Gems & Java

Sponsor Profile: A.P. Hurley Construction Ltd.

We couldn't do Gems & Java without the help of our wonderful sponsors. If you were impressed by the fact that we raised more than $80,000 at our 2017 event, know that our sponsors played a key role.

A.P. Hurley Construction Ltd. has been a major sponsor of Gems & Java for several years now, and 2017 was no exception. 

Owner and president Tony Hurley said his company likes to support Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia's signature fundraiser because it raises money for such important work.

"I think it's a really good cause," Tony said. 

Though he's never been to Gems & Java, Tony has sponsored the event for four years. He got involved thanks to founder Shelley Green, who told him all about the work of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia

"It does a lot of good for people, it helps them and their kids," he said.

Thanks to Tony and our other sponsors, Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia is able to direct its funds to projects that impact women, children, and education in Ethiopia. Thank you so much for your contributions, A.P. Hurley!

Gems Level Sponsors: Gems & Java 2017

We are so grateful to our sponsors who help to make Gems & Java a success!
It is our pleasure to introduce you to this year's Gems Level sponsors...

Roberts & Co. is such a huge supporter of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. In addition to their sponsorship of this year's Gems & Java, the store is also continuing to sell our hand-knit Bears for Busajo! You might also remember seeing them during the Closet Clean Out last fall.

"We chose to sponsor because we believe in the cause of empowering women here and around the world," said owner Vicki Parkhill.

And the hard work of the team behind Gems & Java is inspirational, too, she said.

"The dedication of the volunteers and supporters shows us that when we help others we help ourselves. We join people who share our views, we make new friends and we make a difference," Vicki said.

We are so grateful for the Roberts team. Here Cathy Bateman (left) and Karen Costello (right) show off a couple of those cute bears.

Thank you for your loyal support in so many of our fundraising efforts, Roberts and Co.!

A big thank you to Blanche Blancher and the entire team at Nethercott Press. This Gems Level sponsor is a longtime supporter of Gems & Java, and we are so grateful for the continued support. Thank you so much Blanche and team - your sponsorship helps to make our work possible!

Lawn Lions.jpg

A big thank you to Jeff Jarrell, owner of Lawn Lions Property Maintenance, for his continued sponsorship of Gems & Java. Lawn Lions is a Gems Level Sponsor for this year's event.

We appreciate your support, Jeff!

Ashlee Hall is the co-chair of the Gems & Java committee and has been an incredible asset to the event.  Her event planning experience, her enthusiasm, and commitment to our work have been incredibly beneficial.  Ashlee's workplace, Cowan Park, is a Gems Level sponsor of our event. 

It's not hard to see why we love having Cowan Park as a sponsor - and as the location for Gems & Java.

"We feel very strongly about giving back. As a community-based, not-for-profit organization, we understand and appreciate the tremendous amount of effort, volunteers and time it takes to raise funds to help improve the quality of lives for people," Ashlee said.

"We wanted to be part of something unique and life altering. The programming to support women, children and education in Ethiopia...makes a lasting impact on individual and family lives."

Holding our biggest fundraiser at Cowan Park is a perfect fit. There's room for more women and more beautiful bags, scarves, and jewellery.

"The highlight of the event for us is seeing a large group of women coming together, enjoying time together, shopping and knowing that each item they purchase or donation they make, will greatly impact the lives of other women and especially children in a struggling country. We so often take for granted the fortunate lives we live here in Canada," Ashlee said on behalf of the Cowan Park team.

"Each dollar raised and donated towards this event, cause and organization, is a step closer to the positive change we wish to see in the world."

We can't wait to see all of you at Cowan Park in just a few days for Gems & Java 2017!!

The Saturday Grind

Could there be a more perfect partnership? The Saturday Grind is a new sponsor for Gems & Java, but it’s a rather important piece of the puzzle.

There wouldn’t be much java without The Saturday Grind.

