One of the many things we are proudest of here at Jennifer Montana Design, is our commitment to making a difference in our community. When it came time to find a work force to assemble our beautiful JMD Chain Reaction necklaces, it didn’t take long for us to come to the conclusion that creating jobs for the people who need them most, was an absolute must! Through Marianne Bouza, a co-founder and Operations Manager at JMD, a partnership with Harbor House of Oakland, CA, was born.
We have a dedicated group of women at Harbor House that comprise our wonderful work force. They are inspiring, happy, smiling women who have experienced hardships and difficulties that make employment challenging . There is a dedicated “jewelry-making room” at Harbor House where the women come to work, talk and re-imagine their lives. It's a safe place where hope is nurtured and celebrated.
Marianne puts it this way. “Working with the women of Harbor House always brings a smile to my face. Not only do the women take the job seriously, show up on time and work hard, but each of them brings something different to the table, different cultures, different backgrounds and different languages. It is amazing to me how soothing and calming it is to make jewelry together and how the activity brings out lively discussions about food, family, faith and how much we really all have in common. Working at HH gives the women an opportunity to feel productive, personally and economically while doing something they love. They also believe in our mission and love being part of something that helps many people on many levels.”
Harbor House has this to add, “We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live well and thrive. Unfortunately, people in low-income communities face barriers to such opportunities. Through our programs, we strive to lower these barriers because we believe that every area of human need is important and requires an appropriate response for the well-being of the individual and the community.” This is how Harbor House responds to the great needs and social diversity of the community they serve. They are located in the San Antonio district of Oakland in a 100 year old building and historic site, designated by the Oakland Heritage Society.
The JMD project has focused on offering employment to a diverse group of women who bring a variety of talent and culture to the project and the end result is great camaraderie, productive workdays and beautiful jewelry. 80% of the proceeds from the necklace sales go to the Montana Family Foundation which, in turn, donates to a variety of nonprofits.
“In the past 40 years, Harbor House has served more than 100,000 people in spiritual, economic, and educational development. Over the years, programs developed from backyard tutoring to a formalized tutoring program; volunteer-led English classes for adults to a professional ESL program; emergency food and clothing distributed from boxes on shelves to a fully stocked kitchen and thrift store; out-of-neighborhood kids clubs to an in-house after-school program; teens hanging out to teens working as interns; people asking for work to Harbor House-developed businesses and work opportunities,) one of which if the JMD jewelry project) and a published book, Our World: The Children of Oakland.
You see, buying a JMD Chain Reaction key necklace is so much more than purchasing an inspirational and beautiful piece of jewelry…it’s helping to change lives, one key at a time!