Needy families given a holiday helping hand

LAWRENCEVILLE - Lynnette Ward says poverty is not a goal.

She knows this because she works with families and mothers whose lives have taken an unwanted turn toward hardship.

Every day Ward, the director of programs for Norcross transitional home Rainbow Village Inc., helps single mothers, children and families get back on their feet.

"We give them housing but also teach them debt reduction, life skills classes and home buyer workshops - the skills to function daily," Ward said. "It's important to understand this (homelessness)

wasn't a goal. A lot of these women work two or three jobs."

Help from the community, Ward said is what makes their transitional housing program so successful.

Tuesday night, volunteers from Roswell-based nonprofit Children's Restoration Network served Thanksgiving dinner to about 75 families and individuals from the Rainbow Village program at the Christ Episcopal Church in Norcross.

Volunteers from CRN arranged for turkeys, hams and all the holiday fixings to be served to the group.

"We've been doing this for about 10 years for Rainbow Village," said Cliff Kinsey, CEO of CRN, a nonprofit whose goal is helping homeless children.

Apartment company Post Properties supplied the tableware and food for the holiday event.

In addition to the meal, Kinsey said turkeys and boxes of food were handed out to families Tuesday night - an added helping hand for the holiday.

"This is just the right thing to do," Kinsey said of why his organization exists. "It's a good time, a good meal and a time to forget the burden of where they're going to get a Thanksgiving meal."

Ward said meals like the one provided by Post and CRN help offset the cost of food for the families.

"What a gift it is to say, 'We appreciate you're out there working' and here's a chance to sit down and have a meal served to them," Ward said.

Rainbow Village is one of 128 shelters and food pantries in the metro Atlanta area that CRN provides food for during the holidays. Gwinnett organizations such as the Gwinnett Children's Shelter and Partnership Against Domestic Violence, also benefit from the nonprofit's efforts.

"They're all very appreciative," Kinsey said. "We get as much out of it as the people we're doing the meal for. It's just the right thing to do."

The organization also plans to host a Christmas wish list program, providing gifts to children in shelters throughout the Atlanta area.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a child or purchasing a gift from the child's wish list, should call CRN at 770-649-7117 or Rainbow Village at 770-446-3800.