ANDERSON – Natalie Farmer and her sister, Hillary Novak, were about to hand a check for $700 to Dove Harbor, the safe haven organization for women in crisis
Instead they distributed that amount to a crowd in $5 increments and hoped the gift would come back – with a little bit of a snowball effect.
While tithing is not new to the sisters, deciding to pull a community into the giving experience was a novel – and frightening – idea.
To everyone’s amazement, the $700 brought back a whopping $13,704.95.
“It was terrifying to give away $700 from our checking account,” said Farmer, accountant for singer Sandi Patty. “Some of the people were new and we didn’t know them. We took a leap of faith and engaged a crowd of people and we raised so much more than we could have by ourselves.”
Farmer and Novak own Sister Fitness and teach three Zumba classes each week at Madison Park Church of God. Approximately 100 to 120 women attend each session, enjoying a workout and child care for $5. Dove Harbor is one of the agencies that regularly benefits from the charity of the business.
Rather than giving a lump sum this year, the sisters decided to pass out five-dollar bills to the attendees of the July 9 session and ask the women to plant the money and make it grow. They never dreamed the harvest would be so plentiful.
Lemonade stand, movie night
Farmer and Novak announced that if students were unable to participate, they should simply return the money at the appointed time. If everyone returned exactly what they were given, Dove Harbor would still receive the original amount that was slated for donation.
“Their goal was to empower other women,” said Deanna Zimmer, director of resource development at Dove Harbor. “Everything they do is so intentional. They had a 95 percent return and fewer than 10 women only brought back the five dollars. “