By Eren Simpson
Photo courtesy of Marissa Joy Kaplan Photography
What started as a weekly women’s bible study among friends has evolved into a nonprofit organization that’s expanding its reach beyond the members’ living rooms.
In 2013, Katrina McCain and her friends were all attending different churches when they all felt the need for female fellowship opportunities.
“Most of us were in our last year of college or finishing up college and it was just me and Ashley Blanton at first,” McCain said, and through word of mouth the group grew to 12.
The women started reading “Crazy Love” by Frances Chan, which challenged them to break out into their community.
“After we read that book, we came to the understanding that it’s great to talk about the Lord and loving people, but let’s see what we can do with the resources we have,” McCain said. “We all have different careers – some are teachers, one is an engineer, two of us are counselors, two are in medicine … We have so many resources in our group. So we started volunteering.”
The group started with things such as collecting items for the women’s shelter, donating to Goodwill and Operation Christmas Child, and then in March 2016 they traveled to Honduras to help at several medical clinics, churches and schools.
“After that, we were still doing our local outreach, but we stayed connected with the principal in Honduras, who would update us about the kids – the good and the bad,” McCain said.
She explained that some of the children couldn’t stay in school because they didn’t have or couldn’t afford transportation, or would get caught up in sex trafficking, while others got $150 scholarships to pay for a year of school.
“He [the principal]wished he could have scholarships for other students, and that’s when we said, ‘What can we do?’”
McCain, who previously modeled professionally in New York and California, reached out to her connections still in the industry and, in December 2016, they pulled together a fashion show here in Charlotte that raised $2,000.
McCain said she’s amazed at what her group has evolved into.
“It started with a bible study, and there are people interested in collaborating with us for 2017,” she said. “A lot is changing this year because we’re all in different places right now; some are married, some are expecting children, but we have so much momentum, so there’s no telling where we’ll be this year.”
Pearls of Hope received its 501(c) 3 nonprofit status in 2014 and is always open to new members and new opportunities. McCain said as her organization continues to grow and change, she hopes the group will become more diversified – racially, in faith, etc., “because different people bring different things to the table.
“I want people to know Pearls of Hope is a come-as-you-are network of women,” McCain said. “We really are about friendship and accountability number one, because if our group is not united, the projects we do aren’t going to make a very big impact, so it’s just so important to be connected to people who love you for you and push you to your own personal greatness, with the expectation you’re going to push them as well.”
To learn more about Pearls of Hope, visit www.pearlsofhopeoutreach.org.