Top 10 Inspiring Women’s Events

Create Cultivate Women's Conference “Seize every opportunity you can to advocate for the women who are advocating for everyone else.” – Melinda Gates

When you invest in women, change happens. Because when a woman thrives, a family thrives, a community prospers, and an entire nation is better able to create a foundation for peace and prosperity.

That is what many people believe and advocate, and we’re 100% with them. At Prosperity Candle, we’ve been investing in women in places like Haiti, Iraq and refugees here in the U.S. for the past 8 years because we believe it leads to a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.

Today people all over the world are focusing on the power of women to create big and lasting change. And for good reason. Check out Time Magazine’s recently published series Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World that showcases inspiring women who are indeed making big and lasting change happen.

Want to get involved? Great! Reach out to women’s groups in your area to connect with like-minded people, and take a look at this list of upcoming events across the U.S. and in London that have inspired us. They take place every year, so if one has already passed, mark your calendar for the next one!

Upcoming Events

IWF World Leadership Conference: The Global Citizen (Oct. 25-27): This conference draws women from over 30 countries, connecting leaders and innovators to create a more equitable world. The International Women’s Forum holds global events, and this year’s IWF World Leadership Conference is in Houston, Texas on October 25th to 27th. The conference will focus on energy, health, space exploration, and more. Connect with IWF on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

TEDWomen 2017: Bridges (Nov. 1-3): This inspiring event focuses on women and girls as TED Women 2017 Bridges as part of Top 10 Inspiring Women's Events at Prosperity Candlepowerful innovators, creators, and change-makers. The 3 day conference in New Orleans November 1-3 is centered around women sharing powerful ideas and making connections. Some of this year’s bold speakers include social activist Valarie Kaur, leading international soccer scorer Abby Wambach, her activist wife Glennon Doyle, feminist actor Justin Baldoni, and author/poet Cleo Wade, who are all doing amazing work to propel women and girls forward. Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. This one sells out quickly, so be sure to get on the list for next year!

WDN Connect (Nov. 9-12): The Women Donors Network is a network of women philanthropists who invest in progressive change for a more fair world through grantmaking and advocacy. WDN Connect started in 2013 as a way to connect women change-makers and progressive speakers and engage with local and national leaders. This year’s conference takes place November 9-12 in Atlanta and will focus on issues of race, equity, and gender. There will be conversations and workshops around building inclusive communities, protest and power, and the role of women donors during a time of resistance. Sally Yates kicks off the event with a talk. Join the community on Twitter and Facebook.

8th Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit: The Next Generation of Women Leaders Creating the Future (Nov. 10-11): Womensphere is an organization that invests in women innovation and leadership development to empower women to create a better future and world. This year’s Emerging Leaders Global Summit is held in New York City November 10-11th. The event celebrates and connects women who are transforming the world through leadership, innovation, creativity, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math), entrepreneurship, and sustainability. Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook for inspiring news and updates.

Tech Up for Women Conference (Nov. 14): This exciting event is about empowering Tech Up for Women conference as part of Top 10 Inspiring Women's Events at Prosperity Candle.women in technology, and it is launching this November 14th in New York City. Women in tech, this is not an event to miss! Connect with them on Facebook.

Trust Conference (Nov. 15-16): The Trust Conference is an event that started in 2012 as Trust Women, where global corporations, world leaders, lawyers, and change-makers come together to discuss advancing women’s rights and ending slavery. The conference takes place in London November 15-16 and focuses on taking action. It has expanded this year to also include larger global human rights issues. Join the community on Twitter.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women  (Dec. 7): This is a sell-out one-day annual Massachusetts Conference for Women as part of the Top 10 Inspiring Women's Events at Prosperity Candle.event where women in the workplace gather to talk about entrepreneurship, personal finance, business, and health. We’ve been many times, and even participated! This year features inspirational speakers Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, and Adam Grant. The one-day conference takes place on December 7th in Boston, MA. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for inspirational content and news.

