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For better or worse, homeless benefit from canceled wedding

A star crossed wedding, a 70th birthday and a message from God landed a fancy meal for 200 homeless people Sunday. The dinner, which took place at the Villa Christina, was complete with gold plates, crystal glasses, lemonade, sweet tea and hors d’oeuvres.

Carol and Willie Fowler said when one of their family members cancelled their wedding plans, God told them to reach out to those in need instead.

The Fowlers didn’t want to give out the cost of the event or give details to the cancelled wedding, but said they wanted to find a new way to celebrate family.

“I’m a servant to the most high God,” said Willie Fowler. “I wanted to do something for those in need rather than for myself.”

The date also landed near his 70th birthday.

“We thought it was a prank call,” Elizabeth Omilami the director of Hosea Feed the Hungry, said about the time the Fowlers first pitched the idea. The organization helped organize the event.

Hosea Feed The Hungry provides weight loss classes, rent assistance, tutoring for children and other services for struggling families. Their services have become crucial to several hundred Atlanta families as unemployment has soared during the recession.

The majority of the guests were provided transportation to the Dunwoody event.

“The greatest disease is loneliness,” Omilami said. “But today we are all connected. Today is about love. ”

Sunday’s event included food, singing, dance, a four-course dinner and a motivational speech.

“I just love all the beautiful people, the positive attitudes and the smiling faces,” said Ioanna Fili. “Everyone has just been so polite to me.”

Fili came with 30 other women from the Mary Hall Freedom House, an Atlanta treatment center.

On Sunday, several children played tag in the garden while their mothers sipped cold lemonade on the porch.

“It’s so great that these women can get dressed up and exposed to something like this,” said Gwen Hall, the director of family and children services for the Mary Hall Freedom House.

The Fowlers said they’re hoping to hold an even grander event next year with sponsorship.

“We want this to be a benefit for our extended family,” Fowler said.