When I started Jewel of Havana I wanted to create jewelry that makes you feel beautiful; that celebrates life's special moments and connects you to those you love. I also wanted to be able to give back to some of the causes that do good in our community and make the life we are celebrating that much sweeter.
It's no secret 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and many not for profits have really been hit hard. This year more than ever giving gifts that give back not only helps the business you are buying from but pays it forward in our community and beyond.
Here are a few of the organizations we work with all year round where your shopping dollars at Jewel of Havana help support not for profits in our community.
Last week, I released the Draped in Love Collection in Sterling Silver in celebration of 5 years cancer free. As mentioned, the pieces are dedicated to those who supported me throughout my battle with cancer and their sales will contribute to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
Dodi Barron Groves
Today, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Dodi. I first met Dodi in Lafayette when she walked up to my jewelry booth with her big smile and sunshine personality. She was one of those people you meet who instantly feel like a friend. She and her husband, Bryan were getting ready to take a trip to New York and we bonded over theater and which restaurants they should check out when they were there. They were both wonderful supporters of my work through the years but mostly I loved seeing them and their beautiful daughter, Ava every time I was in Lafayette.
Just after my diagnosis, we were showing at Festival International in Lafayette. I had already had two surgeries and was to start radiation after the show. Dodi and Bryan stopped by to visit and this time her usual bouncy curly hair was in a pixie cut. She looked cute as a button but it’s when I learned she was having her own battle with cancer. In true Dodi fashion, she immediately began to share with me what to expect on the next part of my treatment journey and helped take away much of my fear of the next steps. She became one of my cancer angels, letting me know what to expect and encouraging me along the way. Dodi was the very first recipient of the Draped In Love copper earrings just after I created the original design.
Dodi was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. After attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she began teaching at Katharine Drexel Elementary. For 20 years Dodi taught kindergarten to over 450 students, touching many lives along the way.
Dodi was such a giving person. She was known to always serve others, often paying for clothes, supplies, lunches and snacks for those in need. She also anonymously provided resources to less fortunate families throughout her community.
Dodi began her battle with cancer in 2008. Even throughout her own treatment, she was still known to reach out and help those around her. During chemotherapy and radiation, she was known by many other patients as their “chemo buddy”, always uplifting and encouraging everyone she met along the way.
What I loved most about Dodi was her joyous spirit. I looked forward to seeing her and her beautiful family at every festival or market when I was in town and we would chat like old friends. It wasn’t possible to leave Dodi’s presence in a worse mood than you started. All who knew her were familiar with her radiant joy and contagious happiness.
Dodi lost her battle in 2015, due to medical complications of breast cancer. She left behind Bryan and their daughter, Ava. I, along with everyone who knew her, continue to remember her as the kind and radiant person she truly was.
The Witches Ride
As I prepared to release the Draped in Love Collection in Sterling Silver, I thought a lot about those who helped me through my battle with cancer. Dodi immediately came to mind, and I began thinking about how I could dedicate this collection to her. Before I even reached out, Bryan contacted me, letting me know about the 2019 Dodi Groves Memorial Witches Ride for Breast Cancer. The event is a Halloween-themed bike ride and all proceeds go to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund, which works to help those in the Acadiana area with breast cancer.
I knew I had to let everyone know about this event and this amazing organization dedicated to my friend. I also wanted to make sure this new collection worked to benefit the foundation, which is why I decided to devote proceeds to the Dodi Groves Memorial Fund with every purchase from the Sterling Silver Draped in Love Collection.
I think it is impossible for me to do anything that could properly thank Dodi. Her kindness and warm-hearted nature are things I will never forget. I hope that in partnering with her foundation, I can help others like she devoted her life to and work to keep her memory alive.
I was prepared for either choice based on what he said. I knew what I wanted to do but I am not a doctor & I wanted to do what was most medically sound.
This is the last pill.
Although (odd as it sounds) cancer brought many blessings, it has also taken many friends who had reached this milestone before me.
This is the last little pill.
I called it a healing treatment to help me cope with it. It was both a daily reminder of the cancer yet a daily reminder to live life to the fullest.
It was a daily reminder of each friend who lost their battle in the years I have been taking it. It is not lost on me that the same may happen to me.
It’s a new way of life. A “new normal”. I had heard cancer survivors use that term before but I really didn’t understand until I went on the journey myself.
I have now been cancer free for 5 years. This is the last pill of my healing treatments.