Create & Cultivate LA (Feb 24): A one-day event for women looking to create and cultivate Lauren Conrad Hannah Skvarla Create & Cultivate LA Prosperity Candlethe career of their dreams. Feel inspired, enhance your business, mix, mingle and cultivate new friendships. At Create & Cultivate you are destined to meet other talented, like-minded women, including our incredible and inspiring partners Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla who will be the keynote speakers! Join the next generation of curious creatives, entrepreneurs and bosses to spark conversation around the topics they are passionate about from influencer marketing and brand building to raising money.  Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Mark Your Calendar For Next Year

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (Oct. 4-6): This October 4-6th is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing in Orlando, FL, produced by the Anita Borg Institute. Attendees will hear from women leaders in computing and network with a community of women technologists. Keynote speakers include philanthropist Melinda Gates, Dr. Ayanna Howard, Dr. Fei-Fei Li, and Mary Spio, CEO and President of CEEK VR INC. Follow GHC on Twitter and Facebook for inspiring updates on women in tech. (Last year we made custom candles for attendees)

Emerging Women Live: Changing the World (Oct. 5-8): This inspiring event brings engaging speakers to talk about creative entrepreneurship, courage, self-compassion, and leadership from a woman’s lens. This year’s Emerging Women Live is held in Denver, CO on October 5th to October 8th, and features speaker Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Connect with Emerging Women on Facebook and Twitter.

Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit (Oct. 9-11): Every year, Fortune Magazine partners with large businesses to host a three-day Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit to highlight today’s women leaders in business. The summit is October 9-11 in Washington, D.C., and includes networking opportunities, one-on-one interviews, and panels to inspire participants. Some of this year’s speakers are Sheryl Sandberg, Co-founder of LeanIn.Org and Facebook COO, Sally Yates, U.S. Department of Justice and Former Deputy Attorney General, and Gretchen Carlson, Journalist and Women’s Empowerment Advocate. Connect with the community of women business leaders on Facebook and Twitter.

Women in the Workplace (Oct. 10): Women in the Workplace was started in 2015 by The Wall Street Journal as an annual event to discuss the current state of women in the workplace and address challenges and successes. This year the dinner will be held on October 10 in New York City. Speakers Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, and Dominic Barton, McKinsey & Company global managing director, will talk about the Women in the Workplace 2017 survey findings and what they mean. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates on the event.

What Did We Miss?

OK, that was actually 12 not 10, but there are so many great ways that amazing women are joining forces… which inspiring events did we miss? We’d love feedback and to hear your thoughts on any you’ve attended. Please let us know in the comments below!Save

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Support Breast Cancer Research & Treatment

Prosperity Candle donating to Breast Cancer Research Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support research and treatment.

One in eight women in the U.S. develop invasive breast cancer in her life, and most have no family history of it. That’s why self-exams, screenings, and knowing risk factors are so important. They can mean the difference of someone’s life.

Equally important is research. Every day countless organizations invest in developing better treatments for breast cancer and to find a cure. Ultimately, they seek to prevent it. In the last 15 years, the rates of breast cancer in the U.S. have started going down because of this tireless effort as well as increased awareness, which allows for early detection and more successful treatment.

Women make powerful contributions to families, communities, the economy and the world at large. And while October is a single month in a long journey toward a cure, spreading awareness and offering support and compassion to women battling breast cancer happens every day throughout the year and makes a huge difference. This is a fight we can all be united in.

Please consider making a donation this month to an organization battling breast cancer.

We are drawn to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for its A+ rating by Charity Watch and 4 stars given by Charity Navigator. But there are many others equally worthy of your support (see list below).

If you have already made a donation and have gift-giving on your mind, you can also make an impact with a Brilliance Candle, now with new cover sleeves to reflect your sentiments. Each is handmade by a woman refugee earning a living wage here in the U.S.  We will donate 10% of all proceeds to BCRF.

Soy blend Brilliance Candle ethically handmade by women refugees at Prosperity Candle with 10% proceeds to go to Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

If you’d like to get more involved, here is a list of breast cancer organizations in the U.S that offer research and resources – all are rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator. There are also various online communities and forums where current survivors, breast cancer patients, and communities can connect and receive support.

