Category Archives: beads of hope

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Team Member Spotlight–Megan!

She’s One of Our Great Team Members!

 
Megan is our Regional Lifestyles and Gift Buyer. She especially watches out for unique and exciting gift items.  She is also the model for our Beads of Hope necklaces!  
 
Megan grew up in Northern California and got a degree in Geography with an emphasis in City Planning.  She even speaks Polish!  She spent 18 months in Poland during her college years.  
 
ragnar
 
Megan really loves to eat healthy and she is also a runner.  She has run the Ragnar Relay and some half-marathons, too.  She loves to work in her garden and is devoted to clean and green living.
 
Three quick fun facts about Megan:
1. Because she was raised in Northern California, she is very partial to Redwood trees and foggy beaches.
2. Not only does she run for exercise, but for stress relief and meditation.
3. If she had to listen to the same musician over and over again for the rest of her life it would be Cat Stevens.
 
Megan’s favorite part of her job is learning about the different products that Lassens carries and meeting with companies that are passionate about their products, as well as passionate about improving our world.
Megan says, “Many of the products found in Lassens represent companies that give back to their communities in a big way. These contributions range anywhere from Alzheimer’s research to providing clean drinking water in developing countries. The contributions go beyond donations, because a lot of these companies choose responsibility in every aspect of production–such as fair labor practices, sustainable sourcing, waste reduction, etc. It’s exciting to me and also further convinces me of the power of the consumer in supporting such responsible companies.”
 
Megan’s heros are her grandparents– on both sides. “They were such hard workers–both in their professions and also in their volunteer work. They took great pride in their communities and volunteered much of their time and energy to improve them.”

 

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When I asked Megan about some of her favorite products she mentioned these adorable Flipside hats.  Flipside is a family owned and operated business, the hats are made in the USA (California and Oregon), and they are made with repurposed and/or recycled materials.  

 

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They use all of the organic materials that they can.  These great hats are just in our Ventura and Los Feliz stores right now.  So cute!

 

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I totally agreed with her next recommendation–a “Winning Combination.”  You should try this!  Get some Leslie Stowe Raincoast Crisps.  They are small, thick, tasty, crispy breads in amazing flavors (Cranberry and Hazelnut, Rosemary, Salty Date and Almond, Gluten-free Oat, to name a few!) I love that they are fancy and so delicious.  They make me feel like a gourmet when I eat them!

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Take a crisp and then spread on some Drake Family Farms fresh Chèvre cheese.  The Drake family farm is a six-generation operation!  The original farm is in Utah, but they also have a farm in Ontario, California where we get our fresh Chèvre.   

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The cheese comes in a convenient plastic tub so you can have some now and save some for later! 

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This is Megan’s favorite combination!  Yum!  

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Megan also recommended the Evanhealy facial care line.  Her favorites are the Rose Geranium Facial Tonic HydroSoul, and the Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer.   

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The rose line is for combination/oily skin, but they have other lines for different skin types.  Megan likes that the line is really clean (no chemical, preservatives, non GMO, etc) and extremely gentle.  She quoted Evan Healy herself:  “The less you interfere with the skin’s own ability to achieve balance, the better.” 

When I asked Megan what she would like to change about the world, she said changing primary school curriculum to include gardening education. “So many people are disconnected from the food they eat and I love that gardening helps reconnect people to basic food. Working with the soil, watching how food grows cultivates a deep respect for the earth, energy, and other resources that go into making a tasty meal.”
 
Thank you Megan for sharing your favorites with us!  Love those “Buyer’s Picks!”
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
beads+of+hope, uganda+service, Thrive+Gulu

Beads of Hope & Women of Peace: Rebuilding the futures of the Ugandan people

 Reaching Out to Serve 
 
The plight of the citizens of Northern Uganda has been in the news cycle over the past few months. Invisible Children posted a video on the web about the hunt for Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). His cruelty has been without bounds for over twenty years as he has led his band of rebels. They abducted children and forced them to become child soldiers, labor, sexual slaves, or all three. If they dared to cry or fall down or look at a rebel, they would often be killed—many times by the other abductees, in order to break their spirits. The children were sometimes forced to kill their own family members.
 
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Kony’s army terrorized a huge swath of Northern Uganda as they burned and pillaged village after village. He and his weakened rebel band are now thought to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they continue to terrorize, pillage and abduct. President Obama sent a group of 100 advisers to Uganda in 2011 to aid in the hunt for Kony. Northern Uganda today is relatively safe and peaceful, but the effects of more than 20 years of war and displacement have left a majority of the population in poverty and without much hope for their future. 

While information about Joseph Kony and the LRA came as a big shock to many Americans, we at Lassen’s have had a Ugandan connection for nearly two years, and we are working to help some of the impoverished families to bring themselves out of poverty.

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In the summer of 2010, I was able to go to Uganda with a group of American Women. The leader of our group, Judy Dushku, had started a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to assist the women of Gulu, Uganda, that she had met in previous visits to Uganda. My sister, Saundra, has been a friend with Judy since the 1970’s, and this connection made it possible for me and all three of my sisters to go on this trip. The NGO is THRIVE-Gulu (From Survivers to Thrivers), originally called THARCE-Gulu. We were the first group to go to Uganda with this organization, and we had an amazing time learning the history, government and some of the culture of Uganda. We were even able to meet with Betty Bigombe, one of the few people who have met and negotiated with Joseph Kony.

 
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Our NGO group with Betty Bigombe

But the main reason for our visit was to get our hands dirty, literally. The 14 of us helped build 6 mud huts for people who were the most needy in their villages. The Village Council chose the recipients. My sister Kathleen and I helped to build a hut for a disabled man name Dickson. We worked with David and John, who really did most of the work, and were nice enough to not laugh at our feeble attempts. 

beads+of+hope, uganda+service, Thrive+GuluAfter one day of working on our hut — my sister Kathleen and me with John and David
 

That could not be said about some of the children, who thought it was hilarious that a bunch of muzungus (foreigners) were getting their hands dirty in their village! 

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On this trip we also met two groups of women, who have banded together to provide support and assistance and economic power to each other. Most of the women were former abductees, and often escaped under terrifying circumstances. Many came back from the bush with children, though they were barely adults themselves. They came back with no skills, little schooling, and no support from their displaced families and society. The two groups call themselves Beads of Hope, and Women of Peace. We gave the two groups treadle sewing machines to help them in their efforts to make a better life for themselves and their children. You will meet some of these women in future blog posts! 

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The Beads of Hope Women’s Group
 
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My sister Saundra holding some of the paper beads that they women sell 
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Both groups make handicrafts for sale to foreign visitors. It was with these groups that I first saw the paper beads and bags made from the gorgeous African wax-batik fabrics.  I thought they were beautiful and the women showed such initiative. I brought a few items home to California with me, and the buyers at Lassen’s were excited about the prospect of bringing the handicrafts into the stores. It is with pleasure that we are now expanding the items offered as the women increase their product line! 
 
 
 Look for future blog posts about the women and my experiences in Gulu!

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Love, 

Gayle at Lassen’s