Fifteen years before Kathy became a volunteer, she attended a woman’s conference. Among the exhibitors was a group motivated to end sex trafficking. The idea that trafficking was an issue surprised Kathy because she, like so many others, did not think it was a problem in America. She accepted a little cutout of a butterfly as a reminder to pray for the victims. Kathy left the conference feeling that she wanted to do something about trafficking but fifteen years would pass before she got the opportunity.
Of all places, it was at a yoga class when Kathy heard Mary Ann, the instructor, mention something about making wreaths to help victims of sex trafficking. As soon as class was over, she approached Mary Ann to learn more, and ask if she could volunteer.
As it turned out, Kathy’s husband Ric, is also a volunteer, albeit a silent one, Ric is our behind-the-scenes and most excellent woodworker.
According to Mary Ann, “Kathy was an instant success. She does beautiful and creative work, but more important is her dedication to the reason behind our wreaths. She cares deeply about the victims of sex trafficking and is thrilled to be doing something to help them.”
Maxine was perusing the East Longmeadow Reminder when she came across an article about Wreaths with a Reason. She saved the article thinking that someday she’d like to meet the people involved.
It wasn’t long before she’d have that chance at a craft fair at the Agawam Senior Center where she bought several wreaths for herself and family members.
Maxine shared with Mary Ann her plan to retire the following June and then hopefully become a volunteer. She had prayed about being “useful” in her retirement years. God heard and He answered…immediately. When she went into her office the following Monday, she was told to close the office within two weeks. Albeit surprising it was actually a pleasant turn of events allowing Maxine enough free time to join the Wreaths with a Reason team.
Her husband, Paul, helps out with local deliveries to the greater Springfield area, which has been a real help especially when Covid struck.
According to Mary Ann, “Maxine is a fast learner and has become a creative and meticulous wreath maker. However, her real skill lies in her marketing ability. She is the one responsible for our television appearances, public speaking opportunities, newspaper publicity, Facebook postings, and email marketing. I don’t know how we would function without her constant nudging to get our name out there.”
Christina Fitch was at the Cutting Edge Salon in Feeding Hills when she noticed our beautiful holiday wreaths decorating the salon. She commented on their beauty and creativity, so her stylist told her the back story behind the wreaths.
After hearing our story, Christina decided she would carve some time out of her already busy schedule and see if there was a way she could volunteer.
She wanted to give back to the community and believed our mission to support organizations that rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking was an important one.
According to Mary Ann: When I first met Christina, I was impressed with her “giving” heart and knew she’d be a great fit with the other volunteers. She knows I am particular about the finished product, so she is never opposed to me tweaking one of her completed wreaths, in fact she welcomes it. I love that she is open to and even welcomes suggestions and new ideas. We’re all grateful for her contribution to Wreaths with a Reason.
Laurie’s first exposure to Wreaths with a Reason was watching an interview on a local news station in 2017. Mary Ann was promoting an upcoming craft fair at the Agawam Senior Center. She was shocked to hear that human trafficking was happening today…and so close to home. She couldn’t imagine the physical and psychological toll on a person trafficked daily, and when she heard that even children were sold into trafficking, she knew she had to do something. She went to the craft fair, met Mary Ann, and offered to help.
Knowing that proceeds from wreath sales are donated to organizations that have the expertise, resources and facilities to help victims confidently move beyond the worst days of their lives is extremely gratifying to Laurie, and she’s grateful to have the opportunity to contribute her time and talent to this effort.
According to Mary Ann, “Although Laurie has a full-time job as a pharmacist, she always manages to find time to make wreaths. It’s not unusual to see Laurie walking around the workshop with a bag in hand trying to decide on colors, design, etc. She leaves with three or four filled bags and returns a week later with completed wreaths. If she’s stuck on a design, she'll ask the other volunteers for suggestions. They're always happy to help because our end goal is to create a beautifully designed wreath. Like all our wreath designers, Laurie has developed her own unique signature style. It’s beautiful, unique and exceptionally creative.”
JoAnn Skiba purchased several wreaths at various craft fairs before she introduced herself to Mary Ann in 2021. Actually, it was a re-introduction because they had met before in the eighties when they both worked for Mary Kay Cosmetics. JoAnn called Mary Ann and after a lengthy phone conversation, Mary Ann sensed her desire to do something—anything—to help the victims of sex trafficking, but they didn’t need any more wreath makers. Probing further, Mary Ann asked about other skills. As it turned out, JoAnn was exactly what we needed: an excellent organizer.
According to Mary Ann, “There are many people who can organize, but maintaining the organization is a different skill and JoAnn does that well. Before she joined us, we thought the workshop was pretty organized, but after the addition of peg boards, wall hooks, sorting flowers and greens, electrical cords that were trip hazards taped down, labeling, etc. the workshop is so much more efficient. It can get messy and disorganized quickly around here, but after JoAnn shows up to sweep, clean, and reorganize we breathe a sigh of relief. We really appreciate her on the team. As an added bonus, JoAnn has made quite a few wreaths—all sold—and does an excellent job.”