Wine-tasting event to support teen moms

Princess Barkley was 14 years old when she realized she was pregnant.

The expectant mom lived with her single mother and 10 brothers and sisters.

Barkley, now 19, said her mother was not going to help her raise her child, so the only other person she could turn to was the baby's father.

The father, she said, did what he could to support her and her unborn son, although that was short-lived, as he was soon incarcerated. "I didn't know what I was going to do," she said.

Barkley said she was under the custody of the Fulton County's Department of Family and Children Services during the time of her pregnancy, and the birth of her child. She did not want to elaborate on the matter. She added that her son is currently under the custody of DFCS, until she is able to independently sustain her family.

All was not lost, however. DFCS workers, she said, contacted House of Dawn, a non-profit organization that provides a stable home for teen mothers and their babies. The bawas 7 months old when the two of them were admitted to the organization's Second Chance Home program in 2008.

"I am pretty lucky, happy, blessed, because I don't know what I was going to do, if [DFCS] ever tried splitting me and [my son] up," she said. "You don't find many places like a second-chance home."

Dawn Murray, founder and CEO of House of Dawn Inc., said young mothers are provided with education opportunities and life-training skills that allow them to become independent and self-supporting individuals.

To continue this effort, the organization will need the support of the community, she said. To that end, House of Dawn is hosting its "4th Annual House of Dawn Charity Social Event & Wine Tasting" on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the National Archives at Atlanta, 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow.

There will be live Jazz, heavy hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and wine experts. There will also be drawings for prizes, such as two round-trip, AirTran Airways tickets to any destination covered the airline, Murray said.

Tickets for the event will be on sale until Thursday, Aug. 18, at $40 per person, or $75 for two people, added Murray. The ticket sales will serve as donations for the organization.

Murray said people interested in attending, should call (770) 477-2376, or e-mail the non-profit organization at houseofdawn1@bellsouth.net.

She said this is House of Dawn's largest fund-raising event of the year.

"With funding cuts everywhere now, it is important that we keep this program going," she said.

This year has been particularly tough, she said, as House of Dawn was unable to get $20,000 in support from organizations it normally counts on, because those organizations have also been affected cutbacks.

"We are trying to raise $15,000 with this event," she said.

The money will allow the organization to sustain the home, and provide necessities, such as food, clothing and childcare, she said.

Murray explained that Highway 138 Package Store has been the event's largest sponsor.

Kathleen Higgins, co-owner of the store, said there will be approximately 30 different wines at the event –– sweet wines, red wines and white wines.

She said that, over the last four years, the package store has contributed about $8,000 for the annual event. She said the store is happy to support the efforts and mission of the House of Dawn.

"Well, we feel like it is a very worthy organization, and we definitely want to help our community, and we are proud of the work Dawn [Murray] and her organization have done for our community," Higgins said.

As for teen mom, Barkley, things are definitely looking up. She said she will soon receive her high school diploma from the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Learning Center in Jonesboro, and she wants to join the United States Air Force, or become a dental hygienist.

"My priority is my son," she said.

For more information about the mission and work of House of Dawn, visit the web site at www.houseofdawn1.org.