Participant Spotlight: Sherri Thornton, Women’s Bean Project

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Sometimes the past stays in the past – and sometimes it follows you. Sherri Thornton, a 2011 Women’s Bean Project graduate, knows that your past stays with you, but with hard work and perseverance one can achieve despite those setbacks.

Sherri moved to Colorado from Texas in 2009 in order to be close to family. She hoped to gain employment as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant as she had in her home state. However, she was unable to land a job because of felony records that were more than 20 years old. Sherri came to Women’s Bean Project in May of 2010 and quickly established herself as a hard worker and leader on the production floor. She worked tirelessly to re-establish herself and and set a goal to regain her CNA license in the state of Colorado. With the support of our generous donors, Women’s Bean Project was able to pay for Sherri to go to CNA school and gave her continuous employment while she worked toward this goal.

“Sherri has been a great example for other program participants. She has modeled our philosophy of doing anything we can to help women who are willing to help themselves,” says Bob Macdonald, Program Director.

Now, Sherri has set new goals for herself and her children. She wants to eventually open up a group home for people with disabilities, like her son Rashad. As for advice for new program participants, Sherri says, “If you have a positive outlook and do what you need to do to change your life, the Women’s Bean Project will help you achieve your goals.”


(Sherri’s story was originally told in the newsletter of the Women’s Bean Project, Beanstalk. Since 1989, the Women’s Bean Project has been helping women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. They are a nonprofit organization that teaches job readiness and life skills for entry-level jobs through employment in gourmet food production and handmade jewelry manufacturing businesses.)

Women’s Bean Project Gives New Hope To Those In Need

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Helping Hand Rewards partner Women’s Bean Project (based in Denver, CO) has recently released a new catalog that shows how the organization is spreading their interests…and helping more people in the process. Through sales of items that primarily consist of beans, soup and cookie mixes, Women’s Bean Project helps aid their mission:

“Our mission is to change women’s lives by providing stepping-stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise. Our goal is to change the world at large by helping women in the program see themselves and their world in a whole new way. They are women who have made the choice to change their lives.”

Part of the new catalog involves two new initiatives. The first being the organization’s expansion into school

Pearls of Wisdom necklace from WBP

fundraising programs. WBP helps track all web orders and offers 35% of all sales to the organizations using their fundraising services. It’s an initiative that not only helps fundraising efforts but also serves the dual purpose of helping women in WBP’s organization.

Women’s Bean is also expanding their catalog assortment from simply homemade food products to jewelry. They are working in conjunction with female jewelry designers to help employ even more women and change even more lives, helping these women learn more life and job-readiness skills to move toward self-sufficiency.

Learn more about Women’s Bean by visiting our site here or directly at their home website

HHR Partner Spotlight: Women’s Bean Project

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Denver-based Women’s Bean Project is a social enterprise that offers a transitional job in gourmet food manufacturing designed to provide immediate income, arrange support services to overcome barriers to employment, and teach the job readiness skills needed to get and keep a job. This social enterprise was started by a woman named Jossy Eyre who volunteered at a day shelter for homeless women. She saw that the shelter kept women safe but did not provide the necessary things to make a lasting and more sustainable change in their lives. Eyre took it upon herself to buy $500 worth of beans and put two homeless women to work, becoming the first step to the eventual social enterprise that Women’s Bean is today.

Women’s Bean Project works primarily with homeless and at risk women looking to better their lives. They have helped hundreds of women develop the work and interpersonal skills and address the basic needs required for moving up the path toward personal and economic self sufficiency.

They also assemble killer soups, chilis and other mixes.

Want a solid variety pack? A popular redeemer is the Six Soup Bundle, an assortment of Toni’s 10 Bean Soup, Firehouse Chili #10, Marian’s Black Bean Soup, Sarah’s Spicy Split Pea Soup, Old Fashioned Chili and Certified Organic Six Bean Soup packaged in a kraft paper box, shrink wrapped and tied with a signature Bean Project ribbon.

Learn more about Women’s Bean Project and their products by visiting

Women’s Bean Project: Newshour Spotlight

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It’s always cool to see one of our social enterprise partners get publicity outside of our blogosphere. Women’s Bean Project recently received some of the spotlight from PBS show Newshour. The story follows a woman named Rosie Robinson and how the Women’s Bean Project helped her get out of the prison/poverty cycle and become more self sufficient. The clip also dives into the history of Women’s Bean Project and how it got to be where it is today.  

Check out the video clip by clicking on this link.

What do you all think?

**About Women’s Bean: Women’s Bean Project is a social enterprise that offers a transitional job in gourmet food manufacturing designed to provide immediate income, arrange support services to overcome barriers to employment, and teach the job readiness skills needed to get and keep a job. Women’s Bean Project has helped hundreds of women develop the work and interpersonal skills and address the basic needs required for moving up the path toward personal and economic self sufficiency.

Michelle’s Story: Women’s Bean Project

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As seen in earlier posts, the true stories of the people involved with our partner organizations reminds us why we make the effort to do business with these social enterprises. The following story is from Michelle, a woman who was able to make a positive turnaround in her life with help from Women’s Bean Project, one of our partner groups.

Michelle’s Story

I lost my mom when I was 17. I managed to at least graduate from high school living on my own. But my older brother introduced me to drugs. I was in and out of jail starting at 18 because of criminal acts and abusive relationships. For 16 years I felt alone. I was distant from my family because of my drug use.

I was married in 2004. My husband had melanoma cancer and it was his dying wish to be married. We were only married 3 months when he died. Other than losing my mother that was the most painful thing I had ever been through. After he passed away, I was working as a personal care provider but that wasn’t enough money to pay the bills. So I started selling crack cocaine. In 2005 I was arrested and went back to jail.

A year ago, I completed probation. I never really had figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t have any Michellegoals. I became pregnant with my first child. I was 37. I decided I needed to be a mother and to find a career that would support me and my son. I didn’t want to be a mother on welfare.

My son was 3 weeks old when I applied for the Bean Project in February of 2008. They called me in July to come in for an interview. I finally figured out that there was a chance for me to have work skills and a goal for long term employment.

After the interview I was on pins and needles. I didn’t wait to be called, I called the Bean Project the next day! I was so excited when they said, yes you are hired. I hadn’t worked for 3 years.

I came and was willing to learn all the skills and the production line because I was so eager to have a job. I’ve learned you have to be organized in your life. You have to have a schedule and you have to be compatible. The Women’s Bean Project is a wonderful opportunity for women to learn skills, stability and flexibility. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of the program.

When I leave the Bean Project, I would like to pursue a career in the grocery business. I worked at King Soopers years ago and had a great experience. I would also like to get my CNA license because I have a passion for helping people. And may some day get a CDL and drive a truck.

My family is back in my life. My sister is more accepting of me now that I am clean and sober. And of course they love my son. I want to thank my coworkers here, the staff and the organization. I wish we could open a bigger facility for more women to have an opportunity to be a part of Women’s Bean Project and gain all of the knowledge and skills that I have been able to receive.

I thank the Women’s Bean Project for giving me an opportunity!

(This story, along with others, can also be found at our home website. Check it out here!)