The Holdens Plus Widow’s Mite Equals a Powerful Solution for Clean Water Worldwide
Most of us take for granted having clean water to drink, to cook with, and to bathe. But for many women and children living in countries like India, many in Africa, the Philippines, and Honduras, the trek for water isn’t a few feet to the kitchen tap, but a five or six-mile walk; and it’s most certainly not clean. There, children drink and play in dirty, infested water—the same waterhole that animals swim in.
In fact, water is so essential to our existence that after a mere three days without it, people perish. This is what Janet Baker, founder and Executive Director of Widow’s Mite Experience, learned while at a conference in Atlanta.
“I found out just how desperate the water situation is for so many third-world countries,” she said. After feeling some guilt for not participating in a church fast, Baker came up with her own sacrificial contribution by selling her prized mahogany treasure boxes from around the world and using the money to help women and children get fresh, clean drinking water. Soon, all of the women in Baker’s church decided they had things to sacrificially give too. They organized an auction and, in 2004, Widow’s Mite.
Today, with the sacrificial contributions of women and those who support them, Widow’s Mite Experience has grown from eight women to hundreds with chapters across the country and one in Guatemala. The organization has raised nearly four million dollars and financed 1,400 wells in countries all over the world since its inception.
There from the beginning were Clarice and Ronnie Holden, Brunswick County natives, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. The Holdens are committed to sharing their good fortune, their time, and their know-how to improve the lives of women and children around the world, as well as in Brunswick County.
High school sweethearts, Clarice and Ronnie have been married for forty-eight years. Both grew up in fishing families from Calabash and Shallotte Point, and Clarice’s mother owned a seafood restaurant. So it was only natural that the two would continue the tradition. In 1970 they opened Twin Lakes Seafood Restaurant in Sunset Beach. Expanding their entrepreneurial wings, in 1985 they opened Island Breeze, a ladies apparel and accessory boutique.
It wasn’t long before Clarice began hosting charity fashion shows and events through Island Breeze to help fund women’s groups and education organizations. Eventually, the Holden’s charitable and community contributions became an integral part of their personal and business identities, supporting causes that united the community, and eventually communities worldwide. Clarice was one of the original eight women who started Widow’s Mite Experience with Baker.
Just a few short years before Clarice joined Widow’s Mite, she and Ronnie faced a crisis unlike any other that would show them the real meaning of life. In 2000, on his way home from their restaurant, Ronnie almost died in an automobile wreck. He was hit on his driver’s side door by a drunk driver who failed to stop at an intersection. Though he was wearing his seatbelt, it broke during the impact and Ronnie was ejected from the car through the passenger side window. He suffered multiple broken bones and a ruptured colon, among other injuries. Ronnie went into a coma and was given three hours to live. But he had a miraculous recovery after Clarice, family, and the community refused to give up without fighting and praying. After 52 days in the hospital, Ronnie walked out with a renewed lens on life.
A book, “Fighting Death & Other Desperate Battles” by Dr. Peter Wyns, chronicles Ronnie’s near death experience. Since his recovery, Ronnie and Clarice have made appearances on The 700 Club and joined forces with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Orphan’s Promise, helping impoverished women and children around the world.
Last month Widow’s Mite Experience held a fundraising dinner and auction at the Sea Trail Resort in Sunset Beach to raise funds for Living Faith’s International Heritage Christian Academy.
“We raised over 30 thousand dollars for a water system being built for a new school in Nairobi,” says Ronnie.
In addition to helping those abroad, the organization also raises money to help local families in Brunswick County who need assistance paying their water bills. They are also in the process of sending trucks of water to those in areas of Texas and Florida recently impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The Holden’s philanthropic work isn’t limited to Widow’s Mite Experience. Clarice and Ronnie have helped fund a school for children with special needs in Guatemala. They have paid for surgery for a disabled 12-year-old girl in the Philippines, and they have educated and fed children from third world countries through Orphan’s Promise, a children’s ministry.
Their work never ends, and they don’t want it to.
“I just returned from a Masai village in Kenya who now has clean water,” said Ronnie. “You would just not believe the thousands around the world who now have fresh clean water because of a few ladies from Brunswick County.”
Visit Widow’s Mite online: