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United Way pushes to end homelessness

DULUTH - Jada Landrum never thought she would be homeless.

With two children and a job that paid $12 an hour, she thought her life was good, but when a car accident put her in the hospital, she was unable to work.

"I couldn't get help, I was turned down by a number of shelters because I still had a part-time job and no car," Landrum said.

Landrum said when her daughter's high school counselor told her about the Impact Group in Gwinnett her luck began to change.

"They helped me so much and eventually I got a car, a full-time job and now, I have just closed on my house," Landrum said.

This is the story Landrum told at the United Way Campaign breakfast Thursday morning - an event to announce this year's campaign to fight homelessness in Gwinnett County.

Through the United Way's Campaign called Light the Way, the nonprofit in Gwinnett County hopes to raise funds with the hopes of putting a dent in the problem of homelessness.

Demetrius Jordan, area director for United Way in Gwinnett, said as a whole the nonprofit's goal is to raise funds through corporate sponsorship and community donations for both homelessness and early learning education.

"We are starting this year our 21st campaign," Jordan said. "United Way has their theme and they're focusing on other issues other than homelessness. In Gwinnett, we are focusing on homelessness."

According to Marina Peed, Impact Group executive director, more than 25,000 people in Gwinnett County are homeless.

"Gwinnett has a great new animal shelter, but no homeless shelter," Peed said. "We need a place for these people."

Peed said she hopes the funds will one day lead to a homeless shelter in the county.

This year's Campaign Chair, Herman Pennamon Jr., announced to Thursday's crowd the United Way's goal to raise $4,705,783 in the 2007 campaign - a 4 percent increase from last year's fundraising efforts.

"We're looking forward to another successful campaign," Pennamon said.

Jordan said the fundraising will continue until the end of the organization's fiscal year, which is June 30.

"This is important because United Way is the only organization that actually brings everyone to the table for community issues," Jordan said. "We talk about the issues and challenges that are too big for any one organization."

For more information on the campaign, visit unitedwayatlanta.org.