Meet Wendy, President and Co-founder of International Sanctuary and our newest woman of Beauty & Grace. International Sanctuary, for those unfamiliar, is an incredible non profit that rescues young women from human trafficking and teaches them how to support themselves by crafting handmade jewelry. The incredibly stylish jewelry line known as Purpose jewelry can be purchased online HERE. Read along to be inspired by her story and consider how you too can be Beauty and Grace to a world so desperately in need of both!
1. What’s your personal style?
The momtrepreneur look is what I’m typically caught in on a daily basis. Torn jeans with a button down rolled 3 quarters up and my white converse often accessorized by my school parent badge!
But, I love a modern chic look, always well-accessorized by the perfect shoes, handbag, and jewelry of course!
2. How would you define living a life of Beauty & Grace?
I believe every woman was created to be beautiful! There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is living out her purpose, striving to refine and develop the woman God made her to be. When we as women can recognize our own and each other’s journey, understanding it is never easy or challenge-free, and embark on that adventure together, that’s where Beauty and Grace collide.
3. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee black. Who has time for cream?
4. Who inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by the young women we serve at International Sanctuary. The courage they show on a daily basis to trust, persevere, and engage in relationships, in spite of the trauma they endured, is a constant encouragement to do more.
5. What prompted you to begin iSanctuary/Purpose ?
In 2005, I was living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I witnessed sex trafficking first-hand. I would argue that it’s impossible to be faced with that exploitation, that evil every day and not be challenged to fight for the dignity and future of these girls. Upon my return, my good friend Stephanie Pollaro was moving to Mumbai, India to help young women in the red light area. Her vision was to empower rescued girls with economic opportunities, so she taught them the skill of jewelry making. Together, we launched International Sanctuary and Purpose Jewelry, the social enterprise and, although I believed in what we were building, I never imagined it would have so much success but here we are 10 years and four sanctuaries later.
6. Who designs the jewelry? And who makes it?
Our jewelry designer is April Stream, who joined us 12 months ago. A long time supporter, she came to us as a professional in the industry, designing for brands from Barbie to Harley Davidson. The jewelry is all hand-crafted by survivors and those vulnerable to trafficking.
7. Running a company and being a mom to two precious kiddos has to be a juggle. How do you prioritize your time?
Finding balance between being mom, wife, CEO, and activist is truly a daily struggle. There are definitely days I have to remember that I can’t expect myself to do everything perfectly, but what I can do, I will do well. I aim to be present, no matter what I’m doing – my goal is to be 100% wherever I am.
When I look at my to-do list and the items piling up on my should-do list, the story of the philosophy professor and the golf balls comes to mind. He has a jar on his desk and fills it up with golf balls, then asks the class if the jar is full; they say it is. The professor pours some pebbles into the jar and they fill in the gaps between the golf balls; the class agrees the jar is still full. Lastly, he pours sand in the jar and even the tiniest of spaces is filled. The analogy is the jar is your life – the golf balls are the important things, like my husband, kids, relationship with God; the pebbles are the smaller things, bills, errands, meetings; the sand is the small stuff. If I don’t put the golf balls in first, there won’t be enough room for everything else!
8. How many lives has iSanctuary impacted?
Over the past 10 years, we have served over 300 young women in Mumbai, India. Here in Orange County, we have empowered 13 locally-rescued survivors. Our sanctuary in Tijuana, Mexico currently supports 6 young women. This spring we will open our doors in Kamapala, Uganda with our first cohort of 10.
But our impact doesn’t stop there! It’s hard to come away from International Sanctuary without being changed. We have hundreds of volunteers, dozens of Board and staff members, thousands of Purpose Jewelry shoppers whose purchases allow us to provide a safe, healing work environment for our girls, not to mention the amazing donors who enable us to continue to grow and reach more survivors.
9. What are your dreams for iSanctuary/Purpose?
God has called us to open 10 sanctuaries globally by 2020. Anti-trafficking partners around the world that are rescuing girls from trafficking have identified a missing component to survivors’ restoration – they need employment and financial freedom – so they’ve asked us to bring our model of economic empowerment to them. Even though trafficking is different in every country due to governments, economies, and cultures, healing and freedom transcend those differences.
My dream is to help the girls and young women rescued from sex trafficking around the world live in true freedom, embracing the identity and worth given to them by our Creator.
10. How can we get involved?
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style to make a difference! Purchase with Purpose: www.purposejewelry.org
Share our mission and beautiful jewelry with your friends! Host a Trunk Show www.isanctuary.org/party-with-a-purpose/
Help us expand our programs around the world. Give Freedom www.isanctuary.org/donate
Volunteer your time right here in Orange County. Email Chelsea at firstname.lastname@example.org