BARN volunteer Lucia Olson spends hours each week using her creativity and skills to transform jewelry that has been donated to the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project. In her hands, pieces are updated, cleaned, and remade. “It’s treasure hunting,” Olson says. “What’s here? What can I do with it?” She transforms necklaces into earrings sets and recycles beads into stylish designs. What appears dull or outdated can receive new life again. Like many volunteers at BARN, Olson seeks to make an impact with her skills. She has deep empathy for “women who have run for their lives”.
Micki Lippe at the Seattle Metals Guild started the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project about 20 years ago, as she was seeking how to use her jewelry skills to give back to the community. Lippe soon realized that she could collect some of the unused jewelry “just sitting in jewelry boxes all over Seattle” for organizations in need. She sells the higher quality jewelry and distributes the the proceeds to shelters. In 2018, the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project at Seattle Metals Guild will give approximately $14,000 in grants.
On Bainbridge Island, several years ago, Jane Martin started a sister program, connected to Lippe’s Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project. As the Lead of BARN’s Jewelry Studio, Martin has shared BARN’s heart for community service and scheduled regular times on the studio calendar when everyone is welcome to come help sort the donations. The necklaces, earrings, pins, and rings are cleaned, repaired, and placed into new bags to prepare them for their new destinations. Better jewelry and valuable metals are sent to Lippe in Seattle for the sales. Then Martin and BARN volunteers ship the donations to shelters in Kitsap County and West Sound.
Through the years, BARN and Martin’s involvement with the Women’s Shelter Jewelry project has become well-known in the Bainbridge Island community. Martin says she sometimes comes home to find an anonymous bag of jewelry donations waiting on her front door.
In a recent note sent to BARN, one organization expressed appreciation for the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project: “Thank you…Pieces of jewelry add the extra flair and elegance to complete the outfits and boost the confidence of our clients.”
Anyone can contribute jewelry or time to the Women’s Shelter Jewelry Project. Check the BARN calendar for upcoming opportunities to sort jewelry. Please bring donations to the Jewelry Studio at BARN, or drop them off at other Bainbridge Island locations including Esther’s Fabrics, Soul Mates, Bay Hay and Feed, The Art Project or The Island Gallery. There are also extra collection boxes in the Jewelry Studio. If you know of a place in your community where one might work for collecting jewelry donations please stop by and pick up a donation box and return to BARN when filled. Then you too can help transform jewelry and lives.