To truly understand the Blessing Basket Project, you need to know more about our founder Theresa Wilson. She considers herself an ordinary person, who on an ordinary day decided to ensure good really can come from a bad situation. To understand the power of that decision, you have to go back...WAAAAAY back.
In 1967 Theresa was born in Kansas with fetal alcohol syndrome to an imprisoned mother. As a small child she knew only a life filled with abuse and deprivation. By the time the authorities stepped in Theresa was suffering from obvious signs of violent physical abuse and neglect and was taken into state custody.
However, when you talk to Theresa, she will tell you that it wasn't until Valentine's Day 1999 that life got really bad. That morning Wilson awoke to find on the kitchen table two dozen long stemmed red roses beautifully arranged in a vase awaiting her, a gift from her husband of 13 years and the father of her two children. He left the house earlier that morning never to return again - choosing instead to abandon his family without warning for another woman. Devastated, humiliated, and scared, Theresa had no choice but to pick up the pieces for the sake of her children. Even with her income and some child support, nothing could replace her ex-husband's income. Money got tight...very tight.
During this time friends and family gathered around Theresa, Joshua and Jennifer, raining blessings upon this little family. Groceries would appear on their porch in the night; cash would arrive anonymously through the mail; and while Theresa was away at work the lawn would get mowed. These acts of kindness were from people doing what they considered ordinary things on an ordinary day, helping an ordinary little family make it through one of the most difficult times of their lives.
Theresa kept every note, every card, and pictures as a visual reminder to continue the good fight. These things reminded her that she and her children were loved and life continues. It wasn't long before notes of encouragement and reminders of blessings began to overtake her living room. Theresa gathered them all up and dropped them into a basket someone had given her. The moment the cards fell from her hands, The Blessing Basket Project was born - but she wouldn't realize it for another four years.
By early 2000 Theresa spoke at women's organizations about overcoming trial using her "Blessing Basket" as a prop. She often read the notes of encouragement it contained to inspire them as she herself had been inspired. Soon women began requesting a "Blessing Basket" of their own. Theresa, being an entrepreneur at heart, began to acquire baskets from an importer and created a card which encouraged the owner to use it as a place to put things that represented blessings in their life. The idea was a smash hit. The baskets began to sell, and soon those same family and friends who had helped her so many times before began preparing and packing baskets to fulfill orders. It didn't take long before calls of encouragement began to come in. Recipients of the original Blessing Basket recounted stories of how the concept had helped them through a hard time or changed their outlook on a bad situation.
Amazed and inspired by the stories, Theresa began to wonder how she could bless the maker of the baskets as well as the recipient. Every basket she had sold up to that point had been marked "Made in China". She contacted her supplier who had no idea where the baskets were made and no knowledge of the artisan who made it.
Theresa knew what it was like to live in poverty, so she decided to use her concept and bless those less fortunate. However, she had two basic principles:
1. To pay the artisan directly, without the aid of a middle man, more than anyone in the world for their baskets. This financial model would eventually become known as Prosperity Wage.
2. To focus only on results which included using the Prosperity Wage model to elevate the artisan to middle class. In the summer of 2002 Theresa sat down and with the help of a number of advisors and encouragers formed what today is known as The Blessing Basket Project. It took more than a year to find a direct path to impoverished artisans around the world, but by the summer of 2003, the first major shipment Blessing Baskets® arrived and The Blessing Basket Project® was on its way.
Today the organization operates with a small staff, a strong team of volunteers and advisors ranging from executives at Energizer, Monsanto, The Danforth Plant Science Center, The Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University, and Whole Foods Market just to name a few. The organization works with 1,500 weavers across six countries. It pays those artisans more than anyone in the world for their products - now known as Prosperity Wages. Today The Blessing Basket Project's financial model is helping create best practices in poverty reduction throughout the world. The results the organization is achieving in the area of poverty reduction are so outstanding; the work is being studied by several major universities trying to dissect what makes the program work and how The Blessing Basket's financial model can be used to make poverty reduction more effective world wide.
Theresa Wilson - someone who considers herself an ordinary person, who refused to be defined by the difficult circumstances of her life and chose instead, on an ordinary day to embark on an extra-ordinary journey known today as The Blessing Basket Project.
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Theresa has a gift of igniting the human spirit to overcome challenges and celebrate life and is available to speak to your group. For more information, click here