Coming together was the beginning;
Staying together was progress;
Working together is success.
“A Large Name With A Large Cause” was how the Conyers-Rockdale Emergency Relief Fund was described by the Rockdale Citizen in an article written in 1967. The agency was incorporated September 2, 1967 and established to provide financial assistance to this county’s citizens who found themselves in emergency situations. During 1968 the fund provided approximately $1,000 for food, fuel, medicines and losses due to fire. All of the aid was distributed by volunteers and funded 100% by the United Fund.
Abe Silverman was elected the first Chairman of the fund, with Mrs. Melvin Lee as Vice-President, and Sid Herring as Secretary-Treasurer. Also serving on the board of directors were Rev. Robert Ashworth, Rev. Carl Billue, Mrs. J. H. House, Ned Jones, Bill Newsome, and Nancy Stowers. A few months afterwards, Mrs. Sid Herring was elected to fill the unexpired term of her late husband.
Over the next 30 years the agency was managed by the Chamber of Commerce and the United Fund, respectively, and eventually became a member agency of the Metropolitan Atlanta United Way. Mary Staples, Nancy Henderson, Tommy Morgan, Rev. Al Myers, and Olivia Haydel were just some of the many leaders instrumental in the growth of services at RER. As the county grew over the years, so did the needs of the community, which in turn drove the expansion of services at what had become known as Rockdale County Emergency Relief Fund, Inc., or more often, simply Rockdale Emergency Relief. Joanna Smith was hired as the first part-time administrator of the agency, followed by Annette Morgan and Delores Eggelston who shared a full-time position. Connie Wardlow was the first full-time Executive Director, followed by Joy Jones. After Joy's successful 13-year tenure and subsequent retirement in May 2007, Ashley Roesler served as the Executive Director from June 2007 until June 2013.
RER Board Chair Kathryn Hill served as interim Executive Director from June through October 2013, when RER's current Executive Director, the Rev. Andrew Peabody came on staff.
Over the past five decades of service, RER has continued to grow in our ability to serve the residents of Rockdale County, expanding our portfolio of services to include a full-service food bank, summer lunch program for children, clothing distribution program, holiday assistance program, referrals for emergency housing, as well as direct financial assistance. Rockdale Emergency Relief (RER) continues its long legacy of meeting the needs of Rockdale County residents experiencing temporary financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances – such as a job layoff, medical emergency or long-term illness – ensuring families have access to the resources they need to help them maintain stable housing and work towards regaining financial stability. Our work also addresses the urgent needs of families and individuals experiencing economic insecurity, hunger, housing instability, and/or homelessness, allowing them to get back on the road to self-sufficiency.