By Joel Hall
For five years, the House of Dawn has provided homeless, teenage mothers with stable housing, and the skills to become supportive mothers and productive adults.
This Saturday, the Highway 138 Package Store and House of Dawn will host an annual Wine Tasting Charity Event, the non-profit organization's single-largest fund-raiser.
The event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, at the Royal Palm events center, located at 850 Main Street in Forest Park. Visitors will be able to listen to jazz, enjoy various finger foods, and sample more than 25 different wines, in a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
The affair marks the fifth year of operation for House of Dawn's Second Chance Home in Jonesboro, which provides housing and life-skills training for teenage mothers, as well as the third year of House of Dawn's Transitional Living Program, which provides young, single mothers, between the ages of 18 and 21, with subsidized apartments, childcare, life-coaching, and educational opportunities.
House of Dawn Founder and CEO Dawn Murray said the wine tasting event has raised thousands of dollars for the organization, which allows young women to participate in the program for little to no cost. As of this month, the House of Dawn supports a total of 10 women and their children, between it's Second Chance Home and Transitional Living Program, she said.
"At the time [of the program's founding], I was working with the county Extension Service in their teen parenting program," Murray said. "Often, young moms would come to me in need of safe, stable housing. A lot of times, teens would drop out of school and not have the means to go back, because they didn't have the appropriate child care. I saw that a lot of them could succeed if they just had a safe, stable environment. I started working on House of Dawn to give young mothers a chance to succeed and become self-sufficient.
"This program is truly helping these women," she added. "It [the wine tasting] brings awareness to the organization and the work we are doing in the community."
Murray said the wine tasting raised more than $4,000 for the organization last year.
Kathleen Higgins, co-owner of Highway 138 Package Store, said four distributors -- United Distributors, Inc., of Smyrna, Prestige Wine Wholesale, Ltd., of Marietta, Quality Wine and Spirits, Inc., of Atlanta, and Georgia Crown Distributing Co., of McDonough -- will participate in the wine tasting, each bringing five or six of its most popular wines. She said the event raises awareness of both the package store and the House of Dawn, while raising money for a worthy cause.
"It's [the House of Dawn is] a wonderful organization that is in our community," Higgins said. "As part of the business community, we need to support those organizations and give back. We share our databases, so some of our customers get introduced to the House of Dawn, and the people who aren't familiar with us, get introduced to us and our functions.
"Wine tastings are always fun, because it's a chance for customers to get educated and sample wines in a relaxed setting," she added. "People feel like they get something for their donation."
Admission to the wine tasting is $35 per person and $60 per couple. For more information, call (770) 477-2385.