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Homeless assistance program seeking volunteers

The Rotary Club of Conyers recently donated $500 to Family Promise of NewRock, an organization that assists homeless families in Newton and Rockdale counties. Pictured, from right, is Albert Myers III, president of the club, with Erin White, network director of Family Promise, and Thua Barlay, a Rotary member and Family Promise board member. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

The Rotary Club of Conyers recently donated $500 to Family Promise of NewRock, an organization that assists homeless families in Newton and Rockdale counties. Pictured, from right, is Albert Myers III, president of the club, with Erin White, network director of Family Promise, and Thua Barlay, a Rotary member and Family Promise board member. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

CONYERS -- A homeless assistance program that has helped 18 families with housing and more than 150 with other aid is looking for more community support as it begins a new venture.

Family Promise of NewRock is preparing to open a new day center this summer for its families. It will lease a building from Smyrna Presbyterian Church in Conyers.

The center is a three-bedroom, three-bath home that will serve families during the day. It will provide them with a computer lab, laundry services and hygiene areas.

"It really becomes home base," said Erin White, network director of Family Promise.

In the evenings, families generally stay in area churches -- host congregations provide one week every quarter of overnight stay for families. Family Promise will bring in their beds for up to four families or 14 individuals to stay in Sunday school classrooms or other areas of the church.

So far, the program partners with 15 host congregations and several other support congregations. Some congregations provide trips for kids and special family events.

The program, which began in November 2011, is a 60- to 90-day program in which families have to progress toward a goal by trying to find employment, saving money and attempting to find housing in order to stay in the program.

White noted that job loss is the most common reason that families have sought support. Additionally, she has seen several single moms who were abused or abandoned by their husbands.

In its first year, Family Promise served 18 families, including 50 children, for an average of 61 days. More than 10,000 volunteer hours were donated and other gifts allowed for a mom to be able to have major eye surgery at no cost, a family to purchase a car at a reduced price, a mom to attend nursing school on a scholarship and families to be placed in homes at reduced rent.

From 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Family Promise will hold its open house and vision casting at the New Family Promise Day Center, which is located at 2960 Ga. Highway 212 in Conyers. Ice cream treats will be provided courtesy of Dairy Queen of Conyers.

That day, individuals will come in to see a list of needs in every room of the home. Items include furniture and toiletries. Services like painting and carpeting are also needed.

White said that church congregations, community groups, businesses or individuals can volunteer to donate items or help as needed.

They won't do work that day -- rather, they will sign up to volunteer based on their availability. The goal is to have the facility open by Aug. 1.

Ongoing needs for Family Promise include hygiene and laundry products for families.

Donations also are accepted. More information is available by calling 770-262-7816 or visiting www.familypromiseofnewrock.org.