“There was a need for a coffee supply at this year’s event, and I was more than happy to help out,” said Blair Ness-Jack, owner of The Saturday Grind.

His business is stepping up to be a Gems level sponsor at Gems & Java 2017. Blair is also providing guests with a coupon for The Saturday Grind and donating several silent auction items.

“The coffee side of the event was a good fit,” Blair said.

In fact, it’s an important “first” for the Saturday morning coffee joint, which opened a little over a year ago at the Woodstock Farmers Market.

“This is my first sponsorship opportunity I’ve had since starting my business, so I’m quite excited to help out and to provide coffee and support to an event like this,” said Blair, who has a personal connection to Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia through his mom Wendy, an active volunteer.

Blair can’t make it to this year’s event, but he’s looking forward to fulfilling a crucial role as a sponsor.

“I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Morage Allan and Ryan Shelton

Morage Allan and Ryan Shelton

Wilson and Markle Jewellers

It's the first year Wilson and Markle Jewellers are sponsoring Gems & Java - and the jeweller is lending its support in more ways than one!

Morage Allan and Ryan Shelton at Wilson and Markle also helped to sort through the vast amounts of donated jewellery with an expert eye.

"You had some really interesting pieces. There was one particular pair of silver earrings, elephants, that were really fun.  There was a lot of nice silver things," said Morage.

"We do estate appraisals and things like that, so we’re quite used to sorting through."

Morage said the store was happy to learn about Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia and provide sponsorship for Gems & Java.

"I think it's a really great cause. I actually have an adopted little boy, as well," she said.

"We like to help where we can in the community."

Lisa Miettinen

Lisa Miettinen


Lisa Miettinen

Lisa Miettinen is a long-time volunteer and supporter of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. She's deeply invested in the work of the organization, and the success of Gems & Java.

"I am amazed at the positive impacts on people's lives as a result of this organization's financial help to projects in Ethiopia, and the money raised at Gems & Java is absolutely critical," she said.

Lisa has travelled to Africa twice as a tourist. There she saw the impact that basic necessities and employment can have on a family.

"I saw the difference between having no hope of control over your situation versus having the basic means to support yourself.  The work of Mothers supports empowerment projects, a 'hand up,' not just a 'hand out,'" she said.

Lisa is hard at work during the two Gems & Java events, but working with the team of volunteers is always a joy, she said.

"Spending time with really wonderful women is the highlight for me.  That and the fun of the Silent Auction!  What will I manage to bring home this year, I wonder?"

Gems & Java

by Megan Stacey

Friends, food, shopping, and doing good – what’s not to like?

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia’s flagship fundraiser, Gems & Java, has become a pillar of Woodstock’s local fundraising scene.

Longtime guests say that once you go, you have to go back, usually with a few extra people in tow.

“We brought my mom for Mother’s Day one year, and as soon as my sisters came they were like ‘oh my gosh, this is crazy’ and they fell in love with it, too,” said Lori Otto, who’s attended the event from the very beginning.

She’s introduced many people to the fun that is Gems & Java, recruiting most of the female relatives in her family, including her daughter and one of her daughter’s friends.

“My daughter is just 18 and she comes and goes crazy. She shops and shops and shops,” Lori said.

“I found it’s just such a good time for getting everybody together, all the girls.”

Gems & Java has changed as it picked up steam over the past six years. The very first event drew about 100 people. These days more than 500 guests come to enjoy the merriment.

“It keeps growing every year. Every year the committee adds something to make it exciting. It’s never boring because you never know what you’re going to get,” said Judi VanDeCappelle, a longtime donor and guest at Gems & Java.

It keeps growing every year. Every year the committee adds something to make it exciting.
— Judi VanDeCappelle

There are some constants, of course, like good food, impeccable Ethiopian coffee, and an inspirational speech from Shelley Green to update guests about the impact of their funds in Ethiopia.

But the Bags & Baubles Boutique is another area of constant change. The offerings there have expanded just as much as the crowds at the event.

