Shining Light to host Winter Gala Benefit

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Comedienne Anita Renfroe hopes her upcoming appearance at a local fundraiser will not just entertain people, but will also encourage those who are battling against addiction.

Comedienne Anita Renfroe is the guest speaker at the Shining Light Recovery Home for Women’s Winter Gala Benefit. Special photo

“We’re all just human beings trying to find a sense of belonging,” she said. “When we feel isolated we turn to our addictions. And -- if you really think about it -- we’re all addicts in some way or another. Some are addicted to chocolate or shopping or exercising or pleasing people or busyness. We all need help to break our addictions.”

Renfroe will be the guest speaker when Shining Light Recovery Home for Women hosts a Winter Gala Benefit on Feb. 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Locust Grove Event Center, 280 Mose Brown Ave. Individual tickets are $75, and tables for groups of 10 people are available for $750, which includes a table tent and recognition in the program for the occasion.

Renfroe, who lives in Acworth, has performed her comedy in the U.S. and abroad since 1999. She says she is looking forward to sharing her story at the benefit.

“I’m a mom,” she said. “I figure that the best comedy is when you are speaking authentically from your life and people just relate with that feeling of, “Oh, me, too!”

Shining Light is a faith-based facility that utilizes a year-long 12-step program to help women overcome drugs, alcohol and related addictions. Renfroe hopes that, by supporting the work being done at Shining Light, she can help spread the word about the ministry for those who need it.

“It’s better to make people laugh than cry when you’re trying to raise funds for something important,” she continued. “I love to help shine a light -- see what I did there? -- on ministries that are doing important work in their communities. If people come out to this evening and find out about a place to recommend when friends and family are in crisis, that’s a wonderful outcome. If they come and find out some way they can help this ministry with volunteer services or with their financial needs, that’s a wonderful outcome. It’s for a community to know about ministries in their own back yard.”

Renfroe adds that she wants to give her audience at the benefit a sense of hope.

“I feel like laughter is that place where we all agree that we might as well laugh about our lives because, in my experience, whatever you can laugh at, you can survive,” she says. “I hope they leave feeling infused with joy and that the ‘joy hangover’ will spill into their work week and their families and the people they come in contact with. And all those little ripples really add up. Also, the Bible tells us that “laughter does good like a medicine.” So everyone should be a lot healthier when they leave!”

Michelle Amarra, one of the organizers of the benefit, says the event is part of a plan to expand the facility at Shining Light to meet the needs of more people.

“This is just one of the many things that the building campaign fund committee is doing,” says Amarra. “We’re going to add 20 more beds so we can help 37 women. Right now we only hold 17. So we’re going to be more than doubling our capacity so we can help more women.”

Country-gospel singer Vicky Atwood will also perform during the fundraiser. Atwood, a 2001 Gospel Music Guild award winner, also works as a media specialist at Tussahaw Elementary School.

She said she wants to do her part to help Shining Light, and touch people’s lives with her songs.

“Really, my focus is on helping the community and doing what I can,” says Atwood. “I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. I’m not in it for the money. It’s a ministry. Hopefully I can make a difference in the community by what I sing and what I share. It’s a win-win for me and for Shining Light. I know they’ll be a blessing to me, and hopefully I can be a blessing to them as well.”

CBS46 morning news anchor Gloria Neal will emcee the benefit. Neal says the work that is being done at Shining Light to help women overcome addiction is “near and dear” to her heart.

“These women are trying to help themselves,” says Neal. “That definitely matters to me. Whether you know it or not, it impacts you. But for a zigzag in the road, it could be you or me.”

Tickets are available online at For sponsorship details and more information, call 678-428-0477 or visit