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Women helping women

Craft fair designed to raise funds, awareness for women in need

BATAVIA - This weekend at Batavia Covenant Church, there will be crafts and jewelry for sale. Vendors will offer up their wares, and patrons can take home handmade art and antique collectibles.

But beyond the booths, there's a mission at work -- to bring help and support to women in need-- both here at home and across the globe.

Just in time to shop for Mother’s Day, the women of the Batavia Covenant will be hosting “Give a Girl a Lift: a Vendor and Craft Fair” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the church at 1314 W. Main Street, Batavia.

In cooperation with, and support of, a host of agencies, shelters, and women's services programs, the event boasts more than 20 vendors, from popular and individual cosmetic, jewelry & kitchenware businesses to home crafters and bakers, as well as silk scarves & tote bags from the mission fields.

During the course of the day the sales effort is complemented by 20-minute informational presentations, that will provide information on four different service organizations benefitting from the event -

• 11am - WellSpring Center for Hope, Director, Elouise Spencer. An outreach of the Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, and located on Chicago’s southeast side, WellSpring Center for Hope offers help to victims of domestic violence and works to stop the cycle of abuse through community outreach.
• 12noon - PROTECT, Cherith Anderson, a key participant in the creation of the Covenant's Break the Chains initiative, giving local congregations the tools and information to fight human trafficking in their own communities.
• 1:30pm - AVA (Advocacy for Victims of Abuse) Dawn Price, Advocate for Central Conference. AVA informs, educates, and raises awareness for Mending the Soul, which is a recovery ministry to those impacted by abuse.
• 2:30pm – Lifespring Center, a ministry of Wayside Cross in Aurora. Von Towns, of Lifespring, a long-term transitional living program for homeless women and women with children, who have lost their housing due to addiction, abuse or financial reasons. .

Organizers of the fair, members of the Women Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church, hope the event raises both the funding for and awareness of the issues facing many women today.

"I knew that these were issues the women of our church needed to be aware of," said Ann Richards TITLE WITH THE CHURCH. "These initiatives that we are supporting are really strong within our denominations- meding the soul and victims of domestic abuse.

Richards said she heard about a similar event in Naperville, and started branistoriming with fellow members..

"We have women in our church that operate these kinds of buisinesses. People who run home parties. Several strong crafters.," she said. "Everyone was excited to get involved."

Richards says she views the event as simply a "jumping off point" for the Batavia women ministries group to spread the word to the community, and to its younger female members.

"As a church its important to find out about these services that need our support. The women in our generation did several things with the Lifespring Center. Brought in speakers, held mini-retreats with women in desperate circumstances.," she said. "As we have a younger generation coming up with young children, its valuable to spread the word."

She said the Women Ministries, through its initiative Project Empower U, provides education for young people on issues such as dating, children's safety, and the like.

"Trafficking, for example, is everywhere. Its all over the nation, and the average age of girls being taken is 13." she said. ""It's a shocking kind of thing to hear. But for us to stick our heads in the sand is not a good thing.

"I have felt a long time our church needed to take a stronger look at these ministries," she said. "We need to be aware of all these things. A lot of the church leaders felt this was really valid."

So in addition to the needlework, recycled goods, antiques, jewelry, and Christian decor, on hand, patrons of the fair might also get their consciousness raised through the ministry presentations and the ongoing discussions bound to waft through the aisles.

"If interest in the ministries can be encouraged, it would be fantastic, as they are all areas where we need to have our eyes opened," Richards said. "We're really giving a lot of girls a lift. Vendors can raise funds to help their family, and we can spread word of these hugely important agencies."

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