By LERAE COLLINS, UNITED METHODIST COMMUNICATIONS
Two moms are determined to help the Mississippi Annual Conference raise $1 million in one year to fight malaria.
Meet Charity Gordon (pictured right) and Darlene Dotherow, two mothers on a mission to make sure children anywhere do not die from a preventable disease. And they’re doing something about it. Gordon serves as field coordinator for the Mississippi Annual Conference and Dotherow is volunteering as the chair of the conference’s campaign steering committee. Their professional backgrounds make them great fits to lead the campaign, but it’s their role as mothers and faith that inspires them to fight malaria.
Gordon is a mom of a son and daughter, ages 9 and 10 respectively. “It’s so unjust that there’s prevention and treatment for this disease that’s taking lives. It’s one thing we can do something about, so let’s do it,” she said.
As field coordinator, Gordon will work every day traveling, speaking and inspiring others to join Imagine No Malaria. Driving the backroads of Mississippi is nothing new to this former community development worker, school bus driver, professor and newspaper editor. If you think that’s a varied career you’d be right: Gordon is also a clergy spouse and has moved around the state with her husband’s appointments to various churches. “I’ve done different things depending on where we served,” she said, adding that she’s excited about her year to serve the Mississippi Annual Conference.
“How is this disease still killing so many children?” Dotherow asked herself. And then she acted by volunteering to serve as the chair of the conference’s steering committee. Professionally, Darlene was a medical school graduate and second year internal medicine resident when she made the decision to step away from medicine to stay home with her sons who are now adults. This year when she got a letter from Bishop James Swanson inviting her to be part “an adventure to stamp out malaria” she realized this could be an opportunity to use her medical education and background. “Maybe this is the Lord giving me another chance after all these years to heal and save lives. I was convicted. Here’s an opportunity to use medicine to help others,” she said.
Gordon and Dotherow will combine their passion as mothers with their faith, professional experience and life skills to fight malaria and invite Mississippi United Methodists to join them. Raising $1 million is no small task, but they’re ready for the adventure.
“If we can do anything to open up eyes to improve awareness of malaria, then we will have been successful,” Dotherow said. They hope to accomplish beyond what they can imagine for those vulnerable to malaria. Gordon can already see Mississippi United Methodist churches impacted by this effort. “It’s a bonus,” she said, “that Imagine No Malaria has a way of showing our churches what ‘we’ can do together.”
Churches in the Mississippi Annual Conference have started raising funds and planning activities. Gordon recently spoke at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Amory, Mississippi, a congregation of five on that Sunday morning. The small, aging congregation believed in the vision to help meet the needs of others and gave generously in an offering that raised more than $625. The church didn’t stop there—they’re planning on partnering with other churches to do more and be a part of a great thing.
The Mississippi Annual Conference is on its way to do a great thing in the fight against malaria and Gordon and Dotherow are leading the way.