One of the things I love about my job (and there are several) is the fact that it exposes me to a whole bunch of information and experiences that I might never otherwise encounter. Just this past week, our branch of Ten Thousand Villages started carrying soup mixes and other food products from the Women's Bean Project, which is a new one on me. All I could tell you from the get-go is that the soup mixes each have spices in them which smell amazing. I decided to check out their website and learn a little more about them, if only so I can properly educate our customers. But as long as I'm at it, I'm going to tell my readers about it too.
Once upon a 1989, a woman named Jossy Eyre (no relation to Jane, I presume) was a regular volunteer at a shelter for homeless women. The thing she noticed was that the shelter wasn't really changing the women's lives - they weren't growing from the experience of being sheltered there. Jossy invested $500 in beans and recruited two of the homeless women to start this project. It has, needless to say, grown exponentially since then and the organization now has permanent headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
What they do is provide women with transitional jobs in gourmet food manufacturing. This gives the women immediate income. They also help the women learn workplace skills and provide them with support services so that they can eventually find and keep a job. These are women who have histories of poverty and chronic unemployment.
The important thing, and the website stresses this, is that they make and sell the bean products in order to hire women - not the other way around.
Women's Bean Project foods are sold all across America. Each product bears a signature on the tag - the name of the woman who packaged that particular item. It's a little reminder of just what a personal investment this is, and that each purchase is helping an individual who needs the support. Products made and sold through the Women's Bean Project include soup mixes, salsa mixes, spice rubs, baking mixes, gift baskets, coffee beans, and even jelly beans. They also create and sell limited edition jewelry designs, which can be ordered from their website.
I rather like the idea of planting beans and growing hope. My goddaughter will be arriving in a few weeks, with her usual plea that I will make my "special soup," but I think this time I might be surprising her with something new.
Attention, regular readers of the blog! This is the 99th post here at It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, if you can believe that. Thursday's post is going to be the 100th, and I have something a little special planned. Stay tuned.