My family (which includes 6 gorgeous and amazing kids, one very old and tired dog, and my curmudgeon husband) live in Saugus.
Serendipity Lights actually came to life when I realized what “Serendipity” meant, and how the things in our lives are so Serendipitous.
We are a faithful family, and we believe in paying it forward.
I began transforming empty bottles about a year ago, as a means of raising funds for The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. I have been a team captain in the past,for our church, and I loved the idea of raising money to fight back against cancer, so that my own kids could potentially live in a world where cancer is easily eradicated, or cured.
Our “cause” is childhood cancer, and until this past July, fighting childhood cancers felt like a noble cause to fight.
In July, our 15-year-old daughter Sarah had a routine surgical procedure, and 3 days later she was rushed to the hospital with severe pain in her neck.
I was sure she had an infection from her tonsillectomy,until the doctors at Henry Mayo assured me that there was no infection, and that her neck was full of tumors that had apparently awakened when the tissue in her neck had been exposed to oxygen.
It sent our family spiraling.
We had no health insurance. My husband had been on disability for almost 3 years at that point, and Sarah’s biological father provides no support or healthcare for my 3 oldest kids.
I have learned the hard way that when it comes to your children, you have to fight with everything you have, and some things you don’t have.
We began the tedious process of navigating “the system”, searching for answers. Nobody wants to tell you that your child is ill, and they certainly don’t want to be the ones to tell you that they are ill with “The Big C” monster.
I am a full-time student.
I am a mom.
I am an artist.
I am NOT an entrepreneur.
Well, I didn’t think I was.
I neglected the shed full of empty bottles I had been collecting from local bars and restaurants, and tended to my daughter. Christmas came so quickly that I was ill prepared. In fact, we only had$.18 in our checking account.
I realized that the entire time I was scrambling to make a difference for Relay, and fighting to get answers for my sick daughter – who has been home on medical leave from school since the 2nd day of classes last year – that I had forgotten about Christmas.
On December 21st I began to really panic. I called any charity I could find for help, hoping to find some kind of token to give each of my children, after all, it had been such a rough year for us all, I really wanted them to feel appreciated. Everyone sacrificed something so we could support Sarah, and I was absent for days on end to be near her in the hospital.I left so many things up to God, and now I really felt like I had stumbled. I was about to really disappoint my kids.
Someone, in my hasty phone calls, suggested that I contact Bobbi Jean Bell, owner of Outwest on Main Street in Newhall.
I am not sure how I was supposed to approach her, but I knew that I had about 30 bottles decorated in my closet and they could earn money if someone was interested in a last minute hostess or Christmas gift. My plan just the week before was to decorate more bottles and take them to the Speedway for the Sunday Swap Meet. Mother Nature had other plans, as we were inundated with rain and I just couldn’t take bottles filled with electrical wire and lights to an outdoor venue to sell.
I suppose this is where our new, dearest friend Bobbi Bell came into the picture. I called her and introduced myself.
I explained my situation, keeping in mind that she owned a retail store, and it was the busiest time of the year, and she invited me tocome down and show her a bottle or two.
Blindly, I rushed down and brought a basket full of bottle lights, “Spirit Bottles”, and she already had shelves cleared for us.
Bobbi helped me display my bottles – every one of them, andi nvited me to return the next day for the Thursday Farmer’s market on Main St. I am not sure what I expected,but the next day I returned to her shop and could not help but smile.
Three of my bottles had sold.
As I looked around, I realized that her store is amazing. More than that, she andher husband Jim Bell are amazing. What sweet, kind and brilliant people they are. She calmed me, she encouraged me, and she welcomed me in just moments.
I was able to recoup some of the money we’ve invested in our bottles. Money that helped bring gifts to my tree on Christmas morning. While there on that Thursday evening,we witnessed true Christmas spirit. She introduced us to the owners at Pulchella Winery, and most of the surrounding businesses. And she asked me to return with more bottles.
She spent her Christmas weekend on her computer at home,editing pictures and listing our Spirit Bottles on her store website.
Serendipity Lights is just a by-product of necessity.
Our mission was to fund Childhood Cancer Research and treatment.
Our mission was to pay it forward.
I had no idea that this little venture would evolve into a small business that allowed us to meet such amazing people, and that we would feel such a strong sense of community just by trying to raise awareness.
This cause has become far more personal for us.
Our relay team is officially named “Serendipity”,and now I realize that we have had good fortune in making unexpected discoveries.
Thank you for asking who we are. The nuts and bolts of “SL” are my husband and I,who stalk store owners and beg them for their empties.
Pulchella is an amazing label and we love their wine, as well as who they are. Steve and Megan and Nate and Jennifer, have offered us their empty bottles, and graciously displayed two of my Spirit Bottles in their tasting room.
My husband drills out and cleans each bottle, expertly, Imight add. My teenaged daughters Sarah and Emily help with their little sisters, and the practical elements ofthis little business. They are master “ribboneers” and know their way around hot glue and raffia better than anyone I know. My mother in law, Rene, is my biggest cheerleader, and collects funny bottles from her Grammy Club on Poker Night.
I know that readers probably weren’t expecting this lengthy story, but for once I feel as though we are doing what we are made to do, and I am so proud.
(To purchase a wine bottle, to learn more about them, or for an update on Sarah, you may e-mail Kari at firstname.lastname@example.org)