  1. National Breast Cancer Research Foundation – A nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. They provide critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.
  2. National Breast Cancer Foundation – A charity that helps women by providing services, education, and inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer, for example by providing mammograms to women in need.
  3. Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation – An organization that works to achieve a future without breast cancer and improve the lives of people impacted by it now through education, advocacy, and collaborative cutting-edge research on cause and prevention.
  4. Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation – A nonprofit dedicated to making innovative contributions to the understanding, research, and treatment of breast cancer.
  5. It’s The Journey, Inc. – An organization founded in 2002 in Georgia that raises money for breast health and breast cancer programs that focus on screening, diagnostics, genetic counseling and testing, support services, and research.
  6. Prevent Cancer Foundation – The Prevent Cancer Foundation saves lives across all populations by focusing individual behaviors, public policy, and research on prevention and early detection.
  7. Bay Area Cancer Connections – This organization offers free programs, services, and access to care including emotional support, cancer information and education, complementary therapies, health and wellness, and survivorship programs.
  8. Breastcancer.org – A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer to help women and their loved ones make sense of the complex medical and personal information.
  9. Living Beyond Breast CancerAn organization that provide programs and services to help people whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer and connect people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support.
  10. Casting for Recovery – Casting for Recovery combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic fly fishing to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer.

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Women’s Equality Day – Why It Matters

Today, Saturday, August 26th, we are celebrating Women’s Equality Day, where we highlight the enormous women’s civil rights achievement that created the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, giving women the long-awaited and hard-fought-for right to vote in the United States.

As a studio mainly made up of women, we are sometimes shocked at how long this took and yet how little we think of it today. In the past year, three of our team members have become citizens and now have the right to vote, and we were reminded of how momentous it is.

Women's Equality Day and why it matters to Prosperity Candle and women refugees making fair trade handmade soy blend candles
We have come a long way and we all know there is still more work to do both in the United States and around the world in terms of women’s equality. Currently, the wage gap for women persists in the United States, with women earning on average 80 cents to the dollar. For women of color and mothers who are head of households, the wage gap is even larger.

We recognize that around the world today, women are fighting for equality in rights to economic resources, opportunities for leadership, representation, and access to education. In Yemen, not only do women need their husband’s permission to leave their own home, but in court cases, women only count as half a witness.

While we recognize that there is more work ahead, we still will be celebrating Women’s Equality Day today. Let’s use this suffragette movement as an inspiration to continue working toward a future of women’s equality in the United States and around the world.  

Beautiful Gifts with a Purpose for the Moms in Your Life

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” — Barbara Kingsolver

Mother. A simple word for such a pivotal role.

We’ve worked with mothers all around the world… skilled artisans carving stone and weaving baskets, entrepreneurial widows inspiring us with their strength and determination, and the candle-makers here in our studio who fled persecution and their beloved homes to build new lives here in the U.S.

What we see most evident is dedication – to improving themselves and their communities, to creating enterprises that can enable everyone involved to thrive, and to raising children to be educated and successful in realizing their dreams.

Money matters, but more often than not, it is not the only priority. From what we’ve observed, it’s also not the highest priority. As best as we can articulate, doing the right thing takes precedence over all else.

As Mother’s Day approaches and we talk about all the moms in our lives and the many women we’ve met in our travels, it’s that dedication and order of priorities that is the common thread. It is incredibly inspiring.

The idea that every day is Mother’s Day resonates because we all recognize the truth in this. Still, it’s nice to pick a special day to recognize and appreciate moms. We make candles handpoured by women who are not only former refugees but also mothers themselves, so of  course we think everyone should receive a Prosperity Candle. But whether you give a card, call or a special gift, we hope you’ll take a moment to celebrate the many moms in your life.

If you are of a mind to give a candle, here are our picks for Mother’ Day. Be sure to use gift code MOTHERSDAY5 for $5 off on orders of $25 or more, and order by Sunday, May 7th midnight for delivery for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Picks

  • 1. For The Mom Who Needs A Spa Day: Pamper

All moms need a little time to relax and take care of themselves.

