Acts 9: 36-42 tells about a Christian woman named Tabitha (Aramaic), who was also known as Dorcas (Greek), which means gazelle.
What made this ordinary woman special was her good works. Some historians regarded her as a deaconess in her church in Joppa.
Nonetheless, she was a model for good works of giving of herself and of her material goods. The book of Acts says she was always doing good and helping the poor. Note the word always.
When Peter came to visit, the widows gathered and showed him the clothing Dorcas had cut out and sewn. Robes, coats, dresses, and other garments that she eventually would give to anyone in need. Certainly the widows with Peter had been among those Dorcas had cared for with her sewing skills.
After all, James 1:27 says: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Peter had been in the city of Lydda—only eleven miles from Joppa—and had healed a man named Aeneas, a bed-ridden paralytic for eight years.
Meanwhile in Joppa, Dorcas became ill and died. Her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. In those days people washed the corpse for purification of the dead. The widows probably performed this custom on Dorcas’s body. The dead body was left in an upper room for three days before burial in the hope the person might be in a coma and return to life. They did not want to bury anyone alive.
Then one of the disciples heard Peter was in Lydda and sent two men to fetch him at once!
When Peter arrived at Dorcas’s home, all the widows had gathered and were probably chatting up a storm, retelling the story of Dorcas’s sickness and death and talking of her good works, besides showing off her sewn clothes. The place was probably noisy.
So Peter asked them to leave him alone with the body. He knelt and prayed. Then he turned toward Dorcas and said, "Tabitha, get up."
She opened her eyes. Peter took her quietly by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he made a public presentation of her to the others by calling them to come into the room.
This particular healing—this of Dorcas—became famous, and because of it, many people believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many philanthropic organizations over the world are named after Dorcas.