Author: Addison, Eco Emi Team Writer
Eco Emi loves to applaud the efforts of fellow human beings; especially those committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others. Every positive difference, no matter how small, moves us closer to a better planet. We came across this example of one person making a huge difference and we just had to share it with our followers. Enjoy!
Chicago, Illinois is one fortunate city! Why, you might ask, well because it is home to one Brenda Palms-Barber. Brenda is a great example of a person doing something great to make a positive difference in the lives of others and doing so in a natural way.
Brenda watched the repeat offender statistics rapidly increase for areas in Chicago and she witnessed many failed past attempts of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) to help ex-offenders find employment after prison release. Her love of humanity and bees drove her to find a solution.
Putting her business management degree to work, Brenda helped establish Sweet Beginnings, the manufacturer of all natural honey and honey-infused beelove body care products. Each ounce of their honey is extracted from an all-natural urban apiary in North Lawndale, a neighborhood on the west side of Chicago.
Sweet Beginnings provides transitional job opportunities for previously incarcerated adults and area residents that struggle to obtain employment. The recently released individuals are offered a ninety-day training program and provided an opportunity to gain experience and develop a strong work ethic. Caring for the bees and hives, harvesting honey, making and packaging beelove products, and selling the products at retail outlets, are typical day to day tasks that the Sweet Beginnings employees perform.
This organization is a stepping stone for these adults, allowing for future career options to become more easily attainable. The mindset of job interviewer’s change from, “What did you do that landed you in prison?” to “What is it like to work with bees?” The conversations move from their past to their future.
Research shows that six out of ten ex-convicts return to prison, but for Sweet Beginnings employees this statistic has improved by more than 30%. Brenda explained in an interview, “Beekeeping seems to be open and receptive to a person no matter what their past. Bees don’t discriminate between a flower and a weed. They are seeking nectar. They draw the good out of whatever that plant source is and make it into honey.”
Sweet Beginnings has a people-first attitude, and continues to make a difference in both the environment and the lives of their employees.
Sweet Beginnings, Eco Emi applauds you!
Image Source: Soule Mama