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Children shine at Hope in Style

September 1, 2014

By J. Blake Ragsdale

Eight-year-old Thomas’ eyes grow wide as he peers curiously through the window of the Greensboro Country Club. “I’ve never been to a country club before!”

He and his fellow Mills Home residents wait to go inside for the third annual Hope in Style, Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) children’s fashion show and silent auction.

Hope in Style took place on August 9 in front of a packed room filled with friends and supporters. Lead sponsors Smart Choice and Belk, both in High Point, made it possible for 47 residents to participate. Belk donated a $150 back-to-school outfit for each child.

“Hope in Style, and the opportunity to shop for new clothes, means so much to our residents,” said BCH’s Karen Slate, the event’s organizer. Volunteers Monica Vaughan and Deborah Sainsting served as co-chairs.

“There are times children come into our care with only the clothes they are wearing.”

Aided by volunteers, the boys and girls were able to shop for their own clothing in preparation for Hope in Style’s pinnacle moment – walking the runway.

“I’m a little nervous, but it’s great because it’s something new I get to try,” Mills Home resident Angel said prior to the event. “It makes me feel special.”

Dressed in their new outfits, each child modeled his or her new clothes on the runway for attendees. Event emcee Wanda Starke, the longtime news anchor from WXII Channel 12 stationed in Winston-Salem, and Laura Danclovic, Manager of Belk in High Point, introduced the children as they stepped in front of
the crowd and shared details about their outfits.

“It was cool that I got to wear my new clothes, my shoes and my new ball cap. My cap is my favorite,” Thomas shared. “It made me feel good seeing all the people looking at me when I was up there.”

Hope in Style is not only affirming to BCH’s boys and girls, but it raises much-needed funding to care for their daily needs. A large portion of the proceeds are generated by community sponsors, but another key source of support comes from the event’s silent auction.

“It’s an amazing part of Hope in Style because it offers people a way to support the event by either making an in-kind gift for the auction or bidding on one of the many items,” Slate explained.

More than 150 items were donated this year. The auction opened at 9 a.m. – an hour before the program started, to give shoppers time to bid.

Former Mills Home resident Paulina Burch received a standing ovation as she shared with the audience the success she is experiencing because of her time in care. She recently received her bachelor’s degree in social work and is currently enrolled in a master’s program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“My goal is to give hope to others the same way Baptist Children’s Homes gave hope to me,” Paulina shared.

Hope in Style also featured accomplished pianist and Mills Home church pastor Dr. Randy Stewart and keynote speaker Sharon Decker, the North Carolina Secretary of Commerce.

Decker’s friendship with BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell dates back to childhood. Her father, Hoyle Allred, was pastor of Flint-Groves Baptist Church in Gastonia where a teenage Blackwell and his parents were members.

“It’s been such an honor to be a part of this special day. It’s been great fun,” Decker said. “Thank God for Baptist Children’s Homes.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: To view a special Hope in Style video featuring Keontae, click on