Hello, I’m Terry Gifford Founder of Serving Women Across Nations (SWAN) and owner and caretaker of Willowbrook Manor English Tea House and Chamomile Farm.
The story of SWAN started when the Twin Towers came crashing down September 11, 2001 and our country began the war on terrorism. The information from the news painted a dark view of Afghanistan, where the Taliban had taken over. My mother, sister and I decided to offer a view of the Afghan people as painted through the wonderfully descriptive letters written by my grandmother during her 5-year stay in Afghanistan, before the Russian invasion, and before the Taliban occupation.
The publishing of Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan was a family project and labor of love. Her letters shine a light on the plight of the poor, and we decided to use the proceeds from book sales to carry on her charitable spirit.
We began by sending proceeds from our self-published book to Kenya to educate children and we sponsored over 200 students..
To augment fundraising, I used the concession trailer my kids and I ran for the local football league, and served lunch downtown Sedro Woolley one day a week. I also baked bread fresh-ground whole wheat bread and sold it at the local farmers market to raise funds for micro loans for women in Bolivia. I had served as a missionary in Bolivia when I was in my 20s where I saw abject poverty first hand. SWAN allowed me to return and provide a means for women to begin small businesses and gain personal earning power.
SWAN established a sister non-profit in Bolivia and had funded its 100th loan when my personal world came crashing down. I found myself a single mom with 5 of my 6 children still at home. and SWAN had to be put on hold.
Over the course of ten years, I gradually turned my home and 9-acre farm into Willowbrook Manor. English Tea house and Chamomile Farm, a place where people gather to enjoy the serenity of the country and the gentle tradition of English tea. My yearnings for humanitarian work brought me to realize that Willowbrook could become what my grandmother’s letters were; a fundraising tool for humanitarian outreach. The pandemic of 2020, afforded me the time to begin SWAN again to serve the needs of women locally as well as globally.
Are you too far away to join us at Willowbrook? Host your own fundraiser with our SWAN Tea Party package that includes Willowbrook scone mix, an assortment of Willowbrook teas, and simple recipes and instructions to help you put on a wonderful tea fundraiser event.