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Dressing up for a cause
Gala fundraiser to help domestic violence shelter
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You don't have to look far. She's in your church, scout troop and neighborhood. Afraid to upset him again, she's always rushing home. Skilled in explaining away mysterious bruises, she avoids your questions. You hope that your suspicions are wrong. You haven't known what to do.

Why doesn't she just leave? The truth is that many of these women desperately want to. On top of the fear of more violent abuse, many women do not have the finances to support their families.
Last year, because of concerned citizens like you, Project ReNeWal helped almost 2,000 individuals who found themselves living in abusive homes.

Founded in 1995, this is the only organization serving individuals and families in domestic violence crisis situations in Rockdale, Newton and Walton counties.

And now, the shelter needs your help.

Recently, a sprinkler malfunction dumped 18,000 gallons of water on the facility. All of the shelter's donated supplies were ruined with mold and water. The two-story building had to be gutted and is still being repaired. It will probably be January before they are totally running back at capacity. Right now, they are running only at half of their normal capacity. State and Federal funds are based upon the number of clients they serve. As a result, some of the staff had to be laid off. Clients were sent to other facilities.

Project ReNeWal director Vickie Stevenson said, "Because of our disaster, we have not been able to assist as many clients as usual or funding for the coming year may be reduced... We are hoping that the community will come through with financial donations to help us through this disaster and then we will be back on track."

Timing couldn't be more perfect. LaVie Spa and Salon is holding their second annual Autumn of Hope gala, "Automne L'Espoir," on Oct. 20, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Villa Serena in north Rockdale. The evening will include fine food, a silent and live auction and inspiring speakers. This will be a chance to dress up to the nines while helping a worthy cause.

"This year, we have many more sponsors and hopefully will have quite a few in attendance," said Stevenson. "There are many great auction items and door prizes. Live music, great food and drinks, silent and live auction and inspiring speakers are on the agenda for the night.

"Hopefully, some of the men in our community will take their wives out to the event for a night to remember while helping us also."

The event will be held at the luxurious Villa Serena estate in north Rockdale. Nancy and Denton Smith are donating the use of this lovely home for the event. You can get a peek of this gorgeous venue at Tickets and sponsorships start at $125 for single tickets, $200 for couples and $500 for a group of six. For more information on the gala, contact Amy at

Director Vickie Stevenson said she found the economy is impacting the use of their services.

"I believe that the women affected by domestic violence are afraid they cannot support their families if they leave because they have not worked in years and jobs are so hard to find. So they just stay in the violence," said Stevenson in an email. "Many of the women who have come through our facility in the last year have had to stay longer than the normal 30 days our program offers because they cannot find jobs quickly... They are just more afraid to leave than to stay in this economy."

Georgia is now ranked sixth in the nation for female deaths attributed to domestic violence. One in three women in the U.S. will become a victim of abuse or partner violence in her lifetime; and it is estimated some 15 million children will witness violence in their families this year. Abuse can be physical, emotional and both.

If you witness violence, call 911. Contact Project ReNeWal's hotline at (770) 860-1666. Visit to learn more.