The Angel Face Botanicals is a wonderful combination of salts, herbs and natural essential oils, to soak in a bath.

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The fun matchbox bottle makes the process unique because perfection is in the details.

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The glow of warm candlelight of our Spring Washi Tea Tin burns for up to 15 hours, customizable in 8 fragrance options.

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  1. 2. For The Mom Who Loves To Garden: Garden State of Mind

Back to nature, back to earth, feeling renewed.

The Moon Valley Organics soothing lotion bar hydrates and restores skin. Choose from Coconut Lemon or Lavender.

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The light of our Liberte Pot burns for up to 25 hours. Once the candle is burned down, you can remove the wick at the bottom and use it to plant a favorite little surprise.

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The self-striking strip on the matchbox glass bottle makes it easy to light our beautiful candle!

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  1. 3. For the New Mom: Replenish Yourself

After long nights, new moms need to replenish themselves.

The Mullein & Sparrow’s Lavender Blossom Body Oil is formulated with the meditative and healing attributes of pure lavender oil from France.

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Formulary 55’s Sea Salt & Lavender Sparkling Bath Tablet fizzes when placed in warm water, for pure aromatherapy bliss.


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The light of our Washi Tea Tin candle burning for up to 18 hours, customizable in 3 fragrance options.

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  1. 4. For the Mom To Be: Spring Washi Tin

One of our customer favorites: the Washi Tea Tin candles! Now available in springtime colors to lighten up any room. Made from Japanese washi paper, they’re customizable in 8 fragrances and 3 colors and burns up to 15 hours.

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  1. 5. For the Mom Who Loves Flowers: Liberte Pot Candles

Because, honestly, who doesn’t? The Liberte Pot Candles are beautiful and fun, perfect for any room. And they look great with a small, flowering plant. Once your candle is burned down, remove the wick at the bottom, and use it to plant your favorite flowers. So perfect to repurpose, because this candle comes with a drainage hole and saucer.

Liberte Pot

Browse our full Mother’s Day Collection here. Order by Sunday, May 7th by midnight for on-time delivery for Mother’s Day.

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Celebrating The Moms In Our Lives

Mother's Day Gifts

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – author Jill Churchill

If you ask everyone you know about the moms in their lives – sisters, friends, grandmas, aunts, daughters, cousins, colleagues… and of course, their own mothers – Jill Churchill’s often cited quote rings resoundingly true.

We actually tried this a few days ago, just to see what people in our own circles would say. The responses were surprisingly diverse, and still Churchill’s universal truth shined bright in every one.

Tough, yet loving.

Struggled with her own demons, but put her children first.

Critical of herself while so forgiving of others.

Unconditional support.

Approached even our worst moments with humor.

Encouraged our independence, and was heartbroken when we left.

Always a phone call away with “it’s okay, just be true to yourself.”

Mother's Day Gift

There really are a million ways to be a good mom.

We all kind of know this… that there is no such thing as a perfect anything. That’s not real life. There’s no perfect dad or sibling or friend. Or kid for that matter. Still, it’s nice to be reminded once in a while.

Every day we see there are so many good, caring people in the world. No matter any missteps along the way, they strive to do the right thing as often as possible. And that in itself is to be appreciated and celebrated as often as possible.

This unexpected reflection came about when we sat down last week to share thoughts about Mother’s Day and started talking about all the different moms in our lives and what we admire about them. It was easy to recognize the unique good in each one. That made us curious to hear what others thought, which led to emailing friends.

It also brought up the notion of the “perfect” mom, which we couldn’t help but Google. In all the writings we found that thoroughly debunked the idea, there was one short list of what really matters that we thought we’d share.

A good mom…

  • – is there when needed most
  • – teaches the importance of self-worth
  • – allows room to make mistakes and acknowledges her own
  • – instills the idea of living life to the fullest
  • – provides food, shelter and safety
  • – encourages us to love unconditionally
  • – sets a good example
  • – makes time for fun

There was also lots about hugs, patience, educating and being peed on, but we thought this simple list was refreshing.

