Ten little girls and three boys have been waiting in the wings—quite literally—for the last month to find out if they will be chosen for the 2014 Angels of Hope cover child. Though these sweeties are precious, this is no beauty contest. It’s a fund-raiser and online voting contest to raise money for Women of Hope, a Wilmington nonprofit that helps support women after any cancer diagnosis.
“With cancer, you instantly become a survivor, fighting it, the minute you receive that diagnosis,” says Elizabeth Barnes, the founder of Women of Hope. “But what we know is that you become better off because of that diagnosis because life is sweeter; family draws closer. With support groups in Women of Hope, confidentially, women can laugh and cry together.”
The fourth annual Angels of Hope Charity Campaign is sponsored by Barnes’ husband, local photographer Kenny Barnes. Elizabeth puts out a call over Facebook for parents interested in volunteering to have their child photographed for the calendar. Then Kenny takes the photos and adds the wings in his studio off 41st Street. The children’s parents, grandparents and the public vote for a dollar each, with all monies benefitting the charity.
Donna Shingleton of Shingleton Farms in Pender County allowed her 3-year-old granddaughter, Caidyn Shingleton, to be involved in the calendar. It’s a way to continue supporting a cause she loves.
“We’ve known Kenny and Elizabeth for years and years,” she says, “and it’s just really a cause we believe in. Everybody wants their sweet angel to win, so, to me, it’s a great way for them to raise money.”
All of the children will be included in a 2014 calendar, which Women of Hope also sells as a fund-raiser. Votes get cast for the front cover of the calendar and will continue at the organization’s website, womenofhope.com, until October 31st.
Barnes chose angels as a reflection of her deep Christian faith. Yet, Women of Faith is not a faith-based organization. In fact, angels are everywhere at their photo studio. Stone angels line the walkway outside. A portrait on Elizabeth’s desk shows an angel kicking her feet up on a cloud, saying, “Even angels need a break now and then.”
“As a studio, we’ve been here 26 years, and this is what we felt God was leading us to direct especially when cancer became personal for us,” Elizabeth adds.
She was speaking of their daughter, Kelly, who was diagnosed at age 32 with breast cancer. Now, Kelly is in remission and planning her wedding.
“As we went through our journey with Kelly, we realized there were areas of support for families dealing with cancer that were not being met in the community,” Barnes continues. “This may sound weird, but if you were fortunate enough to get a breast cancer diagnosis then you had lots of support. But for women with other cancers, there was nothing for them.”
Women of Hope fills those gaps. Women and their families who are dealing with colon, rectal, breast, leukemia and any other type of cancer become part of support programs around the region. With the groups set up in New Hanover, Pender and Duplin counties, the organization aims to add more in Brunswick and Onslow counties soon.
Women of Hope hosts a New Hanover County Support Group at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays each month at Freedom Baptist Church (802 North College Rd., between Corning and the Kings Grant residential subdivision). The West Pender and Duplin support groups meet at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Thursdays each month at Friendly Community Baptist Church (1730 US Hwy. 117 in Burgaw).
They continue to ramp up their public presence, too. Just last week, Women of Hope hosted The Carolina Cancer Care Expo and Symposium at UNCW along with the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, SEAHEC, and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center—Zimmer Cancer Center.
In addition to the Angels of Hope Calendar campaign, the group will hold the Duplin Winery 5K Run for Hope on October 19th and The Hope Ball on November 8th. All money goes to their support programs.
Women of Hope
Angels of Hope
Vote for $1 for cover; monies go toward Women of Hope support groups
Deadline: October 31st
Amanda Greene is the editor of Wilmington Faith & Values at WilmingtonFAVS.com. Do you have a volunteer opportunity to highlight? Email her at Amanda.Greene@ReligionNews.com or call 910-520-3958.