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Bethesda House to set up boutique in 3 Notch Emporium to raise funds

By: Donnamy Steele

Bethesda House is a shelter for local women who are escaping domestic violence. Alison Jackson-Wood explained that Bethesda House is in the process of setting up a booth at the 3 Notch Emporium in an attempt to raise money for the shelter.

The booth will be set up by October 1, Jackson-Wood said.

“We’re calling it the Bethesda House Boutique. We want to have it set up by the end of September, but we want it done by the middle of September if possible. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we want to have this kickoff for the boutique to be right when we prepare for it,” Jackson-Wood said.

“Bethesda House is in the process of starting a social enterprise of our own as a part of our community. It will be a major part of our program and helping women in our house who are escaping domestic violence,” Jackson-Wood said. “We take all kinds of objects, mostly made of wood, and we refresh them or repurpose them. This started when we began to find birdhouses literally everywhere by our house. We started cleaning them up and repositioning them in the yard and it hit us that we could make them really cute again and sell them. It jumpstarted into the idea of taking old pieces of furniture and repurposing them to sell.”

Before the shelter began advertising their new project, they received an abundant amount of donations, according to Jackson-Wood.

“No sooner than we started talking about it, people started donating stuff just because of the concept and we said yes, we’ll take it. We started making the birdhouses and furniture beautiful again“We needed inventory and we got a call from Terry Proctor, who is the new owner of Town and Country Boutique, and we were one of the organizations that benefited from her gifting her old clothing. Then, we decided to start a boutique,” Jackson-Wood said. “We have to be creative about things because of COVID, and we didn’t want to do just one day and be responsible for bringing a group of people together in one day, so we will be utilizing a booth at the emporium. There will be birdhouses, indoor and outdoor furniture, clothing and other items. It’s a small booth and we will add inventory that will fit. It will be updated and replenished each week with clothing and other items. The purpose is to jumpstart this social enterprise that we are starting for Bethesda House.”

The Bethesda House’s mission is to help the women who come to the shelter, motivating them to hold multiple fundraisers to keep the shelter afloat.

“If someone has been abused for decades, they don’t get on their feet and where they need to be just in a few weeks. It’s important to have an emergency shelter, but it’s equally important to help them find their independence and not worry about going back to that situation.”

The board for Bethesda House was formed in 2015, but the process was lengthy in opening the shelter, said Jackson-Wood.

“A lot of work to be done on the property so they spent the next few years preparing and getting the right personnel because it isn’t just for anyone to do. It takes time to put together a team of people to do it, and the fundraising helps pay them as well.”

It is rare for a small county like Covington County to have their own women’s shelter, said Jackson-Wood.

“For a rural community to have a shelter is very unusual, especially since we are completely independent,” Jackson-Wood said. “We only opened last November, so we are just shy of a year.”

The shelter’s main source of income is from the community and fundraisers, which has been put on hold due to the pandemic.

“COVID has been a huge hit to us as far as fundraisers. We had three fundraisers planned for the year, but we were only able to do one of them because of the virus,” Jackson-Wood said. “What we’ve done instead in an effort to be creative is we piggybacked off of fundraisers we were supposed to do in April and August to do an online fundraiser.”

Despite being unable to hold an in-person fundraising event in April, the shelter held an online event that took place every Saturday in June.

“Every Saturday in June we posted a very short video of people who would’ve been table hosts if we were able to have the event in April. The table hosts just talked about their work with Bethesda house, volunteers, financial supporters, and they talked about the work we do here and why they support us,” Jackson-Wood said. “We made about $7,500, which is not bad for 20 minutes of video. It’s about one-third of what we would’ve made if we had the event in April as we had planned. We, like a lot of nonprofits, are really feeling the sting of not being able to raise in a traditional way, which is an understatement.”

Jackson-Wood encourages community members to visit the booth at the Three Notch Emporium to support Bethesda House and their mission.

“It’s a shout-out to the community to thank them for the support they’ve given and an ask for them to continue supporting us because we cannot stay open without them,” Jackson-Wood said. “It’s not just donating, It’s a matter of people connecting with the work we do and having a passion for that and supporting it.”

To stay updated on Bethesda House and their fundraising events, visit their Facebook page @BethesdaHouse1 or website www.bethesdahouseofmercy.com.