Here’s to celebrating good moms everywhere.

#celebratemom    #mom    #motherslove   #motherhood

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Dignity, Respect & Equality for Women

International Women's Day

“Strong women lead to strong nations.”  – Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International

We like to celebrate women every day – no matter where they are from or what religion they practice. But today is special. On March 8th each year, people around the world recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Today is International Women’s Day.

There are infinite reasons to celebrate women. But what strikes us as particularly noteworthy is the strength and resilience demonstrated by women to overcome sexism and inequity.

We have traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. To China, Russia, Afghanistan and India. Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kenya. Haiti, Honduras, Argentina and Bolivia. Morocco, Lesotho, Uganda and Ethiopia. Eastern, Central and Western Europe. Mexico, Canada and all over the United States. Collectively, to over 50 countries.

Is there any place where we can honestly say women have equal opportunity?

There are certainly countries notorious for holding women and girls back, where they are denied education, representation and simple freedoms we take for granted like driving a car or taking a stroll down the street on your own. Many such places are known for much, much worse.

But nowhere does there exist a truly even playing field, whether in rural Pakistan where Malala bravely stood up to her oppressors or in the board rooms of American business. As much progress as has been made over the last century, this remains a stubborn truth.

Which is why it is so admirable when women around the world achieve success despite the additional obstacles they face. Aung San Suu Kyi is one example. Following decades of being obstructed and harassed by a military regime ruled by men, and being held under house arrest for 15 years, she has risen to political power in Myanmar (Burma) and stands as a powerful voice for democracy around the world.

Her courage and determination are unquestionably worth celebrating on this day.

Among the 10 values championed by International Women’s Day, the ones that especially speak to us are dignity, respect and equality. It’s surely a result of all that travel. Seeing and listening first-hand affects you more than reading about oppression… it changes your understanding, and your life.

There are many things we would like to see happen to create a more just world. Chief among them is recognizing the dignity, advancing the respect, and guaranteeing the equality of women. Equal opportunities for women and girls everywhere will help build a brighter future for all.

For videos, events, resources and more visit International Women’s Day, and carry the message of #BeBoldForChange throughout the year wherever you are.

And if you would like to purchase a candle handmade by a woman refugee that shares the values of International Women’s Day in a unique way, we will donate 10% to the Global Fund for Women supporting the rights of women and girls around the world through groups working to ensure that women everywhere can own property, vote, run for office, get paid fair wages, and live free from violence.

Thank you. Time to celebrate.

#BeBoldForChange   #CelebrateWomen

 International Women's Day

Top photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

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Discover Our Secret Finds

long-burning candle

“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi

We love Rumi. Born in 1207, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was a Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, scholar, theologian and mystic. That’s quite a list, which truthfully we have never studied. But we love his quotes, notably this one:

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” In other words, pursue your passions, follow your dreams, and do good work. That’s our interpretation, and with Prosperity Candle – its mission and unique designs – we feel we are following his advice to the letter.

But locating a particular beauty on our website is sometimes a challenge, as a number of friends have pointed out. We’re working on it… by June we hope to have a whole new look that will be much improved, making it easier to get to what you’re searching for.

In the meantime, just for fun, we thought we’d help you discover candles that seem hidden from view… a few secret finds. And that is how we arrived at another favorite Rumi quote:  “What you seek is seeking you.”

Whether you are in fact seeking something hidden, or are just curious, here is our shortlist of Secret Finds.

Secret Finds #1. Moroccan Canister Candle

With this secret find, it’s like Summer is already here! 

This very long-burning candle – 20 oz of soy blend that burns 90 hours! – has made it to our Secret Finds list. It’s a pastiche of patterns in a vibrant lime green, a wooden top and a distinctly Moroccan flavor. The perfect touch for kitchen, bathroom or patio decor.

