Published Wednesday, January 06, 2010
By News Staff
The Newnan Times-Herald
During the past year, BelAir Family Center has been a haven for people who otherwise would not have a home -- and a place for churches and other organizations to offer help and encouragement.
Most recently, 20 women from the Newnan Ward Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped create joyful Christmas memories for the residents. The Coweta County Democratic Party made a commitment late in the year to help BelAir by purchasing blankets, making monetary donations, and collecting food and clothing.
Early in 2009, volunteers from Abundant Life Faith Center, Central Baptist Church and Royal Baptist Church helped with repairs and other projects at the Newton Road facility.
Volunteers from the LDS Newnan Ward Relief Society brought Sub-for-Santa gifts, a full turkey and ham dinner and a Christmas show to the doorsteps of BelAir Estates. The gifts included toys, clothing, and gift certificates.
The LDS Relief Society, with more than 6 million members in approximately 170 countries, is one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world. Its motto, "Charity Never Faileth," encourages its members to reach out to the community through service. By delivering Christmas cheer to the residents of BelAir, the Newnan members were able to see their purpose in action.
"To see joy on the faces of those children, and a sense of peace across the faces of the parents, truly was a delight," says Kathy Diaz, president of the Newnan Relief Society. "That is what makes it worthwhile. Sharing love and hope as Jesus Christ would is what Christmas is all about."
The opening act for the show at BelAir featured an impromptu Christmas-themed rap -- sung and danced by the children of BelAir.
"Having the spotlight focused on them brought out the twinkle in their eyes," observed Jackie Wilson, who performed with the children and is a regional director of public affairs for the LDS Church in both the Atlanta and Columbus metropolitan areas. The Christmas presentation, a slide show of Christ's life from birth through the Resurrection, was accompanied by Latter-day Saint Gladys Knight's "A Christmas Celebration" CD.
The children and their parents joined the Relief Society women for Christmas songs and a reading of "The Christmas Story."
Everyone who attended the program appeared to be full of excitement for the holidays, with a sense of connection to each other. "The residents have expressed that for most of them, this has been their happiest Christmas," said LaTanya Spears, executive director at BelAir. "We are so thankful for the Relief Society's support in making a true statement through their deeds of sharing the joys of Christmas with us."
The Newnan Relief Society and BelAir have plans to work together in the future. "We are so excited to be able to continue working with and serving the wonderful folks at BelAir throughout the year, not just during the holidays. We will soon launch a BelAir children's reading program and continue to offer other services and gift donations," said Dr. Julie Thompson, a Relief Society member.
BelAir is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Tax deductible contributions to help with the work may be sent to BelAir Family Center, 630 Newton Road, Newnan, GA 30263.
To volunteer, call 770-252-7220.