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Churchs Emporium lends a hand to women in need
Nodya Havice tries on some items for sale at the Great Fynds booth at the Hearts & Hands Emporium at the First Baptist Church banquet hall on Friday afternoon. The event benefits North House and continues today. Great Fynds’ Amber Cook helped Havice try on several garments.
Heart and Hands Emporium
What: Shopping event to benefit North House Facility for Women with Addictions
Where: First Baptist Church Banquet Hall, 751 Green St., Gainesville
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $3; shoppers are invited to pay $10 to cover their ticket, provide a $7 donation to North House and enter them into prize drawings
Contact: Jenny Burns at 404-388-6320 or Bev Knight at 770 536-0322

At the annual Heart & Hands Emporium, every purchase changes the world — even just a little bit.

At least, that’s the idea behind the event, a two-day shopping fest at First Baptist Church in Gainesville. This unique shopping experience organized by the church’s Women’s Ministry will benefit the North House, a nonprofit residential recovery home for women battling addiction.

The event continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the banquet hall of First Baptist Church. Entrance is $3, but shoppers are invited to pay $10, which will cover their ticket, provide a $7 donation to North House, and enter them in prize drawings.

This was Moso Norwood’s second year at the emporium, and the Atlanta resident said she enjoyed selling her art in such a "positive experience."

"It’s a lot of fun," Norwood said. "I don’t live in Gainesville, but I feel like I’m part of the Gainesville family. Everybody is so friendly. It’s a great place to come to just feel good."

Mary Beth Begley was at the emporium with her toy poodle, GinGin. It was her first year at the emporium with her company, The Crystal Plate.

"I thought it would be a good opportunity to give back to the community and raise awareness for The North House," Begley said.

The members of The Women’s Ministry have been preparing for this event for the past year. This past week is when all that work started to pay off, organizers said.

"It’s an exciting week because it is when it starts to become real," said Jennifer Burns, associate pastor of communications and special ministries at First Baptist Church.

Burns said the goal is to raise at least $12,000.

The emporium gives many women an excuse to have a "girl’s day."

"It not only gives them an opportunity to have a relaxing day and find items that they may want to have, but it also changes the lives of people right here in our community," Burns said. "To me, if I can come and purchase something that I would purchase anyway, and I can impact the life of someone else by doing it, I think that’s a wonderful benefit and opportunity."

The North House is dedicated to helping women start new and heathy lives. This year’s emporium is reminding people that men are not the only ones who suffer from alcohol and drug addictions.

Burns said she believes it is important for people to be aware that women suffer as well.

"So many children look up to women because men can often hide it better by going to work throughout the day or having less involvement with the family," Burns said. "With women, it becomes a little more visible because children see it a lot more, and it impacts a lot of households more deeply."

Burns said a lot of the women who have the opportunity to come to The North House make the decision to leave their family for two years in order to change their lives so that they can be a better mom.

Marilyn Davis, executive director of The North House, said over the last 20 years, statistically more women have been diagnosed with the disease of addiction, and there are more women who are getting criminal charges as a result of drugs and alcohol and DUIs.

Because of this, it is necessary that women get the help and support that they need.

"For a long time, women addicts and alcoholics have been more stigmatized than men, and so for an organization like First Baptist Church to support the female addict and alcoholic, that is huge," Davis said. "It really is saying: granted, you probably have not been a good mom, you probably have broken the law, but you are really trying to turn your life around, and we’re going to support that effort."