Project ReNeWal President Paul Dailey, left, presents the Judge Clarence R. Vaughn Jr. Volunteer of the Year award to Anoloy Vongkhamchanh during Project ReNeWal’s annual Light of Hope awards banquet.
COVINGTON -- Residents, businesses and public officials were honored by Project ReNeWal for their continuing support of the domestic violence shelter in its annual Light of Hope awards banquet.
The top award and volunteer of the year award are named in honor of Judge Clarence Vaughn Jr., who was the Rockdale Judicial Circuit's first Superior Court judge and a driving force in establishing Project ReNeWal 16 years ago.
Today, Project ReNeWal serves Rockdale, Newton and Walton counties with its shelter for victims of domestic violence and in providing support services and resources.
During the banquet Thursday at the Turner Lake Complex in Covington, Newton County resident Earl Wyant received the Clarence Vaughn Jr. Light of Hope award for his monetary support of the shelter.
Project ReNeWal Executive Director Vickie Stephenson said Wyant, a retired engineer, asked that the amount of the donation he gave in 2010 not be disclosed. However, Stephenson said Wyant's contribution was the largest from an individual in its history and that "it got our budget through last year."
Also, Anoloy Vongkhamchanh was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for her service at the shelter.
Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon delivered the keynote address and said that it was sad that the three counties need a domestic violence shelter, but she was glad of Project ReNeWal's presence and support they give to victims.
Zon also listed instances of killings prosecuted in Newton County that are defined as domestic violence crimes, including the shooting death on March 7, 2010, of Audrey Atkinson, 19, inside the Liberty Food Mart near the Almon Road exit of Interstate 20.
Michael Barrow, 22, Atkinson's boyfriend, followed her to the store and shot her, then fled to a nearby house they shared. Following a standoff with law enforcement, officers entered the house and found Barrow had shot himself.
The couple had been living together at the house on Wellington Trail until Atkinson moved a week prior to her death.
More recently, Kimya Roberson and her 10-year-old daughter were shot on Sept. 20 in front of a south Rockdale County day care as they were getting out of their car. Roberson's husband, Terence Sherod Roberson, was charged in the shooting after he turned himself in to authorities.
Both Kimya Roberson and her daughter are recovering from the shootings, which investigators believe stemmed from a pending divorce.
Zon said there are many more instances of domestic violence that do not garner media attention. She said that's where Project ReNeWal can help.
"You provide through Project ReNeWal a place for victims to go and seek comfort and seek counseling and have their needs met in a way the legal system cannot," she said. "The legal system is a cold, grinding machine and it cannot provide that hope that you can provide through Project ReNeWal."
Thirty-six other businesses, groups and individuals were also recognized for their support with Light of Hope awards. Covington Police Who Care
Conyers Police Department
Walmart Distribution Center of Monroe
The Business Connection
Crossroads United Methodist Church of Conyers
Rotary Club of Rockdale County
Hospital Authority of Rockdale County
Heartland Women's Club
Wells Fargo Bank
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 5290, Conyers
Telecom Pioneers Club of Decatur and Tucker
Covington-Newton United Way
United Way Walton
United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta
Cellofoam of Conyers Covington Community Television
Covington Service Guild
CR Bard of Covington
Cato's of Covington
Brendal's of Covington
The Beech Foundation
Elf Engraving of Conyers
D & C Fire Services
Rockdale County State Court Judge Nancy Bills
Snapping Shoals EMC
Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read
Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale
Monroe First Baptist Church