Women recently gathered for tea at the Lake Park home of Valarie Ross one hot afternoon.Much like a scene from the fictional “Tara” in “Gone with the Wind,” the tea tasters were clad in hats and fancy dresses as they gathered on one of the home’s four verandas and at tables in the yard.Tea leaves were steeped and put in glass containers, with descriptions of each flavor on the outside. Iced tea was poured into Mason jars with old-fashioned straws. Fancy desserts and finger sandwiches were served on elegant porcelain plates.But the event wasn’t about the tea or the beautiful place settings.“Our tea has a purpose,” Ross said.She started taking hot, freshly-steeped tea to people in need as– like a sort-of ministry of sorts.Ross once took tea – complete with china and conversation – to a woman preparing for breast cancer surgery. The woman cried when she realized the time it took and the special care needed to prepare the teagiven.“It’s amazing what it does for people,” Ross said. “We’re always so busy, always looking for the quickest way to do things.”But steeping the tea takes time, unlike quickly microwaving water and using a tea bag.Another ministry that Ross created involves custom-labeled bottled water under the name of Clean Water 50/50. The organization focuses on wants to promoting clean water to people worldwideall over the world.Half of the profits go to support areas around the world that don’t have clean water. She began marketing the product in November. Southbrook Church and some local businesses carry the water. Visit cleanwater.com or find them on Facebook to learn more.Ross decided to combine two ministries by hosting a tea party at her home. She invited people from her neighborhood and church, Matthews United Methodist, as well as her friends to join her.“I married it all together,” she said. “While we are enjoying drinking tea, we’re also giving back.” Donations were accepted at the tea, with all of the proceeds went to Clean Water 50/50. Following the invitation suggestions of a June wedding theme, guests wore blue and white dresses, or something old or borrowed; some even wore hats.One guest, Laurie McBroom, who lives in Lake Park, wore her wedding dress from she had worn when she and her husband renewed their vows in Scotland in 2007.“This was a great opportunity to wear this dress again,” she said.Guests dropped in throughout the lazy afternoon to partake of the flavored iced tea that Ross purchases from a distributor. Ross serves hot tea only when the weather is cold, saving iced tea for the hotter seasonswhen it’s hot. She has plans are to host two to three teas a year.“Not only does Valarie exemplify the quintessential Southern hostess, more importantly she exudes quiet, sweet words of faith to those nearby as well as the world at large,” said Brenda Scholl, who attended the tea. “She yearns to make a difference.”
Friday, Jul. 12, 2013
Ministry offers tea, water to make a difference
Kim Becknell Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Kim? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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