Customizable in 11 fragrance options and 4 levels of scent strength, this will be your best kept aroma therapy secret. Now available at $21 for a limited time (original price $28). 

moroccan candle

Secret Finds #2. Cannes Trio

These adorable votives are sold as a set of three, a great value and Secret Find… imagine having a hot candlelit bath on a cold night or creating that same ambiance in your bedroom. Any room, actually!

Each Cannes Trio votive is 2.5 oz and burns 12 hours. Customizable in 11 fragrance options and 4 levels of scent strength, for $46 (about $15 each) you’ll enjoy the light of three wicks in one go. 

 

candle set

Cannes candles trio

Secret Finds #3. Shikoku Sake Set

Crafted by ceramic artisans in Japan, this boxed set of 6 sake cups creates a dazzlingly beautiful display of candlelight. Each vessel is unique in its color and pattern, adding a zen ambiance to your home. Each burns about 8 hours and the cups are easily cleaned when candles are finished – dishwasher and microwave safe – so get ready for a sushi night with sake or tea in these gorgeous vessels!

Limited quantities available, made to order, the time is now. Customizable in 9 fall fragrance options and 4 levels of scent strength, for $60 this multi-purpose-reusable-zen candle set is yours. 

sake set candles

mini candles

As always, we support women artisans – in style. Browse our Top Picks here!

And don’t forget to send us some love on Instagram!

Do you have one of our candles at home? Share your best shots and tag @prosperitycandle to be featured. Let’s be consciously good, together.

refugees welcome proudly made by refugees

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Refugees Welcome

refugees welcome proudly made by refugees

“Compassion is what keeps America great” was the title of this morning’s editorial in our local newspaper. It caught our eye.

Americans are a generous people. Across this country you see individuals and communities helping others in little and big ways. You read stories about acts of kindness and people feeling empathy for one another. This unites us, as it unites communities around the world.

Look at the outpouring of support from Americans at times of tragedy near and far. In the wake of Katrina and horror of 9/11, or devastation following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake or Indonesia’s 2004 tsunami. We reached into our wallets, jumped on a bus, organized relief, and cared for the displaced.

“This is just the type of thing to do – you do this for people,” says Nancy Flickinger, a member of a local church group. “They need all the help they can get.”

What is interesting is who she was talking about… a 56-year old Kurdish widow and her sons who have spent the past 2 years in a Turkish refugee camp. They are refugees from Iraq fleeing violence, hoping for the opportunity to build a new life in our town after their world had been torn apart.

For a few weeks it looked like this family of three might not make it to the U.S., despite a lengthy vetting process. But when the travel ban was blocked, they were cleared for resettlement and arrived last night to a welcome of 180 Americans who have all made a 5-year commitment to help with transportation, learning English, and acclimating to life in this country.

Americans are indeed a compassionate people, and that empathy makes us great.

Seven years ago someone who loaned us money to start Prosperity Candle pressed us to figure how we could have a local impact in addition to supporting widows in Baghdad. So we reached out to women refugees recently relocated nearby, and ever since are glad he nudged us in this direction.

Working side by side with refugees who fled persecution, lost their homes and livelihoods, endured endless hardships in refugee camps, and arrived here with little more than hope for a better life has been educational and inspiring, and has enriched our lives and community.

The story we tell is that we helped these foreign-born women, but in truth they have given much more in return. Every day in our candle studio we are grateful for their skill and attention to detail, their diligence and hard work, the constant improvements they make.

Mostly, though, we are we are grateful for their friendship. Compassion and caring go both ways.

#refugeeswelcome    #refugees

refugees welcome proudly made by refugees

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Compassion & Kindness

Prosperity Candle Compassion Refugees

“Here are the values that I stand for… honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Our values, too. Especially compassion.

Compassion is what binds us together, not in pity, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. Nelson Mandela said that.

We are a small candle studio in an old mill in a town with empty manufacturing buildings long since closed.

We provide living wage jobs to women refugees who have relocated from places of conflict to the U.S. through federal programs.

We don’t mind where they are from or what religion they practice.

