.

"Don't forget us," was the plea from Project ReNeWal director Vicki Stevenson at Monday's work session.

Stevenson asked the board for an additional $30,000 to help sustain the shelter, which she said is "just barely hanging on by a thread."

"The bottom line is if you don't help us, we don't know what we are going to do next year," Stevenson said.

Project ReNeWal received half of the $60,000 it requested last year.

Describing the current bleak situation - with donations down by half - Stevenson said she feared the center would be forced to close its doors.

"It's not that we are not trying to keep this place going. We just have a really nice facility, and it takes money," Stevenson said.

Project ReNeWal, as the name describes, also serves people in Newton and Walton counties. And though the organization has met with those governments "many times," according to Stevenson, neither has provided monetary support.

"But when it came down to voting to give us funding, there was silence in the room," Stevenson said.

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said she thought a lot of people out there would be more than willing to help the agency if they were just better informed about it.

"I think a lot of people have no idea what Project ReNeWal actually does," Van Ness said Monday.

The program, complete with staff counselor and clothes closet, sees an average of 17 families per day.

Stevenson could not attend Friday's meeting where she was asked to present again, but was represented by Garvin Haynes. Haynes said if commissioners donated money it would be the first time in RER history.

"I can't think of two more worthy organizations that are in the field of serving this community than the shelter and RER," Haynes said.

Increased need overwhelming short supply was the same sentiment from RER director Ashley Roesler. She cited roughly 400 Rockdale County families being served through the food bank, a program originally designed for just 100 families per month.

"We do think that we are seeing what we are going to be seeing in the future and are making the necessary program adjustments," Roesler said.

Van Ness wanted to know more about the screening process for those receiving RER assistance.

"Because I think it gives reassurance to the people who do support your organization that the right people are getting the money," Van Ness said.

"It was established by the community to serve the community, so keeping that in mind the standards for screening are set up so we can substantiate who we're serving and the reasons we're serving them," Roesler said Friday.

Alena Parker can be reached at alena.parker@rockdalecitizen.com.