“It was like going to a little boutique when it started, to a shopping mall, now,” said Lori. “It is just so much fun to go. You feel like you’re in a real store.”

Every guest at Gems & Java is able to select one complimentary purse, scarf, or piece of jewellery. Additional pieces can be purchased, and all the proceeds support Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia.

Lori still remembers what she chose at the very first event.

“It’s a black, leather purse. It was brand new, it had never been used, and now I use it for dressing up,” she said. “The purse is designed like an elephant, the handle goes around and it’s the elephant trunk. It’s really cute.”

One thing sticks out in her mind: “There’s so much to choose from.”

It’s the same story at the silent auction table.

A group of dedicated volunteers work for months leading up to Gems & Java, soliciting gift cards, handmade craft items, and tons of other unique products to entice donors.

“We brainstorm ideas for the kinds of items that we think will generate some excitement on our tables,” said Kim Leuverink, chair of the silent auction committee.

Think pottery, gourmet gift baskets, handmade charcuterie boards – there’s something for everyone.

“We work really hard to make the silent auction appeal to a wide range of people, and we always try to make sure we include some really unique items,” Kim said.

Last year proceeds from the silent auction cracked $10,000.

“It’s always exciting to see those bids run up,” Kim said. “To think about how much that can do for people in Ethiopia is pretty gratifying.”

To think about how much we can do for the people in Ethiopia is pretty gratifying.
— Kim Leuverink

And both events have brand new items on display, both in the Bags & Baubles Boutique and atop the silent auction tables, for both the Friday and Saturday events.

It takes a lot to make the two days run smoothly. Lisa Green is in charge of managing the volunteer power at Gems & Java.

“The cause is a great one – helping people in Ethiopia is exciting – and every little bit donated as volunteer time or money is useful,” she said.

Lisa thinks it’s the social time and the feeling of connection that keeps both guests and volunteers coming back.

“A lot of ladies have said that they so look forward to this event to spend the afternoon or evening with their friends for a great cause.”

It’s that great cause part that stays with guests long after they leave the music and jewellery behind. Many are brought to tears by the stories that Shelley shares from Ethiopia. There are new projects to announce, and updates to share.

The impact, the lives changed in Ethiopia, makes all the thousands of hours that go into the event worth it.

“She can tell it just like it is. She’s a very good speaker. She never ceases to hold my attention,” Judi said of Shelley’s speech.

“Each year you think, ‘there’s just such a need.'”

Each year you think, ‘there’s just such a need.’
— Judi VanDeCappelle

And the grassroots nature of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia has some distinct advantages when it comes to donations.

“I honestly believe that when I donate money for something specific here, Shelley is making sure that gets done. I don’t know about other people, but that’s really important to me,” Judi said.

Donors at the event – and those that contribute from afar – know that they’ll be able to see and hear exactly where their dollars went in Ethiopia.

“Because of who we are as Canadians – generally speaking we’re pretty fortunate people here – I think they just see the need to help people who struggle on a daily basis,” Kim said.

“I think that really pulls heartstrings.”

If you’ve never experienced Gems & Java, this is the year to jump on board. Once you see the event in action, it’s likely you’ll be a devotee. 

We've Got This in the Bag!


Gems & Java is coming up in just a few weeks and there is still time to help. Get involved in our "We've Got This in the Bag" campaign!



How does it work?

1. Pick up a blue bag with this label on it (like this ←). Or, feel free to use your own bag. Pick up locations are listed below.

2. Fill the bag with gently used jewellery, purses and scarves.

3. Drop it off to one of our volunteers or at Cowan Park by March 4th.

4. Done! You've just cleaned out your closet and supported Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia!

Pick Up Locations:

Cowan Park
Monday - Friday
February 2 - 10
9:00am - 4:00pm

Huron Park Secondary School
Monday - Friday
February 2 - 10
7:30am - 3:30pm

MWAHFE Volunteer
Email us to arrange a pick-up or drop off at your convenience.