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“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Rom. 8:26

Daughters of Sarah welcome a new generation

Self Development of People in Hudson River Presbytery

By Cathy Surgenor

Twenty years ago Ruth Faircloth’s mother lived in a rural area west of the Hudson River and felt very alone and isolated.  Ruth remembers that her mom cried a lot. Finally a minister visited and suggested that other women in her situation might be feeling the same way too. They decided they should try to do something about it.  From that decision the group known as Daughters of Sarah was born.  The women gather weekly to share concerns, problem solve and learn leadership skills. They have faced issues of poverty, prejudice and gender violence. They hold retreats and workshops and reach out to women in trouble. They sponsor an annual Black Heritage Dinner and co-sponsor an annual statewide Rural Women’s Conference. 

It hasn’t been easy to keep this project going with little outside financial support. For example, down payments for retreat sites often meant digging into personal finances and praying that enough money would come in to reimburse the leaders. Over the years the financial stress has become a drain and source of anxiety. Yet they have continued. Now Ruth is president of the Daughters of Sarah group and she and her fellow daughters are reaching out to a new generation. They want to expand their network and bring in speakers that will inspire them. They want this new generation to find the confidence to pursue their dreams. 

When members of the Hudson River Presbytery Self-Development of People Committee visited the Daughters of Sarah for a site visit we were impressed with the sense of sisterhood and commitment that the members had for each other. Each woman had gifts to share. Their laughter and good spirits were contagious.  We decided to fund their proposal by awarding the group a $12,000 grant for its project.   The project will assist women with building their confidence, skills and support systems to empower themselves for change. They will expand their outreach and network, develop stronger educational programs and find ways to become self-sustaining.

I happened to sit next to Ruth at a dinner for Rural and Migrant Ministry, an ecumenical ministry that has done great work for many years.  Ruth now serves on their board. She was excited to tell me about the last retreat Daughters of Sarah hosted. She also expressed what a relief it was to know there was money for a down payment. She is energized. So is her husband who was also at the dinner. He is working with a men’s group and looking for a retreat site where the men can feel comfortable in supporting each other. 


Are you a member of a group of low-income persons working on issues of importance to you and your community, will working on these issues result in long-term positive change? Are you in need of financial assistance? Contact SDOP at (502) 569-5782,  we would welcome talking with you and possibly hosting a community workshop in your area.

Cathy Surgenor serves as Chair of the Hudson River Presbytery Self-Development of People Committee. She also serves on the Northeast Task Force of the National Self-Development of People Committee. Cathy resides in Holmes, New York.


NOTE: We are not currently accepting applications from individual groups outside the United States. For more information, contact the SDOP staff.


The One Great Hour of Sharing ministries are:

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance | Presbyterian Hunger Program | Self-Development of People

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