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Swannanoa church lifts spirits of women who needed to feel like a queen for a day

(Photo credit:John Le, WLOS)

Our Person of the Week spearheaded an effort to make women from local shelters feel special at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Edwina Messer and more than 100 volunteers helped pull off the "Queen For A Day" banquet at First Baptist Church of Swannanoa.

The eighth annual tradition helped the congregation rediscover the power to empower. The women are treated to dinner, clothes, hair services, and makeup.

"So we're having the Queen for a Day banquet for women from seven different shelters," Messer explained. "It means that I get to share a little bit of the love that God's given me."

The royal treatment was a foreign experience to Tammy Anderson of Buncombe County.

"It feels uncomfortable if you're not used to it, being treated so nice," says Tammy, who lives in a mountain shelter.

As she perused the clothes and accessories, she came across a purse she needed--and hit the jackpot.

"That is so nice!" she said of a bag that's normally a luxury she can't afford. "Probably never owned nothing this expensive before. Maybe a car."

One night was a step toward helping the women feel whole again.

"The community reaching out to someone like me," Anderson said, tearing up. "I didn't expect it, I feel I should be giving because I've taken so much, but this community keeps giving to me."

Tammy lives in a world of guilt. She was in prison for almost 10 years, after her fifth DWI left two people injured.

After serving her sentence, the recovering alcoholic appreciates First Baptist--and a second chance.

"I'm so grateful that I didn't kill somebody, and how I didn't is by the grace of God," she said. "But it's given me an even deeper appreciation for this community and this church. It feels uncomfortable, if you're not used to it, being treated so nice, but it makes me wanna be a better person."

"It does let them know we care about them," Edwina told us. "Oh, I think everyone deserves a second chance regardless of what you've done."

She pointed to everyone else in the room who helped pull off a successful night.

"A lot of them are very appreciative, a lot of them come from rough backgrounds," said Harvey Hart, among the volunteer cooks in the kitchen. "And just show them a bit of love. Show them Jesus loves them."

"Feed them a meal. Let'em know that everything is not bad, you know?" said Evelyn Carter, manning the dessert table.

The hope is that a family-style meal would help renew the faith and lift the spirits of its special guests.

In the meantime, the event brought church members together to help people who need a hand.

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