‘It Was Like A Lightning Bolt Hit Me': Pastor's Sermon Inspires South Bay Woman to Raise Millions for Charity

This is a story for any pastor or priest who wonders, as their take to the pulpit each week, if anyone is listening, if their words are making a difference.

For one pastor, and a sermon he gave 15 years ago, the answer is a resounding, "Yes."

Cheryl Bailey was listening.

"This is a story all pastors should know," Bailey said. "They can touch one person's heart and make a difference."


Bailey says she was attending a Sunday service at Saratoga Federated Church where she has worshiped since 1983. The pastor's message that day was about charity and how important it was to "think locally" when helping others.

"His message was, 'Stop waiting for the time to be right and do something now in your own backyard,'" Bailey said. "It was like I was hit by lightning."

It turns out that the very next day, Bailey had a luncheon planned for her home with a handful of friends. The plan was to celebrate Halloween by decorating witches hats.

Bailey decided to turn their craft project into a charity event.

She asked her guests to help her support Heritage Home, a San Jose shelter for pregnant homeless women.

"All of the sudden clothes started showing up, cribs started showing up, strollers. You can't believe what showed up on my front lawn," Bailey said.

And that was just the beginning.

The annual gathering, now known as Wonderful Witchy Women, has grown from just 20 women in Bailey's home to more than 500 filling a ballroom at San Jose's Fairmont Hotel.

One thing hasn't changed, however: "The hats," Bailey said.

The tradition of ornate, elaborate, and outrageously decorated witches hats still remains. Bailey feels the hats add a fun element to an event focused on helping those in need.

"I think they're not just coming for the hats," Baily said. "People really do have compassion for others in their own area."

Compassion, backed by generosity.

For a variety of South Bay charities focusing on women and children, Baily and her team have raised close to $3 million over the years.

"I really do feel we are doing a good thing. And it feels good."

Contact Us