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At English Tea, Rising Hope Fetes Volunteers

“The ladies of Rising Hope really rose to the occasion.”

Debra Knight wears Kay Barnes’ hat, which she borrowed.

Debra Knight wears Kay Barnes’ hat, which she borrowed. Photo Contributed

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Tea Party organizer Kay Barnes (standing) poses with volunteers Pam Heath and Debra Johnson.

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These women are about to nibble a variety of food.

Just for fun, about 40 Rising Hope volunteers were treated on Friday, March 15, to a semi-formal English tea party complete with white tablecloths, china cups and saucers from England, and an array of dainties to nibble.

“The ladies of Rising Hope really rose to the occasion. They all turned up in dresses and hats,” said Kay Barnes, Rising Hope’s resident Englishwoman who is director of missions. Thanks to volunteers and donations, Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church aids the poor along the Route 1 corridor. Events to thank the volunteers are held about every six months.

“One thing I think is remarkable,” said Rising Hope’s pastor, the Rev. Keary Kincannon, “is that most of the volunteers today are from the community that Rising Hope serves. We also have many more who come from supporting churches within the community.”

Colluding on the tea party scheme were staffers Venisa McCormick, Sula Tyler and volunteer Maryellen Rodgers who made the triangular cucumber sandwiches. Other nibbles included strawberries and other fruits, diminutive egg salad sandwiches, cookies and meat pastries.

The tea leaves themselves deserve mention, being a Yorkshire tea from Taylors at Harrogate, England. “It’s a black tea stronger than what you have over here,” said Barnes.

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Mary Baker wears a small black hat with net.

Among the guests was volunteer Icilda Rattigan who has donated time serving in the mission’s clothes closet called “From Rags to Riches.” Originally from Jamaica, she said she loved “the beautiful English setting” and enjoyed feeling “accepted and appreciated.”

“It was so pleasant just to sit and chat,” she said. “I just felt good, like among friends and family.”

Another guest was long-time volunteer and church member Mary Baker, who said, “I just enjoyed the ladies sitting around drinking tea. I had a little hat on my head, a little black hat with a hairnet.” She’s volunteered in the kitchen and on numerous committees.

“It made me feel wonderful, very important after my years of volunteering,” said another volunteer Dale Turner, who’s helped in the office. “I was honored to be there. Everybody had a great time socializing.”

“Many that need our assistance,” said Kincannon, “also volunteer in our services as a way of giving back. Rising Hope is not about freebies or handouts. We are about building an organization where rich and poor, black, white and Hispanic, housed and homeless can work side by side to bring solutions to those in need. We are purposefully manifesting the values of the Kingdom of God to bring healing to our community.”

“We had such a lovely afternoon,” said Barnes. “It was a little bit of England that came to our world.”