Story and Photos by Karyn Zoldan
What would you do if your dogs needed $14,300 in emergency veterinary care? If you were like Lizzie Mead, you would ask the quality of life questions, then sign on the dotted line, hope for the best and worry how to pay it later.
It was like any other day on October 20, 2008, when Mead and her two greyhounds were on the way to the dog park when – bam – a hit-and-run driver hit her and five other vehicles. Her truck cab popped open and greyhounds Opal and Rider jumped out running in different directions. Mead’s head hit the steering wheel knocking her briefly unconscious.
Fortunately, the dogs wore tags and two different good Samaritans called the rescue group who directed that the dogs to be taken to nearby Pima Pet Clinic. Mead, who was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, was notified of their whereabouts and went to sign off on vet care.
Rider had his spleen removed and received 300 stitches while Opal’s eye dangled and her paws were badly injured. Both dogs survived and thrived, living to experience their well-loved senior years.
Six greyhound adopters came together to help Mead raise funds. Through an early blog, local media coverage, an altruistic community, insurance money, the sale of handcrafted beaded bracelets, and a no-interest credit card — the entire vet bill was paid off in six months. Having just received fifty pounds of beads from a store going out of business, Mead said, “Let’s keep going, I want to give back.”
In April 2009, the moniker Beading Divas to the Rescue was adopted, though the 501c3 and the website are registered under Beading Divas Bracelets.
“Let’s keep going, I want to give back.”
The Beading Divas are all about giving back. In ten years, they have raised more than $200,000 for mostly local animal charities. To be exact, 66 animal charities in Tucson, 4 in other parts of Arizona, 10 in other states plus the galgos (Greyhounds) in Spain. Dogs, cats, farm animals, wildlife, pigs, horses, spay/neuter and advocacy have benefitted. Some groups have been chosen more than once. There is a consideration list and the requirements are: must be a 501c3, have a bank account in the group’s name and agree to follow a policy and checklist which advises plenty of promotion in order to be successful.
If local and during their month, groups receive bracelets to sell in person one-to-one and keep the entire twenty dollars. Beading Divas take ten percent from the bracelets they sell on Etsy and around town at Silver Sea Jewelry, Clues Unlimited and Nadine’s Desert Fashions in Oro Valley.
“This was one of the most positive experiences of fundraising I have experienced,” said Joyce Sanford, president of Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue. “The bracelets were lovely, well-priced and sold easily and all your volunteers were helpful and friendly. Please choose us again in the future.”
Bracelets are one-of-a-kind, made with donated beads and all have a dangling paw charm, ideal as gifts for animal lovers and fashion-followers. “My greatest fear was how are we ever going to find enough donated beads?” said Karyn Zoldan. In the early years there were exhausting bead drives around town, but now beads sit in multiple home closets and boxes of donated beads and supplies arrive from all over the country. People are happy to find a good cause for their no longer needed beads.
Every other month about 25 to 35 women are invited to a local library to make bracelets and build creative volunteerism. Plus, more than a half dozen outside individuals or small groups make bracelets with their own stash of beads and donate the dazzle to the inventory.
“I’m so proud to be part of something that started so small and has grown so wide,” said Randee Dickey, bracelet maker.
As with most non-profits, there’s been some board turnover but the current busy six – Gail Cohn, Cynthia David, Loren Dawn, Lizzie Mead, Mary Jo Pollack and Karyn Zoldan combine their talents for photography, fulfillment, accounting, merchandising, customer service, outreach, marketing, promotion and fun.
Let’s Celebrate – Wear a Tiara
On Sunday May 26 from 4 to 6 pm, the Beading Divas invite everyone to Corbett Brewing Company (309 E. 7th Street) for live music by The Unday and for raffle prizes, bracelet sales, plus giveaways and the chance for your favorite rescue group or shelter to be randomly chosen as the August fundraising recipient. To receive a free raffle ticket, donate beads and/or arrive wearing a Beading Divas bracelet. Every time you buy a bracelet at the event, you receive three raffle tickets to put in the bin of what you want to win. Free admission, 21+, please leave pets at home.
Funds raised from bracelet sales and raffle tickets will benefit Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption.
Written by Karyn Zoldan, director, Beading Divas Bracelets
Photo credit: Loren Dawn and Renee Bennett
Social: facebook.com/BeadingDivasToTheRescue and Instagram: @beadingdivasbracelets