One Roof collecting money to assist needy

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com One Roof Ecumenical Alliance Outreach is in need of donations -- mainly monetary contributions to pay for housing and utilities. Derenda H. Rowe, executive director of the ministry, said she is beginning to see people whose unemployment benefits have run out. "I don't want to have a month when I have to say we won't give any financial assistance this month," Rowe said.
"People are telling me their unemployment has run out. It's people who have been able to keep their heads above water. Now they have no income," Rowe said. "A large percentage of the people we're seeing have nothing," Rowe said. Many of the people coming to One Roof these days have never sought help for themselves before. One family with whom she talked had never been late on a mortgage payment -- and had documentation to prove it -- but now needs help to get by. Rowe said she is seeing many people who are trying "to keep from being evicted." Some people are also seeking help with utilities -- trying to keep electrical service at least in part because of medical needs of family members. Rowe said she is also seeing people moving in with other family -- a situation that may not be sustainable over the long term. She knows of two situations where 13 people are living in one house. "People are trying to pool their resources," she said. Many people also come to One Roof looking for a lead on jobs. In recent weeks, One Roof has had an ongoing need for personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies. Toilet tissue, paper towels, bar soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, disposable razors, lotion, shampoo, feminine products, disposable diapers, wet wipes, trash bags, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent are all needed, Rowe said. "We haven't had any diapers in several weeks," Rowe said. Donations may be taken to One Roof at 320-C Temple Ave. Contributions may be mailed to One Roof, 320-C Temple Ave., Newnan, GA 30263. One Roof has a thrift store that helps cover operating costs for the program. Rowe said the shop is short on decorative items, books and other items -- other than clothes -- that can be sold in the store. The Coweta Community Food Pantry is also located at One Roof's facility. Rowe said the pantry has fed 4,500 people "so far this year." She believes the pantry may help more people in 2010 than it did last year -- 15,286. A recent drive by local mail carriers filled shelves at the center with food again. "The postal carriers did an awesome job, and we got seven pickup loads of food," Rowe said. Still, she believes that food will go fast. "It's going out faster than it's coming in," she stated. Rowe said she is concerned about the need for food -- and other assistance -- once school is out and children are at home in less than two weeks. Rowe says there have been few grant opportunities in recent months. She also said some churches have not been able to help as much as in the past. "Our churches are hurting, and we know they are," she said. One Roof was started by church leaders from several denominations wanting to have a unified, organized way to help needy people in Coweta County. Rowe got a nice surprise a few days ago when she learned One Roof would be getting $2,000 as part of a promotion by the Brighton accessories and jewelry firm. Rowe was notified that the gift would come through Brothers, a specialty retailer in downtown Newnan. The $2,000 came to One Roof as part of Brighton's Feed Our Friends fundraiser. Brothers was among retailers across the United States that joined with Brighton last summer in selling a limited-edition collection of semi-precious jewelry designed especially to help feed struggling Americans. "To help us decide where to direct our donations, we asked retailers who participated in the fundraiser to nominate their American heroes -- people in the community who lead tax-exempt non-profit organizations that are feeding people," said Laura Young, president of sales and marketing for Brighton. Laura Mansour of Brothers and Atlanta Brighton representative Jill Prejean presented a check to Rowe and One Roof board members Betsy Bagley, Mike Fuller, Melinda Mansour and Marie Umbach. "That was just awesome," Rowe said. "There were not that many that were given," Rowe said of the Brighton "hero" donations. "We selected One Roof from among hundreds of entries that we received because of the passion that Brothers and the store's customers showed for their work their hero does in the community," Young said.


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