Blustery, horrible weather didn’t stop Gems and Java from raising more money than last year for programs that focus on children’s education, and women’s health and empowerment
Volunteer Kathy Worrall bids on a Kate Spade purse at the Gems and Java fundraising event on Saturday. (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)
Freezing rain didn’t stop them, nor did sleet and snow.
More than two thirds of those who purchased tickets for the Gems and Java fundraiser for Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia showed up at the event Saturday afternoon despite slick roads and nasty, freezing drizzle.
Thanks to their donations, the two fundraisers – one held Friday evening and one on Saturday --- raised $85,000, up $2,000 from the previous year. As well, more donations are expected to come in over the next few weeks.
“We had so many more ladies than expected considering the weather,” said Shelley Green, founder of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. ”Who would have thought on April 14th there would be that kind of weather?”
Green said several people, anticipating the bad weather, arrived Friday and stayed over.
“Some people that came from out of town told me they wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Green said. “We were so delighted and thankful they ventured out.”
The organization’s largest fundraising event of the year provides funding for current and future projects, which empower women and promotes education in Ethiopia.
Cousins Emma Wassing, left, and Samantha Wassing at the Gems and Java event at Cowan Park on Saturday. (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)
It is completely run and organized by 150 volunteers.
“It’s truly a labour of love – it’s a huge undertaking,” Green said. “The fact that it is 100 per cent volunteers is amazing.”
During National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Green said she wanted to extend a special thank you to her volunteers.
“This is a beautiful, powerful example of what volunteers can achieve and the difference volunteers can make,” she said. “It’s incredible.”
The program featured an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and a video presentation with Tilahun Getnet, Green’s son in Ethiopia.
To date, Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia has donated more than $375,000 to projects that focus on children’s education, and women’s health and empowerment.
The fundraiser helps to finance several current programs, including a group home for boys, as well as a Spice Grinder project that empowers women to build businesses in rural communities.
They have also provided funding for surgeries for women to fix prolapsed uteruses, and delivered washable menstrual wraps for girls and women who have had to rely on dirty rags or leaves in the past.
A Girls Gotta Run program sponsors girls so they can attend school and receive running skills training, as well as life skills to help build confidence.
The Busajo project provides children living on the streets of Soddo, Ethiopia, with food, clothing, medication, education, a place to live and psychological care.
Their most recent undertaking is providing support to two newly formed girls’ soccer teams.
Green, with three volunteers, will be returning to Ethiopia this June to check on projects, make sure money is being spent correctly and meet with women and children who utilize the programs.