By Joel Hall
SECURUS House Family Shelter will celebrate 25 years of providing shelter and resources to battered women and children Saturday. Headlining the event will be rhythm and blues legend Gerald Alston, the original lead singer of the Grammy-award-winning group, "The Manhattans."
The fund-raising gala is scheduled to be held from 7 p.m., to 11 p.m., at Fort Gillem's Getaway Club in Forest Park. It will include a buffet-style dinner, with the performance by Alston. Tickets are $20 each. Clayton County employees will get a 10 percent discount.
Pazanta Byars, a member of the SECURUS House board of trustees, is the niece of Alvin Pazant, one of the current members of "The Manhattans." She has known Alston for about 25 years.
"He's always been very, very nice to me," Byars said. "There are two Manhattans groups now. My uncle and Gerald used to perform together, when they were one group. He [Alston] is doing this, really as a favor for us, so I am so honored."
Byars said as long as SECURUS House has existed, it has served as the county's only official shelter for battered women and children. She said the fund-raiser will help support the shelter's operations, and the services it provides, such as job placement, parenting classes, daycare, and transitional housing.
"The services have expanded over the years, rather than [SECURUS House] just being a shelter," Byars said. "Reports of domestic abuse are underestimated, because there is never an accurate number. People don't report all of the abuse." she said.
"They [the founders of SECURUS House] decided to address the problem, rescuing women from these homes and providing a safe haven for them. To me, the most important thing is that the community knows that we are here," she said. "A lot of people don't know there is a shelter in Clayton County. [The gala is] a celebration, it's a fund-raiser. I was told that this is the first time they [SECURUS House] have done something of this magnitude."
Currently residing in Jersey City, N.J., Alston has been singing professionally for 39 years. Thirty-three of those years, he said, have been with "The Manhattans," a progressive, doo-wop group famous for such songs as "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star."
Alston said he will perform several classic songs from "The Manhattans," as well as songs from his new CD entitled, "Gerald Alston sings Sam Cooke."
"I'm honored to perform for them, because of their great service," Alston said. "Over 5 million women are abused every year, and I believe 3 million men are abused as well. This organization helps abused people find themselves and find their self-worth, and get back into society. I'm just thankful that I am there to be a part of it."
To purchase tickets, or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call (770) 742-0366.