My Sister’s Place Women’s Center provides a safe, comfortable, and nurturing environment where women can increase their self-esteem and develop the skills necessary to become self-sufficient. When volunteers Karen Lerario and Lesley Geisel approached My Sister’s Place Women’s Center director, Valerie Tarantino, with the idea of helping the women develop and manage their own themed gift basket business, Benevolent Baskets, she was thrilled. The partnership could not have been a more perfect match.
“We have the space and the clients, and these two wonderful women who understand our population. It is a good fit,” says Ms. Tarantino.
Ms. Lerario and Ms. Geisel come to the center three times a week and work with some of the clients and a couple of volunteers to put together and package the baskets, track the sales, develop new and creative ways to advertise, in addition to learning and practicing direct selling methods. “It is their business from what the baskets look like, to designing the website,” explains Ms. Geisel.
The women who are hand-picked to run Benevolent Baskets have shown that they are serious about working hard to rebuild their self-sufficiency, proving with their dedication to this program that they are well along their path. The opportunity to work with Benevolent Baskets provides a unique component to their recovery process by teaching valuable life and business skills. “This is an opportunity they wouldn’t have anywhere else,” says Ms. Tarantino. “It’s about building self esteem, and may lead to employment elsewhere. They are gaining a sense of being and stability.”
For Dianna, one of the clients who help to manage the business, the project is about more than just the work. “It’s fellowship. Even though we have different ideas, they come together like pieces of a puzzle,” says Dianna.
Working in the Benevolent Baskets program encourages the women to grow and share their experiences. Each of the weekly meetings starts with the participants sharing things that they would like to talk about and closing with anything else that they feel they’d like to discuss. It is a time of sharing and companionship that is very meaningful to the client, volunteers, and staff alike.
Trayce, a client, has true creative skills and that has allowed her to express herself though the designing of the basket packaging and creation of the beautifully crafted bows. Trayce said that she hopes that people will support the hard work they are doing by ordering from Benevolent Baskets, because “it truly benefits homeless women in transition.”
Holiday-themed baskets are now on sale and can be ordered at www.benevolentbaskets.com.