I want to celebrate this moment, this journey & the blessings it brought with it. There were many not so pleasant things but I want to focus on the good I saw, the friendships made, the deepening of love between friends & family. But mostly I want to celebrate the cancer survivors who helped me along the way. They were my cancer angels here on earth. The ones I created the Draped In Love Collection for as a thank you for all they did to help as we navigated those first days. Three of them are now Heavenly Angels & with each healing treatment these last 1,825 days, I have thought of them...their strength, their courage, their selflessness, their complete joy of life & warrior attitude.
In celebration of this milestone and in honor of those angels who are no longer with us, today I am releasing the Draped In Love Collection in sterling silver. The copper pieces will continue to raise money for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center but these new silver pieces will contribute to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
I will share more about Dodi's story and this very special foundation formed in her honor next week. Today, I want to say thank you, celebrate this milestone & all those who helped us along the way. I am forever grateful and promise to keep paying it forward whenever I can. xo Ana
In 2018, I was commissioned to create a pendant for the Red Magnolia Theatre Company. It’s a new theater group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana founded by some talented ladies to foster more opportunities for women in theater in our area. I worked with them using their logo as inspiration and created a piece of jewelry for all the founders to wear and to raise money for their theater productions. I loved how it turned out so much that I made a few extra for me to have available for my clients. (The magnolia is our State Flower after all.)
Last month the pendant earned a whole new meaning for me. On December 31, 2018 we lost my dear, larger than life Father-in-law. He fought the good fight with cancer and until the very end kept directing at his beloved Virginia Sanford Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama (the last show only two weeks before he passed.) That’s how much energy and love of life this guy had!
Through the whole journey, my husband kept saying, I’m so worried about my Mom. Dad has done everything for them their whole life together. But I watched her. I saw that quiet strength. The care. The willingness to do what ever it took to make sure he was ok. Even on the days he wasn’t the best patient, she knew it wasn’t him talking. He was in pain so she never took the bait and kept loving him and taking care of him.
We are a theater family, so in my head everything has a theater reference; a song lyric, a show title or line. When we were driving to Birmingham to what we thought was going to be a quiet evening celebrating New Year’s Eve with family, I was thinking, what could I give Philip’s Mom that would have meaning? We had planned to open Christmas Gifts that night too.
We didn’t know that our sweet Jack would pass that day, quietly with all of us around him singing to him and holding his hands. He was just waiting for us to get there but we didn’t know. What followed was a week of arrangements and family and grief and many, many God Winks from Jack to let us know he was still with us.
On the day we left her for the first time since his passing, I knew exactly which piece to gift his Mom. She is a Steel Magnolia. (If you haven’t seen the play or watched the movie, I highly recommend it. It’s a true story written by a Louisiana writer about his family) I gave her the Magnolia Pendant. I wanted her to have a reminder in times when she doesn’t feel strong that she is a Steel Magnolia and I know that beyond the sadness and grief of losing her Jack, she has a powerful quiet strength in her DNA and I know she will be just fine.
I had the pleasure of delivering the last donation check of 2017 today to Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
Thanks to all of you, the Draped In Love Collection has raised over $1000 for the Cancer Center. As a cancer survivor, I hope you never need them but I sure am glad this state of the art facility was there when I did!
Thank you for your support of the Draped In Love Collection & all of our Gifts That Give Back! xoxo Ana
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This season, I am so pleased to announce Jewel of Havana has partnered with another worthy charity.
Beginning November 1st through December 31st, 20% of all sales from our Diamond Post Earrings support the Vasculitis Foundation. Funds raised go directly to the creation of the Ilya Peckerman Vasculitis Teaching Fellowship Program,in conjunction with the Vasculitis Foundation.
In addition to funding extended education for fellows to become experts in diagnosing and caring for vasculitis patients, these fellows will also go to tri-state area hospitals and medical centers to educate primary care doctors and nurses about the early signs of Vaculitis disease, in the hopes of getting patients a quicker diagnosis and directing them to proper care for this autoimmune disease.
Additionally, for every dollar raised in the 2017 Shop 4 Vasculitis Campaign, there will be a dollar-for-dollar match by Pamela Pekerman Tenenabyev and her husband.
This holiday season, consider giving a gift that gives back!
Ana Maria Andricain
Ana is a metal clay certified artist creating handcrafted nature inspired artisan jewelry from her Baton Rouge studio. If you love natural gemstones and metal, welcome home!