Story By Hilary Brady
Photography By Ronnie Holden
In February of 2004, a group of women from a BrunswickCounty church came together with a desire to do something bigger with their lives — to find their purpose, to give back to their community and to their God.
With staggering facts regarding the devastating effects of unclean water in impoverished countries and knowledge of the dangerous extremes that women and children had to go to in order to get water for their families, the group was heartbroken.
“Nothing is going to change until water changes,” stated one of the women. And with that, they quickly decided upon the cause that they were to serve: providing clean drinking water while also spreading the word of God to those who are physically and spiritually thirsty.
They knew that they had the passion to positively impact the disturbing statistics. But how would they turn their passion into action? The women were faced with a great desire but needed to determine a strategy to make their dreams a reality. The first step was figuring out how to raise the funds necessary to dig wells and develop the ideal strategy to provide clean water to those in Third World countries.
It was important to the women that people were offered an opportunity to give financially without taking away from their families or their churches. The Biblical story of a poverty-stricken widow who selflessly gave her last two mites, Judean coins, out of sheer faith came to mind, offering the women insight and inspiration. Luke 21:2-3 says, “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ He said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others.’” The group assumed the name Widow’s Mite Experience and developed a plan.
Following the Biblical lesson, the group decided that the key to raising funds was asking women to truly give of themselves. Rather than the traditional cash donation, Widow’s Mite Experience centered its fund-raising around sacrificial giving and the concept that givers offer their best, whether that is time, talent or treasure.
“We now knew how we wanted to raise money, but we knew nothing about digging wells,” explains Widow’s Mite Experience Chair Janet Baker. And so they sought out an organization that could assist them in turning their funds into flowing water. The women made a long list of strict criteria and began the search. When they came upon WorldReach, an affiliate of well-known nonprofit ministry organization Christian Broadcasting Network, they knew that they had found their partner. WorldReach was the only organization to meet – and far exceed – their criteria.
With a fund-raising concept and a partner in place, the women of Widow’s Mite Experience posted a few flyers around town and placed ads in the local paper, requesting donations of personal treasures to be sold at an auction to benefit the charity. The women were overwhelmed with the response. It was clear that the public understood the need and took it to heart. Donations included everything from vacation getaways and fine furniture to rare antiques and art. The first auction raised an inspiring $35,000, provision for nearly 30 wells.
Widow’s Mite Experience now hosts several fund-raisers throughout the year and throughout the country, from Newport Beach on the West Coast to Virginia Beach on the East Coast and several points in between. Local auctions are typically held annually in the fall. But if you can’t wait for an auction, you can visit the Widow’s Mite Experience Unique Boutique year round. Located in Shallotte, the Boutique regularly accepts donations, which are then available for sale to the public.
Whether you are shopping at the boutique or attending an auction, expect to be impressed. “This is not a flea market or an attic sale,” stresses Baker. “These items are personal treasures from women giving their best. Fine furs and furniture, jewelry and accessories, china and crystal, and everything in between. Every penny raised is out of love and sheer sacrifice.”
One hundred percent of net proceeds from both the boutique and the auctions go directly to WorldReach’s initiative Operation Blessing Living Water, which provides safe water to suffering countries around the world by building wells, educating the communities about hygiene, building sanitation facilities and teaching the residents about “a man named Jesus,” explains Baker.
Each well provides clean water to hundreds of people in poverty stricken villages. Women and children who once faced a long and dangerous journey to retrieve murky water from mud holes to serve their families now have fast and safe access to clean water, as well as a new-found reason for living — faith.
Since its inception five years ago, Widow’s Mite Experience has raised more than $300,000 and financed nearly 300 wells, bringing safe water to 18 countries, including villages throughout China, India, Africa, Peru, Cambodia, Guatemala and India. It’s an effort that not only impacts the statistics, but also the hearts and lives of thousands.
Baker recalls a letter that the group received from a mother living in a village where Widow’s Mite Experience had helped built a well. “She said that, for the first time in her whole life, her daughters were now safe. What a great reminder that you and me have an opportunity to change lives all across the world, from right here in Shallotte,” says Baker.
Widow’s Mite Experience began as a group of women banding together to form one heart serving one God. They had big goals, which meant raising money through something more than selling candy bars, catalogs and car washes. Widow’s Mite Experience offers the public their priceless personal treasures while also providing those in need with a priceless gift — the gift of clean water and an inspired life.
The long-term goal of Widow’s Mite Experience is to provide clean drinking water and an understanding of God’s word to every village on earth. And with the compassion, energy and momentum of this group, there is no doubt that this vision is attainable.
More on Widow’s Mite Experience
For more information about Widow’s mite experience and upcoming fund-raising events, visit www.Widowsmiteexperience.com or call (910) 547-4668.
Widow’s mite experience unique Boutique is located at 4745 main street in Shallotte and is open for shopping and donation drop-off on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm and by appointment. Beginning in February, the Boutique will open on Thursdays as well.