ONE Knows How to (Bead)Party

What better way to bring in June than with beautiful hand-crafted African jewelry, good friends and a great cause?

Last weekend, ONE staff members Margaret McDonnell, Jennifer Hoerl, Kimberly Cadena, Erin Kesler and I gathered (after office hours) at Adrienne Sullivan’s house for a BeadforLife Party. Together with Adrienne’s friends, we raised nearly $800 to help impoverished Ugandans build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities through sustainable economic development.

Here’s how it works. First, industrious, intelligent Ugandans — mostly women, although a few men get in the act too — make gorgeous handcrafted beads from brightly-colored recycled paper, and turn them into an exciting variety of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. BeadforLife buys the jewelry and sets up really handy kits with everything you need to host your own BeadParty, and then it’s just up to volunteers like Adrienne to invite a bunch of friends over. We get all this high-quality, environmentally-friendly jewelry for bargain prices, and all the net profits go back to be invested in community development projects in Uganda.

“We had a BeadforLife presentation at ONE’s DC office a couple of months ago,” Adrienne explained when I asked why she decided to throw a BeadParty. “I was so moved by the personal stories of the women who make these beads; some of them have overcome incredible hardships. I wanted to spread the word and bring their fantastic success stories to my friends and family.”

The party opened with a BeadforLife video including the stories of the Ugandans and an explanation of the artistic and eco-friendly bead-making process. Then we had a great time mixing, matching and modeling the colorful pieces. I decided to help spread the word by picking up a whole bunch of the $5 band bracelets to pass out at a bridal shower next weekend, and I’m sure I’ll be talking about BeadforLife all summer long when all my friends admire my unique, bright and beautiful jewelry.

More importantly, I know that by purchasing, giving and wearing these beads, I’m doing my part in the fight against global poverty. “BeadforLife connects the average American woman with the beauty, intelligence and power of Ugandan beaders who make beautiful products to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty,” Adrienne explained. “We all feel humbled and grateful to be a part of that.”

Learn more about BeadforLife, including how to host your own party, here.

-Emily Stivers