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Posted: November 8, 2012 9:58 p.m.

NewRock continues to grow

Providing hospitality to restore homeless families 1 year later

Family Promise, a collaborative interfaith nonprofit which provides hospitality and social services to help restore homeless families in the Rockdale and Newton counties community to sustainable independence, has grown tremendously since it began last year.

The program is made up of multiple churches in both Rockdale and Newton counties, hence the name Family Promise of NewRock. The program started out with the magic number of 13 churches to host one week, once every quarter, but has now grown to 15 churches with three additional support churches, too small to host themselves, but provide support to other churches.

"We have 15 host congregations right now and there is no limit to the number of host congregations that we would like to have in the program," said Erin White, network director of NewRock. "The bigger the network, the more resources we would have for our families."

Within the past year, Family Promise has helped 15 different families, of which consisted of 18 adults and 38 children.

"We've had more than 100 families who have contacted us for assistance, and each of those families gets a referral to one or more of the outside agencies that may be able to help them if we can't help them," White said. "I think that what's happened over the year is that we've been blessed to be able to help some families in the community.

We've become much more knowledgeable about community resources and ways to help families, but we've also gotten a clearer picture of what the needs are in the community."

Thirteen of the churches in the network are in Rockdale County with only two churches in Newton County - Allen Memorial on the Oxford College campus and Christ Community Church, but White hopes that as the program continues to grow, more churches in Newton County will join the program and become host congregations.

"We have really not been able to have access into Newton County for a number of reasons, but mainly, I think because our day center is here in Rockdale County that it makes some Newton County congregations feel like maybe it's too far away; it might not work for their families in the community; they would have to shuttle the families using our bus," White said. "It is a longer drive for the families. They would have to provide volunteers here. And so something about driving over those county lines might be a bit of a barrier. But one of our focuses for next year is to look at the congregations in Newton County and see if we can bring some more to the table, talk about the program and really be a resource for more families in Newton County."

White said the biggest difference from one year ago, is they know more about the resources that are available in the community, but are also much more aware of the lack of resources within the community. She also said they are certainly much more aware of the tremendous needs of the families and their plight.

"We're here to help families who are displaced and we need community support from volunteers to businesses that would be willing to walk along side our families and that our families are worth the investment," White said.

The congregations of each church have been very accommodating and providing everything the families may need during their week at each host church, but the day center at Phoenix Pass in Rockdale is always in need of more donations.

"Technology is one of our resources that is most lacking," White said. "We have some computers that are very slow and just super outdated. We have two newer computers that don't have any office software on it. We have a SMART board that doesn't work."

The outdated computers at the center are used by the adults to look for employment and housing as well as work on their resumes. Children use the computers to complete their homework.

A Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service, hosted by St. Pius X Catholic Church, 2621 Ga. Highway 20 SE, Conyers, along with three other churches invites everyone to come together in faith, gratitude and praise. The Thanksgiving offering will benefit Family Promise. All are invited. Service begins at 7 p.m. with a reception to follow on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

For more information about how you can help or donate, visit familypromiseofnewrock.org or "Like" them on Facebook.

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