For the past seven years, these new Americans and their families have enriched our lives in countless ways. We are proud and fortunate to work side-by-side with them.

We support Muslim women in Iraq, helping them perfect candle-making skills and earn a livelihood. We’ve shared meals, embraced their husbands and friends, and exchanged photos of our kids. We’ve told stories and laughed at each others’ jokes. We are equally frightened of terror and saddened by violence.

We are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and agnostic.

We all want the same thing… a safe place to live, enough food on the table, healthcare when needed, education for our children. Everyone seeks a brighter future for their loved ones.

As we look around and engage in the world, we feel a lot of things. Sometimes fear, often joy, occasionally sadness. But the strongest emotion is compassion.

Albert Schweitzer said “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

That includes refugees.

#compassion #kindness #equality

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Change is OK. Hate is Not.

kindess compassion candle

My name is Kay. I was born in Burma, but spent most of my life in a refugee camp. My family is one of the minorities that the Myanmar military persecuted. Led by a succession of strongmen, they burned our homes and forced us to flee our country because we are not in the dominant ethnic group.

Hundreds of thousands of us sought asylum in Thailand, and although we were safer in the camps, conditions were very poor. We had few freedoms, limited opportunities for education or work, and little hope of returning to our villages and way of life.

I am one of the lucky ones, though.  I was in the refugee camps for 11 years when my application to relocate to the United States under UN and U.S. government programs was granted. To this day, I am immensely grateful to this country. For its humanity, its compassion, and its generosity.

There are many who have been in the camps for much longer, some close to 20 years. I ache for them because I know their despair. I understand their fears for their children who face discrimination and joblessness for their entire lives. I know what it is like to have no rights, no voice, no path out of poverty. The sense of hopelessness can be overwhelming, even with faith at your side.

kindess compassion candle

Here in the United States, I just voted for the first time in my 31 years. After 9 years of working and paying taxes, and weeks of studying the U.S. constitution and all of its amendments, I took a test and passed, then stood with hundreds of other new Americans and pledged my allegiance to this country. I was proud, emotional, and ready to accept not only the freedoms but also the responsibilities of citizenship.

The simple act of casting a vote so that your voice can be heard is extraordinary. I listened to the arguments, watched some of the debates, and talked with others. Then I made up my mind, registered, and voted. I did what so many around the world admire about America – participated in a democratic process to elect our leaders. Without tanks rolling, thugs in my home, or laws blocking me. Mine was only one vote among many millions, but as Aung San Suu Kyi said, “even one voice can be heard loudly all over the world.” I believe she is right.

The next day I was disappointed. The candidate I voted for did not win, but that is not what saddened me most. Only 55% of those who could vote did. Almost half gave up a privilege that a judge had just told me was the most important I would ever exercise as an American.

The electoral college is a mystery to me, no matter how many times it is explained. Apparently it determines who becomes president even when a majority want someone else. And if I understand correctly, the outcome might have been different if more people had gone to the polls.

On the cliffs near where I live and work, anti-black and anti-Jewish graffiti has appeared along with demeaning words about women. I know this is not who we are, whether your family immigrated here 200 years ago or more recently. Americans are a decent people, with compassion and kindness for our neighbors and those less fortunate around the world.

Some say this election was a rebellion and a demand for change. As a Burmese woman, I understand that. My brothers and sisters are fighting for the same right now. But let’s be careful it doesn’t become something much darker, fueled by hate and cruelty. I’ve lived that as well.

#kindness #compassion #peace #gratitude

Burmese Candle compassion kindness

Burmese Candle in Peace, Joy, Compassion, Kindness and Gratitude scents. Handpoured by Burmese women in Prosperity Candle’s studio, Easthampton, MA

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There is no one named Kay at Prosperity Candle, yet she exists. Hers is the combined voices of the women refugees who work at this small social enterprise, as well as its founders, and the many who embrace our values and commitment to the greater good for this country, the planet, and everyone seeking a brighter future for themselves and their families. Kay’s story and opinions are common to all the refugees here. Thank you for hearing their voices.

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