Beading for Joy and Inspiration

Stringing beads and quietly chatting, a group of volunteers and staff found inspiration and joy, and for some, a sense of healing. Gathering in Ahuva’s Art in the LifeTown Shoppes on November 7, the task at hand required concentration, a good eye, and a steady hand. By the time they were finished, they had filled a two-tiered velvet display stand with bracelets for the launch of Rachael’s Gems, one of the Friendship Circle’s newest projects. The bracelets will be sold for $18 each, to benefit LifeTown programming.

In gold or silver beads, with a flourish of blue, green, white, pink, or black, the bracelets, sized for large and small wrists, include a tiny gold FCNJ charm. 

Young adult participants will also take part in the beading, providing a sense of accomplishment and success by creating a product that can be sold at the facility.

Rachael’s Gems is named in memory of Rachael Kaflowitz, a teen volunteer who unexpectedly returned to the Friendship Circle as a participant after being diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a very rare and fatal genetic disorder. In both roles, she inspired those around her with her joy and creativity until her passing in 2018 at 33. 

As a teen, Rachael created complicated jewelry using beads and pins. When she could no longer use her hands, she found a way to make necklaces with the help of an aid. Many of those in the beading circle on November 7 wore Rachael’s necklaces, including her mother, Debbie Kaflowitz, who came with a group of friends to make the first set of bracelets.

Calling it “incredible,” Debbie was visibly moved by the current project. “Rachael loved doing things that made her feel successful where she could do it herself, make decisions through the process and see the end product. If the kids here can make these and come away with a finished product to be proud of and that they can see sold – wow!” she said.

Claire Messulan, who volunteered with Rachael, also came to bead. It was her first time back to volunteer since Rachael’s passing. “She was so smiley and sweet, and she was always wearing beautiful earrings and bracelets,” recalled Claire. “She made me happy to see her. Through Rachael, I teach my four kids how impactful volunteering can be.”

The project captures the light Rachael cast on those around her.

“Every bracelet reminds us of Rachael’s joy, her smile, and her extraordinary creativity that inspired this project,” said Esty Grossbaum, project coordinator. “Every string of beads reflects a sense of purpose, success, and accomplishment for our young adult participants and the dedication of our volunteers.”

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