“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5
In the fall of 2015, TT Williford, Diane Haupt, Deb Cool and I planned a weekend retreat for our church. As happens in many churches, changes came that rocked our world. Many dear friends felt it was time for them to move on to find new church homes. But this retreat was already planned for May – right in the midst of some if the biggest changes.
Well, you know that ladies love to get together and regardless of whether we saw each other every Sunday morning or not, everyone still came to the retreat.
When the weekend was over, TT, Diane, Deb and I, said how wonderful it was to see everyone come together and love on each other – no matter what church they attended or even if they didn’t attend church at all.
From this moment, The Connection was born.
And now, ladies from more than 20 different churches in 3 different states are part of TC (The Connection). We are in awe over what God is doing through this ministry.
We have much to celebrate.
God has provided so much. He provided wonderful mentors such as Lori Wriston with Valor Ministries and Laura Acuna and Donna Bowles with Sisters in Faith Ministries. He has provided a top of the line laser printer. Tables. Chairs. Over 200 chairs in fact. We believe that someday, we’ll know the reason why we need that many chairs!
God has blessed hundreds of women thru The Connection. In 2018 alone, we served 180 women in person — and many more through our online communities – the blog, Instagram and Facebook.
Since 2016 when we began, there have been many serve projects to bless others — from collecting items to hands-on projects like candy making for Brooke’s House, washing feet and fitting kids with new shoes at Project Big Love. Serving a meal & visiting at New Hope Shelter.
In 3 years, there have been: 2 – Day retreats , 3 – Weekend Retreats, 3 semesters of Together mentoring and approximately 30 ladies have been involved in that program alone, 4 – Workshops, 9 – Book clubs or studies, Embrace has met 14 times, Refresh 35 times. And that’s not everything that we’ve done!
Last October, the board decided that just as God asks us as individuals to tithe, the ministry should tithe too to give back to Him and allow us to serve others in bigger ways. Now, 10% of all gifts to TC and 10% of profits on any events are set aside for this.
One current project made possible through ministry tithes is that we are supporting New Hope Homeless Shelter in Waynesboro.
Another project made possible through our tithes is that we are in the process of setting up a college scholarship that will be awarded this coming spring to a graduating senior girl from Waynesboro High School. We are hoping that over time, we’ll be able to expand this program to include other schools and multiple awards. We want to help grow the next generation of women!
In early 2020, we will begin to offer online book clubs/studies. This will be especially helpful to reach those that have trouble getting to our events because of childcare or transportation issues. Of course, this will allow us to reach ladies outside of our immediate area. So when the time comes, you can invite family and friends to join no matter where they live!
So, I told you about some projects we’re working on now. Let’s talk about longer term goals…
We feel called to mentor other women’s ministries. Right now, we aren’t sure what that will look like. But we feel sure that it’s coming in God’s timing. In the shorter term, we are talking about launching a closed Facebook group to support other community-based women’s ministry organizations.
There are lots of groups, blogs, and even books and training materials for women’s ministry leaders but they are mainly focused of church-based ministries. The needs and the way community-based ministries operate is very different. We would like to fill that void. We feel that this is a good first step in helping other ministries.
We foresee TC being a beacon in the community – being known as that organization that helps people and does good stuff for women. We want TC to be a household name that everyone is aware of and is known for its integrity and big heart. More and more people seem to be recognizing TC’s name. I even had a young cashier recognize the logo on my name badge. She said she saw a flyer at the library. Yes!!
Last year, we set a goal to be in a rental unit by October 2020. We want to have a “home” where women can come to feel safe and loved and be uplifted. A space for book clubs and private conversations. A place to drop in when you need a hug or someone to chat with. An office to centralize our stuff and general operations. A place to answer the question, “Where is TC?” It will give the ministry more credibility. A place to be prepared for the future plans God has for the ministry because we KNOW that He has big plans that He has yet to reveal to us.
What will it take for these goals to be realized?
Please prayerfully consider how you can help us get into our new home so that we can make an even bigger impact and shine light in our community.
We are excited about what God has already done, is doing now and has planned for the future The Connection. We hope that you are too.
Interested in giving to The Connection? Here are some ways to make that happen:
UPDATE: In January 2020, we moved into our new home at 112 Walnut Street, Waynesboro, PA. Ahead of our schedule. Right on time with God’s. We are overwhelmed at how He loves and cares for us. As any parent, He loves to shower His kids with wonderful gifts. Please stop in for a visit! Office hours: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from 9am to 2pm.
Mandy is a board member and executive director of The Connection. She loves to facilitate women connecting with each other and helping them grow in their faith.
Mandy and her husband have been married for 39 years and have 2 adult children, 2 in-law children and 3 grandchildren.